3 Things I’m Most Excited for At Flower and Garden Festival

 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

The International Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot is an annual festival happening every spring.  I attended the festival last year. I’m very excited that I’ll be attending the festival again this year in April.  I’ve been looking over lists of events, exhibits, gardens, and culinary offerings. Next, I’m excited to share with you the top 3 things I’m eager to experience at the festival this year.

Flower and Garden Festival

Food, Food, and More Food

This year the festival is offering more than a dozen outdoor kitchens. Patrons will be able to experience delectable and alluring foods.  These outdoor kitchens are located all around the World Showcase. Therefore, eating your way around the world will be fun! They are open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. everyday. Here are the Top 3 dishes I’m excited to try:

  1. Bauermarket: Farmer’s Market:   Toasted Pretzel Bread with Blackforest Ham and Melted Gruyere Cheese.
  2. Fleur de lys:   Macaron au Chocolat en sucette: Large Chocolate Macaron Lollipop.
  3. The Smokehouse   a. Pulled Pork Slider with Coleslaw b. Beef brisket Burned Ends and smoked Pork Belly Slider with Garlic Sausage Chorizo, Cheddar Cheese Fondue and Housemade Pickle.

There are several other items that I’m excited to try. I encourage you to check out the menus to see what items excite your taste buds! The next thing I’m excited to see will get everyone wanting to be outdoors.

Flower and Garden Festival

Beautiful Topiaries

The Festival is an exciting time to experience the magic of living sculptures. According to Wikipedia, a Topiary is the horticultural practice of training perennial plants by clipping the foliage of trees and shrubs. As a result, this develops and maintains clearly defined shapes. Therefore, if you have never experienced these beautiful sculptures, this is the perfect Festival for you.  The festival is offering more than 20 magical topiaries. Everyone is sure to find a topiary they love. In addition to the topiaries, the Festival is also offering 16 different beautiful gardens and wildlife exhibits.  Lastly, I’m especially looking forward to a Royal Tour!

Flower and Garden Festival

Tours of the Royal Tea Variety

There are 4 different tours available at this year’s Flower and Garden Festival:

  1. Behind the Seeds
  2. Gardens of the World
  3. English Tea Garden by Twinings Tea of London.
  4. Royal Tea Garden Tour

I have reserved a spot on the Royal Tea Garden Tour for the morning that I’m at Epcot. This is a 45 minute guided tour though the English Tea Garden. Your tour guide will lead you through an elegant tea garden. The Tour is approximately 45 minutes where you will explore the garden in-depth. In addition to exploring, you will also learn the artistry and history behind growing and blending tea. The tour ends at the Rose and Crown Dining Room with a treat of tea and scones. This tour costs $18 per person. The tour starts at 9:45 a.m. each morning it is offered during the festival.  Spots fill up fast, therefore the site suggests obtaining advanced reservations to secure a spot.  Lastly, the Festival offers a concert series that I won’t be able to attend.

Flower and Garden Festival

Garden Rocks Concert Series

The Garden Rocks Concert Series is offering performances that are sure to bring the nostalgia back.  From Survivor to Smash Mouth and Rick Springfield to Lonestar, there is music for everyone. Make sure to check out the Concert Series page for the calendar of concerts to take full advantage during your trip.  It’s a bummer that there are no concerts during my stay, but I’m still excited about all that I’ll be able to experience.

 

Thanks Noelle for this exciting post. Can’t wait to hear how your experience was!

 

If you’d like more info on Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, you can find more great posts here.

 

 

Best Tips for Epcot Food and Wine Festival

If you are a Disney fan and a lover of all things FOOD, then the Food and Wine Festival in Epcot is a can’t miss experience. One of my favorite things in Disney World is the World Showcase in Epcot. With the Food and Wine Festival taking place in the World Showcase, I knew it was something that I absolutely couldn’t miss.

