Spring is here! Life is skittles and life is beer! I think the lovliest time of the year is the Spring. I do! Don’t you? ‘Course you do!Tom Lehrer
Today was the first day of Disney World’s Epcot Flower & Garden Festival 2019 and the innovative food, drinks, and entertainment is a blast to experience. I really appreciate how Epcot has committed to creating innovative dishes that aren’t your typical theme park funnel cakes. If you’re not familiar, Epcot celebrates four festivals throughout the year. Each festival features themed snacks, drinks, concerts, and other entertainment throughout the park. The main event is held at the permanent kiosks placed around World Showcase which serve dishes unique to each event. The other three festivals are the International Food & Wine Festival, Festival of the Holidays, and Festival of the Arts. This particular festival is centered on the environment and conservation. There are ornate topiaries, lush gardens, and dishes made with natural and healthy choices. The snacks weren’t just lettuce and beets though! They were decadent and delicious. The festival runs from March 6 – June 3, 2019.
More of a visual person? You can watch a video of the food, merchandise, and clips of the very first showing of The Story of Coco on my YouTube Channel below!
Top Things to See & Do at Flower & Garden Festival
My mom and I tried to squeeze in as many exhibits as we could while touring Flower & Garden. While there a ton of things to do at the festival, there are the few things that I think are awesome and worth a pit stop. For a full list of topiaries and exhibits go to Disney’s website here.
#1 Topiaries – There are topiaries scattered throughout Epcot which make for great photo ops. The most fun and ornate sculptures are Kermit and Miss Piggy in France, Beauty and the Beast (France), Bo Peep and her sheep (Future World East), Bambi (France), Dragon (China), and McQueen & Mater (Test Track).
#2 Garden Rocks Concert Series – There are two new updates to the festival this year. The first is that the event has expanded to last a little longer than last year and the second is that there is a concert performance every evening. The bands playing this year are a little bit before my time. All except Simple Plan, of course. If I was in town when they are playing, I would definitely dawn some black eyeliner and my middle school angst to see them. We happened to catch Journey on the first night and it was super fun! There wasn’t a huge line to get into the concert either. The second showing still had plenty of seating by the time they started. You can see the full Garden Rocks concert schedule here.
#2 The Goodness Garden Butterfly House – This is the most popular exhibit and definitely the most magical. There’s something about walking into a tent filled with flowers, trees, and incredibly beautiful butterflies. It’s like a real-life Secret Garden.
#3 Purple Martin Garden – This garden is full of the exotic Purple Martins who migrated and landed right in Epcot. There are birdhouses set up where the birds hang out and Animal Kingdom Cast Members are present to answer questions about the birds. It’s definitely an understated little area, but it’s fun to listen to the birds chirp wildly in the trees.
#4 The Story of Coco at the Mexico Pavilion – This isn’t unique to Flower & Garden Festival, but it did premiere the very first performances on the first day of the festival, so I’m counting it. We happened to catch the first performance and it was gorgeous. Everyone loved the music from Coco and the performers did an incredible job storytelling, dancing, and singing the songs from the beloved movie. The show is small and performed by the same Mariachi band that plays daily. The only differences are that they sing songs from the movie and at the end of the show, a Puppeteer arrives with a small Miguel marionette.
The hot item for purchase this year is the adorable Orange Bird Sipper. The cup is filled with an Orange Cream Slushy that is just as sweet as Orange Bird himself. It tasted like an Orange Creamsicle milkshake. Oh boy, the hype was maxed out for this special little cup. The line for Orange Bird started two hours before the festival started and once the booth opened, it took us about 30 minutes to get through it. Rumour has it there are “only” 45,000 Orange Birds available for purchase. Some are predicting they will run out within the next week or so. We’ll see if the hype wears off and the eBay scalpers lay off by then. Word the wise: If you don’t want to be hated by everyone at Disney World, don’t buy the max limit of 10 Orange Bird Sippers just to sell on eBay.
As for other unique merchandise. Minnie Mouse is the Queen of Flower & Garden this year. There are plenty of mugs, keychains, shirts, and Water Cans adorned with the cutest illustrations I ever did see. Mickey Mouse also graces the presence of t-shirts and hats with a more rustic flair. The next most popular items are the Violet Lemonade ears, Spirit Jerseys, and key chains. These little babies weren’t flying off the shelves quite as much as the Orang Bird sippers, but the design was very cute!
