This festival is best known for its Disney character topiaries, which you'll find throughout the park. Here's Figment,
and Donald and his nephews.
With the inclusion of so many food marketplaces at the event, Epcot's spring festival is looking more like fall's International Food & Wine Festival every year. This year's event featured two new marketplaces: The Berry Basket, located just to your left as you enter World Showcase from Future World, and Northern Bloom, located in World Showcase's Canada pavilion.
I tried The Berry Basket first, opting for the Lamb Chop with Blackberry Gastrique and Quinoa Salad [$7.25] and a Warm Wild Berry Buckle [$4.25].
The blackberry sauce overwhelmed the overcooked lamb, reminding me of a well-done steak smothered in jam rather than ketchup. Definitely a miss. The buckle didn't work for me, either. It's a one-note taste, with some granola sprinkled atop to cut the sweetness, an effort cancelled by the addition of a scoop of berry sorbet.
But don't despair. Just head over to Northern Bloom, instead, and feast on this goodness.
That's Seared Scallops with French Green Beans, Butter Potatoes, and Brown Butter Vinaigrette [$6.25] on the left, Beef Tenderloin Tips, Mushroom Bordelaise, and Whipped Potatoes [$6.50] on the right, with a Nanaimo Bar Trifle [$4.25] for dessert. I thought everything about these dishes was flawless — from the perfectly seared scallops, the delicious vinaigrette that amplified the flavor of the beans and potatoes without smothering them, the generous (for a food festival) helping of the beef tips, and the savory mushroom sauce. Forget the Basket at Flower & Garden this year. Go for the Bloom.
Satisfied with that "surf and turf" lunch, let's take a quick photo tour around some of the character highlights. I like the interplay between Tinker Bell and Peter Pan in the United Kingdom.
And the Beast and Belle might have attracted more attention than any other photo op in the park this year. Hmmm, I wonder why? ;^)
The Lady and the Tramp found a home in Italy.
While the food booths have commanded more and more attention over the years, the festival hasn't completed abandoned its (oh, no, am I really going to write this?) ...roots. (Sorry!) It's spring, after all, and the festival provides an opportunity for guests to buy a head start for their gardens at home.
But for most visitors, it's still all about taking pictures with the topiaries. Who can resist a panda?
Or, of course, the biggest recent franchise in the Disney family, Queen Elsa and Princess Anna from Frozen, in their Epcot home at the old Norway pavilion.
More coverage from our Orlando spring break preview:
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And the Belle, on first glance, looks a little bit like Fiona from Shrek!