Epcot Flower and Garden Festival 2017 – Review & Full Coverage

Alicia Stella 0 Comments

The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is going on now, from March 1st to May 29, 2017. This year saw the addition to two new Outdoor Kitchens, bringing the total up to fifteen. There’s of course the more than 70 topiaries, most based on beloved Disney characters. And it wouldn’t be a garden festival without the gardens. Epcot is truly a beautiful place this time of year. And remember, the festival is included with general admission!

After visiting twice already since the festival began, and eating my way around the world both times, I can say there’s some fantastic food and drink options available this year. Many are returning favorites, but there’s some new offerings as well, including the delicious Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer from La Isla Fresca (pictured above.) With a few more months of festival remaining, I’m sure I’ll be stopping by at least once more to try a few more bites that I skipped on my last trips. And there’s a couple things that were so good I’m going to have to go back for seconds.

For now, please check out the video and my full coverage below of every outdoor kitchen and topiary from this year’s event, plus an in-depth look at the merchandise and some of the gardens as well. If you’re looking for the full food menu and concert lineup, check out our complete festival guide!


Welcome to the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival 2017!

Mickey entrance topiary

Minnie entrance topiary

The park is all decked out with flowers, real and decorative


FESTIVAL CENTER

The Festival Center is located in Future World between Mission: SPACE and Universe of Energy. (It’s the former location of Body Wars, but back then was called the “Wonders of Life” pavilion.) The Festival Center is your first stop for festival info, merchandise, special seminars and how-to demonstrations, and more. While the festival is open every day of the week, keep in mind that the Festival Center is only open Friday through Sunday.

The whole Mickey gang is out front of the Festival Center

Inside you’ll find festival info, small exhibits, seminar stages, and lots of festival merchandise

This wall used to say BODY WARS. Those were the days

Seminars and how-to demonstrations at one of two stages

Disney Horticulture has a nice display in the Festival Center

The exhibit features a timeline for Disney World horticulture and small displays show the making of topiaries

Time to go shopping!

I’m a big fan of the garden stones

I especially like the Figment garden stones

These are exclusive passholder only shirts, cups, and pins

Figment stopping to smell the flowers



OUTDOOR KITCHENS

I’ve already visited twice and sampled over two dozen foods and drinks (and I cannot wait to go back and try some more!) The fifteen outdoor kitchens are located throughout World Showcase and offer a great variety of options. They range in price from $3 to $12 (with the alcoholic mixed drinks being on the higher end.) Many of the food items are also available as Disney Dining Plan snack credits too. Check out the photos below as well as my personal thoughts on the foods I’ve tried. Visit our previous post to see the full lists of food menus.

Just like the other Epcot festivals, the outdoor kitchens are located throughout World Showcase

Northern Bloom, one of the new booths

The Berry Basket is the other new food booth

Crabless Cake, Seared Pork Tenderloin, and Watermelon Salad with Pickled Onions from Urban Farm Eats

Urban Farm Eats in Showcase Plaza offers one of the new foods for 2017, the Crabless Cake with Crispy Vegetable Slaw, Lemon Vinaigrette and Old Bay Remoulade. The Crabless Cake has the same texture as a crisp veggie burger and the taste wasn’t anything special, but luckily the Old Bay Remoulade was tasty so the dish wasn’t a complete waste. The Seared Pork Tenderloin with Mushroom Ragoût, Spring Vegetables and Fingerling Potatoes was absolutely delicious. Best thing here. And the Watermelon Salad with Pickled Onions was great as well, (and I especially liked the pickled onions on top.)

Seared Scallops and Maple Popcorn Shake from Northern Bloom

Moving on to Northern Bloom in Canada, originally I was super excited to try the Seared Scallops with French Green Beans, but unfortunately it ended up letting me down. The scallops were shown with a nice sear in all the released photos, but mine ended up squishy with absolutely no sear. And the green beans were completely raw, which wasn’t entirely terrible given they were in a vinaigrette, but it wasn’t at all what I expecting. The Beef Tenderloin Tips with Mushroom Bordelaise Sauce and Whipped Potatoes wasn’t much better. The sauce tasted amazing, the potatoes were good, but the cut of meat I got was not the best; a little fatty and underwhelming. To drink I had the Maple Popcorn Shake (non-alcoholic version.) It was quite nice, very smooth, with a vanilla-like flavor, and topped with caramel corn. I still want to try the version with alcohol, which includes maple flavored Crown Royal, and I hear is really good.