There was also plenty of Annual Passholder merchandise featuring Figment. The Figment Magic Band is really quite adorable and if I didn’t spend my paycheck on an Orange Bird, I would have bought this band as well. The best place to find AP souvenirs and all other festival merchandise is Odyssey Center. You can also find a few treats and drinks at Odyssey like the new Fried Green Tomatoes!
Best Snacks and Drinks at Flower & Garden Festival
Much like every other Epcot festival, you can find a ton of food unique to this event. The unique dishes are placed throughout the World Showcase via the Outdoor Kitchens and certain parts of Future World. If you’re on the dining plan and you happen to visit Epcot during a festival, my advice is to save up your snack credits and use them here. There are so many hearty snacks that you won’t need to use a quick-service meal that day. I’ve listed a highlight reel of a few crowd favorites from this year’s festival. I won’t review everything offered at the festival because you’ll be overwhelmed with foodie options. I enjoyed all the little bites we shared, but these were especially tasty!
#1 Crispy Citrus Chicken with Orange Aioli and Baby Greens (The Citrus Blossom) – A little piece of chicken smothered in citrus mayonnaise. This tastes way better than what I’ve described, believe me. Plus, once you stand in line for an Orange Bird Sipper, you might as well grab a bite to reward yourself.
#2 Toasted Pretzel Bread topped with Black Forest Ham and Melted Gruyère Cheese (Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market: Germany) – As the woman waiting behind us in line proclaimed, “You can’t go wrong with melted cheese on bread!” And she was right. This is a simple dish, but delicious nonetheless. The pavilion surprised us with some decadent dishes like Potato Pancakes which come with caramelized ham, onions, and herb sour cream.
#3 Crab & Cream Cheese Won Tons & Panda Bubble Tea (Lotus House: China) – The crab filled Won Tons were crispy and creamy. I would eat these every day if I could. The Panda Bubble Tea is not much different than the regular Bubble Tea served at Joy of Tea next door, however. The only difference was that the Panda Bubble Tea comes with white fruit bobas and the other does not. As someone who absolutely adores Bubble Tea, I didn’t mind. The Spring Rolls pictured here were very “meh.”
#4 Frushi (Hanami: Japan) – I had to try at least one classic festival snack. When in Rome! Or rather, when in Japan! The Frushi absolutely lived up to the hype for me. It’s made with an assortment of fruits like cantaloupe and strawberries, rolled into coconut rice, wrapped with rice paper and drizzled with strawberry sauce, toasted coconut, and whipped cream. Turned out to be just what we needed: a yummy desert that’s not too rich or sweet. The other classic Flower & Garden treat is the Violet Lemonade Slushy which is found at Pineapple Promenade.
#5 Seared Scallops with French Green Beans, Butter Potatoes, Brown Butter Vinaigrette and Apple-wood Smoked Bacon (Northern Bloom: Canada) – I love a good scallop! These scallops were light and fluffy while the bacon crumbles paired nicely with the green beans. This dish leans towards a small meal rather than “snack.”
Things We Wished We Had Room to Eat:
- Tri-Colored Cheese Tortellini, Sage Butter and Chicken Veloute (Italy)
- Beef Brisket Burnt Ends and Smoked Pork Belly Slider with Garlic Sausage, Chorizo, Cheddar Fondue and House-made Pickle (The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews)
- Stow Away Mary: Classic Bloody Mary with Absolut Vodka garnished with Pimento-stuffed Olives, Cherry Tomato, Celery, Jumbo Shrimp and Smokehouse Jerky (Refreshment Port)
Head over to Disney Food Blog for full menu reviews!
Other than the little hiccup with the new Coco show, I’d say that the first day of Flower & Garden Festival was a huge success. It was fun puttering around with the big-name bloggers too. It felt like I made it to the big leagues! My first impression of the festival is that it’s beautiful, smells like Heaven, and very fun in an old-school Epcot way. It’s not my favorite festival, however. That award goes to Festival of Arts which combines culinary arts with performance arts. I do think they should keep out the extra planters and flower pieces throughout the year! They add to the beauty of the park and makes me yearn for springtime!
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