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Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Blooms with Help from Bees, Disney Gingerbread Houses

posted on March 13th, 2015 by Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations


Do you remember our “over-the-top” gingerbread creations during the holidays? Well, those delicious works of art are creating quite a buzz during the 22nd Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Your favorite Disney gingerbread houses from the Walt Disney World Resort are shared with bees to help pollinate the spectacular flowers blooming right now at Epcot.

And we “Spring into Spring” today with special programs and food celebrating longer days, warmer weather, and St. Patrick’s day in our first extended weekend of the festival. Check out the details and menus at this year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

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Two New Culinary Favorites at This Year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

posted on March 13th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


What fun to make our rounds on the World Showcase Promenade and taste all the new creations from Executive Chef Gregg Hannon and his team at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. We love the blooms, but the food gets most of our attention.

Chef Gregg agreed to share two brand-new recipes this year, one savory, one sweet. The Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash from The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews takes a little time, but, oh, it’s worth it. “Burnt Ends,” by the way are the crunchier outside pieces of leftover brisket – so you get to enjoy a beef brisket, then make this fabulous hash for another meal. And the Florida Blueberry and Lemon Curd Tart from the Florida Fresh Outdoor Kitchen takes advantage of blueberry season in the Sunshine State.

So if we don’t see you on the promenade between now and May 17, we hope you’ll try these recipes at home. For two great Florida Fresh Outdoor Kitchen recipes back by demand this year, check out the Watermelon Salad and Shrimp and Grits.

For more information, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639) or go to epcotinspring.com. The festival, including all gardening programs and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.

Outdoor Kitchen Offerings at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash

Burnt Ends Brisket Hash
Serves 4-6

Pickled Jalapeño Peppers

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced white onion
  • 1 cup sliced jalapeño peppers
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

White Cheddar Cheese Fondue

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 cup shredded aged white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons diced jalapeño pepper

Burnt Ends Brisket Hash

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium white potato, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup diced poblano peppers
  • 2 tablespoons diced jalapeño peppers
  • 3 cups cubed smoked beef brisket
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For pickled jalapeno:

  1. Place sliced onions and jalapeños in a medium-sized glass bowl.
  2. Combine white vinegar, water, sugar, salt, black peppercorns, bay leaf, garlic, and coriander in a small saucepan. Cook over high heat until mixture boils.
  3. Pour brine over onions and jalapeños. Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours.

For white cheddar cheese fondue:

  1. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté 5-8 minutes, or until onions are translucent.
  2. Add flour, stirring constantly, for 3-5 minutes. Do not allow mixture to brown.
  3. Add cream, salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes, or until simmering. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20-25 minutes, until mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon.
  4. Add hot sauce. Slowly add cheese, stirring constantly, 3-5 minutes, until cheese melts and is creamy.
    Add diced jalapeño peppers. Keep warm until ready to serve.

For burnt ends brisket hash:

  1. Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium for 5 minutes, or until oil is shimmering.
    Carefully add potatoes. Cook potatoes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 6-8 minutes, until potatoes are golden and cooked through.
  2. Add remaining vegetables. Cook 3-5 minutes, until softened. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve:

  1. Evenly divide burnt ends brisket hash among plates. Top with white cheddar cheese fondue. Garnish with pickled jalapeño peppers.

Outdoor Kitchen Offerings at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: Florida Blueberry and Lemon Curd Tart

Blueberry Lemon Curd Tarts
Makes 6 tarts

Lemon Pastry Cream

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Vanilla Tarts

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoon very cold water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 teaspoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

Blueberry Filling

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Blueberry Meringue

  • 2 egg whites
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pureed blueberries

For lemon pastry cream:

  1. Whisk cornstarch, 1/4 cup sugar, egg and egg yolks together in a medium bowl; set aside.
    Combine milk, vanilla and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat.
  2. Remove 1 cup of hot milk and slowly pour into the cornstarch/egg mixture, whisking briskly, so eggs do not cook.
  3. Stir cornstarch/egg/milk mixture back into remaining hot milk.
  4. Return saucepan to medium-low heat, stirring constantly so eggs do not curdle or scorch on bottom of pan; cook until cream thickens.

  5. Remove from heat and add butter, stirring until completely blended. Stir in lemon juice.
    Pour mixture into a heat-proof container, cover with plastic wrap placed in contact with surface of cream to avoid forming skin. Refrigerate until chilled.