Best Tips for Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Traveling and eating are some of my most favorite past times, so being able to “eat my way around the world” in one day filled me with such excitement. I knew that I had two trips to Disney World already planned for this year, so I purchased an Annual Pass. In trying to make the most of my Annual Pass, I planned a quick trip to take my brother for his very first time. I figured that a trip to the Food and Wine Festival would be perfect for his first time in Disney World. Keep reading to for my best tips for Epcot Food and Wine Festival.Epcot's Food & Wine Festival is an incredible experience! It can also be very overwhelming. Follow these best tips to plan your trip and enjoy all the festival has to offer.

Research, Research, Research

There is a plethora of information on the internet about the Food and Wine Festival. From the menus and reviews of the food and beverages, to maps of the kiosk locations around the World Showcase, planning your Food and Wine experience is easy.Best tips for Food and Wine Festival

Make Lists

The menus posted online made making my “must haves” list very easy. Reading the reviews online also helped me remove items from the list that I wanted to try, but that overall had poor reviews. In one instance, I ignored the reviews and ended up disappointed. (Thanks Belgium!) I plan to return in just a few weeks and will not make that mistake again.

Use the Festival Map

If you’ve never been to the World Showcase, it’s a big circle. When you come up to it, you can begin your tour of the world by going left or right. In planning your Food and Wine experience, it will be very helpful to plan your attack in order of the kiosks. This way, you’ll eliminate wasted time skipping around to different kiosks.

Hang on to Your List

If you plan to have a drink or two at the festival, having a detailed list will really come in handy. I speak from experience. If I didn’t have my list of “must haves” with me after having two drinks, I would have become lost in what I wanted to do. This is important in making the most of your festival trip.

Have a Budget

Most food items are between $3.50 – $8.00. It can be upwards of $10.00 for drinks. My brother and I had the Disney Dining Plan, and we used 1 quick service credit and 4 snack credits. 1 Quick Service credit can be turned into 3 snack credits, but you can do this only at one kiosk. This is a good option when you want multiple items at one kiosk. Snack credits are best used for the most expensive items, but cannot be used on alcohol. My brother and I budgeted $200 for the festival. This does not count the dining credits we used. We visited only 9 kiosks out of the 35 featured. We shared everything we purchased ,and we were full almost to the point of busting when we left. With that said, we spent all of the $200 we had budgeted.

Best Food Kiosks

Favorite: Hawaii

Everything we tried at Hawai’i was amazing. My favorite was the Kalua Pork Slider. The most talked about Teriyaki-glazed SPAM Hash lived up to the hype. I can also speak very highly of the Grilled Tuna Tataki. The drink we tried from here was the Mai Tai featuring Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, which was very delicious. Even though there is still so much more I want to try, I plan to visit Hawaii again when I return in a few weeks.

Least Favorite: Belgium

Gouda is my favorite cheese, so when I saw that Belgium was featuring a Beer-braised Beef served with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes it instantly went on my “must haves” list. Even though I read several poor reviews of this dish online before going, I was hoping that they just weren’t true. To my dismay, they were. The dish was bland and the potatoes weren’t the right consistency for mashed potatoes. I cannot speak for the other dishes at the Belgium kiosk, but this one is a dish you can totally miss.

Designated driver

Finally, my last tip for making the most of your Food and Wine Festival experience is, if you are planning to drink, please have a method of transportation planned ahead. From the monorail and resort buses to the Minnie Van Service and Uber, there is no excuse for drinking and driving while on Disney property. Plan for alternate method(s) of transportation in your budget, and your conscience will thank you later.

I hope that I have helped you prepare to make the most of your Food and Wine Festival experience. I can’t wait to return myself, so I can share my new favorites with you!

Why You Should Visit Disney World Solo

Why You Should Visit Disney World Solo

Have you ever been on a vacation with a lot of people? Does it seem like you never get to do what you want? Have you wanted to just slow down and really soak in your surroundings? I recently discovered just how awesome planning to visit Disney World solo can be.How to Visit Disney World Solo

Why You Should Visit Disney World Solo

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. In fact, it can be a great experience. Read on for what I consider the top 3 reasons to visit Disney World solo.If you're planning a trip to Disney, consider a day alone. Why? A visit to Disney by yourself might be a refreshing new way to see an old favorite. Read our best reasons why you should visit Disney World solo, and start planning your trip today!

