John and I just checked out the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot, so I thought you fellow Dizgeeks might like to see! I took way too many photos, so I'll show you a little of everything: the new merchandise, pretty topiaries, and of course, THE FOOD. (Which, let's be honest, is the real priority of any Festival goer.)
Right off the bat I'm loving the new guide map covers. Disney literally put an orange on a teal background, you guys. IT'S LIKE THEY KNOW ME.
Everyone's favorite Figment topiary is back a ways behind Spaceship Earth now:
I wish they'd added something more flower-y ON him - maybe had him holding a bouquet? Or flowers around his neck? - but really I'm just glad he's out again!
As always, the real WOW moment of Flower & Garden is when you get to this lake view on the way to World Showcase:
I had to edit my photos to death to compensate for the harsh sunlight, but the flowers really ARE this bright IRL. Hard to tell here, but there are patterns of giant butterflies and flowers in the beds.
Here's the other side, facing towards Test Track.
There's a new scavenger hunt - they seem to have one every Festival now - and the prizes are these cute little iron-on patches:
It costs about $5 for the scavenger hunt map (sorry I didn't take a pic of that!), and then you get your choice of one of these 4 packs as a prize.
And here's what you're scavenging for: Spike the bee!
There's one hidden in every country around the showcase - and they're not too hard to find.
I ended up using my phone's panorama feature a lot; all the flower beds are so BIG:
Daisy and the chipmunks are over by the Imagination pavilion:
(Photography tip: edit your topiary pics with an HDR filter, it'll bring out those heavy shadows. As always, I highly recommend the free app SnapSeed; it's what I used to edit everything in this post.)
There is merchandise GALORE at this years Flower and Garden; I'm sure I still haven't seen it all! There are two main themes: one with Figment (of course), and one with Minnie, which is super adorable:
I really like this cup:
And this apron is massive - you could use it for gardening *or* cooking:
Isn't that art the cutest? I love Minnie's polka-dotted headscarf!
Another view of the lake and Imagination Pavilion:
That pretty orange and teal art is on banners all around the park, too:
John and I tried 6 or 7 Festival foods, here comes the first one:
The line for these was the longest we saw all day, and so many people told John they were amazing he bought two orders. They were OK, but they weren't two-orders good. I liked the peanut sauce and chicken, didn't like that they were room temperature and hard to eat, since the wonton edges were hard and tough. But maybe ours were just old?
Duck photobomb AND the Friendship Boat in the background. Awww yeaaaah.
This booth was showing the Orange Bird love.
None of the pop-up booths had pins for some reason (maybe it's a theft issue?) so we had to hunt to find the best one - finally found it in a locked case at the Pin Trading Station:
Spaceship Orange! Yes!
Sadly they packed it with that dumb ol' "Fresh" pin, though, so the 2-pack is $20 - and they won't sell you just one for $10, the party-poopers.
Next food item is an unqualified WIN:
The frying on this was incredible: so light and perfectly crunchy, no grease at all. The cauliflower doesn't have much flavor, but it's a great texture, and the sauce is a variation on Bloomin' Onion sauce. SO GOOD.
Captain Hook and Peter are over by the Fish & Chips stand in the UK:
I just noticed that Hook has eyes but Peter doesn't. They've been adding facial features to all the topiaries, but looks like there are still a few hold-outs.
Tinkerbell's in her usual spot:
Here's another pretty booth display - I wanted to run off with that owl vase:
Happy lil' Thumper:
I took a bunch of Bambi pics, since the lighting was finally cooperating here:
Aha, here's come the merch we've all been waiting for: FIGMENT STUFF.
That's a hummingbird feeder on the left, though the stone-finish paint job makes it kind of hard to tell. The big garden statue is pretty sweet, but from most angles it looks like Figgy is about to impale himself with a paintbrush. (Aaand now that's all you'll EVER see, mwahahaa.)
The winner is this one right here:
Yessss. I need this nestled in big bunch of purple flowers in my yard. Also someone to landscape my yard. Also some un-killable purple flowers. (I have fake flowers in my window box. DON'T JUDGE.)
You can almost see my outfit in the gazing ball - here's a badly lit selfie to prove I was showing my retro Epcot pride:
That's the first foil shirt I made as a test run, and my hat has Figment wings on it. YUP.
Back to Figgy merch:
I wish Disney didn't have to plaster the year on everything. I also wish that Figment ornament didn't cost $20. He's so cute with the little butterfly and caterpillar!
There are SO many t-shirt options for the Festival, but here are two that caught my eye:
Now back to more food:
If any of you watch The Tim Tracker (which you should!) then you know Tim and Jen raved over this one, saying it was the best thing they tried all day. I think ours must have been old, though, because it was almost cold (on a hot day!) and painfully salty. Bleh. I only managed 2 bites, but if they look fresher next time, I'd be willing to try again.
Lemme follow that up with two great big WINS:
The poutine is made with beer cheese, and happily it's here year-round, not just during the Festival. It easily beats all of the poutine options at Disney Springs, so definitely try it the next time you're here at Epcot. (Find it at the Refreshment Port - the place that also sells croissant donuts.)
The slider IS Festival-exclusive, and is the best thing we had all day. It was actually warm, for starters (yay!), and the smoky barbecue with soft bread and melted cheddar fondue was DIVINE. Plus, that house-made pickle was an unexpected hit: super sweet and tangy at first, then slap-you-in-the-face sour. Mmmm.
Beauty and the Beast topiary over in France - these two always have a crowd:
But for some reason there's never a crowd downwind of Timon and Pumba:
OH THE SHAME.
(Sorry, I've had Hakuna Matata stuck in my head all day.)
Anna and Elsa's topiaries are also out year round:
And here's Snow White:
One of my favorite displays every year:
There was a light breeze that day, so Lady's ears were blowing around in a most adorable fashion.
Ok, last two food reviews, starting with one more that's NOT Festival specific, but was new to us: Canada's Maple Popcorn!
The smell from this popcorn cart is scientifically proven to be irresistible. I don't even LIKE popcorn all that much, but I turned into a popcorn-seeking zombie after two whiffs from 20 feet away.
Once again our food choice was kinda old and cold - and mostly small kernels, since it was the bottom of the barrel. It was also a tiny bit burnt - but, in a good way? It tasted almost exactly like Honey Smacks cereal; a caramelized, slightly-burnt cereal flavor. I liked it, but I'd never have guessed it was maple. John was NOT a fan, so we tossed it after I polished off several handfuls.
Which leads me to Canada's other irresistible offering:
Read that description again.
SO WEIRD, RIGHT? It's why I had to try it.
This is one of those dishes that you need at least 3 bites to decide if you like it or not. The first bite I thought I liked it, the second I REALLY didn't, and by the third bite I was just intrigued enough to keep going. :D John, again, was not a fan. The textures and flavors are all so different, but the warm peaches with the corn ice cream are pretty incredible together, and the pound cake is griddled, so it's warm, too. Oh, and that's more of the maple popcorn on top.
All I can say is, give it a try with a friend. If nothing else, at least it's an experience!
That winds up our trip around the Festival, so I'll leave you with a few sunset shots:
Oh, and though I neglected to take any photos of it, the Butterfly House *is* here this year, and is always worth a detour.
Hope you guys enjoyed your virtual visit with me!
Also, if you've been out already this year, tell me some of your favorite foods! I'm sure we'll be back before the Festival ends, so I need to know what to try next. :)
UPDATE: Oops, nearly forgot to add this fun little photography experiment John tried out, morphing a photo from day into night:
Pretty cool, right? Next time we'll try to line it up a little more perfectly so it doesn't move. I'd love to do this with some castle shots!