For vanilla tarts:

  1. Mix egg yolk, water and vanilla together in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Cut butter into flour mixture using pastry cutter or 2 knives until texture resembles coarse cornmeal. Butter pieces should be no larger than small peas.
  4. Add egg mixture; mix with fork just until dough pulls together.
  5. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  6. Transfer dough onto lightly floured work surface; pat into a ball and flatten. Cut dough into 6 equal portions.
  7. Roll out each portion into a circle about 2 inches larger than the diameter of each tart pan.
  8. Place dough into tart pans without stretching. With fingers, snugly press dough into sides and bottom. Press along top edge of pans to remove excess dough. Prick bottom and sides of each tart.
    Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

For blueberry filling:

  1. Prepare an ice water bath to accommodate a medium saucepan.
  2. Combine 1 cup blueberries, sugar and water in a medium saucepan.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.
  4. Add cinnamon and remaining cup of blueberries, continue to cook until entire mixture thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and place pan in ice water bath to cool.

For blueberry meringue:

  1. Whip egg whites in a large glass or metal bowl until foamy.
  2. Add cream of tartar, then gradually add sugar and whip until stiff peaks form.
  3. Fold in blueberry puree.

To serve:

  1. Cover bottom of each tart with blueberry filling.
  2. Layer lemon pastry cream on top of blueberry filling.
  3. Place meringue in piping bag with a wide opening decorator tip (so blueberries in meringue do not clog tip). Garnish each tart.

Chef’s note: For the tart, a stand mixer with a flat beater can be using instead of mixing dough by hand. Mix flour, sugar and salt at low speed. Add butter, beat on medium-low speed until texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add egg yolk, water and vanilla mixture, beat just until dough pulls together.

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Giant Sand Castle in the Snow Announces 24-Hour Party, ‘Coolest Summer Ever’ at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 11th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


As you may have seen on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America,” we shared some true Disney magic in winter-weary Boston by creating a warm summer scene, inspired by Olaf’s “In Summer” dream, to officially announce that the “Coolest Summer Ever” is coming to the Walt Disney World Resort. And it all begins with a Disney Parks Blog reader favorite – a 24-hour event at Magic Kingdom Park – during Memorial Day weekend, the traditional kickoff to summer.

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Olaf, who is the official host of our “Coolest Summer Ever,” surprised Bostonians near historic Faneuil Hall with a 20-foot wide beach that included a Cinderella Castle made of sand, beach chairs, beach balls and other reminders of summer fun at Walt Disney World Resort. Check out how it all came together in the video below.

We’re kicking off the summer with an all-night party at the Walt Disney World Resort. Magic Kingdom Park will be open to guests for 24 hours of nonstop fun from 6 a.m.-6 a.m. May 22-23. Guests are invited to dress to show their Disney Side while a selection of favorite attractions, entertainment, merchandise, food and beverages will be on tap all night long to celebrate the start of the “Coolest Summer Ever” at Walt Disney World Resort.

For the “Coolest Summer Ever,” we’re already planning experiences you won’t want to miss. Here’s an early look at some of the highlights:

There’s more to come, so keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog or visit Disneyworld.com/CoolestSummerEver for future details and information.

Also, later this morning, Erin will be sharing a special announcement from Disneyland Resort right here on the blog.

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Filed: Disney Vacation Club, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Blizzard Beach, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, Downtown Disney, Epcot, Hotels & Resorts, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Performers: Jon Secada

posted on March 10th, 2015 by Russ J. Stacey, Writer, Yellow Shoes Creative Group


Take one look at Jon Secada’s résumé and it’s no wonder he’s been so successful. One of the first Latin crossover stars, he’s a Grammy winner who’s sold over 20 million records. Also an accomplished performer, songwriter and producer, Jon’s starred on the Broadway stage and has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the business—from Gloria Estefan to Frank Sinatra. He even performed for Pope John Paul II.

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Lucky for us, he took time out of his busy schedule to chat about his upcoming debut at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (running March 4–May 17, 2015), his career and also his history with Disney.

RUSS: What will it be like to grace the Garden Rocks Concert Series stage for the first time?

JON: Looking forward to it! This will be a different experience because I’m used to playing Epcot in the fall. It should be a lot of fun to experience the park at a different time of year.

RUSS: So what can audiences expect?

JON: The hits. Everything that people know me for over the past 20-plus years. My show’s going to incorporate a little bit of everything that’s a part of my career. But for the most part, it’s a high-energy show with a concentration on the up-tempo stuff in my repertoire. That’s what I like to do. Keep the people moving. Everybody’s walking around and being active. So I like to be active as well.

RUSS: Will you have the same set list for each show, or mix it up?

JON: There are certain songs that stay the same. But the rest, I kind of mix and match with different recordings that I’ve done. So for each set, the fans will get the core songs that people know me for, and then they’ll also get a taste of something different. Maybe a couple of songs that they didn’t hear in the last set. That way, it draws people who maybe saw the last show. You can go knowing that you’re not going to experience the exact same set.

RUSS: How would you describe your music?

