The Best EPCOT Festival?
Food Highlights and a Tour Review from the International Flower and Garden Festival
By Megan Valentine
I’m not sure there could be any argument that there is any prettier time of year at EPCOT than the International Flower and Garden Festival. The park is filled with flowers, topiaries of beloved characters, and kiosks filled with beautiful and delicious snacks from around the world. I had the opportunity to visit the Flower and Garden Festival in March of this year and try a number of treats around the park as well as experience a wonderful tour opportunity offered during the festival.
First, let’s talk about the Royal Tea garden tour that is offered daily throughout the festival and offers a 45-minute tour of the teas in the English Tea Garden as well as a breakfast of scones and tea at the Rose & Crown. We met at 9:30 at the Rose & Crown dining room and joined the rest of our tour group (there were about 20 on the tour) and our two guides for our tour. Having the chance to wander through this portion of the World Showcase when there were very few people around was wonderful and gave us the opportunity to get photos of some of the topiaries without crowds of people around.
Our tour guide, Alex, gave us some great insight into all of the types of teas highlighted in the tour, giving us details about how the various types are made and how English tea practices differ from American. The tour was very informative and fun, and filled with ginger jokes (see picture below for explanation).
After we went through the tea garden and he answered any questions we had, we traveled back to the Rose & Crown where tables had been set up with to go containers filled with a savory and a sweet scone as well as clotted cream and jam. We also had the opportunity to try one of the teas we had discussed on the tour. While we ate, enjoying the view, the guides handed out small packets with three different tea bags for us to take home.
Overall, it was an enjoyable tour and a great way to spend the morning at the Flower and Garden festival, particularly for anyone who enjoys tea (and listening to British accents for an hour :) )
We finished up with our tour and snacks shortly before 11:00 AM, when the Flower and Garden kiosks were opening up for the day. (A couple of them seemed to be already open when I arrived at like 10:50, so I think there were one or two extra popular kiosks that they may have opened early). After seeing the super popularity of one item at the festival in particular, and being a sucker for cuteness, I made a beeline for the Citrus Blossom kiosk to pick up the hit of the festival, the Orange Bird Sipper!
I had heard that this was so popular that the lines for his kiosk were an hour long or more during the first few days of the festival, so I was thrilled that I was able to walk right up when I arrived. The sipper is filled with an orange cream slushy which tastes quite a bit like a melted creamsicle. It was quite good, but sweet and I can definitely tell you that a little went a long way. He doesn’t hold a ton of liquid, but I’d had my fill (even sharing) by the time I got close to the end. This was $14 at the kiosk, but you’re mainly paying for the cup (which would probably have been more than $14 in any of the gift shops).
My absolute favorite thing at the festival was another drink, which was relocated to the Taste Track this year. It is the Green Tea Berry Mint Julep. I got the nonalcoholic version, but you can get it with bourbon. This was at one of the temporary kiosks last year, which did not return this year. This drink is absolutely delicious, with blackberry, raspberry, green tea, and a mint simple syrup. It is light and refreshing and I legitimately went there as soon as I could to get it this year because I enjoyed it so much last year. (I made it at home a few times in the interim and was thrilled when the recipe was in the festivals cookbook on sale at event this year.) In my humble opinion, it surpasses the Violet Lemonade that is most everyone’s favorite year after year. (I know, potentially fighting words, but I don’t care. I love this drink that much!)
Although simple, the crab and cream cheese wontons were absolutely delicious, especially with the duck sauce they have available for dipping. The flatbread in the Primavera Kitchen was a solid choice as well, although it wasn’t the most amazing thing ever.
I think if I had to pick a favorite kiosk for the festival, it would probably Bauernmarkt, the German kiosk, which seems very weird to me considering I’m not usually a huge fan of German food. This kiosk hasn’t changed a ton from last year, but they didn’t need much adaptation since the Toasted Pretzel bread filled with black forest ham and melted gruyere cheese was absolutely delicious, as was the potato pancake with ham, onion, and sour cream that my mother got. Although those were so good and I would go back and get more in a minute, the best part is the Warm Cheese Strudel with mixed berries. Buttery, flaky pastry surrounds a warm cream cheese filling that is divine and just the perfect balance of sweet with the tart cream cheese. To top it off, they pour warm mixed berries and juice over the pastry. Can you ask for more in a dessert? This recipe was also included in the festivals cookbook, which helped confirm my purchase very quickly!
Another solid kiosk with multiple options (although almost all of them had at least one thing that would be appealing if you have a remotely adventurous palette) was the American kiosk, the Smokehouse. It featured multiple varieties of barbecue including the pulled pig slide, beef brisket burnt ends and smoked pork belly slider (my selection), and the shredded beef brisket. My group got one of each and no one was disappointed in their selection.
All in all, in our 2.5 days at the Flower and Garden Festival, we made it through 10 of the 17 kiosks for this year (plus Taste Track) so I’d say that’s a reasonable accomplishment. There were definitely more things I wanted to try and quite a few things I didn’t mention here that were delicious. I didn’t try anything that I regretted. If you enjoy the EPCOT festivals, I would definitely recommend this one. Personally, it beats out the Food and Wine festival for me since there are plenty of food and drink options like at F&W but the park is filled to the brim with flowers!
My name is Megan Valentine. I'm a travel junkie, a lifelong Disney fan, and a museum curator & registrar. My granddad was born in 1928, just like Mickey Mouse, so he has worked to instill a love of all things Disney in his kids and grandkids. He and my grandmother took me to Walt Disney World for the first time when I was four years old, and I have been addicted ever since. I have now been to WDW seven times and can't get enough! I am the planner for all of my family's Disney trips and consultant for any friends with questions since I am always reading about Disney, listening to podcasts, or watching the movies. In addition to my Disney travels, I love to explore a variety of destinations with an ever-growing list of places to visit. As a museum professional and art historian, I often seek out fascinating new museum exhibits when I can, particularly if it has anything to do with my other major obsession, Egypt!