It’s the time of year for topiaries, flowers, and food! Eight short days ago, it was the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, but now it’s time for the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival! This year’s Festival runs from February 28 until May 28, 2018.
This is the 25th anniversary of the Festival, which is an annual tradition at Walt Disney World that shows the beauty of spring with beautiful flowers and topiaries. Outdoor kitchens, which serve up unique foods, are found surrounding the World Showcase Lagoon
Important to note that the Festival Center, located in what was the Wonders of Life Pavilion, is not open this year.
This year at the Festival, there are 15 outdoor kitchens. These kiosks serve up sample sized portions ranging in price from $4.00 to $12.00. New this year to the Festival is The Honey Bee-stro kiosk that incorporates honey into every one of their dishes!
I generally like most of the food at any of the Epcot Festivals, but the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival might be my favorite of all. Year after year I’ve found the food to be so consistently delicious. Also, important to note that this was the first day of the festival and with some exceptions, the lines for the outdoor kitchens weren’t too long.
My favorite dish of the day can be found in the France pavilion at Fleur de Lys. It was the Canard Confit Aux Gnocchi à la Parisienne, which is braised duck confit with Parisian gnocchi, for $5.75. Not only was this delicious, but the serving I was fortunate enough to get had a generous amount of meat on it which was extremely tender. I’d never had Parisian gnocchi before today, so I was a little hesitant to try something new, but I’m glad I did because it may have been my favorite part of the dish!
Choosing the worst dish of the day is difficult because, like I said, all the food was enjoyable. If I had to pick anything I’d say it would be the Spicy Blackened Shrimp and Cheddar Cheese Grits, which was $6.25 and is offered at the Florida Fresh kiosk. I am starting to really enjoy shrimp and grits, and I’ve been ordering it more and more. Being from upstate New York, it wasn’t something as readily accessible, but I’ve found that I really do enjoy what is typically a southern style dish. Unfortunately, today’s Spicy Blackened Shrimp and Cheddar Cheese Grits were more of a disappointment than anything else. While the flavor was great, the consistency seemed off. The grits I’ve had in the past have had a perfect combination of being creamy and gritty at the same time, which is an odd combo that strangely works well together. Sadly, the grits from the Festival today were just mushy with no grittiness to them. The shrimp also had their tails left on, which was just a minor inconvenience more than anything.
I finally had the chance to try the Frozen Dessert Violet Lemonade, which I had heard a lot about on social media last year during the Flower & Garden Festival. This non-alcoholic frozen dessert costs $4.25 and has received a lot of hype. I will say, I wasn’t disappointed. I certainly wouldn’t claim that this is the best snack/dessert on Walt Disney World property like some have, but I will say it is really tasty and I understand why people love it so much. It is tart like lemonade but has a sweetness that seemed slightly different, but hey, maybe that was just all in my head because the drink was violet. Regardless, this drink is worth a try.
I was pleasantly surprised at how great the merchandise was. I am not a big shopper, but even I was tempted by several items. I immediately saw the Flower & Garden salmon (rose gold?) spirit jerseys and knew that my wife would love it, so of course, I had to grab her one.
In particular, there was a sharp looking t-shirt with Mickey and Pluto in an orange grove that I really liked. There is no shortage of Figment merchandise, which isn’t for me, but hey, to each his own. Maybe my memory of previous years is incorrect, but it just felt like there was a lot more to choose from, and that there was something for everybody this year.
Every year when I write up my thoughts on the Flower & Garden Festival I always admit that I am no gardening expert, and this year is no different. That doesn’t take away from the fact that an average Joe can easily see how beautiful the flowers and topiaries are! I love how every turn you make, you seem to bump into another garden. With all these flowers, Epcot feels like a completely different park. Guests can find some really unique photo opportunities with all the gardens, in fact, I saw a number of guests posing for pictures in front of these displays.