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Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Awhile back we received an invitation to my cousin's wedding in the mail. It's been roughly 6 years since I've had a relationship with my mom and with many members of her side of my family. Slowly, over time, doors have been re-opened with family members and I've been SO thankful to those who have reached back out and made those efforts to reconnect. It's been a HUGE blessing in my life and receiving the invite for Susi's wedding in the mail was a HUGE deal to me. No hesitation on our part, we wouldn't be missing it for the WORLD.



While I was SO excited to see everyone, I was also very anxious and nervous leading up to the wedding day. I can't remember another time that I have had a physical reaction to an event the way I did this one. There are just a lot of emotions at play and seeing SO many people at one time who I haven't seen in so long was a lot to process. There were so many unknowns and there have been so many hurts over the years that I wasn't sure what to expect from everyone. Would I be greeted with open arms? Would everything go smoothly? Or would wounds be opened that made raw again?

I had an ah-ha moment and decided I needed to plan a Disney day. It's my happy place and knowing I would be going to Disney the day after the wedding would help calm my nerves and ease my worries a bit! I lucked out that Katie was free to go too and she'd been wanting to have an Epcot day and it really couldn't have been more perfect timing!

The wedding went SO GREAT. Truly. It couldn't have gone much better and it was a MASSIVE step in the healing process and in reconnecting with people I love and cherish so much. I'm so thankful to have been included in Susi's special day and will be sharing pics later on in my monthly round up post!

Katie met us where the wedding took place (it was about halfway from our house to Orlando so it was perfect!) and we left from there. It all worked out SO well and I'm still so thankful we had the Disney day planned! It truly helped me in the days leading up to the event and was a great way to refocus my attention afterwards so I didn't overthink or overanalyze anything ;)

We went straight to our rental house to spend the night and got up nice and early the next morning to be there when the park opened so we could hustle to Frozen :)


But first...photopass photos, duh!


Gotta have the magic photos too!


We both wore florals for Flower and Garden! 

My dress: Amazon (and yall it's SO flattering and comfortable!)
Jacket: Amazon (this one is similar to mine but not the exact same)
Shoes: Amazon (they aren't cheap but yall they are SO COMFORTABLE even all day in the parks!)


This makes me laugh every single time b/c it totally looks like I'm pointing at Katie's chest rather than at Tink haha


We didn't even hustle super hard and still have a very short wait! It was a good lesson for me...if you get there early and are at the front (or close to it) of the pack then you can somewhat take your time and be totally FINE for getting on Frozen right away!


It was Katie's first time riding so I didn't give anything away and she LOVED it! She pointed out that it really is an emotional ride...which I totally feel the same way. When Elsa sings "Let It Go" it gives you ALL the feels!


Crushing on the troll ;)


I've been at Flower and Garden before but haven't ever gone specifically for that purpose. It was funny because while we waited for the park to open we went through all the activities and things going on and Katie was like "let's do that! and that!" and basically said Let's DO IT ALL. And I laughed and was like "dude, look around at all these people...we ain't gonna do half of this stuff." 

But guess what? We totally did! It was one of those magical Disney days where the weather was amazing and the crowds were super low!!!

We had planned to get breakfast in Norway but the shop we wanted to get a treat from was closed so we headed back to the start of World Showcase and hit up the best deal in the parks for a snack!

But first...a little stop in Mexico before it was open :) 






Yay for a donut the size of our heads! It was SO relaxing just hanging out for a bit without any rushing or hurrying. World Showcase didn't open until 11:00 and we were off Frozen before 9:30! 

I totally decided that Katie is one of my FAVORITE Disney travel partners. We mesh SO WELL together. We're both easy going but are truly easy going. Like neither of us cared at allll what we did all day. We were just happy to be there and take it all in. It was NO PRESSURE. 

I didn't feel like I needed to be worried about making sure she was having fun or was happy. I knew she felt the same way I did and it made for such a truly awesome day and experience. We were both go with the flow and relaxed and just ENJOYED the day together!

