On Thursday my daughter and I played hooky from work and went to the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, minus the small person! We got there at 10 a.m. and went on a couple of rides. My daughter didn't enjoy Mission Space; it made her claustrophobic. I thought it was eh. The boat ride in Mexico has been totally ruined with a silly cartoon featuring Donald Duck - I suppose it's Disney's attempt to make Epcot more kid-friendly, but we both missed the original ride, which was a dramatic tour of ancient Mexico, ending with a Day of the Dead fiesta. Now it's cartoony. Even the references to the Day of the Dead are gone, and now it's just a "fiesta". Sigh. We are looking forward to the new "Frozen" themed ride opening this spring, I know Delaney will love it, but I am a little bit bummed that the move toward making Epcot more "child friendly" has changed the character of so many things we loved when my kids were small.
But it was a glorious day. Mostly we just walked and looked around, admired the amazing floral displays, and browsed the shops. This woefully photo-deprived blog actually has some photos! The topiaries are delightful. This is just a smattering of the amazing. My favorite had to be Simba. Or Lady and the Tramp. Oh hell, they were all great, and the "normal" floral displays were just dazzling.
Pro tips from locals: Go on a weekday. It was worth spending a day off, the crowds were average, not "parked on the grass," as we were for Food and Wine last year. And for Flower and Garden, honestly, the food booths aren't all that. Pick out one or two things you simply must try, but don't try to make a day's food off that. You can do much better at any walk-up in the park. We bought a couple of adult beverages and a couple of tapas-sized snacks, and moved on to a real lunch.
We dined in Morocco, at a place we'd never tried: Tangierine Cafe. This is a find! I had the vegetarian platter and it was so lavish I couldn't finish it: falafel, hummus, tabbouleh, a couscous cold side dish with giant golden raisins and diced veggies, a lentil salad, sliced olives, a big soft pita, a green salad mix. I really need to become one of those people who take pictures of their meals. It was a mountain of healthy food, and all delicious. We dined under an umbrella outside. I loved it, and felt full and satisfied for the rest of the day. My daughter had the chicken pita which came with lentils and couscous on the side, and was also impressed and pleasantly stuffed. Noted as a new fave Epcot lunch spot, with great food for a reasonable price in a charming setting.
I adore doing Disney with Delaney, I truly do, and she was still a presence on Thursday, even though she was actually at school. We both kept saying, "We need to remember this, she'd love it!" as we discovered new things we hadn't seen because we were moving through at high speed trying to keep a preschooler entertained. There is a boxwood maze in the UK area! With benches where grownups can collapse with a pint and watch the children run through the maze! I've been going to Epcot since it opened, and I keep finding new cool things there. We found a few things she'd enjoy doing on our next visit.
But Epcot really is the grownup park, and we had a great time walking through the bazaar in Morocco, and spending a long, long time looking at the painted pottery in the Mexico pavilion. (Did I say "looking at?" Ahem. Money was spent.) We sniffed perfumes, my daughter tried on hats, (Great Britain has a lot of Downton Abbey inspired accessories, and my daughter looked fabulous in the hats of that era.)And we oohed over jewelry. I bought some trinkets for Delaney and Adelaide, and a couple for myself.
Theme park souvenirs? Naah. I didn't feel moved to pay over $35 for a Flower and Garden festival t-shirt, even though it was a gorgeous pastel illustration with Figment and flowers like a Monet painting, but shops in the countries have some wonderful finds. You can even buy a gorgeous 8x10 rug or tagine cooking pot from Morocco and have it shipped home. There were bags and incense burners and charming little poofy floor cushions that would immediately be adopted as pet beds, and beaded everythings, from throw pillows to jewelry. I could have blown a mortgage payment in there.
I did buy a beautiful, vividly painted vase in Mexico, and identical precious little painted leather bags for Ad and Delaney.
I just couldn't pass up those bags! They are the kind of thing I would have squealed over as a little girl, just made to hold tiny treasures and a chapstick. And they had spices and foods and holy shit, the glassware in Mexico! And booze. They also sell booze for the glassware. I could EASILY have dropped $500 and felt good about everything I bought but for, you know, car repairs and the mortgage.
We arrived at 10 a.m. and stayed until 6, and had to talk ourselves into leaving because we both had to go to work on Friday. It was a perfect day, and we agreed that we would like to do it every month or so, just because.