#WDWGardenParty – First thoughts

This year, I was lucky to attend the opening day of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival at WDW.  A lot of our guests at Destinations to Travel, LLC. are headed there this spring and I wanted to be able to give them a great heads up as to what the #WDWGardenParty is all about.  So here are my first thoughts on the #FreshEpcot event.

Get this #WDWGardenParty started with these first thoughts on the Festival! Photo by Cliff Wang.

Get this #WDWGardenParty started with these first thoughts on the Festival! Photo by Cliff Wang.

There were flowers, and food but it really wasn’t as festive as I’d hoped.  This festival is second fiddle to the biggest event of the year – the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, and you could tell.  While the flowers might not get all the credit they deserve, some of the Food & Wine influences have had a big impact over the past few years – and that’s a good thing.

When I say there wasn’t much “festive” about the festival, I’m talking fanfare.  There wasn’t a ribbon cutting, confetti cannon, or any of that hullabaloo.  It was Epcot as usual, just with a lot more to see and buy.  I did notice that guests entering from the BoardWalk Inn or Yacht and Beach Club Resorts by the International Gateway has an opportunity to meet Cinderella.  I’m not sure if this was for the festival, or if it was a coincidence but it was a great touch.

I feel like the flowers and gardens were somehow less this year than in my past visits.  Most of the topiaries were repeats from last year.  It could be that they’ve cut down as a result of no longer partnering with HGTV on the festival, but that’s just my speculation.

Is the Festival getting a little tired or is it better each year? Photo by Cliff Wang.

Is the Festival getting a little tired or is it better each year? Photo by Cliff Wang.

The food booths that are at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival are now permanent structures.  Between Flower & Garden, Food & Wine, and Epcot’s Holidays Around the World, these booths are used about 7 months of the year now, though their signage is changed for each festival (I assume the “extra” Food & Wine booths are brought in just for the fall).  At the Flower & Garden Festival, the booths are dressed up with plants that represent the fruits, veggies and flowers you’ll find at each booth, which is a neat idea.

Speaking of food, everything my family and I sampled was EXCELLENT – I especially loved the chicken dish at Primavera Kitchen.  The portions were good, and the prices were reasonable – in fact, I felt these dishes were a better value than what I’ve seen at Food & Wine in the past.  There are high-boy tables a d a bit of seating scattered around World Showcase Lagoon, but nothing substantial like the Food & Wine VIP areas.

Don't forget - the Festival is open at night! Phot by Mike Billick.

Don’t forget – the Festival is open at night! Phot by Mike Billick.

The last thing I noticed was the shopping!  There are all kinds of little stands set up with Flower & Garden merchandise, and several of the stores are carrying it too.  Stained Glass wall hangings, branded hats, wine, and more can be found to treat your nature loving friends, family, or your self!

I didn’t have the chance to see the Festival Center or any concerts – those are offered Fri-Sun only this year.  But, don’t worry because some of our other WDW Magazine team members will be reporting on those soon!  Stay tuned for more on the #WDWGardenParty!

For more on the 2016 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, check out our March issue!

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