2018 Flower and Garden Festival Review
I’m squeezing every last drop out of the post-Walt Disney World euphoria that sets in just after returning home. I’ve got about 2 days of the euphoria left before I’m fully re-immersed body, mind, and soul into the usual day to day monotony, so I’m taking full advantage of my chipper mood to write about one of the highlights of my most recent trip: Fresh Epcot and the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival!
I’m a Disney foodie for sure, and reading anything I’ve written would probably earn me an award for ‘blogger who is most obsessed with Disney foods’ so for me to start with anything other than food is a big deal. The gardens and topiaries at the 2018 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival have once again outdone their predecessors. Starting right from the entryway, the topiaries are the clear star of this fest with a massive Goofy being the focal point of the beautiful new port of entry gardens. Snow White, Elsa, Anna, Daisy, butterflies, and Captain Hook just scratch the surface of the topiary line up on display at the festival, and they are all absolute works of art. Though, of course, I did have my favorites:
The Lion King topiary made a grand return this year, located in the Outpost Pavilion. The detail on Rafiki’s face left me staring for a solid 5 minutes. Can you believe they are totally made of living plant life?
The Lady and the Tramp topiaries located along the water in the Italy Pavilion drew crowds that were at least 3 guests deep each time I passed by- and I passed by often! Lady’s ‘hair’ is what attracted me to take this photo.
The Belle and Beast topiaries always, always, always draw a crowd. I’m not sure that I’ve ever passed by when someone wasn’t snapping a photo in front of the famous duo. This year, I took a walk to the back of the France Pavilion and was absolutely blown away by the gardens surrounding Belle and Beast. Change your point of view and you might be surprised!
My hands-down favorite part of the festival this year were the gardens surrounding the Future World waterways (floating pots of flowers!) and the adjacent gardens in the Honey Bee Stro. The only way I can describe the gardens here are ‘perfect’. Flowers of every single hue shone brightly in the blazing Florida sun as the hard work of the agriculture team and their clear commitment to upkeep was on full display!
I know the Food and Wine Festival is known for the food- and wine- and I know I’m going out on a limb with this proclamation: this is the best food I’ve ever had at an Epcot Festival. The choices were the most diverse and, in my opinion, the most appetizing! I had so many items circled in my booklet that I wasn’t able to taste everything without exploding, but I must say, I made my choices wisely. I started with the warm lemon scone from the Cider House. The scone was, as advertised, served warm from the oven and was flanked on either side by a raspberry compote and crème fresh. The scone was fork-tender and as soon as I went in for that first bite, the resistance that met my fork told me that the density of the scone would be right on, and I was right! The compote was the perfect balance between bitter and sweet, and I enjoyed it as a almost a side dish to the scone as I didn’t want to subtract from any of that amazing lemon-y flavor!
My next few stops were all about the specialty cocktails. I know how good the red sangria was at last years’ fest from Morocco, so when I noticed a white variety on this years’ menus I knew where I’d be getting my first drink! Fruity and extremely light, the sangria was pretty good and is absolutely meant to be enjoyed as more of a cool down drink than a heavy cocktail. I tasted mostly white peach and some hints of grape. I also picked up the Pinot Grigio in Italy. The dry wine was served chilled and, for the under $5 price, the pour was a decent size. Let’s just say the notes of tart fruit met my parched tongue with much satisfaction.
My two favorite dishes from the festival were the toasted pretzel bread with cheese from Germany and the cauliflower dish from the Honey Bee Stro. Starting with the pretzel bread, I was surprised by the generous serving of ham sitting atop a pool of melted cheese and felt its warmth right through the plate! Maybe it was the amazing view of World Showcase that skewed my taste buds, but the salty ham was an absolutely perfect balance to the cheese and unsalted, dense pretzel bread.
My favorite of all the dishes was absolutely this cauliflower dish from Honey Bee Stro. (Disclaimer: I’m not a big fan of carrots, so I ordered mine without the carrot purée) The wild rice served as a subtly flavored bed for the rest of the dish. Vegetables in dishes similar to these tend to be over cooked and drowned in oil or butter, and I was so, so pleased when I bit into the first spear of asparagus to be met with the distinctive ‘crunch’ that I love! The sunflower brittle garnish had me a little leery, though I should learn to trust the Disney chefs to know what they’re doing! It provided a great contrast to the rest of the dish in texture and provided an unexpected but perfectly fitting sweetness that counter balanced the richness of the rice. Overall, I had a blast at the festival and can’t wait to return next year! What was your favorite part of this years’ Fest? Let us know in the comments below!
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Special thanks to Maria Salerno for writing this article: Hiya pal! I am a NYC-based writer/musician thrilled to be bringing you all things Disney! I’m a WDW Annual Passholder, so you can find me in the parks regularly throughout the year. In addition to being a Disney Parks loving girl, I’m also a Disney toy and merchandise collector, a runDisney enthusiast, and Disney music and movie aficionado. You can follow me on Instagram: NYCtoAP and find me on YouTube: NYCtoAP. Thanks for reading, hope to see ya real soon!