I asked for the prettiest donut and def didn't get it but whatevs



Katie enjoys thrill rides but isn't like "omg I HAVE to do thrills" so when I made our fast passes I booked us ones for Soarin'. I haven't ever done the Epcot version but I did ride it in California so I knew I could handle it and figured it couldn't be as motion sickness causing as Flight of Passage! 


I was SHOCKED how much I ENJOYED it! I think it helped that we were on the front row but it was truly enjoyable and didn't make me feel sick at all! I felt a little unsteady right after riding but it wore off quickly and I truly enjoyed the whole ride!


More pics before heading into World Showcase!







Earned my wings :) 


We were a bit early and made the decision to bee-line directly for Great Britain so we could meet Mary Poppins right when the country opened then we'd back track and start in Canada. We had dinner  reservations in Mexico so I thought it'd make sense to start in Canada and end at dinner. I also thought it'd help us beat the crowds since most people tend to start in Mexico :) 

I heard great things about the butterfly garden...but it was a letdown. I guess it's the ONE thing that Wild Adventures may have done better than Disney haha! 


Hello Daisy!



Whoop whoop! Passholder perk! I picked up my free car magnet!


Serious Chats!



I'm so glad we met Mary. I have met her before (on my solo day last year) but once the new movie opens later this year she'll be HARD to meet. So the more we can meet her now, the better ;) A cast member also told us that Epcot was going to get a Mary Poppins themed ride?!?! It was the first time I'd ever heard that rumor so I don't think there is much truth to it but we'll see!


So Fancy! 


I asked in a Disney Facebook Group for food recommendations and I'm SO glad I did! There are SO MANY food options around World Showcase that it's pretty overwhelming! 

If you're doing Flower and Garden Festival then be sure to read up on all the snacks we enjoyed. We decided to "snack our way around the world" and it couldn't have gone more perfectly. 

Our second snack of the day (we'll call the donut the first!) was at The Honey Bee-Stro which is located right outside the butterfly garden at the entrance to World Showcase (and has a play area nearby). 


We ordered the honey cheesecake after it was highly recommended and it was DELICIOUS. I'd literally go back just to get this! And we regretted not each getting our own. SO TASTY. 



Canada is SUCH a pretty country to me (at least in the World Showcase version haha we did like Toronto when we went but didn't see much of the actual countryside!)




All the topiaries are so pretty and the theming is so well done!



Eeyore face!





A phone booth pic is a MUST DO! 




I believe this day made Katie a bit of a Disney addict now too ;) She LOVED meeting all the characters and it was probably our most exciting part of the day. We had some spots to scout 'em out and got SO PUMPED when we had random meet and greets throughout the park! Our timing was SO perfect and it was so fun having the surprise of who the characters would be that we'd happen to bump into. MAGIC GUYS!!!

Strolls with Donald




He's #1!


I mean RAFIKI! WHAT?!?! I couldn't believe it!

And he was AWESOME!




He was all about some twirling and dancing ;) 








Perfect weather. Beautiful Day. 


These are my favorite pics of us from the day together! 





We didn't do much in each country. I have mentioned this before but it would literally take a FULL day to work through each country and all it has to offer. We did bits and pieces but our main focus was on snacks, topiaries, characters and pics ;) 





Another snack! The Fresh Florida booth is where you can get the Shrimp and Grits!


I was SO EXCITED to try this and it was very, very good BUT it just wasn't as good as other items we tried that day. I'd still get it again though and we were glad we each bought one rather than sharing as it served as a more hearty item for lunch. 


We ate in Morocco and enjoyed the beautiful views!

Morocco is also a good spot to get cups of ice water. The food booths don't have the cups of ice water so that's a bit of a pain if you're snacking around the world. You have to find quick service restaurants which aren't always easy to spot. The one in Morocco is at the entrance of the country which makes it easy and there are great shaded tables right outside!






Katie mentioned that the shaved ice in Japan is AMAZING and I've never tried it before so we stopped in there for a break and a treat. And oh my goodness yall. This is a must-get snack and I'm so glad it's always available and not just for the festival! 

