This year marks the 20th annual Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, held in both Future World and World Showcase around Epcot, and known for its larger-than-life topiaries of our favorite Disney characters and scenes. This year is a little different, however, because the creators of the festival have added a big bonus this year, in the form of 12 booths featuring Spring-inspired culinary dishes and fruit-infused beers, wines and other adult beverages, as well as some non-alcoholic options. As a fan of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, I think this is a wonderful addition. With 12 booths, it’s not overwhelming to World Showcase, and the offerings are completely unique and new to the Flower & Garden Festival. This addition of food and wine was 5 years in the making, and I think worth every minute of planning. The items offered are focused on fresh, light flavors, or those reminiscent of the coming summer – as found in the Smokehouse area of the American pavilion. I haven’t had a chance to try all the options yet, but so far my favorite was the “Frushi” or fruit sushi – fresh fruit rolled inside coconut rice. It’s not too sweet, it’s just perfect!
As far as the drink options, the biggest buzz is for the Dole Whip with a shot of Siesta Key spiced rum. I gave this a try – for research purposes of course – and it was a very unique experience. Unless you are a huge fan of rum by itself, I recommend mixing it all up so it’s like a frozen drink vs. trying to drink the rum alone. My favorite adult offering of the festival is the sparkling brut with elderflower syrup, found in the German booth. It was so yummy! I’ll let you discover your own favorites as you stroll around the World Showcase promenade – but don’t forget to visit the Festival Center where the Intermissions Cafe has its own set of drinks and snacks to try.
With the addition of the food and wine selections, the Flower & Garden Festival also borrows the passport which is so popular during the Food & Wine Festival. Guests can pick up a Garden Passport at the Festival Center (make sure to get your first stamp there!) and then get a stamp at each garden location and food booth around the festival. It’s a fun activity for adults and kids alike!
Speaking of kids, my 4 year-old tested out all of the kids play areas and gave his thumbs up for the Radiator Springs garden and the Oz garden, both featuring some really fun playground equipment to climb, jump, and explore, as well as comfy seating for parents to supervise. The Tinker Bell and Friends Butterfly House is a perfect theme for the butterfly gardens, and a great learning opportunity with chrysalis collections and new butterflies emerging daily.
Also be sure to check out the Festival Center over in the former Wonders of Life pavilion, for some great hands-on demonstrations and seminars from the festival sponsor, HGTV. I got to see a sneak peek of some of the seminars from HGTV stars, and guests were learning about some great planting tips and even getting to plant their own little garden starter. The Festival Center also features the fun new Epcot Flower and Garden merchandise for the 2013 – including the Vera Bradley and Disney handbag preview.
Later today I’ll be featuring some of the amazing nighttime gardens, which are another plus this year at the festival and gives some areas an entirely different look than in the day. Until then, because of the sheer number of topiaries, food, play areas, and more at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, I made a flickr set to share all the photos I took. I didn’t include photos of everything…you’ll need to get over to Epcot and check out all the delicious fun in person! Right now there over 200 photos in the see. Enjoy!
And don’t forget the Flower Power concert series, featuring some classic acts which are the perfect accompaniment to the flowers and food found around Epcot. I got a chance to meet Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, and he was thrilled to be a part of the concert series, and hopes to return each year. I hope to see you around the World Showcase lagoon and all of Epcot, enjoying all there is to see at the 20th International Flower and Garden Festival!