Epcot and the Flower and Garden Festival

After gushing about the wonders of Core Power Yoga, I couldn’t forget to finish my (fairy)tale of the duration of my sans-race Disney trip!  Silly me, I know.  My folks were in Boulder this past week for a conference, and I couldn’t help but think more about our wonderful trip a month ago (AH! Where does time go??).  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was fantabulous, but I am now a Disney theme park snob, so I know a truly good park when I see one.  Sadly, Universal Studios just cannot quite live up.  The Sunday and Monday of our trip gave me that dose of Disney perfection I had been craving.

Gorsh, I do love me some Epcot!
Gorsh, I do love me some Epcot!
STUNNING - this is a gorgeous time of year to go to Epcot!
STUNNING – this is a gorgeous time of year to go to Epcot!
How amazing are these topiaries?
How amazing are these topiaries?

I nearly forget until shortly before the trip that we would be there for the Flower and Garden Festival!  This past November I was lucky enough to partake in the Food and Wine Festival in Epcot for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon with my hubby and Mr. and Mrs. BakeNBurn.  It was such a blast, and an awesome reason to come to Disney.  You quite literally meander through the showcase of nations, munching and imbibing treats from countries and regions from around the world.  What could be bad about that?  The Flower and Garden Festival, although mostly surrounding the incredible flora and fauna, and spectacular sculpted shrubberies throughout Epcot, also contained a fabulous food element.  Similar to the Food and Wine Festival, stations were set up throughout the showcase for different countries, regions and types of cuisine.  Not nearly as extensive, but just as enjoyable!

Sunday morning my dad I went for another, slightly longer run, around both the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian resorts.  Having them directly across the street

It's been a long time since I'd been to the Grand Floridian, and it's just as stunning!
It’s been a long time since I’d been to the Grand Floridian, and it’s just as stunning!

with lots of interweaving sidewalks made for a really fun run.  We may have stopped inside the lobby of the Grand Floridian for a quick moment to enjoy the air conditioning and gander at the stunning décor.  It really is a gorgeous structure.  We had a light breakfast on the terrace of Shades of Green and then made our way to Epcot.  My dad had to wait for my brother and sister-in-law, who had a busy, fun-filled night in the Magic Kingdom, but my sister, mom and I started by taking lots of pictures with the shrubberies and enjoying the global Coca-Cola soda experience from Club Cool.

Thank goodness for my Seester - a fellow cider lover!
Thank goodness for my Seester – a fellow cider lover!

Once we met up with the whole group, we thought it best to let my brother and his wife explore on their own.  Maddie had never been to Disney, so she wanted to see as much as possible.  The rest of us made our way to England, sipped on ciders and beer, took pictures with Tick-Tock the crocodile and nibbled on fish ‘n’ chips.  At that point we had our first fast pass, Mission Space.  Now I had done this ride previously in 2011 when visiting with the hubs and his parents.  At that time, we had done the more intense version, after which I felt rather green in the gills.  I also knew that it was a very enclosed space, and having a fairly claustrophobic sister, I knew this could be a tricky situation.  We all decided to do the less intense version, and my sister sat on the end.  In this ride you are supposed to simulate a mission to Mars, and each of the 4 people in the capsule has a duty assigned them (basically you get told when to push buttons and then something happens afterwards).  In the more intense version, the capsule is spinning, to give the sensation of traveling through space the pull of gravity on your body.  The less intense version just makes the general movements to give you enough of the sensation without wanting to vomit upon exiting.  It was fun, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves with the experience.  Gary Sinise was the commander, so that made it all the more fun!

Don't eat me, Tick-Tock!
Don’t eat me, Tick-Tock!  Can you tell we’re related?
To infinity, and BEYOND! Did I mention my dad works for NASA?  Hehehe...
To infinity, and BEYOND! Did I mention my dad works for NASA? Hehehe…

After the ride, we made our way back to the showcase of nations, and returned to France.  My sister and I got delicious Kir Royales and sipped our way past the amazing chair-stacking gymnastic

The shortest distance from England to France?  Through Epcot.
The shortest distance from England to France? Through Epcot.

street performer.  I must say, the street entertainment in the Showcase of Nations is totally worthwhile.  Given the weekend was a celebration of my mama’s birthday, we moved onward to Japan.  When I had come to Disney for my Bachelorette, we went to Japan and each of us selected a pearl and a setting to wear during the wedding.  It was such a fun experience and I knew my mom would love it.  Luckily I taught them how to count down from 3 – 2 – 1 in Japanese, so we were prepared and surprised the pearl attendant.  Now my mom has a lovely necklace to remember this fun day.

Cheers to Germany! Our home away from home!
Cheers to Germany! Our home away from home!

After this, we wandered our way through Italy and into Germany, where we wanted to grab some beer for my dad and Reisling for the ladies, but our Fast Pass at Test Track was ready for us!  We made our way through the rest of the Showcase of Nations and past the Cactus Road Rally “Cars” themed garden to the entrance for Test Track.  Test Track is a really fun ride that they’ve continued to adapt over the years.  Now, when inside, you are put into small groups, and you create your own virtual car.  Then, once on the ride, two groups have their cars simultaneously tested to see overall, which is the better car.  This can range from aerodynamics to performance on poor road conditions to overall speed.  Of course my parents made the most ridiculous car and my sister and I made a realistic, yet sportingly chic car (purple, of course).  I think my dad’s won, but somehow our car went missing in the final performance check… It was a lot of fun.  By the end, you can see how your car ranked with other designs.

Just the fam and the puppsies!
Just the fam and the puppsies!
Aren't my brother and sister-in-law aborable??
Aren’t my brother and sister-in-law aborable??

After our successful performance on the test track, we headed back to Germany for our promised beverages and a delicious pretzel.  After walking all day, it was nice to relax in the Biergarten

Just had to share one last shot of Spaceship Earth!
Just had to share one last shot of Spaceship Earth!

before collecting ourselves for dinner.  We went back to Japan to pick up the pearl necklace, and then on to France for a celebratory dinner at Chefs de France.  My brother and sister-in-law met us back at the restaurant after exploring the park on their own.  It’s always been one of my favorite meals in Disney, and I have promised myself that someday I will stay in one of the Epcot resorts (Beach or Yacht Club preferably), get a park hopper pass for the duration of my visit, and dine in as many good Epcot restaurants as possible.  A girl can dream, and this girl will make it a reality.

Many of us ordered the short ribs and polenta, which was superb.  I think I probably cleaned my plate… I am a sucker for both short ribs and polenta.  Together, it is practically mind-blowing.  We also ordered some delectable desserts to share, and the charming French waiters came to serenade my mother for her birthday.  C’était parfait!

What day in Epcot would be complete without the Illuminations fireworks show?  I know that would be a travesty for me.  My sister and I have memorized the final song for the show, so we obnoxiously sing it as we depart… Sisters!  It was a perfect day, and such a fun one to share in honor of my mama.

Who else LOVES all things Epcot?  Ever been to the Flower and Garden Festival? What’s your favorite activity in Epcot?  Drinking around the world is absolutely considered an activity…


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