The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is back for another year, running through May 30. You’ll know it as soon as you enter the park and see Daisy Duck getting things ready in the front part of the welcome topiary bed while Donald and his nephews hang out nearby. A rainbow of colorful flowers has popped out all around the park, along with character topiaries throughout Future World and World Showcase, but there’s another big reason to visit at this time of year: the food and drink.
This annual celebration of growing things has expanded into a focus on freshness and how that’s expressed in food and beverage. Check out the photos below, which highlight some of the culinary reasons to visit the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival this year.
Variety of fresh food
The food offerings expand at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival each year, and 2016 is no exception. The Outdoor Kitchens offer familiar fare like ribs, pork tenderloin, and corned beef, and more exotic fare if you’re feeling more adventurous. Out of my two favorite for the year so far, one is a relatively “common” dish (cheese quesadilla with fresh tomatillo sauce) and something that could be considered a bit more “exotic,” especially for people who don’t much like liver (country paté and house-made pickles). Grab your Festival Guide when you arrive and plan out your noshes.
Your sweet tooth will get its fill at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Outdoor Kitchens, with dessert items tempting you at every turn. The old favorite lemon scone made a comeback this year, and you’ll see some items you can get throughout the year, like macaroons in France and baklava in Morocco. There are festival exclusives, too, like the warm chocolate cake from the Smokehouse that I fell in love with.
No, this isn’t the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, but you’ll find plenty of wine offerings at the Outdoor Kitchen. You don’t have to worry about pairings as you’ll see suggestions right on the menus.
Other adult beverages
Wine goes well with food, but if you’re more of a general adult beverage person, you won’t have any trouble drinking your way around the world. The La Vie en Rose Frozen Slush in France, shown here with the onion tart, is a perfect way to cool down after a brisk hike around World Showcase.
Craft beer is HUGE this days, and the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is riding the trend with plenty of options. Cider’s also gaining popularity, and if you’d like to sample some ciders without committing to a whole class, the Cider House has a nice little sampler with three fruity ciders (black cherry…mmmm!) and one beer.
Beat the crowds
It’s getting harder to beat the crowds at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, as it’s growing by leaps and bounds every year. The best way is to arrive early and head to World Showcase as soon as it opens at 11 a.m. However, even when the lines get long, be sure to check the Outdoor Kitchen in which you’re interested to see if there’s a line on both sides. If so, one line is often much shorter than the other.