They are VERY big and VERY messy so be warned if you are getting one for kids. A family sitting near us had quite the mess. The red flavor WILL stain for sure. Like my fingers were red and I wasn't even a messy eater with it. If you plan to get this with children I'd get a TON of napkins and make little bibs for them as well as spread them out all over the area where they are eating it AND have them eat it standing up! 

Usually messy food is a big turn off for me but this was SO good that I'd totally risk the staining again ;) I got cream on mine and it was PERFECTION!



Hello America! 


Katie and Emily in 20 years ;)


I LOVE a good pouch to carry make up and essentials in and I scored this one on Zulily last year on a huge deal they had running. It's perfect for my Disney days!


I also found this mini-bookbag in my closet. I bought it in high school. So like at least 14 years ago. Sometimes being a packrat pays off ;) The mini book bag is very much back "in" right now and what better chance to use it than the Flower and Garden Festival? 

It was the PERFECT bag for the day! It fit everything I needed and I could even put my jacket in it. It's made me on a mission to find some cute Disney themed mini book bags for my future kid-free Disney outings!

I was basically obsessed with Roxy as a teen ;) 


That moment when you see Mickey from afar and have to hold back your intense urge to RUN into his arms ;)







And another chance to meet Donald? We'll take it!




We didn't do much in Italy aside from see Lady and the Tramp!



Welcome to Germany!



When getting our shrimp and grits we asked for other suggestions of must-have snacks and both cast members in the booth said we HAD to get the ham and cheese pretzel in Germany. By the time we got over there the line was pretty lengthy. It actually ended up be the longest line we waited in the entire day! BUT it was worth it!!! 

Katie got our pretzels while I went on a hunt for cups of ice water and then we decided to sit and enjoy our treats while waiting to meet Snow White. There were only a handful of people waiting while Snow White was on break so we figured, why not wait?

This pretzel guys? Nothing short of AMAZING. We loved the honey cheesecake but both agreed the pretzel was even better. I could have easily eaten two ha! 


I've never met Snow White in Germany before and she was beautiful. I love the outdoor meet and greets!







Our man Rafiki!


China


We walked through some of the shops throughout the day but didn't ever purchase anything. The struggle is always IF the item is WORTH lugging around all day. Nothing was worth carrying haha!

We also had a good discussion about these. I had some as a kid. But then as an adult I heard they have some sexual purpose? But surely they don't if they are for sale at Disney!? I'm probably wrong haha


Katie visited Epcot with her grandparents as a kid and it was fun seeing her experience things she had enjoyed as a child and was such a reminder to me that Disney is a GREAT place to make memories with those we love. I love knowing that my kids will visit the parks and always think of me and our family times together! 

We got to Mexico well before our reservation for dinner so we jumped on "the Donald Duck ride" 


We decided in advance to book a dining reservation for dinner and just snack our way throughout the rest of the day up until dinner time. We both agreed that when/if we do this again we'll just skip dinner and instead get more snacks to fill us up. The snacks weren't super cheap (typically $6 each) but were SO GOOD that they were worth it. 

The dinner? Was fine but NOT worth the crazy prices! We chose to eat at La Hacienda de San Angel because I've never eaten there before and like to try new places whenever I can. We were over an hour early for our reservation but they were super sweet to seat us early and we had a wonderful spot with a window view of the water! 

Our waiter was super sweet too and let me know to come back and see him next time I'm there...I'm sure he'll love meeting Zach haha! 

The theming of La Hacienda de San Angel was very beautiful and it was all well done, as to be expected at Disney! Katie got some chicken tacos and I got cheese empanadas. We both enjoyed the food but it just wasn't a good value!

Chicken Tacos...that were $27!


Cheese Empanadas...$18!!!


I know it's Disney and you have to expect Disney pricing but I think we just had been impressed with the food all day that this left us feeling "meh." I would eat there again and think Zach would enjoy it but I'd go in knowing that I was going to be paying a lot for food that wasn't AMAZING. 


