Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival 2016: A Photo Tourby Donald and Bonnie Fink, contributing writer
The 2016 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is underway. In its 23 years of operation, this is the first time it will run a full 90 days. In the past, it's been closer to 75 days. There are several new topiaries including three at the entrance, where for the first time Donald Duck has his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie with him in the garden. Many of the topiaries are the same, but some have new twists like Pluto at Showcase Plaza with a new sunflower collar. For those of us who are repeat visitors, it makes it fun to see what might be different and new.
Butterflies on the Go, near Innoventions, is presented by GoGo SqueeZ. Our research tells us that there are over 1,000 butterflies on display representing 10 different species, but they're really hard to count. Photo by Donald Fink.
There are two play areas at the Flower and Garden Festival set aside for recreation for the little ones. Musical Garden Melodies is located along the walkway from Imagination to the World Showcase and features the Fab Five plus Daisy. The other play area is in Future World East behind Mouse Gear. It's called Cactus Road Rally and features the characters from the Cars movies, Mater and Lightning McQueen.
Urban Farm Eats is an old favorite outdoor kitchen located along the west walkway between Future World and World Showcase. Nearly everything on their menu is new this year. One item that's sure to be good is their seared pork tenderloin with mushroom ragout, spring vegetables, and marble potatoes. Photo by Donald Fink.
The Cider House is a completely new outdoor kitchen located in the United Kingdom pavilion. It features various hard ciders and lagers from around the United States, as well as cider-themed food. One menu item that looks interesting is the pear cider-brined shredded corned beef, with braised cabbage and pears.
There's a new dish on the menu at Fleur de Lys in France; the macaron chocolat framboise is a large raspberry macaron filled with chocolate fudge and raspberry jam.
The Smokehouse menu includes a pulled pork slider with crispy onions and coleslaw along with smoked pork ribs with roasted corn (new this year). For dessert try the warm chocolate cake with bourbon-salted sauce and spiced pecans. Maybe wash it all down with Orlando Brewing Company's Uncle Matt's Organic Grapefruit Pale Ale or a Shipyard Maple Bacon Stout from Clearwater, Florida.
You can read more about what's on the menu in the outdoor kitchens on the official Flower and Garden webpage.
You can't miss Tick-Tock-Croc, a topiary included in the Peter Pan garden at the United Kingdom pavilion. Facing the Crocodile is Captain Hook and on top of the building behind them is Peter Pan. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
We make a point to visit Epcot on the weekends during the Flower and Garden Festival so we can catch some of the performances at the American Adventure Pavilion. Named The Garden Rocks Concert Series, these weekend 30-minute performances take you back to the sounds of the 70s and 80s. Some, like Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits, take you back a bit farther.
Some of our favorites include Herman's Hermits, Orchestra, featuring members of ELO, and The Guess Who. New this near are Blood Sweat and Tears, Brian Howe, from Bad Company, Georgia Satellites, and Darlene Love. A list of performances and dates can be found on the Disney web site. Be sure to click on the "Read More" link under "Freshly Picked Music" for a listing of dates and times of each performance.
There are many vendors in various boutiques around World Showcase. You might find just what you need for your garden, or something interesting for your home.
At the Outpost in Epcot you'll find the Simba and Friends topiaries. Here are Pumbaa and Timon. On the opposite side of the walkway is baby Simba, his father Mufasa, and their trusted friend Rafiki. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
We've only visited this year's Flower and Garden Festival once, in preparation for this Photo Tour. But from what we've seen, we'll be back enjoying it over and over for the next three months. This is a great time to be in Florida with mild days, not too hot, and generally dry weather. Visiting the International Flower and Garden Festival is sure to put anyone in a gardening and outdoor frame of mind.