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Snazzy New Beverages, New Chef Demos Brighten Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival March 4 – May 17

posted on February 20th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


We promised a peek at the new beverages for this year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, fruit-based sips like Key Lime sparkling wine from Florida Orange Groves at Florida Fresh Outdoor Kitchen and Ace Pineapple Hard Cider and sparkling pineapple wine at Pineapple Promenade.

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Among new craft cocktails, we can’t wait to taste: La Tizana cocktail at Botanas Botánico and the Urban Mary at Urban Farm Eats.

“La Tizana is a Venezuelan-influenced fruit punch made with orange juice, lime juice, banana puree, grenadine and garnished with a tropical fruit medley of diced pineapple, mango, strawberries and oranges,” explains Marianne Hunnel, content development manager and beverage expert extraordinaire. For an adult version, you can add a splash of RHUM Orange liqueur from Santa Teresa, Venezuela.

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“The Urban Mary is a tomato beverage made with spicy tomato juice, lime juice and Worcestershire sauce, garnished with a pickled green bean and micro greens,” Hunnel continues. Adding a shot of vodka is an option.
Craft beer is back in a big way, with new additions like Maple Bacon Stout, being brewed right now at Shipyard Brewing Company in Clearwater, Fla., to be released on opening day of the festival. Try it in a flight at The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews.

And one of the most whimsical takes on grown-up tastes is the new “Ice Pop” at Fleur De Lys in France, flavored with peach iced tea mixed with Grand Marnier Peach Raspberry (a limited-release spirit) and a splash of vodka. “It’s frozen, but not solid, so it just melts in your mouth – refreshing!” says Eric Weistroffer, general manager of Chefs de France.

New this year are free cooking demonstrations at 3 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through May 17 at Port of Entry at the entrance to World Showcase. If you’re there for the weekend, plan a short stop. The demos are just about 15 minutes, and it’s your chance to meet a Disney chef and watch how to prepare a delicious dish. Just some festival items to be featured at the demos will be the Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake, the ghost pepper-dusted tilapia, and white corn arepas. You can also pick up a copy of the Taste of Epcot festival cookbook with plenty of recipes to try at home.

For more information, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639) or go to epcotinspring.com. Admission to the festival, running March 4-May 17, includes all gardening programs and exhibits.

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Food Vies with Flowers at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

posted on February 17th, 2015 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


For some of us, the Outdoor Kitchens are our first destination at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, 75 days to munch and learn from March 4-May 17.

American Barbecue Adventure at Epcot Garden Fest

It’s the third year for the Outdoor Kitchens around World Showcase Lagoon, and the garden- and spring-inspired tapas-sized food and beverages just get more and more interesting. The new Botanas Botánico Outdoor Kitchen between France and Morocco pavilions will showcase treats like Cachapas with Farmer’s Cheese, a sweet yellow corn pancake, and Seafood Ceviche with shrimp, scallops and grouper with mango and avocado.

Shrimp and Stone-Ground Grits at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Frushi at Hanami at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

“It’s so much fun coming up with creative new flavors to wow our guests,” says Chef Gregg Hannon, Epcot executive chef. He mentions Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapeños at The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews Outdoor Kitchen, and the Quinoa Vegetable Naanwich with arugula pesto and oven-dried tomatoes at Urban Farm Eats.

Berry Tea Cocktail at Pineapple Promenade at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Beijing Candied Strawberries at Lotus House at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Especially appealing are flavors inspired by fruits and veggies, like the Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade, Sparkling Pineapple Wine and Berry Tea Cocktail at Pineapple Promenade; the Macaron Guimauve à la Fraise (strawberry marshmallow macaron) at the Fleur De Lys; the vegetarian Falafel with Cucumber Tomato Salad and Tahini at Taste of Marrakesh; Frushi (fresh pineapple, strawberry and melon rolled with raspberry coconut rice, sprinkled with toasted coconut and whipped cream) at Hanami; Limoncello Panna Cotta (gluten free and vegetarian) at Primavera Kitchen; Watermelon Salad with Pickled Onions, Baby Arugula and Feta Cheese and the Florida Blueberry and Lemon Curd Tart (vegetarian) at Florida Fresh; Beijing Candied Strawberries at Lotus House; and Kale Salad with Dried Cherries, Almonds and Goat Cheese (gluten free and vegetarian) at Urban Farm Eats.

Hungry yet? Protein fans will love everything from Confit de Canard (pulled duck confit) at Fleur De Lys to a spicy hot dog with pineapple chutney and sriracha mayo at Pineapple Promenade. There’s Harissa Chicken at Taste of Marrakesh and a Pulled Pig Slider at The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews. Florida Fresh will serve up hearty Shrimp and Stone-Ground Grits with Andouille Sausage and Jardin de Fiestas has tacos with achiote marinated pork.