JON: It’s pop but with a fusion of different flavors. I grew up listening to R&B, rock, Latin music and jazz. I also studied jazz music. So my music has been kind of a fusion that’s integrated so many styles. There are melodies, hooks and lyrics that you remember and can sing along to. So that’s always been kind of the essence of my career and my recordings.

RUSS: I’m glad you brought up your different influences. How does it make you feel being one of the biggest bilingual crossover stars in the world?

JON: I was very fortunate in the early ’90s when my career got off the ground because I was one of the first artists to have success in both languages. And it created a wave of colleagues, friends and other artists who followed during that decade. It’s been the difference maker in my career. And I’m very proud of my heritage, very proud to be Hispanic-American.

RUSS: Will you be bringing your family?

JON: Yeah, they’ll be coming with me. They love the opportunity every time that I perform to enjoy the parks. We take advantage of maybe spending an extra day or so, whether it’s before or after the shows, to hang out and enjoy all that Disney has to offer.

RUSS: What do you hope people get out of your shows?

JON: Hopefully a strong, very organic, very transparent performance. There’s not a lot of sequencing going on. I truly sing live. I just love leaving it all on stage and being just as high energy and passionate as possible.

RUSS: Your admiration and respect for your fans is obvious.

JON: I owe everything to my fans. It’s the reason I have a career. They’ve really followed me through all the different paths that I’ve taken. And so I really appreciate that.

RUSS: You have a new book, “A New Day,” out. Tell us about it.

JON: Yeah. It was released in both English and Spanish a few months ago. It’s a memoir reflecting on my life and 25 years in the business, incorporating who I am as a Latino. I was very humbled, very flattered when I was approached to do this book.

RUSS: One last question. Just how big a Disney fan are you?

JON: (laughs) I’m a huge fan. My children grew up going to the parks. But I’ve also done a lot of work for the Walt Disney Company through the years. My first big project was the “Pocahontas” soundtrack; I did a duet with Shanice called “If I Never Knew You (End Title)”. And we sang it in English, Spanish and Portuguese. I did the Christmas Day Parade here at Walt Disney World Resort a few years ago. Yeah, so, I’ve had a 20-plus year experience doing different things for Disney along the way. A lot of memories there. Plus, I’d say I go the parks at least twice a year. And my kids, they’re growing older but they still love that experience!

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New Wearable Disney Gift Card Designed for Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 9th, 2015 by Virginia Scanlon, Manager Alliance Management, Disney Gift Card Services


Complete your visit to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival with an exclusive wearable Disney Gift Card created especially for this year’s event.

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With a new Festival-themed design, the mini Disney Gift Card has all the functionalities of a regular Disney Gift Card, with the added convenience of wearing it around your wrist. Enjoy the sights and scents of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival while discovering foods that highlight the taste of spring. Simply use your Disney Gift Card at any festival kiosk, and enjoy!

This year’s design will be available exclusively at Epcot and Epcot Resort locations for a limited time during the Festival. Activate your Disney Gift Card with as little as $15, then just swipe or scan to pay for food and more.

The fun doesn’t have to end after the Festival! Reload your Disney Gift Card on property as often as you like, and use it for practically all things Disney throughout Walt Disney World Resort and at other Disney destinations nationwide.

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Caption This: Scuba Mickey Mischief at Epcot

posted on March 9th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


This week’s image was shot at The Seas With Nemo & Friends years ago, back when it was known as The Living Seas.

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Looks like Mickey has caused a surprise in the pavilion’s Sea Base Alpha. What’s their reaction? You tell us. Go ahead and “Caption This” photo!

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on March 8th, 2015 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Blooms Again

This week, we kicked off the 22nd Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival by highlighting some of the featured experiences and sharing what you can expect to see this year, including a closer look at our spectacular Anna and Elsa topiaries.

You can find the Anna and Elsa topiaries at World Showcase Plaza and other Disney-themed topiaries in other locations at this year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Check out Victoria’s original story to learn more about the new specialty gardens, our Outdoor Kitchens, the Garden Rock concert series and more.

Fly Over California with Soarin' at Epcot Toy Story Mania! at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Also, Disney Parks Blog readers were among the first to learn that we’re expanding Soarin’ in Epcot and Toy Story Mania! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We are adding another theater at Soarin’ and more midway track at Toy Story Mania. We’ll also be updating the screens and projection system at Soarin,’ bringing a visually enhanced experience.

The expansions are expected to be complete by late 2016.

Here are some of the other stories we worked on this week.

Surprise Appearances and More at Disney’s ‘Cinderella’ Royal Celebration at the Disneyland Resort – Hundreds of Disney Parks Blog readers gathered at the Disneyland Resort for our Disney’s “Cinderella” Royal Celebration. Click through for photos, video and more details!

Sneak Peek: New Novelty Items to Celebrate Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration – The countdown to the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration is on! Take a look at the new artwork coming to special 60th anniversary popcorn buckets and hot mugs for Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park.

