Friday, March 18, 2022

Let's Spend A Rainy Day At Epcot's Flower & Garden Festival

Hallooo, happy Friday! Ready for a virtual Disney trip?

John and I haven't had Disney passes in years - even before Covid we'd let them lapse - so when our cast member friends Christie & Chris invited us to Flower & Garden at Epcot last week, we jumped at the chance.

It was a gray, rainy day, and we were all drenched under our umbrellas even before making it to the park. (Epcot still isn't running the trams.) Getting caught in a downpour is kind of fun, though, and I like the challenge of taking photos in that watery, desaturated light:

Plus this was my first time seeing the return of the crystal plinths in person! Ahh, this sight made my retro-Epcot-loving heart happy, I couldn't wait to see them lit after dark.

I wore my Ukraine colors that day, and these combat boots are the best rain shoes I have.

I had a pocket full of blue-and-yellow silk flowers I pinned on our friends, and to give to anyone who complimented us, but sadly no one did. I think the rain made the crowds a little less sociable.

My phoenix necklace seemed the most appropriate.

Now back to Epcot, which still has most of Future World hidden behind construction walls.

The walls divert you to the sides of Spaceship Earth, so the area behind it - where the big fountain and Club Cool used to be - is blocked off.

Instead you're brought around by Living with the Seas and The Land.

Anyone else thinking someone at Disney is a BTS fan? :D

I didn't see any new topiaries this Festival (boo), but Disney shuffled them around to new spots, at least.

Many of the topiaries have better backdrops for crowd-free photos, which is awesome. Even with the rain and on a weekday afternoon in the off-season, Epcot was bustling. Apparently it's true that there are no more slow days at Disney.


There were so many people I had to master the art of the off-center cropped photo to get most of these shots, haha. Just imagine a bunch of heads and elbows an inch off to every side.

I was here for the flowers, but Christie and Chris were here for the food. Here's Christie's honey cheesecake and Honey Peach Freeze with blueberry vodka from The Honey Bee-Stro:

That's the only food photo I'll share today since I didn't try anything myself, but I can tell you Chris & Christie were very happy campers as they snacked their way around the world.

If you have dietary restrictions then I don't have to tell you that eating out often means feeling left out, but honestly skipping the food and drink was OK with me. It gave me more time to take photos while our friends waited in line.

I even thought to take a rare selfie with John, who very sweetly waited with me. He refused to get any food I couldn't eat, but finally made an exception for his favorite Werther's popcorn in Germany, at least.

I always love this long stretch of flowers. You can see the big construction wall in the background.

With our friends line-hopping I really got to absorb the Showcase, instead of rushing through. In fact my favorite shot of the day was from this little nook I explored while waiting for them outside Canada:

Those purple flowers (wisteria?) were FULL of happy buzzing bees, but I risked getting extra close for this shot:

Eeeeee it's so pretty!

I know there's nothing "Disney" about it, but I love how you can almost FEEL the rain and humidity, like a warm summer night in the garden. Ahhh.

On the less pretty side, have you seen what Disney put in the Showcase Lagoon?

It's... it's so ugly.

There are FOUR giant black mechanical contraptions out there, and one Stargate. Much as I love a good geeky cross-over, it looks like the Borg is invading. You can't escape them, either; they're literally the centerpiece of the world showcase, blocking the view and lurking in your peripheral the whole way.

Originally Disney planned to have these stored under the water and only pop up for the night-time show, but guess what budget cuts. Harrumph.

Right, let's direct our view back onto the path to avoid more grumpy Jen rants.

It was around this point that I realized the tops of my socks were wet, and starting to give me blisters.

I only mention this because a wonderful shop manager personally walked John down to First Aid for me, where they gave him high-quality hinged bandaids - the kind with four ends - and these adorable Nurse Minnie stickers:

Isn't that sweet? Little things like this always bring me back around to the Disney magic. Corporately the company makes me feisty, but the cast members are where it's at.

Those band-aids saved my heels and my day, too; no blisters, woot woot.

Believe it or not I have the saturation turned all the way up on these pics; the gray skies just leach the color away.

Pluto was my favorite topiary; he seems the most life-life and happy:

Though his background is less photo-friendly.

Gotta include Kermit on his cheery yellow bicycle:

And Miss Piggy on her luggage pile:

Pay no mind to the lurking Borg invasion behind Japan's gate:


It's fine, I'm fine, everything's fine.

Hey look, we got an honest-to-goodness glimpse of blue sky over China:

And I really like this new placement for Elsa and Anna:

So pretty with the stone building behind them!

