The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival: 2018 Edition

We were lucky enough to be able to visit Disney World during the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival this year. This is an annual festival involving beautiful floral displays, topiaries, food booths and MORE! The dates for the 2018 festival are February 28th-May 28th! So if you’re in the area, you still have time to hit this year’s event!

Epcot’s very own Figment in all his Topiary glory!

This was our first year attending the festival! We had read a lot about the festival and were excited to see what all of the excitement was about. And we were not disappointed! The topiaries and other displays are nothing short of breath-taking (quite literally if you have severe allergies- plan ahead with some allergy medication)!

Walking around the World Showcase, you’ll see many more topiaries! A special topiary is featured at each country. In Italy, you can find Lady and the Tramp. In Norway, there are some trolls. The Outpost between China and German has several Lion King topiaries. Germany has Snow White and her Seven Dwarves! 
There’s no shortage of beauty to be seen at the Flower and Garden Festival! If you’re planning a trip around this time, just know that you will want more than one day in Epcot in order to fully enjoy this festival. We spent a week at Disney World during the festival and we probably stopped in to see (and eat) things in Epcot at least 4 days.

Epcot doesn’t just stop with the beautiful flowers! If you’ve been to any other festival at Epcot, you know that it isn’t an Epcot festival without FOOD BOOTHS! 
This year, there were 15 booths, plus the Joffrey’s carts had some specialty items as well. Disney provides booklets so you can track your adventures through the Festival. They are pocket sized and have stickers to mark each booth or garden visited. The booklets also included menus for each of the food booths!
We tried multiple items, but not all of them. Most of them were winners in our books, but a couple fell short of what we had hoped.
 The Warm Cheese Strudel at the booth in German was something I didn’t eat until the end of our trip. And I found myself really wishing I had tried it earlier so I would know to eat it more than once. The booths open at 11:00 am so I called this a late breakfast, but I’d eat it for every meal, if I could.
 This was the Beef Tenderloin Tips from the Canada booth. This is another one I would have eaten multiple times. But there were so many dishes we wanted to try. The meat was tender and tasty and the potatoes were creamy. I wish we had gotten more than 1 carrot, but over all, this was a big winner!
 The Sugar Cane Shrimp skewer with Steamed rice and coconut lime sauce was also exceptionally tasty. I believe this had 4 shrimp on the skewer which sat on a healthy sized bed of rice. The plating was fun with the sugar can skewer and the dish was yummy!
 It’s hard to go wrong with Cheesecake, but some people manage to do it. HOWEVER, this was not one of those times! This dish was found at the Honey Bee-stro not far from the Canada pavilion. It is made with local wildflower honey and seriously was so delicious and creamy. It was another one we wish we had tried earlier so we could eat it multiple times during this trip.
This was our one food fail for the trip. This Lamp Chop with Quinoa Salad and Blackberry Gastrique from The Berry Basket booth was not great. There was very little meat on the lamb chop and the salad was REALLY bitter! The flavors didn’t balance out and we felt like we had cold Quinoa in our teeth for the rest of the day. 

For our first Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, we’re calling this a win! We can’t wait to see what they do next year! The food was great and the topiaries were so fun. We’re already HUGE fans of Epcot, but this was just the cherry on top for us! 

Let’s Talk about FREE Dining at Disney World

If you’ve never been to Disney World or planned a trip there, you might not know that Disney World has Dining Plans. You can purchase dining plans for the duration of your trip and this pays for your dining in advance. Depending on the different Dining Plan purchased, you can eat at any of the Park or Resort eateries and they will use your dining credits rather than asking for money. All you would have to pay is tip.

Snack Credit: Mickey Cake Pop

During special times of the year, Disney offers the Dining Plan for FREE with a room reservation. Who doesn’t love FREE? Let’s break down the different dining plans so we can all make informed decisions!
New for 2018, you can get an alcoholic beverage (if you’re over 21) or a non-alcoholic specialty drink with each meal!

Disney Quick Service Dining Plan Includes (per person per night) Cost per person per night approx $53

  • 1 refillable resort mug
  • 2 snack credits
  • 2 Quick Service credits (entree and beverage)
Disney Dining Plan(per person per night) Cost per person per night approx $76
  • 1 refillable resort mug
  • 2 snack credits
  • 1 Quick Service credit (entree and beverage)
  • 1 Table Service credit (entree and beverage)

Disney Deluxe Dining Plan (per person per night) Cost per person per night approx $116

  • 1 refillable resort mug
  • 2 snack credits
  • 3 meal credits (can be used at Quick Service or Table Service)
Things to think about: You don’t have to use a credit everyday. You could use 3 Quick Service one day and 2 Table Services another days. You have as many credits as the number of nights you are booked at a resort. Mix and match however you need to!
Disney just announced their FREE DINING promotion TODAY! You can look and book here. The dates for the 2018 promotion are: 
  • August 20th-September 29th
  • November 24th-27th
  • December 7th-23rd
You get a FREE Quick Service Dining Plan if you book at least 4 nights at any of the following hotels (Value and Moderate level resorts):

  • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
  • Disney’s Art of Animation- Family Suites only
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort
  • The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
You get a FREE Disney Dining Plan if you book at least 4 nights at any of the following hotels (Deluxe and Villa level resorts):
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Inn Resort
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa 
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Village- Kidani Village and Jambo House
  • Disney’s Beach Club Villas
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Villa
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa
Of course, you can always upgrade to a higher tiered Dining Plan, if you want. 
There are a lot of things about the dining plan and the free promotion that can be a little confusing. If you have any questions at all, PLEASE leave a comment! We’ve used this promotion many times! And in the coming weeks, we will post about how to get the most bang for you buck (even a free buck) out of your Disney Dining Plan!