Look for our next post on all the fun beverages!

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.

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Disney Days of Past: Donald & Daisy Celebrate Valentine’s Day

posted on February 12th, 2015 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


Ah, love is in the air this week with Valentine’s Day on Saturday. I don’t know two ducks who fancy each other more than Daisy and Donald. Below is a look at them in topiary form traveling through a floral tunnel of love at the 2006 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

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Sure hope Donald remembers to buy Daisy some flowers for Saturday!

For more posts celebrating Valentine’s Day, click the links below:

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First Look at New Products Coming to 2015 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot

posted on February 10th, 2015 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


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We are about a month away from the start of the 2015 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot. Since winter weather blankets most of North America, I figured a look ahead to spring was a perfect idea. I recently dug up details about new items guests will see starting March 4 when this annual festival returns to Walt Disney World Resort.

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The merchandise events team has created a variety of items especially for this event including apparel, drinkware, accessories and more. This year, the Sorcerer Mickey topiary takes center stage as the main logo on several items including a coffee mug, magnet, and tote bag (the mug features a hidden broom topiary image inside). I love the new topiary-inspired headband with a Sorcerer’s hat and a gardening hat with mouse ears.

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The Disney pin team created several limited edition pins featuring the topiaries that will be found throughout the theme park including the new Anna and Elsa topiaries inspired by Disney’s “Frozen”.

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Olaf from Disney’s “Frozen” will join Mickey and Minnie Mouse as new garden decorations (the thought of Olaf next to the rain gauge makes me laugh!).

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Finally, we will release a new Dooney & Bourke collection designed by Disney Design Group artist Paola Gutierrez. This black-and-white pattern shows silhouettes of Disney characters riding vintage bicycles (you may recall seeing the artwork in this story from early January. Select bags released during the Festival will include a specially designed hangtag. There are no immediate plans to carry these bags at Disneyland Resort or on our Disney Parks online store; they will only be found at Epcot during this initial release.

These items will be released at the Festival Center, a themed shopping and demonstration area located between Mission: SPACE and Universe of Energy pavilions at Epcot. This year, the Festival Center will be open Friday-Sunday during the Festival Weekends. Items will also be found in other merchandise locations in Future World and World Showcase.

Stay tuned as I’ll provide a first look inside the Festival Center around the start of the event in March. I’ll also have details about a new retail MagicBand created for this event that you won’t want to let go.

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#DisneyKids: Little Imaginations Spring to Life at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

posted on February 6th, 2015 by Jamie Langdon, Social Media Manager


Spring is always a wonderful time to visit Walt Disney World Resort with little ones, especially with the fun of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. The annual event now has more activities than ever to delight, entertain and educate even our youngest guests.

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The festival’s whimsical topiaries featuring favorite characters are a great way for children to learn about different types of flowers and plants, while marveling at the elaborate detail in each piece. Fans of “Frozen” will be transported to Arendelle with a new scene straight from the film’s finale featuring Anna and Elsa. This year, families can turn checking out the topiaries into a kid-friendly game with an interactive Pinterest Pin scavenger hunt. Parents print the Pin at home and, once at Epcot, little ones can follow the map to discover topiaries of their favorite characters throughout the park.

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One of things my kids love the most about the festival is the presence of the creatively themed play gardens with state-of-the-art climbing equipment and hands-on activities. This year, there are two play areas: Mike & Sulley’s Monstrous Garden and Cactus Road Rally Garden with Mater and Lightning McQueen topiaries. When the sun sets, the fun doesn’t stop thanks to illuminated topiaries and play gardens that glow brightly for an after-dark festival experience.

The butterfly garden returns this year, and Butterflies on the Go! offers kids the chance to see up to 10 species of butterflies up close, and maybe even watch them emerge from their chrysalises!

In addition to the daily fun, there are special events such as an Earth Day Weekend April 17-22 with nature activities for kids and families, Disney’s Animal Kingdom specialists on select dates, and a sand-sculpture creation to showcase Disneynature’s soon-to-be released “Monkey Kingdom” film. And don’t forget to pick up your Garden Passport, a festival favorite that’s fun for the whole family!

What do your children love about the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival?

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Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Returns March 4

posted on February 4th, 2015 by Victoria Lim, Managing Editor, Walt Disney World Public Relations


I’m thrilled to kick off my first story for the Disney Parks Blog as one of the authors who will be sharing updates from this year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. It begins March 4 and blossoms for 75 days.

Fittingly, “Fresh Epcot” is the theme this year. And today I have a trio of freshness to share with you:

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Blockbuster Blooms
All the way from Arendelle, Anna and Elsa topiaries will make their royal debut at this year’s Festival. Set in a garden vignette from the icy “Frozen” world, it’ll be a perfect selfie opportunity at World Showcase Plaza.