Your Pace, Your Way

When going on vacation with a large group, the individual can become lost. The hustle and bustle of trying to get everything possible done can become hectic. One can miss the small details that add to the magic of Disney. I recently went on a trip with nine others. I rarely had a chance to stop and smell the roses until I had my solo day. As I wandered around Epcot, I was able to really take in every country in the World Showcase. I was able to take my time through the gardens of each country and have the most delicious lunch in the France pavilion. I was able to do all of this with no one pushing me to move along or hurry up. There was no schedule to keep up with, and no one else’s desires to appease.How to Visit Disney World Solo

Timing is Everything

Doing a solo day can give one the freedom to be spontaneous. Not worrying about a schedule can create incredible freedom. We’re always on the run. Work, school, children, families. We don’t often have the luxury of seeing something we want to do and then to be able to do it. Having a solo day at Disney can give one this luxury. Take your time. Watch that drum show in Japan. Meander through each country’s gift shops. Being brave enough to do anything alone can be rewarding to one’s soul. Also, one doesn’t have to worry about the dreaded, “What do you want to eat?” question. If you see something you’d like to try, go for it! Have lunch in France. Try some sweets in Norway or alcoholic chocolates in Germany. You’ll have no one questioning your decisions.How to Visit Disney World Solo

Finding Happiness in Solitude

Most people allow their happiness to depend on others. Either they have children and put their happiness and wants before their own, or they simply don’t know how to be happy alone. Getting out of one’s comfort zone can be scary, but so very rewarding. Getting out to explore on our own can teach us so much about ourselves. It can be lonely at times, so remember to take pictures so that you can share your experience with your friends and family.How to Visit Disney World Solo

Disney Magic

Being single and childless doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the magic of Disney. Do you want to experience the awesomeness of Disney, but don’t have anyone to go with you? No worries! The cast members and most people at Disney are wonderful and they will help make your trip memorable. Never be afraid to do something alone. Don’t wait on somebody else to make your dreams come true. Go for it! You’ll be surprised what you may learn about yourself!

Thanks to our contributor, Noelle, for this post!

Restaurant Review: The Polite Pig

The Polite Pig

 

 

I am one of the biggest BBQ fans there is. I mean, I LOVE it! When I heard about this new BBQ joint called The Polite Pig in Disney Springs, I knew I had to try it.The Polite Pig

Where is The Polite Pig?

The Polite Pig is a quick service restaurant located near the Lime Garage at Disney Springs. If the lime garage isn’t available for you or you arrive at a different location at Disney Springs, you can find the Polite Pig near the Welcome Center in Town Center. It was busy when we walked up, with a moderate line, but we didn’t wait very long.

Ordering

While waiting in line, you’ll be teased with the delicious food to come!  I will say that this restaurant is a meat lover’s dream come true. You can watch them as they chop and weigh the meat for perfect portion sizes.  The Polite PigWe also were greeted in line by a manager who offered us drinks while we waited.This was a fantastic gesture, though we didn’t wait in line long enough to drink our drinks.

Ordering was quick and simple. You place your order and they give you a number to put on your table. Considering how busy they were, there was plenty of seating inside and outside. The Polite PigDrinks

Alcoholic

The Polite Pig offers an array of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. From beers on draft to original cocktails, you are sure to find the perfect concoction to wet your whistle. They have beers available on tap that are brewed especially for, and are only available at this Disney Springs location.  If beer isn’t your thing, let me suggest the Tequila and Grapefruit cocktail that is also on tap. I was intrigued when I saw this and decided this was a must try. It is unique and refreshing. I didn’t know how well tequila and grapefruit would pair, but it was absolutely delicious.  The Polite Pig