If you line it up right, it kind of looks like Elsa is shooting out magic tree branches:

Over where they used to be is this adorable troll:

The background is picture postcard pretty if you can catch a crowd-free moment:

Oooh. So close.

Edited To Add: I just learned about Google Magic Eraser from reader Jenni V., and why don't we have this on iPhones?!


I need this app, please, Apple. Gimmie.
(And thank you, Jenni, for magicking my photo!)

 I have to take a picture of this doorway every time I walk by Norway. It's the law.

I like how the rain puddles make it look like a snowy path.

Swinging back around to the showcase entrance, we spotted a few of the 50th anniversary statues:

Someone did our dear Figment dirty, though, putting his statue up the path next to the abandoned Kim Possible wagon:

I tried to angle down to get more sky behind him, but c'mon, Disney. Throw our boy a pretty tree behind him or something.

Sorcerer Mickey at the Showcase entry:

The brooms are my favorite:

Wouldn't these be amazing in a front yard? Hey John, maybe it's time we take advantage of the whole "no HOA" thing. Muhahaaa.

We swung by the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride under construction, where there's a giant Star Blaster ship out front:

Check out all the details on the back!

I'm excited to see how this ride turns out.

Buzz Lightyear over by Mission: Space:


If you've been away from Epcot for a long time like me, then you might not know that the big merch store by the entrance, Mouse Gear, is gone. [sob] Disney replaced it with the oddly named "Creations Shop," so of course I insisted we check it out.


Big mistake.

I won't subject you to another Grumpy Jen Rant, but suffice to say they replaced Mouse Gear with what looks like a less personable Kohl's department store:

There is nothing interesting to look at: no fun displays, no props, no character statues, not even any great art. Just a cold, featureless department store with a few token Mickeys on the register wall.

If it weren't for Spaceship Earth right outside the windows, you'd never know this was in a Disney park.


Christie and Chris hadn't seen this shop yet, either, and were equally dismayed. When I pointed out that the last remnants of Dreamfinder's ship were gone now, the four of us left completely demoralized.

I do have some good news, though: the Dream Catching Machine is safely in the Disney archives, and was even on display at D23 last November. So the ship lives on!

By this point we were all tired and still a bit soggy, but I was determined to see the new Spaceship Earth lights, the "Beacons of Magic", before we left. So we camped out on some benches and waited for dusk.

The globe lit up right around 6:30, and ohhhhhh was it worth the wait.


I stood out here with my jaw on the pavement, taking a million mediocre phone photos, ha.

And it just got prettier as the sun set!

Look at the reflected colors in the crystal plinths. Hnnng.

There are regular light shows set to music every 15 minutes or so, and in-between the globe shifts between lovely color patterns. For Flower & Garden the show song is "Colors of the Wind," but let's watch "Rainbow Connection" from last month, instead. Because Muppets.

Not much happens 'til the 1:30 mark, but then, WOWZA. How incredible is this??

The Beacons are my favorite Disney addition in ages, especially since they don't detract from the globe during the daytime. Absolutely stunning, and a must-see if you come to Epcot.

Two more pics at full dark:

So good. SO GOOD.

I'm afraid we didn't go back to see the lagoon show, so I can only hope the Borg invasion puts on a nice show.  Have any of you seen it? What'd you think?

All in all it this was a wonderful afternoon with friends, but also a reminder that John and I aren't in a rush to buy annual passes again. We can never stay away for long - if nothing else Dapper Day draws us back - but WDW requires a lot more energy and planning these days, and the vibe in the crowds is... strained. Some of that is the state of the world, but it's also the pressure of the rising prices and trying to do All The Things on a tight schedule.

So if you can't visit WDW anytime soon, take comfort in knowing it'll all still be here later, and you may get a better experience once more of the construction wraps and more of the live shows come back.

If you are visiting soon, prepare to soak it up. Aim for beautiful moments over a finished check list. And maybe say hi to the folks in line with you, because Disney people rock. You just have to get them started. ;)


P.S. Poop Patrol Update: we have ribbon! Woohoo! Thanks for virtually pulling for us (ew) and Eva during this trying time, gang. Turns out this, too, DID pass. Heyooo.


P.P.S In my continuing obsession with filling our home with color-changing lights, lookie what I bought:

Color-Changing LED Flood Lights

These little lights pack a BIG punch, and are strong enough to be used outdoors, though we plan to use them inside for parties and everyday decor. (I love having colored flood lights on timers so they pop on at dusk, it's so magical!) I did my homework comparing prices, features, and reading lots of reviews, and these are the best I've found.

