If there is one thing that Epcot is known for, it’s festivals (alright, and obviously Spaceship Earth). I will be the first to admit that Epcot teeters on the brink of being my favorite park almost solely for the amazing food and drink as well as the constant festivals it has.
With that being said, I made not one but TWO trips down to Orlando during this year’s Flower & Garden Festival. I attended it for the first time last year during a trip with my mom for her birthday and we were both blow away by the selections available. I also found love in the form of a certain craft beer, but more on that later.
Before you even get to the booths in World Showcase to eat, you are greeted by amazing topiaries and flowers located all around the park. It screams spring and it is definitely my favorite aesthetic that Epcot has all year.
Butterflies on the go I wouldn’t exactly classify as a topiary, but it is my favorite garden destination during the festival. I have grown to love butterflies ever since my Aunt passed away, and hanging out in the butterfly tent helps to remind me of her. It is a beautiful area with all types of butterflies and plants for you to explore and learn about.
In addition to the stunning views and delicious samplings at the booths, there are also some events offered throughout the park during the festival. Although I did not take part in either, I am sure they are a major selling point for many people choosing to attend.
First, there is the Garden Rocks Concert Series where performers such as Gin Blossoms, Plain White Tees, and The Pointer Sisters perform at the American Gardens Theater in the American Adventure Pavilion. Unfortunately, I wasn’t at all interested in either of the artists while I was visiting and decided to skip out on the concerts.
Of course, the real reason I am there is the food and drink. Luckily if you haven’t made it yet this year or you’ve missed a few things you wanted to try- you have until Monday, May 29th. So maybe consider a quick Memorial Day trip and try these out (Especially if you are located in the Northeast because I hear we are getting hit with rain the entire holiday weekend!).
My top pick during the Flower & Garden Festival is the Shipyard Maple Bacon Stout at The Smokehouse booth near the American Adventure Pavilion. I tried this beer for the first time during last year’s festival and went absolutely nuts for it. I even wrote the company to figure out where to hunt it down and learned that my only hope was to return to the festival for some more. It is a heavier beer-which I don’t mind- but still somehow refreshing, and has a mix of all different hints of flavors in each sip. If you haven’t tried this yet and you are a beer drinker- I insist you give it a try!
This year, we started at The Berry Basket, which is new for 2017, and I tried the Field Greens with fresh Strawberries, Blue Cheese, Strawberry Vinaigrette and Spice Pecans. It was so good and refreshing in the hot Florida weather. I have a sweet tooth and the mix of fruit and cheese in the salad was perfect. My friends had the Warm Wild Berry Buckle with Pepperberry Sorbet and were impressed.
Northern Bloom is also a new booth this year and I am so grateful it was added. I had the Seared Scallops with French Green Beans, Butter Potatoes, Brown Butter Vinaigrette and Apple wood Smoked Bacon and I might have dreams about how good it was. This is my second experience with scallops in Disney, with the first being the Fruits de mer at Chefs de France. The seafood in the France Pavilion left me disappointed, but this tiny tray of scallops from a booth was everything. I would have liked to take some of the bacon crumbles with me and put it all over all of my food that day.
At La Isla Fresca I tried the Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer with Steamed Rice and Coconut Lime Sauce. The sauce really made the dish and I thought the portion size was impressive for $6.50.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Flower & Garden without a stop at Pineapple Promenade for Violet Lemonade. This drink is non-alcoholic, but I love it regardless. It tastes amazing, fun to photograph, and fun fact- you can eat the little flower on top! I’m not going to lie and say I enjoyed eating the flower, but it was interesting and had a sort of earthy taste to it.
Margaritas are one of my favorite drinks at Epcot, so I tried an Elderflower Pineapple Margarita from Jardin de Fiestas- and this one packed a punch! It was very flavorful and strong. It took me a while to finish this one, I’m fairly sure it made it all the way to the Italy Pavilion with me.
The Potato Pancake with Caramelized Ham, Onions and Herb Sour Cream at Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market was tasty, but I think I prefer the Potato Pancake with Lox during the Food & Wine Festival over this option.
As someone who is obsessed with dessert, I was disappointed in the Strawberry Tiramisu: Ladyfingers, Mascarpone Cream and Marinated Strawberries topped with Strawberry Sauce from Primavera Kitchen. I felt it was somewhat bland and that I’ve made a better tiramisu-which is impressive because I am not a very good cook!
Hanami gives us the Instagram famous Frushi: Fresh Pineapple, Strawberry and Melon rolled with Raspberry Coconut Rice, sprinkled with Toasted Coconut and Whipped Cream on the side. I was most excited for this because years ago I had a dream that I was getting married and instead of cake we had dessert sushi and I was beyond excited that this is now a real thing. I didn’t hate the dessert, however, I think I would have enjoyed it much more had it come out a bit colder. It was more room temperature and in the Florida sun everything warms up fast. So when ordering, I would ask for the coldest one they have!
When it comes to ordering drinks in France, I normally do not stray from the Grand Marnier Slush that is available year round. My friend insisted I try the La Vie en Rose Frozen Slush: Grey Goose Vodka Orange, St. Germain Liquor, White and Red Cranberry Juice from Fleur de Lys and I was happy I did. Recently I have been into any alcoholic drink with St. Germain and this one wasn’t an exception. But once again, drink it quick because it will melt in the blink of an eye. And if you happen to be clumsy like me, I would suggest sitting down to drink it- because I’m fairly sure my shirt ended up enjoying half of it as we walked around.
I only managed to try 10 out of 13 booths this year with 2 full days at Epcot, so I highly suggest that you plan ahead the top things you want to try. If not, you will end up full and missing out on some potential favorites.
For my outfit, I am wearing the Love You More tee by Oh Yeah Apparel. I bought this for my mother recently because “Love You More” is her thing. Since it is a little bigger than I normally wear, I tied it at the front and then the fit was perfect! My pants are from Target and I absolutely love them. I actually wore them to Epcot a few weeks ago and since they are sheer, they felt very cool and lightweight while still providing coverage. My ears are a BFF exclusive; My friend Lisa made matching ones for me, her, and Lindsey (they were both featured in one of my previous blogs). I love these ears because they are violet lemonade themed and who doesn’t love one of those??
What was your favorite part of the festival this year? I would love to see pictures of your favorite food, drink, topiaries, or festival inspired outfits! And if you’re headed out there this weekend with the Memorial Day crowds to enjoy the last weekend of the festival, I wish you the best of luck!