Non-Alcoholic

Any good southern BBQ must be accompanied by some delicious sweet tea. Considering Walt Disney World is technically located in “the South,” you’d think that most places at Walt Disney World would offer up the southern favorite. Unfortunately that isn’t the case and you can only find this drink in a few locations. (No mango, strawberry, whatever-infusions. You can find those around too. I’m strictly referring to tea brewed with lots of sugar). So for those who can’t go without a little sweet tea while on vacation, the Polite Pig is a great place to try! They’ve also got your standard soda fountain fare also.The Polite PigIf one drink is not enough for you, don’t worry about getting back into line again. The Polite Pig has servers going around to tables taking extra orders. This makes everything about this quick service restaurant even more convenient and customer friendly.

The Polite Pig also offers an extensive Bourbon Bar. With something around 50 different types of Bourbon. A connoisseur is sure to be in Bourbon heaven. Main Course

Pulled Pork

After ordering and finding a table, we were told about the Sauce Bar. This is an awesome idea, catering to people with different BBQ Sauce tastes. Choose from Thomas’s Southern Gold, Spiced Vinegar, Lil John’s Signature Black Pepper, Layla’s Sweet Sauce, and BBQ Ranch. The Polite Pig has a sauce for everyone.The Polite PigThe Southern Pig is a beautifully crafted pulled pork sandwich topped with apple slaw, mustard and mayo. I can attest that this is one of the best pulled pork sandwiches I have ever had. It was tender and very messy. While I wasn’t able to finish the whole sandwich, I really wanted to. The Polite Pig

More Than Just Pulled Pork

Our group can also attest to the delicious Brisket sandwich, the Chicken Salad sandwich, and the Kid’s Chicken Tenders. I will give forewarning though. If your children love Ranch with their Tenders, the only Ranch available here is the BBQ Ranch, which the kiddos weren’t a big fan of.The Polite PigIf you’re not a big fan of pork or chicken, The Polite Pig also offers Salmon in a salad or in a sandwich. I think anyone in a group could find something to suit their lifestyle in this varying menu. The Polite Pig

Market Sides

While the star of this show should be the meat, I must say that the Market Sides won me over big time. Our group had the Crispy Brussel Sprouts, Smoked Corn, and the Sweet Potato Tots.The Polite PigEach and everyone of them had our tastes buds dancing in pleasure, but my favorite were the Sweet Potato Tots. These were so crispy and packed with flavor, I had someone stealing them off of my plate! I don’t fault her though; I wouldn’t have been able to help myself either.The Polite Pig

Next Time

I plan to return to The Polite Pig in September and am looking forward to trying other things on their menu. They offer some delicious sounding salads and appetizers. From the BBQ Cracklins with Spiced Vinegar, to the Hop Shop Pretzels with Beer Cheese Fondue and IPA Mustard, my taste buds are already watering with anticipation.  And just maybe, next time I’ll save room for the intriguing Orange Blossom Honey Cake… Though I may just have to get that one to go!The Polite PigThanks for reading and be sure to check out all our posts from Disney Springs here! And thanks to Noelle for this fantastic review of the Polite Pig at Disney Springs. 

Artist Point Restaurant Review

Dining at Artist Point

Because I wanted to make the best of my last Walt Disney World trip by eating at the best restaurants I could find, I studied all of the menus I could find! I got super excited when I found an apparent hidden treasure called Artist Point. This gem of a restaurant is located at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge resort. So, I booked my advanced dining reservation for my solo day and began dreaming about the cheese plate listed on the menu!Artist Point Restaurant Review

Location

I had a dinner reservation schedule for 7:45 p.m., so I got to the Wilderness Lodge a few minutes early so that I could take a look around. This Disney resort is a huge beautiful log cabin in the woods, with a big waterfall in the back courtyard that is sure to take anyone from the city to the forest in a short walk. The website touts the “rustic elegance” of the dining room and I can attest that the space is comfortable and elegant while maintaining the cabin feel. Unfortunately for me, I visited at night and during a rainy day. I was unable to enjoy the waterfront views, but the ambiance was relaxing and perfect for enjoying a fine meal. Dining at Artist Point