Pear Cider-brined Shredded Corned Beef and Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider

Next up in the United Kingdom, Cider House offers what might be my favorite dish at the festival, the Pear Cider-brined Shredded Corned Beef with Braised Cabbage and Branston Dressing. Maybe I was just in the mood for some good old corned beef and cabbage, but this dish really hit the spot. It was a huge portion too, not bad for $5.50. The cider brine works well with the cabbage. The dressing goes great over the meat. All in all a great dish. We tried the Cider Flight on my second visit and all three were great! The big winner though was the McKenzie’s Black Cherry Hard Cider, and we even picked up a 6-pack of it from Total Wine on the way home.

Alsatian Onion Tart and Raspberry Macaron with Chocolate Fudge from Fleur de Lys

Moving on to France, I tried a couple things from Fleur de Lys that I hadn’t tried in previous years, but were not new this year. The Alsatian Onion Tart with Sautéed Onions, Fresh Thyme and Rosemary on a Flaky Puff Pastry Crust was quite yummy, but much less onion-y than I was expecting, (which might be a plus for most people.) And the Raspberry Macaron with Chocolate Fudge and Raspberry Jam was so rich I really wish I had someone else there to share it with. Great flavors, just deceivingly filling.

Florida Fresh

Taste of Marrakesh

Frushi from Hanami in Japan

I haven’t tried anything from Florida Fresh yet, but there’s a Key Lime Tart with my name on it. I haven’t had anything from Taste of Marrakesh yet either, but I’ve tried their Baklava in the past and it’s a scrumptious treat. I did try the Frushi from Hanami in Japan, and I wasn’t that impressed. This is certainly a good-looking dessert, but not as sweet as I think it should be. It’s made of fresh pineapple, strawberry and melon rolled with raspberry coconut rice, but unfortunately the rice just wasn’t sweet enough to really call it a dessert. The whipped cream on the side helped, and it’s still worth trying once, but not as good as I was hoping.

Pulled Pig Slider, Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash, and Warm Chocolate Cake from The Smokehouse

THE SMOKEHOUSE: Barbecue and Brews at the American Adventure Pavilion had the longest line when I visited, and I’m guessing the popularity of the returning Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash had something to do with it. Mine was not very good though. Maybe they were rushing the food to help get the line down, but both the hash and my Pulled Pig Slider did not come out that great. The hash was not at all warm. And the bun for the slider was hard as a rock. Luckily there were squirt bottles of tasty barbecue sauce to pour over the dishes which made them more palatable. I’m hoping I caught them on an off day. Having said that, the Warm Chocolate Cake with Bourbon-Salted Caramel Sauce was absolutely incredible. And unlike the hash, was actually served warm. That’s something I’ll be getting again. And maybe next time I’ll try the Smoked Pork Ribs too. They looked much better than the other dishes coming out.

Antipasto Misto from Primavera Kitchen

I was able to sample the Antipasto Misto from Primavera Kitchen in Italy. This cold Italian appetizer sampling includes Cerignola Olives, Sweet Soppressata and Salami, Ovolini, Mozzarella, Sweet Roasted Peppers and Ciabatta Bread. For only $6 it’s a good snack and a nice gateway into Italian meats and olives without getting into anything too out there. The Meatball Parmigiana here looked amazing as well, but haven’t had the chance to try it just yet.

Beijing-Style Candied Strawberries, Kung Fu Punch and Oolong Mango Bubble Tea from Lotus House

The Beijing-Style Candied Strawberries from Lotus House in China is something you have try at least once. It’s certainly unique with crispy clear candy shell over fresh strawberries and covered in sesame seeds. The sesame seeds add a flourish of Asian flavor to this otherwise simple dish. We also tried the Kung Fu Punch, with Vodka, Triple Sec, Mango and Orange Juice, which certainly packs a punch. And I had the Oolong Mango Bubble Tea (originally listed as Peach on the menu.) The bubble tea was unique with lots of tapioca pearls floating in it, but I didn’t realize it was made with green tea, which I am not a big fan of, so I did not finish it. (I did however eat all the tapioca pearls out of it with a spoon, cause I’m weird like that.)

