Instead of photos of the gorgeous flowers and topiaries, we want to show off some of the delicious new delights for your taste buds at the 21st annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival that opens March 5 and runs through May 18 – that’s 75 days to take it all in.
Last year was the first year that food starred alongside the flowers, and this year 11 Outdoor Kitchens debut around World Showcase Lagoon, each with an artful produce and herb-raised garden bed that showcases something that you can taste in the dish they’re offering, say, corn at the Florida marketplace, or pineapples in Japan.
Chef Jens Dahlmann had fun with the new Urban Farm EATS with its sustainable garden featuring tilapia swimming around that help fertilize the veggies. All three dishes are gluten free and two are vegetarian. There’s a pickled beet salad with goat cheese cream, mizuna (greens) and pistachios, eggplant grown at The Land pavilion at Epcot with Romesco (sweet pepper sauce) and spaghetti squash, and a ghost-pepper-dusted tilapia with crisp melon slaw and mint oil – and if you’ve never tried ghost pepper, it’s a kicky treat. They even have a vegan chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon and a gluten-free beer.
In all there are 16 vegetarian dishes and a dozen gluten-free choices. Each marketplace has three to four dishes, adding up to more than 50 beverages and 40 different food items. It’s your chance to try anything from pulled-duck confit with garlic and parsley potatoes in France to a “piggylicious” bacon cupcake with maple frosting and pretzel crunch at The Smokehouse: Barbecues and Brews. Craft beers abound again this year, from a Tropical Mango Pale Ale from St. John Brewers in the U.S. Virgin Islands to Feast of Flowers Farmhouse Ale brewed right here in Florida just for the festival.
Get a full rundown of what’s being offered at each Urban Kitchen as well as information on all the other fun things to do at epcotinspring.com.
The Flower Power Concert Series showcases the music of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, with concerts taking place Friday – Sunday at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8 p.m., at the America Gardens Theatre. This year’s lineup includes two new acts – Gary Lewis and the Playboys (“This Diamond Ring”) and the Alan Parsons Live Project (“Eye In The Sky”) – as well as returning favorites like the Village People. Check out the full entertainment schedule (subject to change) below:
March 7-9 - The Guess Who
March 14-16 – Gary Lewis and the Playboys NEW
March 21-23 – The Orchestra Starring Former Members of ELO
March 28-30 – The Lovin’ Spoonful
April 4-6 – Paul Revere & The Raiders
April 11-13 – Village People
April 18-20 – The Grass Roots
April 25-27 – Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone
May 2-4 - STARSHIP Starring Mickey Thomas
May 9-11 – Chubby Checker & The Wildcats
May 16-18 – Alan Parsons Live Project NEW
Who are you planning to see this spring? Tell us in the “Comments” section below.
You may recall that we introduced topiary artwork last year to our merchandise assortment. This fun and festive artwork was created by our Yellow Shoes Marketing group and it was wildly popular with guests attending the event. This year, we have used that artwork on new softlines, home décor and more.
I particularly love some of the new garden items including a Minnie Mouse wind chime that I think my mother would enjoy. The Donald Duck garden stake also made me laugh (I think he’s my favorite character topiary image from this event). We will also have a new 12-inch pre-dressed Duffy the Disney Bear that resembles a garden gnome. I’m personally buzzing about the updated coffee mug that features a hidden bee image inside.
Topiaries also found their way onto new pins created especially for this year’s Festival. There is a limited release pin featuring Mickey Mouse that will be found in multiple locations through Epcot. There are also a series of limited-edition pins that include characters like Kermit the Frog or Mater and Lightning McQueen.
Finally, the Vinylmation team will introduce a new “revealed/concealed” mystery set with figures shaped like topiaries on March 28. Disney Design Group artist Caley Hicks designed the 3-inch figures. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey topiary is the revealed figure in the set, and it will be found on the top of each mystery box. The other four figures will be randomly packaged, so you won’t know which one you get.