Starters

I started my meal off with a delicious amber beer called Magic Hat and their house made 9 Grain Sourdough Bread with Smoked Sea Salt Butter.  Let me just say that this was by far the best bread and butter I have EVER had. Let me repeat this…. EVER HAD. I fought with myself many times trying to not eat it all. I would push the plate to the other side of the table, only find my hand reaching for it a few minutes later. Needless to say, I finished it off by the end of my meal. Dining at Artist Point

Special Extras

During this scrumptious course of the meal, my server brought me a “gift” of Strawberry Kimchi from the chef.  I have not been able to locate this on the menu, so I assume this is not a usual menu item. The Strawberry Kimchi was beautifully plated and looked delicious, but tasted like black licorice (which I am not a fan of).  It was by far the most disappointing thing I ate my whole week. And I’m very happy that I did not have to pay for this one. Though I do hate to disappoint a chef. Thankfully, happiness on a plate arrived shortly thereafter!Dining at Artist Point

The Cheese!

The Artisanal Cheeses plate was everything and more than I had been dreaming of.  The cheese plate is variety of five cheeses served with handcrafted breads and seasonal accompaniments. This dish made me do a crazy, happy dance in my seat.  All of these beautiful cheeses are made in the U.S.A. and are a delight to the taste buds. The accompanying breads, jelly, and fruits pair wonderfully with these cheeses and make a well rounded cheese plate. I expect I will continue to dream of these cheeses. Continuing on with my meal, I ordered an Aged Buffalo Strip Loin.Dining at Artist Point

The Main Course

The Aged Buffalo Strip Loin is served medium rare with Farro Risotto, Root Spinach, Favas, and Radish. Having never experienced eating buffalo before, I didn’t know the melt in your mouth, deliciousness that was to come.  The buffalo was cooked perfectly and elegantly plated. The risotto and veggies were creamy, adding just the right textures. It was truly a flavor explosion with every bite. I can say that I will definitely have buffalo again.  Now for the last course of my amazing Disney World trip, dessert!Dining at Artist Point

Dessert

The Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee was just heaven. Served with cherries, gooseberries, and topped with a crisp honey crunch, this creme brulee was baked to perfection. The custard was smooth and creamy. The honey crust on top gave it the best sweetness and crunch. The cherries and gooseberries gave just the right tartness to a sweet dessert. I don’t believe that I could have ended a trip with a better meal. Dining at Artist PointThe Artist Point is by far one of my favorite restaurants I’ve eaten at anywhere. I HIGHLY recommend this hidden treasure to anyone visiting the parks.  

Thanks to our contributor Noelle for this restaurant review!

Can’t Miss Foods at Walt Disney World

Can’t Miss Foods at Walt Disney World

Even if you are not a self-proclaimed “foodie,” why not take the chance to branch out while on vacation? Not only does Disney Springs have some amazing options to try, but you might even be surprised at what you find inside the parks too. Today, we’re sharing some great options for “can’t miss” foods at Walt Disney World.

Kona Cafe

If you love bananas, strawberries, and french toast, you must try the Tonga Toast at the Kona Cafe. This quaint cafe is located at the Polynesian Village Resort. Be sure to have a healthy appetite when you visit because the Tonga Toast is HUGE. It is a slice of sourdough bread stuffed with banana, rolled in cinnamon sugar, and served with strawberry compote. This meal is sure to get anyone ready for a day at the parks.can't miss foods at walt disney world

Yak and Yeti

In Animal Kingdom, the Yak & Yeti is the place of your dreams. For sit down or counter service, Yak and Yeti will satisfy any appetite. My favorite menu item is the Wok-Fired green beans served with a soy lime dipping sauce. I never knew that fried green beans would change my world, but these sure did. During my next trip, I know that I must try the Potstickers and Dim Sum basket for two. I’m never one to order desserts at an Asian restaurant, but their Fried Wontons skewered with fresh pineapple and served with vanilla ice cream and honey vanilla drizzle is making my mouth water at just the thought of it. This is a must try for me!

