WW GOES TO WDW at Yesterland.com Flower & Garden & Food & Beverage
20th Annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival
March 6 to May 19, 2013

This is my third time at an Epcot Flower & Garden Festival, after previously enjoying the festival in 2007 and 2011. The 2013 edition began its 75-day run on Wednesday, March 6. This year, food kiosks have joined the topiaries and floral displays.

Once again, if you prefer Yesterland articles about Disney things that have departed, please wait until May 20 to read this.

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, March 8, 2013


2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Topiaries at the entrance to Epcot

Mickey has a barbecue grill. Goofy is carrying a cake. And Pluto is pulling a string of sausages out of Minnie’s basket. The sign says “Flower & Garden Festival,” but the characters represented by the topiaries seem to have food—not flowers—in mind.

After 19 previous Epcot International Flower & Garden Festivals that focused plants, the 20th edition adds food and beverages—with a garden perspective.

It makes sense. The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, held each fall, has become wildly popular. During what had once been a slow time of the year, throngs of guests descend on Epcot to sample tastes of food with accompanying beverages—or sometimes just to “drink around the world.” It can be a great experience for guests, and it’s undoubtedly great business for Disney.

In comparison, the Flower & Garden Festival traditionally gave guests far fewer opportunities to spend money. Sure, there was merchandise. And guests had all the eateries of Epcot at their disposal. But the festival was primarily about looking and learning, not about eating and drinking.

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Fruits by the Glass

Disney calls the food and beverage kiosks Garden Marketplaces, and there are about half as many of them as there have been “International Marketplaces” during recent Food & Wine Festivals.

There is less emphasis on traditional wine and beer than in the fall, and more on fruit beverages—with and without alcohol. A case in point is the Fruits by the Glass marketplace at the entrance to World Showcase from Future World. Beverages include Watermelon Passion Fruit Cocktail ($7.50) and Mango Mama Mango Wine ($3.25).

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Pineapple Promenade

Just like at Aloha Isle in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom, the Pineapple Promenade marketplace sells Dole Whip Soft Serve ($4.00). But at Pineapple Promenade, you can also get Dole Whip with Siesta Key Spiced Rum ($6.25). After all, this is Epcot.

The Garden Marketplaces are matched with what Disney calls Festival Farms. A more apt (but much less catchy) name would be agricultural planters. The planters showcase plants that provide major ingredients for the foods served at each Garden Marketplace. It’s a nice touch. Most of us seldom think about the plants that provide the food in grocery stores and restaurants. And the plants can be beautiful.

The planters at the Pineapple Promenade feature—not surprisingly—pineapple plants.

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

The Cottage: Savories, Trifles & Teas

A typical marketplace offers a couple of savory dishes, a couple of desserts, and a few alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The Cottage, located between Canada and the United Kingdom, also features a large selection of hot teas and iced teas from Twinings.

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Baked Goat’s Brie with Kumquat Chutney ($4.50) from The Cottage

I tried the Baked Goat’s Brie. The Brie was baked in a puff pastry. Immediately before being served, it was topped with what was billed as Kumquat Chutney. I’m aware that chutneys can take many different forms, but the chutney here lacked vinegar or spices. It was more like jam and was overly sweet. The baked cheese was only lukewarm, so there wasn’t a contrast between hot and cold either. The item was still tasty, but it did not live up to its potential.

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

L’Orangerie at France

France is always a popular marketplace during the Food & Wine Festival. L’Orangerie is the same booth at same location—but with a different name and different items.

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Pouring sparkling wine

As you might expect, there’s wine in in France. L’Orangerie pours several wines, including Charles de Fère Muscat Pétillant (Sparkling Muscat)—not Champagne. Nearby, France has two all-year booths that also serve wine.

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Tarte à la ratatouille et fromage de chèvre ($4.50)

One of the savory items at L’Orangerie is a tart with zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, onions, tomato, and goat cheese. It looked good, but I didn’t try it.

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Taste of Marrakesh at Morocco

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Hanami at Japan

One of the most unusual items at the Hanami marketplace is called Frushi ($4.50). At first glance, it looks like sushi. But it’s actually made with fresh strawberries, pineapple, and cantaloupe. The “rice” is coconut. It’s served on a raspberry sauce and accompanied by whipped cream.

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews

At the American Adventure Pavilion, the festival is offering barbeque brisket and pork prepared on a newly acquired smoker. The huge smoker is “on stage’ for all to see. There’s also an impressive selection of craft beers.

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Smoker at The Smokehouse

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Smoked Beef Brisket with Collard Greens and Jalapeño Corn Bread ($6.75)
Pulled Pig Slider with Cole Slaw ($5.50)

I didn’t get to try anything from The Smokehouse. I hope the smoker and a similarly interesting beer selection will be back for the Food & Wine Festival this year.

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Primavera Kitchen at Italy

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market at Germany

Germany has two marketplace kiosks that share the name Bauernmarkt (farmer’s market)—one with food and beverages, and one with just beer.

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Beer kiosk at Bauernmarkt

Of the four beers served at the Bauernmarkt, only one is from Germany. The others are from Patchogue, New York; Chicago, Illinois; and Tampa, Florida. Overall, the Garden Marketplaces put less emphasis on geography than the International Marketplaces.

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Beer Flight ($13.00) and Savory Bread Pudding with Spring Peas and Wild Mushroom Ragout ($3.75)

The Savory Bread Pudding with Spring Peas and Wild Mushroom Ragout wasn’t pretty, but the taste and texture were wonderful. I enjoyed comparing the four types of beer in the flight. The cups were six ounces each.

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Lotus House at China

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Jardin de Fiestas at Mexico

As a veteran of 14 consecutive Food & Wine Festivals, one thing that was striking to me was how short the lines were for the marketplaces at the Flower & Garden Festival. Walking around World Showcase Lagoon several times on Wednesday and Thursday, I seldom saw a wait anywhere. As Epcot attendance increases during the Spring Break and the weeks on either side of Easter, the marketplaces should become busier. Even then, because it’s the first year for the Garden Marketplaces, it may take a while for the word to get out.

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Florida Fresh

I think Disney has a great idea. The Garden Marketplaces don’t detract from the rest of the Flower & Garden Festival. And they provide a new reason to visit Epcot in the spring.

 

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Updated March 11, 2013.