If you haven’t checked out last week’s post you will want to do that after you finish this on. We are spending a couple of weeks exploring all there is to offer at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. In part 1 we looked at how Disney creates those amazing topiaries, where to find the coolest kid’s playgrounds, and when you can hear some real experts share their knowledge about horticulture and it was fun! I was actually surprised at how much fun I had exploring this part of the festival. I mean, we are talking about flowers and butterflies, not rockstar roller coasters or haunted mansions. Well, today we are going to continue our romp through the gardens of Epcot, but we are going to discover even more ways to have fun. We might even rock out a little bit…
Before we can do that, let’s get started with our Know Before You Go Essential Facts:
- This seasonal event is held at Epcot
- The event is included in your normal park admission
- The event has been extended this year to 90 days
- It runs from March 2 – May 30, 2016
Welcome back to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival! When we left off last week we had just visited the Festival Center where you will find all kinds of great speakers on the weekends. Well, that isn’t all there is to experience on the weekends at the festival: on several weekends throughout the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, you can enjoy what they call Fun Fresh Weekends. Different weekends highlight different aspects of the festival’s outdoor nature. If you pulled up a passport last week to follow along, go ahead and grab that again. If not, you can click here and follow along. Page 4 of the passport lists the different activities scheduled for Fun Fresh Weekends. Let’s take a quick look!
Art in the Garden Weekend
This is your chance to wander the World Showcase and take in some world class talent as “Plein Air” artists show off their skills and creations. If you are wondering what “Plein Air,” (that’s p-l-e-i-n) means, well it is just a fancy French term meaning “open air.” So, when you see those fancy looking artists with their easels set up outside painting what they see in front of them, that is “Plein Air.” As someone who studied art, I would love to give a little art history lesson here, but that might put a few of you to sleep. If you are driving while listening that could be bad. What is important to know is that you can see some of the artists bringing views of the World Showcase to life on canvas right in front of your eyes! Many of the artists are eager to share their passion and will be happy to answer questions about their work or process. Be sure to take a few minutes to stop and admire the skills and artistry on display. The artists will be out Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11:00 am – 7:00 pm.
Outdoor Family Fun Weekend!
Select Festival gardens will help families experience the benefits of sharing time together outdoors. Plus, specialists from Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be on hand at the Festival Center from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm to show you just how cool bugs can be! Here you will learn the important roles certain creatures play in nature and get to see the beneficial insects that help a garden thrive.
Earth Day Weekend
Hopefully by now you are familiar with Earth Day. Select Festival Gardens will celebrate our home with special interactive activities throughout the weekend. Also, you can learn more about the gardens of the sea! Over at The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion, you can discover the conservation efforts being used to help protect coral reefs, sea turtles, sharks and more.
April 29 – May 1
Florida Fresh Weekend
Stop by the Festival Center to discover the bounty from the state of Florida.
Florida Federation of Garden Clubs
During this weekend you can find amazing floral designs that defy description. The Garden Clubs will be showcasing their creations in the Festival Center.
While that wraps up the Fun Fresh Weekend lineup, our weekend fun is far from over. In addition to the special events being held, there will be some exciting musical guests.
Garden Rocks Concert Series
If you are in the mood for some music and maybe even a little dancing, then head over to the American Gardens Theatre located outside The American Adventure pavilion! Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night there are live performances by that week’s featured band. These 30 minute concerts take place at 5:30 pm, 6:45 pm, and 8:00 pm. If you get there early enough, you can grab a seat in the outdoor theatre and rest your feet, look out over the World Showcase Lagoon, and listen to some classic hits. Or, if the night is still young and your feet are still fresh, you can dance along to the beats on the promenade! All of the concerts are included with your park admission and are a great way to let loose and have some fun!
Here is the lineup for this year:
Weekend 1: March 4 -6
The Orchestra starring former members of ELO, known for the song: “Evil Woman”
Weekend 2: March 11 – 13
STARSHIP featuring Mickey Thomas, known for the song: “We Built This City”
Weekend 3: March 18 -20
Little River Band, known for the song: “Reminiscing”
Weekend 4: March 25 -27
Village People, known for the song: “Y.M.C.A”
Weekend 5: April 1 -3
Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone, known for the song: “I’m Henry VIII, I Am”
Weekend 6: April 8 -10
The Guess Who, known for the song: “These Eyes”
Weekend 7: April 15 -17
Blood, Sweat and Tears starring Bo Bice, known for the song: “Spinning Wheel”
Weekend 8: April 22 -24
NEW, Bad Company starring Brian Howe, known for the song: “Can’t Get Enough”
Weekend 9: April 29 – May 1
NEW, Georgia Satellites, known for the song: “Keep Your Hands to Yourself”
Weekend 10: May 6 – 8
Gin Blossoms, known for the song: “Hey Jealousy”
Weekend 11: May 13 – 15
NEW, Darlene Love, known for the song: “Wait ’Til My Bobby Comes Home”
Weekend 12: May 20 -22
Night Ranger, known for the song: “Sister Christian”
Weekend 13: May 27 – 30
The Spinners, known for the song: “Working My Way Back to You”
If you actually get to go hear these performance live, keep in mind the songs listed here may not be included in the artist performance playlist, and all entertainment and appearances are subject to change without notice.
Between the Fun Fresh Weekends and Garden Rocks Concert Series, I bet you have worked up quite an appetite! Well, I have good news for you. The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival has a smorgasbord of seasonal food offerings. A quick side note here: if this will be your first time at Walt Disney World, you should know that Epcot is the place to go for food regardless of the time of year. There are so many wonderful restaurants, both quick-service and table service throughout the park, that you can satisfy pretty much any craving you might have. That is even more true during seasonal events like the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival!