This 2-pack has an instant coupon on Amazon for $8 off right now, so you get both for $30 Prime. That's a great deal; I'm already debating buying a few more sets. Even better, these come with remote controls. Most similar lights require a proprietary app on your phone just to operate, and I've read enough horror stories in the reviews that I'll be sticking with simple-to-use remotes.

These are awesome behind plants, furniture, or tucked into corners shining up the walls. Put them on a timer, and every night you can pretend your house is Spaceship Earth, woot woot.


  1. You need to see the Borg show... It does it's best to make up for it. We loved every minute.

  2. We saw the new fireworks show at Epcot in November, and well, it wasn't great. We were standing just off the Torii gate and it was SUPER loud (next time we go to WDW my sister will want to see it - I'll bring earplugs). It hit the high points of major music from current shows but felt very disjointed; it didn't have good segues from one song to the next. Maybe it will grow on us; I certainly liked the prior show more after I'd seen it a few times.

  3. Gimmie allll the color changing lights!! We are planning a trip for November. I already have a countdown!! So excited!

    1. Woohoo! So happy for you! That's a great time to visit, the heat's not quite so searing. ;)

  4. I 100% agree with the poor, POOR choices of the new store and the Showcase Lagoon. We did stay to watch the show when we were there a couple of weeks ago, and it was "meh". Once and done for me. I regret not watching "the ball" instead. I think that is prettier and I'm sad I missed out on it (we stayed at Pop and took the skyliner home, so no chance to walk out under/watching the ball).

  5. yup - wisteria. georgeous too!

    1. I'm pretty certain that's not wisteria. It's more hangy and related to peas, so it has different blossoms. My plant finder app suggests Queen's Wreath, which is also gorgeous! 😍

  6. My John and I went to Epcot during the food and wine festival, neither of us drink, but we had fun walking around and exploring all the countries. Everyone was standing in very long lines for food (and restrooms!) with literally no one in the UK or Germany shops/display (whatever you call them) so we had those places all to ourselves! Back then they literally didn't have *any* seating -there or in the other parks, which just seamed weird. (I'm good walking for about 3.5 mile per day, after that I need wheels. Standing a lot shortens my personal milage so we were pretty bummed when I began to zombie walk.) Anywho, we absolutely loved watching the colours change and dance all over the ball, we happily stood there for what seemed like hours, munching popcorn and downing a lot of water! (hint: don't go on the hottest wettest day you can find in Florida lol)

  7. I loved the night time show. We liked it so much we camped out for better viewing the second night. It’s fireworks meets world of color from DCA. We much preferred it to magic kingdom fireworks.

  8. I missed out on so much when I went last summer! We had to leave the parks before any lightshows were starting, but crowds were already gathering. And yes, the Borg takeover by the Japanese gateway is the worst for photos. Thanks for the tour!

  9. I've got a trip back to WDW planned for June (postponed from 2020) - my first time back since 2005. This time I'm bringing my son for his first WDW visit (he's grown up with Disneyland since we live in CA). My mom was the one who got me hooked on Disney trips, and I have so many wonderful memories of times with her at WDW that I want to share with my son. He never got to meet her - she died before I met my husband - but he has her imagination and love of Disney, too! I know things will be different, but like you said, I'm going to focus on the moments and the little bits of magic and just enjoy our time together.

  10. We saw the show back in Oct and I thought it was spectacular. Kind of loud, but still really neat. We found a nice spot on that balcony in Japan.

  11. Thanks for the update on the ribbon situation. I've said it before and I'll say it again (since I've had cats myself): You never thought you'd be this excited about cat poo, did you?

  12. Oh wow, the globe lights are just stunning!! Thanks for sharing so many pics and the video of it. <3

  13. Plant info on the "wisteria-looking" plant. Petrea volubilis.
    Be sure and click on the "how to pronounce" button. You will sound very learned and hilarious at the same time.

  14. When I was in the creations shop, they had a couple of cool murals and a bunch of MIckey Mouse statuettes made out of different materials and things, which was neat. Please tell me they didn't take those out??

    1. I didn't see any statuettes, which is a bummer since those sound pretty cool! The only murals we saw were the ones behind the registers in my photo: kind of a rainbow Mickey wallpaper. Which is awesome, but I want *more*. :D

  15. Thanks, as always, Jen, for taking us on this virtual tour! It's still cold and snowy here in Wyoming. Your pictures give us an escape for a little while into some Disney magic! I wonder what the green plants are that make up the "skin" of many of the characters? I loved the brooms too! Congrats on the appearance of the ribbon - no doubt a relief to all involved!


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