TIP: 3 snack credit items= 1 Quick Service Credit
I use this at the patisserie in the France Pavillion

Let’s Celebrate Animal Kingdom’s 20th Birthday!

Today, April 22, 2018, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is celebrating their 20th birthday! Now, we aren’t in Orlando yet, but we’ve been enjoying all of the excitement being posted on Social Media and living vicariously through everyone visiting today!
But we want to celebrate too! So today we’re bringing you a list of some of our favorite things about Animal Kingdom. Most of these are things we do on EVERY VISIT. Some are things we’ve known and loved for a while and some are things we’ve only just discovered! Regardless, read our list, take note and leave comments if you have anything you want to add!

#1 Flame Tree BBQ

Guys, if you’ve ever asked us about places to eat in Disney World, you’ve heard us RAVE about Flame Tree BBQ. They have Chicken, Ribs, Pork…a BBQ dream really. And their platters are big enough that usually we just share. If you’re feeling like variety, you can get a combo plate with 2 or 3 items. If you just want to eat ALL of one kind of meat, then you can order a big platter of one of them. All of the plates have enough to split between 2 (or even 3) people. Besides, if you share, you can get a dessert. The pulled pork cheese fries are also a must.

#2 Pandora

This is the newest part of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. If you’ve seen the movie Avatar, you’ll feel transported and stand in awe of what the Imagineers have done! If you haven’t seen the movie, you’re going to think this weird little place is just so visually stunning. And indeed it is. 
Here we are standing in front of one of the many waterfalls in Pandora

Pandora is home to two rides: Na’vi River Ride and Avatar Flight of Passage. For reals you guys. The river ride is great for even the littlest visitors. Nice and relaxing for the whole family. And it’s a beautiful ride through the forrest of Pandora.
But Flight of Passage is EPIC! I don’t want to spill the beans on the INCREDIBLE technology involved. But I will tell you…you wear 3D glasses! And you will be stunned. 

#3 Expedition Everest

Expedition Everest is the big rollercoaster in Animal Kingdom. You ride a train through Yeti territory. And….things happen. If you haven’t ridden on it, I don’t want to spoil it for you. But it’s very thrilling.
And of course, it is nothing short of picturesque!
The sun is coming up over Expedition Everest

#4 Mango Pie

This is one of our newly discovered favorites. Graham Cracker crusted goodness. They store them in a really cold fridge or even freezer so sometimes the middle is a little frozen. However, it thaws pretty quickly. If you can wait until it thaws, you’ll taste a creamy filling with subtle mango. Adam LOVES all things mango. I am a little pickier. But I really like this little pie. It’s not in anyway overwhelming. And that graham cracker crust is LIFE CHANGING. But I must admit, I’m a sucker for a good graham cracker crust. You can buy this at the quick service counter, just to the side of the Yak & Yeti restaurant.
This is definitely one we will be making a MUST for every trip.
Look at how thick that crust is!

#5 Kilimanjaro Safari

I don’t know about you, but it seems unlikely that I’ll make it to the actual continent of Africa any time soon. But when I go on the Kilimanjaro Safari, I feel like I’m on an actual African Safari. And thanks to the magic of Disney, I’ve seen a tower of Giraffes, a bloat of Hippos, and a flamboyance of Flamingos. I’ve even seen a lion roar on Pride Rock.

Say hi to Simba! (I mean, that’s what I call him in my head. I don’t know his actual name.)

No kidding, guys. It was amazing. And the park has evening hours now. Depending on the time of day your ride, you’ll see different animals out and about. We have had some of the best rides at roughly 6:00 or 7:00pm. Every Safari ride is different! I love it!

A lone ostrich next to the safari vehicle. Those birds are not to be messed with!

#6 Finding Nemo: The Musical

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to follow Nemo, Dory, and friends through their journey on stage? Now you can! This is a 40 minute production with fun puppets, neat effects, and new original music by Robert Lopez, who wrote the music for Frozen. And it comes without having to pay a Broadway ticket price! This is a must see and is a blast for the whole family. It’s a lifelong dream of Adam’s to play Crush in this show. Also, get ready for lots of bubbles!

The Moral of the Story is…

There’s something for everyone at Animal Kingdom! We’ve only scratched the surface of all of the amazing things at this park, but these are just a few we couldn’t go without talking about. What have been some of your favorite experiences at Animal Kingdom? Be sure to let us know!

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