This month on Dispodopolis, we discuss our experience at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. It was the first time in four years we had been to Epcot this time of year. Springtime is a great time to experience the parks, and this trip was extra special because we would actually be able to sample the food offerings at the festival. This year was a bittersweet visit because the parks would be closing the day we left, leaving many people unable to partake in this year’s celebration.
We started our conversation with a trip through the newly fenced front entrance that leaves you winding through narrow paths decorated with colorful murals of Disney animated and live-action features. The color choices try to help you navigate the absence of visual surveillance. The walls tower over you and block most of the view of construction. Obviously, this is part of the design. You wind behind the innovation building and through uncharted territory. They have created new sidewalks for the new flow of traffic.
You see, new sides of buildings and enter the Future World East and West quicker, but the expansion between the two has been dramatically increased and cuts down on your ability to quickly transfer between the two areas. You have to complete a wide-full circle around the old innovation buildings to get to the other side of Future World.
Traveling the outlying circle around Future World isn’t something you are going to do very often during the day. That brings us to our next conversation about the new to me “Guest Experience” blue umbrellas that have been strategically placed throughout the park. These umbrellas are a great place to stop and ask questions and made our experience at Epcot magically manageable. We were able to ask politely and receive return times for the Disability Access Service Card. Instead of missing out on half of the attractions at Epcot, we were able to ride a couple of additional rides that day.
Following our conversation about the blue umbrellas, we are ready for lunch, and that means we get to hit the kiosks around the World Showcase. The lines were very intimidating but moved quickly. As we entered the arena of the promenade of the World Showcase, we found two stands that would work for our family. We decide to try roasted cauliflower, honey tandoori chicken flatbread, and the honey-peach freeze at The Honey Bee-stro. At The Citrus Blossom, we dined on the lobster tail and crispy citrus chicken. These portions are a great snack, but we definitely needed a substantial lunch, so we headed to the La Cantina San Angel. I slipped over to the Jardin de Fiestas and grabbed the quesadilla al pastor. All the items we sampled had great flavor and were a fun treat. I would return for the roasted cauliflower and the honey-peach freeze.
We were also able to try two of the desserts featured in the World Showcase. Fiona and I stayed late to watch the temporary fireworks show, Epcot Forever, and stood in line to try the Mini Funnel Cake at the Funnel Cake Stand in the American Adventure. It was quite a wait but it was worth it. The hot, freshly fried funnel cake topped with a square slab of lemon cheesecake sizzled. The addition of blueberries, powdered sugar, and whipped cream made it a special treat. The other dessert, key lime tart, we tried was the at the Florida Fresh kiosk. It was tart and sweet in all the right combinations. The toasted meringue on top with the bamboo colored white chocolate was extra special.
When you think of the Flower and Garden, your thoughts go to flowers and topiaries. This festival does not disappoint. Every flower bed and around every corner, there is a fantastic Disney themed topiary. I loved all of them. If you are thinking about It’s A Small World topiaries, this is not your festival. These are created using mosses and lichens that form a tapestry of color through the park. We couldn’t stop being amazed by the brilliance. Just a few themes that we saw were Winnie the Pooh, Fantasia, Snow White, and the Muppets.
The gardens were everywhere, and flowers were out to impress. To fully experience the gardens, you needed to pick up Spike’s Pollen-Nation Exploration. It is a fun scavenger hunt that makes sure you don’t miss all the varieties of vegetation offered around World and Future Showcase. In each of the marked gardens is a garden marker featuring one of the plants in that area, and alongside that marker is a three-dimensional version of Spike. You can see Spike in some of the early short animation features starring Pluto and Donald Duck. He appeared in about fourteen shorts from 1940-2018, but he primarily featured from 1940-1955. Some great ones to review are Window Cleaners, Inferior Decorator, and Bee at the Beach.
Some oldies but goodies that returned for this event were the Butterfly Pavilion and Bo Peep’s Playtime Training Ground. Bo Peep’s is created for a younger crowd from 1-7, and it is the same playground that they transform every year to fit the theme of the latest Disney flick. The Butterfly Pavilion is for all to experience and is an excellent walk in the park. We always enjoy a butterfly encounter. The bonus this year was free samples of Go-Squirt Apple Sauce. Who doesn’t enjoy cold apple sauce on a hot day? It was such a fun treat on the way in and on the way out.
Fiona wanted to finish our discussion with a visit to all the meet-n-greets she experienced at Epcot and the Hollywood Studios. At Epcot, they have taken out the Innovations building that held the meet-n-greet with the Fab Five. To make sure guests could still meet their favorite characters, Disney set up a makeshift experience at the World Showcase entrance to Epcot. Between France and England, there was an opportunity to meet Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, and Tiana. Fiona was pretty excited, and we were able to meet three out of the four characters. At Hollywood Studios inside the Walt Disney Presents museum, Fiona was able to meet Sully where you previously were able to meet the Guardians of the Galaxy characters. We were the last ones to meet him for the day. He didn’t disappoint, and he appreciated her joke.
Between these two meet-n-greets, we were able to test out the new Skyliner between Hollywood Studios and Epcot. It did not disappoint and was a swift, cool ride across the sky. I would not want this to be my only option for transportation at the end of the day. The lines are massive and intimidating. We choose to walk back to our resort from Hollywood Studios to the Boardwalk instead of taking the Skyliner to Epcot. During the day, it is a great option to jump between Hollywood Studios and Epcot. We took the Skyliner and got off at Caribbean Beach Resort. Then we needed to get on a different Skyliner route that headed to Rivera Resort and Epcot. We did not have to exit at the Rivera Resort, and our Skyliner cab went straight through. We did pick up some passengers. We changed direction at this location and veered to the left. Next, we hit another transition tower high up in the sky and turned right. It was a noisy transition that can be a little frightening to small children or those with a sensitivity to sound. Our next stop was Epcot at the World Showcase entrance between England and France. It only took about twenty minutes and was well worth the relaxing ride in the sky.
Before we have our discussion about the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, we discuss which topiary we would like to have in our gardens at home and which topiary we would like to see added to the parks for next year. We all have a favorite at the parks from the Muppets, Peter Pan, Fantasia, and Bambi. We would love to see each of these topiary collections expanded and see some of our favorite characters added. Fiona has a specific crush on a Muppets character that makes it into all of our conversations. Can you guess who she wants to add?
We would love to hear from you and your family. If you have any comments, questions, or fun and fancy-free thoughts, email us at email@example.com. Please enjoy our latest podcast, Dispodopolis.