Disney's Flower & Garden Festival 2014

There's nothing more rewarding after finishing a big project than celebrating its completion in style. Thankfully, Disney always has something fun planned this time of year: Epcot's Flower & Garden Festival.

Epcot typically has a lot of flowers all year round, but the festival paints the entire park in vibrant colors (and mosquitoes, due to the sudden change to hot weather).

The topiaries are the stars of the festival, though they usually remain the same every year (which is why I only have the Muppets one pictured here - in honor of the epic movie that just came out, Muppets Most Wanted).

The newest addition to the festival is multiple tiny gardens throughout Epcot, each with a different theme - either from a Disney / Pixar movie or learning experience. I took a photo of the Gardener's Palette on the bottom left, focusing on color theories and language. It was probably my favorite of the gardens.

The Festival Center was abuzz with presentations from gardeners and plant life geniuses, including HGTV stars (in theory. I wasn't there on those days, haha). The four photos on the right were taken in the Festival Center; in the space where the Food & Wine Festival shows off chocolate sculptures, this festival presents a pint-sized history of Disney Horticulture. Not as interesting as chocolate, but still pretty cool.

Another new thing: the Flower & Garden Festival has FOOD. Guys. Guys. Guys. Instead of booths, they're called "Outdoor Kitchens." And the food, as a whole, was fantastic. Apparently, Disney started the outdoor kitchens last year... and I somehow missed it. WHAT. I chalk it up the stress of my impending graduation last year. March-May is always a weird time.

And where there are booths / outdoor kitchens, there will be passport stamps. And I collected them all! HERE WE GO:

(Left to Right: Festival Center; Gardener's Palette; Mater's Parts, Plants & Play Garden; Garden Retreat; Mike & Sulley's Monstrous Garden; Water Wise Herbs and Vegetables; Pineapple Promenade; Merry Meadows Outpost; Buttercup Cottage; English Tea Garden; Fleur de Lys; Backyard Play Garden; Taste of Marrakesh, Hanami; The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews; Primavera Kitchen; Florida Fresh; Lotus House; Jardin de Fiestas; Urban Farm EATS) 

Food I Ate:

The food was great for the strange fluctuating weather as Florida jerkily transitions into its usual intense hot weather. The food offered stayed on the cool size, either chilled or naturally refreshing with fruits and veggies. Ever since I heard about the outdoor kitchens, I'd been dying for violet lemonade - I can't describe how perfect it was. The candied strawberries peppered with sesame seeds made candy apples pale in comparison. And the Shiso violet sauce used with the Hanami sushi is divine. To the point where I'd fight an army of bridge trolls for a bottle (ohhhh, I hope Disney sells it someday. It seems to be an exclusive festival creation).

The only real disappointment was the Caprese push-up pop... because it was tiny/ Even Oleander from Flour House wouldn't be able to make a meal of it. Yikes. 

Ghost Pepper-Dusted Tilapia with Crisp Winter Melon Slaw and Mint Oil
Urban Farm EATS

Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits with Andouille Sausage, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes, and Cilantro
Florida Fresh

Beijing-Style Candied Strawberries
Lotus House
*My Favorite*

Hanami Sushi (A flavorful combination of salmon, scallop, and beef topped rice balls served with a Shiso Violet Sauce)
*My Favorite*

Popped Rice Cakes (Japanese puffed rice cakes with green tea whipped cream and azuki)

Freshly Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare
Buttercup Cottage
*My Favorite*

Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade
Pineapple Promenade
*My Favorite*

Caprese Push-Up Pop (Tomato, mozzarella, and balsamic)
Intermissions Cafe, Festival Center

Pork and Apple Sausage Roll with House-Made Piccalilli 
Buttercup Cottage

Macaron a la Fleur d'Oranger (Orange blossom macaron with white chocolate ganache)
Fleur de Lys
*My Favorite*

Little German Village:

German's little train village is usually decorated a bit for each festival, and the Flower & Garden Festival is no different. The main area has lampposts with festival banners hanging from them.

You can see the flower stands and people either relaxing on benches or busy doing... things. Like walking. 

Okay. So not as exciting as the mini booths during the Food & Wine Festival. BUT I'm sure that the decorations will be expanded in the future. I expect to see a lot more little flowers and gardens throughout the village next year. 

I keep a special eye on one corner of the village, where a church sits on top of a hill. The figurines throughout the village do change from time to time, but I've grown attached to the characters in this section because they've changed the most over the years I've gone to Disney. So imagine my surprise when I saw the nun, fallen on the pathway still in her sitting position! She's never been dislodged before. Which led me to wonder exactly what devilish thing has caused her to collapse (maybe the push-up pop, haha!).