‘Decades’ Art Debuts for the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration – Beginning this May, and over the course of the entire Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, we will take a look back at milestones during each of the last six decades that have made the Disneyland Resort what it is today, with this special ‘Decades’ collection.

Today in Disney History: Indiana Jones Adventure Opens at Disneyland Park, 1995 – On March 3, 1995, Disneyland park guests began exploring the Temple of the Forbidden Eye at Indiana Jones Adventure. To celebrate this anniversary, let’s do a little Disney Parks Blog archeology and look back at some of the stories we’ve shared from this favorite attraction.

New Disney Side App Transforms You Into Disney Parks Characters – Our newest app, Show Your Disney Side, is now available for download and we think it’s going to be one of your favorites!

PHOTOS – Merchandise Blooms at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival 2015 – Here’s an update on some additional products created especially for this year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

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‘Will You be My Happily Ever After?’: A runDisney Proposal at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on March 6th, 2015 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


If you follow my runDisney posts on the Disney Parks Blog, you know I love being at the finish lines of our events. Watching runners celebrate one of the most memorable moments in their lives is exciting, inspirational and emotional. You see it all – screams of joy, tears of happiness, hugs and high fives. And once in awhile you witness life-changing events. You see, as one journey ends for some runners, another journey begins for others. That is exactly what happened for one couple I caught up with at the Disney Princess Half Marathon presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

As Thatiany Leal-Oliveira from Boca Raton, FL, ran her first half marathon and first runDisney event, she traveled the 13.1-mile course through Magic Kingdom Park and Epcot, as her prince, Sal Lisboa of Deerfield Beach, FL, was in a race of his own, a race into the future. Both taking different courses, but both focused on the finish time. A finish that couldn’t come fast enough. Not only was the coveted Disney Princess Half Marathon Tiara finisher medal waiting for Thatiany to put around her neck, but so was a life changing proposal and “bling” to put on her finger.

So what did she say? Well, runDisney is all about “happily ever after” stories, so see what happens for yourself.

Congratulations Sal and Thatiany, and we wish you a “happily ever after” as you race into the future.

If you want to know more about runDisney and future event weekends, visit runDisney.com. You can also follow us on runDisney Facebook, and on Twitter and Instagram @runDisney.

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Experience Fresh Entertainment This Spring at Epcot

posted on March 6th, 2015 by Shawn Slater, Communications Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment


Planning a visit to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival this spring? If so, you’re in for a treat! We’ve recently introduced several new atmosphere entertainment experiences throughout the international pavilions of World Showcase, and there’s even more on the way.

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  • Italy – Join in the music, energy and flair of the spectacularly choreographed flag-throwing team of Sbandieratori Di Sansepolcro. Featuring hand-painted flags, magnificent period costumes and live music, the Sbandieratori bring to dynamic life a rich, 500-year Italian tradition that’s not to be missed.
  • United Kingdom – Strolling the quaint streets of the United Kingdom pavilion, you can enjoy a delightful, acoustic performance by Paul McKenna Band, a traditional four-piece group from Glasgow, Scotland, whose contemporary approach to songs never strays too far from their Scottish, folk music roots.
  • Canada – On the Mill Stage, the Canadian Lumberjacks demonstrate their professional skills in a safe and friendly competition, a time-honored tradition from Canada’s great timber and logging areas, featuring axe throwing, chopping, log rolling and more.
  • Morocco – B’net Al Houwariyate, a multi-generational Berber music and dance troupe from Marrakesh, takes to the Medina stage of the Morocco pavilion for a lively and interactive performance, illuminating the stories and experiences of women in Morocco.

Starting this week, Voices of Liberty has a fresh new look and sound for their appearances on the outdoor stage at America Gardens Theatre. Two days each week, this remarkable 8-part a cappella group is bringing their talents to even more guests, performing fresh arrangements of popular American songs, both classic and contemporary. Voices of Liberty will continue their traditional performances in the rotunda of The American Adventure pavilion Wednesday through Sunday each week.

These new, authentic experiences – along with long-time favorites like Mariachi Cobre in Mexico, Jeweled Dragon Acrobats in China, the Taiko drummers of Matsuriza in Japan and others – are all part of our continuing efforts to keep Epcot entertainment fresh and contribute to the rich cultural landscape of World Showcase.

Which of these groups are you looking forward to catching during your day at Epcot? Let us know in the comments section.

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Disney Days of Past: Pirate Ships at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

posted on March 5th, 2015 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Yesterday, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival opened. One of my favorite times of the year, I love to see all the amazing topiaries created by the horticulture team at Walt Disney World Resort. Below is a look at Peter Pan aboard Captain Hook’s pirate ship from the 2007 festival.

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You have plenty of time to see this year’s topiaries. The festival runs through May 17th.

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