Confession…even as a self proclaimed Disney nerd the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival wasn’t anything I put on my must do list until the addition of the Outdoor Kitchens. Such a shame. It truly is the most gorgeous time to be inside of the park.
I went out for a few hours during the opening day of the festival, was invited out for a media preview of the food and beverage offerings during the first weekend and have also taken a few strolls through the theme park as of late.
There are quite a few topiaries in future world, along with specialty gardens like “The Goddess Garden Butterfly House”, but the majority of the action takes place around World Showcase Lagoon.
Let’s take a stroll shall we?
Even for a seasoned pro like myself, a Garden Passport is essential to planning your day.
Inside your festival guide you will find topiary locations, garden destinations, a list of talent performing in the Garden Rocks Concert Series with dates, festival merchandise locations, specialty tours and most importantly Outdoor Kitchens menu offerings and where to find them.
My friends and I discovered a few new photopass locations to take commemorative pictures at. Perhaps my favorite spot was in the expansive area known as Showcase Plaza located between Mexico and Canada.
TOPIARIES OF WORLD SHOWCASE
Once you’ve made your way from Future World into World Showcase, here are a list of topiaries you can find along the shores of World Showcase Lagoon.
The Three Caballeros hanging out adjacent to the Mexico pavilion.
Frozen’s Anna and Elsa in Norway.
A Troll as a nod to Malestrom as you pass Nor-vay and head towards China.
Catch this Panda family playing and the Bromeliad Dragon inside of China.
Some of the cast of The Lion King at the African Outpost.
Sheriff Woody tips his hat to you in America and France offers up Beauty and the Beast.
Catch a duel between Hook and Pan in the UK as well as Tink in her garden.
Winnie the Pooh along with Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet and Rabbit greet you on your way from the UK to Canada and speaking of Canada, Victoria Gardens offers one of the most charming displays and wood carvings.
As day turns into night each one of the topiaries is transformed with specialty lighting which creates a whole different feel to the festival.
How about the food though?
VEGAN GUIDE TO THE OUTDOOR KITCHENS
This year there are two dishes that are completely vegan as-is off the menu. However there are four other dishes that just need slight tweaks to make them completely plant-based and everything that I tried at the festival was delicious.
We will start at Showcase Plaza again and make our way around the lagoon.
The Honey Bee-stro in Showcase Plaza
This Outdoor Kitchen is new to the 2018 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. What you see is the Roasted Cauliflower dish and here is what you need to do to make it vegan.
Order this dish minus the buckwheat honey carrot purée, honey blistered grapes and sunflower brittle. Everything else is vegan. What you’re left with is roasted cauliflower and asparagus which sit on a bed of wild rice pilaf garnished with micro greens. The rice is cooked in water, not stock, and then mixed with chimichurri.
Pineapple Promenade in Showcase Plaza
This dish is listed as Pineapple Soft-serve Ice Cream in the Garden Passport. What it really is, is pineapple Dole Whip. When I was here for the media preview I asked a manager to show me the ingredients list and it was in fact Dole Whip softserve which is completely vegan as-is. I am assuming they are not calling it “Dole Whip” because DOLE is not sponsoring the booth at the festival.
The Berry Basket in Showcase Plaza
This is the Field Greens offering. This dish is vegan as-is right off the menu with no modifications. Greens are tossed with fresh strawberries and a vinaigrette along with spiced pecans, crispy quinoa and tofu cheese crumbles.
Lotus House in China
Here you can order the Vegetable Spring Rolls. Ask that they omit the spicy mayonnaise sauce that comes with them. The rolls are crispy and filled with assorted vegetables and if you feel like you need a dipping sauce head into the quick service restaurant in China and pick up a few packets to doctor up your spring rolls.
Hanami in Japan
I bet you think I’m going to tell you to order the Frushi here with no whipped cream right? Sadly no. The Frushi is not vegan. The pretty pink soy wrapper that they roll the fruit in is colored with crushed female cochineal bugs.
Instead you are going to modify the Ginger Beef Yakiudon. Here is how to make it vegan. Order this dish minus the meat. Everything else is vegan. The noodles are made from flour and tapioca starch (no egg) and are sautéed with soy sauce and canola oil and then topped with beni shoga (pickled ginger).
This Outdoor Kitchen has a dedicated grill where the noodles are tossed with the sauce. No meat is cooked on it. The meat is prepared elsewhere and stored in a separate container. It is placed on top of the noodles after plating.
Florida Fresh between Morocco and France
The final stop on our vegan culinary journey around World Showcase is at the Florida Fresh Kitchen. Here you are going to order the Carne Guisada. This is how you make it vegan. Swap the carne (meat) for a second black bean cake. They’re fantastic and made with black beans, tomato and quinoa. Top with pico de gallo and fresh cilantro. Skip the cilantro-lime sour cream.
I’m aware that this review only covers vegan food items available at the festival but I did want to give honorable mention to one adult beverage. My favorite had to be this Frozen Italian Margarita with limoncello and tequila from the Primavera Kitchen in Italy.
Of course the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is always more fun with friends. Here’s a shot of me and my fellow Disney & food blogger buddies taken on opening week. I hope you get your gang together and pay the festival a visit before it leaves for good on May 28th.