It’s time again for the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival! I debated whether or not to write about this year’s event, since I already covered last year’s festivities. If you’re looking for tips on how to make the most of your time and money (hint: lighten up on the drinks), check out my original festival post here.
Already know the basics? Read on to see how this year’s offerings compare.
The biggest change I noticed from past events is the portion size. In the past, food and especially drinks were served in small tasting dishes. A 2 oz pour might cost a few dollars, making it easy to sample several beverages throughout the day.
Wine this year can still be purchased in smaller pours; however, beer and cider are served in normal, full-size plastic cups and cost around $8 apiece. This is great news, if you fall in love with one specific brew, and good news for your wallet, assuming you limit yourself to one or two drinks. Buying a bunch of smaller, less expensive drinks adds up quickly, but I still prefer to sample my way around World Showcase. Luckily for me, several locations still serve beer and wine flights, so it’s the best of both worlds.
Some of the food offerings also increased in size, such as the pulled pork sandwich at the American pavilion, and the spicy hot dog served at the Pineapple Promenade.
This year’s event saw the introduction of two new outdoor kitchens. Cider House, as mentioned above, serves up flavors inspired by the United Kingdom. My favorite items here are the shredded corned beef and the blueberry cider. La Isla Fresca features vibrant Caribbean flavors. We loved the jerk-spice grouper with fresh mango slaw, and I personally loved the colorful, tropical vibe of the booth itself.
Of course, Epcot also brought back fan favorites such as Japan’s “frushi” and Morocco’s incredibly sweet baklava. And, most exciting of all, this year saw the return of my favorite item ever served at the Flower & Garden Festival: the Rose Margarita, served up at Mexico’s “Jardin de Fiestas” kitchen.
I may have actually squealed when I saw it on the menu. Cocktails, as opposed to wine, beer and cider, can get pretty pricey, so my boyfriend and I waited until the very last day of the 2013 Flower & Garden Fest to buy my pricey rose margarita, rimmed with bold hibiscus sugar and topped with a cheerful pink flower. Big mistake. It was love at first sip, and we lamented not trying it earlier in the festival season! The drink is technically available year-round at La Hacienda de San Angel, one of Epcot’s many themed restaurants, but I hoped it would one day return as a festival offering.
We handed our money over without question, and were rewarded with a small glass of the tart pink blend. Only…I don’t think it’s the same drink we fell in love with. There’s no hibiscus sugar, no pretty little flower, and definitely not the same “kick” that the original served up. It was tasty, but a little disappointing after hyping it up in our minds for years. I guess we will have to stop at La Hacienda and try the real deal soon!
Meanwhile, the elderflower watermelon sangria was delicious, and we enjoyed trying the rest of the items at the Mexican outdoor kitchen. In fact, we made a point of stopping to sample something from every single booth (collecting stamps in my cute little festival passport along the way). I’ll stop chattering now (I’m getting hungry) and let the pictures do the talking.
Curious about what else the Flower & Garden Festival has to offer? It’s more than just food, wine, and gorgeous flowers everywhere. Check out my post on the 2015 event to see what other goodies are in store each year, then head on over to the Walt Disney World website to get your trip started!
Practical Info & Tips:
- The 2016 Festival runs through May 30. There’s still plenty of time to get in on the fun!
- Stay hydrated! Its a good idea to bring unopened water bottles and refill them around the park as needed. This is especially important if you plan on drinking your way around World Showcase.
- Take advantage of freebies around the park. Sample international soda flavors at Club Cool, snag a free chocolate sample at Ghirardelli inside the Festival Center, and, during especially busy times, present your Chase Bank credit or debit card at the American Adventure to gain access to the Chase Lounge. There are comfy seats, bathrooms, plenty of air conditioning, and complimentary access to several Coke Freestyle machines.
- Like any other crowded warm-weather destination, it helps to arrive early. I love visiting when the sun sets and the temperature drop, but so does everyone else. It’s always packed toward the end of the day, but if you can stand the heat, visit mid-morning and enjoy a leisurely stroll around World Showcase.
- Worried about going over budget? Consider buying a Festival gift card and sticking to the pre-loaded amount. If you have money left over at the end of the day, no worries. It’s a Disney gift card and be used in plenty of places around the resort.