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and Team / Co
Jul 22, 2013
Arlington, VA
My family and I just got back from Florida. In addition to hanging out on the beach, we spent a few days at Disney’s Bay Lake Tower resort, which I highly recommend. Anyway, I dragged myself away from the surf and sand to try the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot (and of course, to ride the Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom).

Before I get to Epcot’s fantastic event, I do want to mention the new Jungle Navigation Company Skippers Canteen in Adventureland. We had been very excited to try this new restaurant, if for no other reason than Magic Kingdom has very little to eat, if you don't want chicken nuggets or hamburgers. The menu includes dishes inspired by Asian and African cuisine, and everything we tried was delicious. They even served exotic drinks, including Thai and Brazilian Coke products. The wait staff carry on the Jungle Cruise ride’s tradition of bad puns, and were super-friendly. There are several themed rooms, which you can check out at the Disney Food Blog. We set our advanced dining reservation for opening (11:00 am), got there early, and requested the Butterfly Booth in the S.E.A. room. The collection of dead butterflies that surrounded us was a bit creepy, but also quite beautiful. Right now you can only make same-day ADRs, so I made ours first thing in the morning. I highly recommend checking out this restaurant.

Anyway, back to The Flower and Garden Festival.

For anyone who doesn't know, in the Spring, Epcot landscapers cover the park in gorgeous, themed gardens and character topiaries. In addition, there are food kiosks and event shops scattered around the World Showcase and the Promenade. Unlike the much bigger and better known Food and Wine Festival, the F&GF focuses on locally-sourced foods and farm fresh produce. There were dishes made from vegetables grown at the Land Pavillion, as well.

Being the OCD completionist that I am, we tried at least one dish from each booth, and I think we also managed to visit most of the shops and check out all of the gardens and topiaries. The two afternoons we spent at the event were far and away the most fun we have ever had at Disney World. The food was fantastic, the park was not crowded, and the event had a laid-back feel, that I imagine the Fall F&WF lacks.

Because I have gotten in habit of gratuitously sharing my opinions of the dishes at theme park culinary events, I have compiled a list of our favorites of the 13 kiosks. Let me preface this by saying that everything was amazing. We didn't dislike anything we tried, although admittedly, we didn't try everything they offered. In fact, the food at the event was better than a lot of what we ate at Disney’s mid-range table service restaurants in the parks and resorts.

Cider House (United Kingdom)
Naturally, we ordered the cider and beer flight, and all four beverages were excellent. More notably, however, is the fact that we also loved all three entrees and the dessert at this kiosk.

Le Isla Fesca (World Showcase Promenade)
We loved the chicken with mango salsa, the Jamaican-braised beef, and the tres leches. It was another booth, where we enjoyed everything.

Pineapple Promenade (World Showcase Promenade)
Who doesn't like Dole Whip? And rum? The hot dog was surprisingly good as well. This kiosk also offered my favorite drink at the event: Frozen violet lemonade.

Urban Eats (World Showcase Promenade)
This booth included a really interesting urban farming display. More importantly, however, we found the watermelon salad surprising and refreshing and loved the seared pork tenderloin.

Honestly, most of the food at this event was exquisite. In addition to the booths already mentioned, a few specific dishes stood out as being slightly more delicious or interesting than everything else:
- The Candied Strawberries at the Lotus House in the Chinese Pavilion;
- The Frushi at Hanami in the Japanese area; and
- The Harissa Chicken Kabob at Taste of Marrakesh in the Morrocan Pavillion.

The gardens, topiaries, and food kiosks came together to create a delightful and relaxing event. The food was all excellent and the park was beautiful. For some added amusement, we actually collected all of the stamps in our Garden Passport book. I strongly recommend that everyone check out the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot.

I will add some pictures, when I get to a real computer later.
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