Caribbean Conch Salad and Jamaican-braised Beef from La Isla Fresca

Some of the best things I’ve tasted were from La Isla Fresca in Showcase Plaza. The Caribbean Conch Salad with Avocado, Mango and Onions is a great mix of some of my favorite things all in one bowl. It’s crisp and light (which can be nice after trying so many heavy dishes in the hot sun all day.) The Jamaican-braised Beef with Pigeon Pea Rice and Micro Cilantro was a nice surprise with great flavor and a much better meat texture than the dish from Northern Bloom. The rice that came with the beef was simple, but nice and filling.

Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer and Frozen Simply Tropical Juice Drink from La Isla Fresca

Besides the corned beef from Cider House, I have to say the Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer with Steamed Rice and Coconut Lime Sauce was the only other dish that hit it out of the park for me this year (so far.) The shrimp were much larger than you normally see in festival dishes. The flavors were all amazing. And I’m not usually a big fan of coconut milk flavor, but the sauce was perfect on this dish and complimented the rice perfectly, which was a nice generous portion. This was not only a great dish, but I think it’s a fair price as well at $6.50.



TOPIARIES AND GARDENS

While sampling foods and drinks can be fun, I’ve always loved seeing the topiaries most of all. Not only are there a few new entries to this year’s lineup, but many classic topiaries are offering more brilliant colors this time around. I hope this trend continues. When the festival began topiary displays were all green, but over time more colors and different plant materials have been introduced, helping to bring beloved Disney characters to life more than ever before! Of course there’s also many walk-through gardens, and the infamous “Festival Blooms” and “Floating Gardens” along the water that separates Future World and World Showcase as well.

Floating Gardens and Festival Blooms in front of the Imagination Pavilion

Future World Topiaries and Gardens

Farmer’s Market Stand in Future World Courtyard

Buzz Lightyear in Future World East

I liked the Prehistoric Plants garden near Universe of Energy featuring plants from the time of the dinosaurs

You can tell these plants are prehistoric…

Because they have plastic dinosaurs in them

Stitch topiary in front of Mouse Gear

Lightning McQueen from Cars

Cruz Ramirez from Cars 3

Edible Flowers Garden in Future World West

Fantasia topiary in Future World West

Fantasia’s Dancing Mushrooms

Ballerina hippos from Fantasia

Phinneas and Ferb near Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure kiosk

One of my favorite things is the Butterfly garden. They always spend so much effort and it’s always beautiful


World Showcase Topiaries

This is definitely my favorite topiary display this year, in Canada

I just love the colors they used for Bambie, Thumper and Flower

Peter Pan, up on a building in UK

Tinkerbell, surrounded by fairy homes

The Beauty and the Beast display was very popular this year with the new film coming out

Instead of topiaries, Japan has banzais and miniature gardens

Japanese Mini Gardens

What is this, a garden for ants?

Lady and the Tramp in Italy

Snow White and the Seven Drawfs in Germany

The Lion King at the Outpost

Gotta love Timon and Pumbaa

This dragon in China is incredible

It is made up of all kinds of different plants

There’s also a family of pandas in China

There’s a somewhat frightening troll in Norway

As well as an Anna and Elsa display in front of the Royal Summerhaus

Lastly, you’ll find the Three Caballeros in a pepper patch near Mexico

Another beautiful Flower and Garden Festival

This is one of my favorite times of the year. The flowers, food, and topiary displays really bring Epcot to life during the Flower and Garden Festival! I hope you enjoyed our coverage of this year’s event. I can’t wait to go back and sample some more tasty dishes, and with the festival running until May 29, 2017, there’s still plenty of time. Be sure to watch the video for even more gardens and topiaries and stay tuned for more theme news and events coverage!


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