Coming Soon: Satu’li and Pongu Pongu

I absolutely loved the beauty of floating mountains and bioluminescent rainforests in the Avatar movie, and I’m so excited to be visiting the Pandora World of Avatar park on opening weekend. I’ve been looking over the menu for Satu’li Canteen, and these dishes look otherworldly. Satu’li is a fast casual restaurant serving everything from beef to tofu, but the most interesting thing I see are the steamed pods. If it’s anything like the Pork bao at Morimoto’s Asia, then I will be one very happy adventurer. Available in Vegetable Steamed Curry and Cheeseburger these light and fluffy looking pods do seem interesting. Pandora: The World of Avatar also offers another quick service option that will definitely quench any explorer’s thirst.

Serving bioluminescent frozen cocktails, indigenous beers, and sweet treats only available here, Pongu Pongu sounds like the perfect stand to visit on a hot day. Read our list of can't miss foods at Walt Disney World and see if you've eaten any of our favorites! What's on your "can't miss" list?I cannot wait to try all of these new, amazing looking dishes this summer! I will definitely be sharing which ones are best in another round of “Can’t Miss Foods at Walt Disney World.” Until next time, Bon Appetit!

Can’t Miss Foods at Disney Springs

morimoto asia

Can’t Miss Foods at Disney Springs

Don’t count Disney Springs out on your next Disney vacation. The revamped and expanded dining and shopping district boasts so many choices, it’s hard to know what to pick! This list of can’t miss foods at Disney Springs will help you plan your trip effectively.Can't Miss Foods at Disney Springs

Morimoto Asia

First, I would like to talk about Iron Chef Morimoto’s Morimoto Asia located. Meredith and I enjoyed dinner here last March, and it is by far one of my most favorite restaurants EVER! I like to consider myself somewhat of a “foodie” with Asian cuisine being my go to choice. disney foodNot only does Morimoto Asia have a beautiful atmosphere and open kitchen, but there is also Morimoto Asia Street Food. Diners can get counter service at a patio dining area near the main restaurant. Prices are very inexpensive considering the prices of the main restaurant, but the menu is also much smaller. Dining in the main restaurant is a bit more expensive, but, believe me, the scrumptious morsels you will eat will be well worth the price of the final bill.morimoto asiaI can highly recommend the Kakui Pork Bao, which is a steamed bun with braised pork belly, lettuce, and spicy mayo. I also fell in love with the Morimoto Spare Ribs.morimoto asiaThese pork ribs with cilantro and hoisin sweet chili glaze were such a wonderful delight. Several of the items that I’m looking forward to trying are: Pork Dumplings, Japanese A5 Wagu Beef, and the Morimoto Peking Duck. With the kitchen being behind a wall of glass, I was able to stare upon these mouthwatering Peking ducks my whole meal. I know that I must try them next time.Next,

The Ganachery

I’d like to tell you about The Ganachery. If you have a sweet tooth like I do, this place is heaven on Earth.

disney snackWhether you like sweet, fruity, or spicy you’ll be able to find a chocolate square to satisfy any palate. If you’re unable to make it down to Orlando to visit Disney Springs in person, you can still get a tasting of what’s available at The Ganachery by visiting the Shop Parks app by Disney.

Vivoli il Gelato

Last but not least, we visited another sweet cravings eliminator, Vivoli il Gelato. disney snackThis place knocks other ice cream parlors out of the park. Offering creamy gelati, fruity sorbetti, and hot espresso drinks, this place is sure to make you dance in your seat!I hope to share more of my Disney foodie obsessions with you again soon. Until next time, Bon Appetit!

Thanks to Noelle for sharing her fantastic foodie tips and Meredith for the delicious photos!