Botanas Botanico
The new Outdoor Kitchen between France and Morocco pavilions will showcase treats like Cachapas with Farmer’s Cheese, a sweet yellow corn pancake, and Seafood Ceviche with shrimp, scallops and grouper with mango and avocado. Wash it down with the fresh non-alcoholic punch, La Tizana. Add a splash of Santa Teresa RHUM Orange Liqueur for an adult twist.

Bands
Our new concert series, Garden Rocks, spans the decades. Pablo Cruise and The Little River Band will perform on the America Gardens Theatre stage for the first time, while Gin Blossoms (opening weekend!) En Vogue, John Secada and Taylor Dayne are Festival newbies.

To learn more, visit EpcotInBloom.com.

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Garden Rocks Concert Series Debuts at Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival March 4-May 17

posted on January 16th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Planning a trip to Epcot this spring for the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival? This year, 11 pop bands are set to appear in the Garden Rocks Concert Series, which will take place March 4-May 17, 2015. Several acts will join this festival lineup this year, including En Vogue, Little River Band, Jon Secada, Pablo Cruise and Taylor Dayne.

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Performances are at America Gardens Theatre at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and are included with Epcot admission. Check out this year’s lineup (subject to change without notice):

  • March 6-8: Gin Blossoms “Hey Jealousy”
  • March 13-15: Pablo Cruise “Love Will Find a Way”
  • March 20-22: En Vogue “Free Your Mind”
  • March 27-29: STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas “We Built This City”
  • April 3-5: The Orchestra starring former members of ELO “Evil Woman”
  • April 10-12: Village People “Y.M.C.A.”
  • April 17-19: Jon Secada “Just Another Day”
  • April 24-26: The Guess Who “These Eyes”
  • May 1-3: Taylor Dayne “Tell It to My Heart”
  • May 8-10: Little River Band “Reminiscing”
  • May 15-17: Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone “I’m Henry the VIII, I Am”
  • Which band are you most excited to see? Tell us in the comments section below!

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    Book Spring/Summer Walt Disney World Vacations Now With Our Latest Offer

    posted on January 5th, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


    Considering a vacation at Walt Disney World Resort this spring or early in the summer? If so, now is the perfect time to book, as guests can save up to 30% off on stays at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels with our latest offer.

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    Springtime at Walt Disney World Resort means the return of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and so much more.

    Vacations must be booked by March 28, and the trip must take place between March 2-June 15, 2015. Get more details on this offer – and learn how you can also upgrade to a package with a (minimum) 4-day park ticket and receive an additional ticket day free – by clicking here.


    For more about visiting Walt Disney World Resort in 2015, visit the posts below:

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    Fifteen Reasons to Visit Walt Disney World Resort in 2015

    posted on January 1st, 2015 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


    It’s a new year – do you have a Disney Parks vacation on your bucket list for 2015?

    Whether it’s new dining experiences, sports milestones, holiday celebrations or the return of annual theme park festivals, there’s a lot to look forward to at Walt Disney World Resort in 2015. Here are 15 reasons you should consider planning a trip this year.

    Trattoria al Forno Brings the Italian Countryside to Disney's BoardWalk

    1. Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s Boardwalk – The newest Disney restaurant just opened its doors a few days ago. The menu features authentic Italian cuisine and wines – and is now an option on the Disney Dining Plan. Yum!

    Exposition Park Opens for Disney Food Trucks at Downtown Disney

    2. Exposition Park Food Trucks – While we’re on the topic of food, 2015 will give you time to check out the recently opened food trucks at Downtown Disney. This dedicated outdoor area also has live entertainment at night (subject to change, of course).

    3. 2015 runDisney Races Are Off & Running - Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend will take place January 7-11. (Check out a sneak peek at the merchandise that will be sold at this year’s event here). Space is still available in the Kids Races!

    4. Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto – This nightspot is based on the popular themed lounge at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, and is set to open here in spring. Trader Sam’s will offer tiki cocktails served in souvenir mugs, as well as smaller food offerings. Keep your eye on the Disney Parks Blog for more on this fun new location.

    5. Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic – Soccer fans can get their kicks at the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic February 1-March 1 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. In it, eight pro teams, including six Major League Soccer squads, will compete in 16 games.

    PRINCESS HALF MARATHON AT DISNEY WORLD

    6. Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend Returns – This princess-themed weekend of running events returns to Walt Disney World February 19-22.

    7. Starbucks to Open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – A new Starbucks location will open at the park in February, 2015. The new location, dubbed The Trolley Car Café, will be themed to a classic trolley car along Hollywood Boulevard and offer a unique experience for coffee lovers visiting the park.