It wasn't even 5:30 yet and we had finished up with the entire World Showcase. I do recommend doing the festivals earlier in the day like we did. I personally don't love the amount of alcohol served at Epcot. I don't drink and don't judge those who choose to...but I am a believer that Walt wanted Disney to be family friendly and the drinking around the world gets VERY out of hand. 

I've seen people puke and heard TONS of fowl language. It's just not what I think Disney should be. So I personally try to avoid World Showcase later in the day as I don't like being around that type of thing if I can avoid it (especially if my kids are with me!). 

We didn't have any other "must do" items so we figured why not use my Chase Visa for the special meet and greet? We headed over and were SO PUMPED to meet PLUTO!!!



And Minnie too!




A few years ago Zach proposed to Minnie...she was bitter that I got the ring ;)



I think we were more excited than most kids haha



After we hopped on Figment. I've heard pretty solid rumors that Journey into Imagination will be re-themed into an Inside Out themed experience which I think they could do very easily while still incorporating Figment. I don't see Disney doing away with such a beloved character!

In the Figment gift shop area they had photo booths set up. I recently learned that if you have Memory Maker you can scan your band at ANY of the photo booths in any of the parks and at Disney Springs and your photos will upload for free! Whoop whoop! 

So, duh, we took full advantage hahaha









And we decided to ride Soarin' again because there was a posted wait time of 20 minutes! Yall when does that even happen like ever?!?! We literally walked on with next to no waiting AT ALL!


Our family has a tradition of getting Christmas ornaments and that tradition has changed a bit now that we are going so often haha. I'm trying to still make sure we get ornaments representing significant moments on trips but am not trying to get one every single time we go! I was excited to find a Flower and Garden one...but even more excited to get to shop in the VIP PASSHOLDER area ;) 

#Disneygoals


We had a fastpass to meet the Disney Spot characters and even though we'd already met Mickey and Minnie earlier in the day we figured, why not? We got to meet them again AND were able to complete our entire FAB 5 meet and greets by meeting Goofy too!

Sadly Daisy was done doing meet and greets by that time of the day so we weren't able to squeeze her in...but we all know she's not part of the original 5 anyways ;) 















Night pics on our way to go watch Illuminations!




A cast member told us a great spot to see Illuminations is between Canada and United Kingdom so we headed over there. I couldn't get over how EMPTY the park was. We casually walked up and found a table with NO ISSUES with only like 10 min till showtime. 

I held the table while Katie got our last treat of the day. We heard that the scones were supposed to be really good, but I have to say they were probably my least favorite of the day. Good, but not AMAZING. 


Illuminations is one of my absolute favorite night time shows. We had a tree in front of us but it didn't block our view in the least and it was probably the best viewing area I've ever sat in for the show. It was also nice just to WATCH and ENJOY it without worrying about the kids being able to see ;) 


When Illuminations ended we just took our time exiting the park. We weren't in a rush and didn't see any reason to fit the crowds...and even then I have to say it wasn't an insane amount of people leaving. I'd say this was one of THE lowest crowd days I've ever experienced at a Disney Park. I will be remembering that the weekend of St Patrick's Day is a good one to go ;) 

The only little hiccup we had in our day was losing the car haha we exited the park further down than we entered and it tricked us up! Luckily we found it pretty quickly and didn't have any stress or anything about it. We knew it'd turn up ;) 

We had SUCH a fun day. It was probably one of my top days ever at Disney. Katie and I just vibe so well and truly have FUN together without feeling any pressure or stress or anything. We went with the flow and it paid off in a big way. 

I'm so thankful to Katie for being so quick to jump on board with such a last minute idea. It was exactly what I needed and I'm proud of myself for realizing and recognizing that too. Sometimes it's hard when we feel anxious to see a path to be able to dissipate those feelings and planning a Disney day was THE perfect solution for me!

Such a perfect day and the perfect person to experience it with! If you haven't ever visited Epcot during Flower and Garden I HIGHLY recommend it (it's still taking place until the end of May!). It's a GREAT day to have with girlfriends too! 

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