I invite you to stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog in the coming weeks as I will be offering a first look inside the Festival Center located between Mission: SPACE and Universe of Energy pavilions at Epcot.
This year’s topiaries will feature Goofy, Donald Duck and Daisy Duck celebrating spring with a butterfly hunt at the park’s main entrance, while Kermit and Miss Piggy will appear in World Showcase.
Outdoor Kitchens, which debuted at the festival last year, will return to showcase a slew of new “sweet & savory” and “spring-inspired” menu items.
Earlier this week, Disney Parks Blog author Charles Stovall gave you a look at new HGTV & DIY Network stars who will appear at the festival – but they aren’t the only new entertainers. Two new acts are also on the schedule for this year’s Flower Power Concert Series: Gary Lewis and the Playboys (“This Diamond Ring”) and The Alan Parsons Live Project (“Eye in the Sky”).
Many festival favorites are also returning this year, with daily gardening seminars taking place at the Festival Center, and Tinker Bell’s Butterfly House will again be all a flutter with color.
For more information about the 21st Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639). The festival, including all gardening programs and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.
Sponsored once again by our friends at HGTV, they have filled the festival with tons of HGTV and DIY Network experts – including most of the stars we HGTV/DIY insiders call “The Crashers.”
The Crashers, for those uninitiated into HGTV/DIY fandom, are HGTV/DIY expert designers and contractors who comb home improvement stores for people who need renovation help. Then – in just three days, mind you – they (with an expert crew of helpers) make over the family’s yard, bathroom, kitchen or whatever. Crashers making their very first appearance at this year’s festival are Matt Blashaw from “Yard Crashers,” Matt Meunster from “Bath Crashers” and Alison Victoria from “Kitchen Crashers.” Very exciting!
HGTV/DIY favorites at this year’s festival include Vern Yip, one of the judges of “Design Star,” Florida’s own David “Color Splash” Bromstad and John Gidding from “Curb Appeal.” Also new to this year’s festival are “Renovation Raiders” star Amy Matthews and Chip Wade, who started with Gidding on “Curb Appeal” and now has his own hit show called “Elbow Room.”
Here’s the list (everything subject to change, of course):
March 7-9 – Vern Yip, “Design Star”
March 14-16 – Chris Lambton, “Going Yard”
March 21-23 – Matt Blashaw, “Yard Crashers”
March 28-30 – Matt Meunster, “Bath Crashers”
April 4-6 – Taniya Nayak, “House Hunters on Vacation”
April 11-13 – Amy Matthews, “Renovation Raiders”
April 18-20 – John Gidding, “Curb Appeal”
April 25-27 – David Bromstad, “Color Splash”
May 2-4 – Chip Wade, “Elbow Room”
May 9-11 – Genevieve Gorder, “Design Star”
May 16-18 – Alison Victoria, “Kitchen Crashers”
For more information on the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, check out disneyworld.com/flower and don’t forget to check back here on the Disney Parks Blog for updates throughout the coming months – both before and during the festival.
It’s a feast for the eyes and the palate at this year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, with a dozen new Garden Marketplaces adding to the beauty all around the park. Beyond a taste of global cuisine, each Marketplace features a gorgeous garden that showcases some of the fruits, veggies and herbs you can taste – and what a wonderful way to introduce little ones to how things grow, and how they are transformed into deliciousness.
We met two new friends at Epcot, Evy and Lucy, who were ready for a culinary adventure to check out some of the TRYit! dishes created just for youngsters. TRYit! dishes combine a familiar taste with something maybe not so familiar into something new . . . and these two girls gave the experience “two thumbs up!” Look for the TRYit! logo in Disney restaurants, too.
The festival runs through May 19, still plenty of time to come have a taste and stroll the World Showcase Promenade, with live music plus gardening and decorating seminars daily. For more information, go to www.epcotinspring.com.
Look below for more posts about dining at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival:
Pretty great for 1985, but they pale in comparison to their counterparts of today. Today our horticulture team creates topiaries that are even more advanced and realistic. Here’s a look at the 2013 version of Goofy and Pluto at the festival.