If you look at page 7 of your passport you will see the list of all 13 outdoor kitchens available during the festival. Originally I planned on doing a quick walk by of all 13, but that might be a little time consuming and I don’t have any fun songs like I did with the Garden Rocks Concert Series. So, I’m just going to highlight a few of the more noteworthy kitchens. Please refer to your guide when you are in the park to make sure you don’t miss your favorite flavors!
Tropic lovers won’t want to miss this stop along the World Showcase Promenade. Not only can you score some delicious pineapple soft serve, but you can even get a spicy hot dog topped with pineapple chutney. This kitchen is guaranteed to take your taste buds on a tangy tropical adventure! For a unique non-alcoholic drink, be sure to check out the Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade.
La Isla Fresca
New this year is a Caribbean inspired kitchen. Whether you select meats braised or seasoned with jerk spices, you are sure to get a Jamaican vibe. This kiosk also offers frozen drinks and desserts to complete the fresh island experience. You can enjoy Jamaican-braised Beef with Pigeon Pea Rice and Micro Cilantro and then order Tres Leches with Guava Puree for dessert.
THE SMOKEHOUSE: Barbecue and Brews
Welcome to America! Land of the free, home of the brave, and smoker of meats. You can find your barbecue of choice here outside The American Adventure and then wash it down with a golden craft brew. I’m sure the Pulled Pig Slider and the Smoked Pork Ribs are excellent, but my first choice would be the Beef Brisket Burnt End Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapenos. Tell me that doesn’t sound good!
If the wild west isn’t your style, you can slide next door to the Japan Pavilion and sample the finest fair of the far east. Even if you haven’t been to the festival before, you may have heard about the famous Frushi being served out of the pagoda-style booth. Frushi is a fun take on sushi, comprised of fresh fruit, raspberry coconut rice, toasted coconut and whipped cream. This is a sushi even the kids (or non seafood lovers like myself) can get behind!
Taste of Marrakesh
Take a stroll around the block and you can meet Aladdin and Princess Jasmine in the Morocco Pavilion. While you are there you can taste some of the mediterranean’s finest spice-infused bites. If you have always wanted to try Restaurant Marrakesh or the Tangerine Cafe but aren’t as adventurous as Aladdin, this is your chance to sample the flavors of this pavilion. Menu items include Harissa Chicken Kebab, Falafel Pocket, and Baklava for dessert.
Located along the walk from Morocco to France is a booth representing the far off country of Florida. Perhaps this is the safe bet for any not daring enough to try a Taste of Marrakesh! No judgement here. I would have a hard time passing up the Fresh-squeezed Watermelon Juice or the Watermelon Cucumber Slush being poured out at this stop. You can also taste the sweet and tangy creations like Shrimp and Stone-ground Grits with Andouille Sausage, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes and Cilantro.
Our last stop along the global culinary trail is the United Kingdom, which boasts a NEW booth this year. As the name suggests, this is the stop for an adult Cider and some picnic fare. My suggestion is to grab your food and drink and then head to the very back of the UK Pavilion. There is a quiet little garden perfect for an afternoon tea, or cider, you get the idea. While you nibble your Freshly Baked Lemon Scone with Creme Fraiche and Mixed Berries, you might even see the practically perfect nanny herself, Mary Poppins!
Well, that wraps up the food. See I only did 7 out of 13 kitchens! Now, the only thing we have left to discuss are the tours available. There are 3 tours going on during the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, the English Tea Garden Tour, the Epcot Gardens of the World Tour, and the Behind the Seeds Tour.
The English Tea Garden Tour
This is a complimentary 20 minute tour of the elegant English Tea Garden. The guided tour teaches the history & art of tea blending, featuring some of Twinings finest tea blends. Sign-up is located in The Tea Caddy.
Epcot Gardens of The World Tour
All right, any serious garden enthusiasts out there? This is your tour. A Disney Horticulturist guides you on a 3 hour tour of the special displays and award winning gardens of the festival. You will want to sign up in advance if possible. Reservations can be made by calling 407-WDW-TOUR or by stopping by Guest Relations. The Epcot Gardens of The World Tour is offered Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm.
Behind the Seeds Tour
This tour is offered year-round, but is especially relevant during the festival. So, what can you expect? Well, why don’t you come back next week and find out! That’s right, this will be the second in our Backstage Pass Podcast Series. We will take an in-depth look at this one hour guided tour through Living With the Land.
With that we will pull off our garden gloves and hang up our gardening tools for now. I hope you have enjoyed our two week exploration of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival! This is one of the absolute best times of year to visit Epcot. With amazing topiaries, a variety of gardens, rock concerts, educational opportunities, tours, and fantastic food, this is a festival you are sure to enjoy. The festival runs for a full 90 days this year, so hopefully you have an upcoming Disney trip during that time. If not, why not start planning for next year? One thing that makes a Disney vacation so magical is the anticipation! The further out you plan, the more time you have to get excited. If I can help in any way please let me know. I am an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, which means I’m here to help you have the most magical vacation possible, all at no additional cost to you. If you would like a free vacation quote or want to learn more, just visit wdwrideguide.com/vacationplanner.
Thank you so much for joining me today. I don’t know about you, but all this talk about Outdoor Kitchens has made me hungry! I think I’ll go see if I can find some barbecue burnt ends! I hope you have a great week and I look forward to talking with you again next week. Until then, make each day a ride worth taking!