Once again, we arrive at the time of the year when Epcot transforms into a floral dream world. Overnight, over 450 horticulturists bring in 200,000 plants to create the Flower & Garden Festival. Guests find exclusive topiaries and gardens, as well as specialty food booths, all around the park. Disney also provides interactive playgrounds for the kids and limited time Passholder perks.
My recent visit to the Flower & Garden Festival began with a trip to the hallway between Club Cool and the Character Spot to pick up my Passholder magnet. This magnet features Minnie Mouse herself. This is the second time Disney has offered different style Passholder magnets, the first being the Christmastime magnet. Disney recognizes the value their Passholders place in the magnets and so decided to offer more ways for them to advertise the program.
Next, we ventured into the butterfly garden, which was close by. This is always a favorite of mine during the Flower & Garden Festival because growing up, my family had a small butterfly garden in the backyard where I was able to watch the life cycle of monarch, swallowtail, and gulf fritillary butterflies. In past years, Cast Members have handed out plant seeds to take home or applesauce packs to help attract the butterflies, but there was nothing of this sort this year.
The garden was the same as it has been the past few years. The tent-like structure features a walkway inside its perimeter with other walkways bridging through the middle. The plants and flowers are those specific to the kinds of butterflies, like milkweed for monarchs or passion vine for gulf fritillaries or zebra longwings. In addition to these butterflies, I also spotted some buckeyes, my favorite.
We also found a monarch butterfly with a broken wing. My friend put her finger near it and the butterfly crawled right on. I felt bad for the poor little thing, knowing it would never fly, though it did try. Eventually, I placed it on some milkweed and we left it to its life.
Making our way down past the Journey Into Imagination attraction, we ventured into a garden focused on décor ideas for home gardens. These included concrete succulent features, flower pot sculptures, and small animal topiaries. This area is also home to the Imagination Play Garden which contains a rope climbing set and musical maze. However, this is when we spotted the Honey Bee-stro Hosted by National Honey Board™, so we made a bee-line for that.
We decided to try the Local Wildflower Honey-Mascarpone Cheesecake with Orange Blossom Honey Ice Cream garnished with Fennel Pollen Meringue Kisses. And oh my gosh, was it cute? Yes. Was it delicious? Absolutely. We could not bee-lieve the sweetness of the edible glitter and honey ice cream. The cheesecake itself was airy with small hints of honey and paired well with the thicker ice cream.
Now, we were in the mood for food and decided to make our way around the World Showcase to try everything that looked interesting! Our first stop was in Japan for the Frushi from the Hanami booth. This dish came with raspberry sauce and whipped cream on the side of three vegan sushi rolls with coconut rice, pineapple, melon, and strawberries. I’m not really a sushi person, so I felt fancy and cultured finally enjoying this type of dish sans raw fish.
Next up, we passed through America and just had to try the Central 28 Brewing Company Sunshine Greetings Orange Hibiscus Wheat Ale from DeBary, FL. The only reason we decided to try this was because we were surprised to see something from the small town of DeBary, where I used to live. We weren’t too impressed, unfortunately, but that’s just because neither of us is a fan of wheat ales. (Give us the fruit flavored alcohol any day.) The orange hints were not enough to take away from the ale, but still present. It was smooth and I would recommend it if wheat ale is your thing.
We also stopped in Germany to try the Potato Pancake with Caramelized Ham, Onions and Herb Sour Cream from Bauernmarkt. It was very hearty and warm. The pancake to onion ratio was a little more in favor of the onions, but the herb sour cream did not disappoint. This sour cream was the highlight of the dish as it provided a cool complement to the hot potato pancake and that additional flavor needed to enhance the onions. It was filling enough to be our early dinner.
By now, it was time to get in line to see Smash Mouth. We only knew a small handful of the songs they performed, but it was still Shrek-tastic, and may or may not have been the reason we chose this particular day to visit the Festival.
Finally, we made our way to China for the Oolong Peach Bubble Tea from Lotus House. Now I am an avid bubble tea drinker and was excited to see one of my favorite drinks at Disney. However, the texture of the boba almost ruined the drink. While the flavor of the milk tea was refreshing, the bobas had been soaking in the drink for a while it seemed, and lost some of their chewy properties. We saw the cast members take the drink out of a refrigerator premade with the boba already added. Bubble tea is better fresh made so the boba does not begin to disintegrate into the drink, ruining the texture.
Overall, the Flower & Garden Festival lived up to my expectations and was a fun weekend experience. While there were many other gardens and food booths I did not get a chance to visit, I was able to hit the highlights. If you’re able to make your way to Epcot before the end of May, I most recommend the Honey Bee-stro booth!