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    8. The Atlanta Braves Return For Spring Training – The Braves will return to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for their 18th consecutive year of spring training. Tickets will be available through Ticketmaster by calling (800) 745-3000 or visiting ticketmaster.com, as well as at the sports complex box office.

    Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

    9. The 22nd Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival: A Spring Tradition Returns March 4-May 17 – Character topiaries, home gardening seminars, floral displays and much more will return to the park’s festival in 2015.

    10. Star Wars Weekends Returns – This annual event will return to delight fans of the Force and the Empire May 15 – June 14 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

    11. “Tomorrowland” Debuts In Theaters May 22 – While it isn’t a theme park offering, how could any Disney Parks fan possibly miss out on seeing this one? AMC Downtown Disney 24 at Downtown Disney may be the perfect location. The trailer looks amazing!

    12. Annual Events – 2015 means the return of our favorite annual events, including The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties, and more. Keep watching the Disney Parks Blog for news and dates on our 2015 special events.

    Morimoto Exterior (1)

    13. New Eats at Downtown Disney – The area continues to evolve into Disney Springs, and in 2015, The Landing, the first of four interconnected neighborhoods will open to guests. Keep your eye on the Disney Parks Blog for more dates and details on the openings of Morimoto Asia, THE BOATHOUSE and STK Orlando, three restaurants planned for the area, as they come available.

    14. Another Year of #DisneySide Fun - Guests loved showing their Disney Side – that side each one of us has that isn’t afraid to have fun and show our silly sides – at our parks in 2014. This year we’ll continue the fun by encouraging all of you to show your Disney Side at our parks (and at home) throughout 2015.

    15. Your Family Vacation – If this is the year for your family’s vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort, then there’s nothing to look forward to more than your family’s special time together. If you visit our parks in 2015, we hope you have a wonderful time.

    Which event or new offering are you looking forward to most? Let us know in the “comments” section below.

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    New Epcot Cookbook to Feature All Three Festivals

    posted on July 21st, 2014 by Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Food Writer


    You can’t buy a copy until September, but we wanted to give blog readers a sneak peek at the new Epcot cookbook that debuts just in time for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (September 19-November 10). Instead of an annual cookbook just for that festival, the new book – even the title is still in the working stages – will feature, for the first time ever, recipes from Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, winter’s Holidays Around the World and the springtime Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

    Here’s a picture of Disney photographer Matt Stroshane and stylist Laurel Ainley as they shot the new food photos for the book. Long days and lots of prep create pretty dishes we hope will make you hungry.

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    Meanwhile, here’s a few photos from the book and one of our favorite recipes from this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival to get you started.

    Grilled Verlasso Salmon with Quinoa Salad and Arugula Chimichurri
    Serves 6

    Salmon
    1 teaspoon garlic salt
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    1/4 cup olive oil
    6 (5- to 6-ounce) Verlasso salmon fillets, skin removed

    Chimichurri Sauce
    1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, including stems, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
    2 cups coarsely chopped fresh arugula
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves
    3 tablespoons lime juice
    1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    1 teaspoon minced garlic
    1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste

    Quinoa Salad Dressing
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup lime juice
    1 teaspoon minced garlic
    1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
    1/4 teaspoon cumin
    Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste

    Quinoa Salad
    3/4 cup uncooked quinoa, cooked per instructions (makes approximately 3 cups cooked), cooled
    1/2 red pepper, diced
    1/2 green pepper, diced
    1/2 red onion, diced
    1 small tomato, diced
    1/4 cup corn kernels
    1/4 cup chopped cilantro
    Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste

    For salmon:

    1. Combine garlic salt, lemon juice, and olive oil in small bowl. Place salmon in large zip-top bag and add liquid, turning fillets to evenly coat.
    2. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove salmon from refrigerator at least 10 minutes before cooking.
    3. Preheat oven to 400˚ F. Cover 15 x 10-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray. Place salmon on baking sheet in a single layer, evenly spaced.
    4. Bake 15 minutes or until the salmon easily can be flaked apart with a fork.

    For chimichurri sauce:

    1. Place all ingredients in blender or food processor. Blend for about 10 seconds on medium speed or until ingredients are evenly blended. Season with salt and pepper. Store in a sealed container and refrigerate until ready to use.

    For quinoa salad dressing:

    1. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

    For quinoa salad:

    1. Mix all ingredients together in large bowl and toss with Quinoa Salad Dressing.

    To serve:

    1. Equally divide Quinoa Salad between serving plates, top with salmon fillet and drizzle with Chimichurri Sauce.

    Cook’s note: Verlasso salmon is sustainable and farm-raised; you can use any fresh, high-quality salmon in this recipe.

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