Spring into Adventures

Spring is in the air. Hopefully the pollen and my allergies will clear up soon and it is heating up and starting to feel like summer here in Florida. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of the things I’m most looking forward to over the next couple of months instead of doing that spring cleaning that I probably should be doing. Now that I’ve found out my schedule for the rest of the spring and beginning of summer, I thought I’d start planning some weekend adventures. The parks across the area have some fantastic special events this time of year, and before the kids are out of school it is a great time to get away while the crowds are lower.

Spring in bloom at Epcot's International Flower & Garden Festival
Spring in bloom at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival

At Epcot we are already more than halfway through the International Flower & Garden Festival. I love this event each year and have been attending since 1998! I dearly miss Davy Jones of the Monkees, as his was always my go to concert for the Flower Power Concert Series. The thing I think I am most excited about (aside from the newly added food and beverage kiosks) is that my favorite HGTV celebrity, David Bromstad, is going to be hosting presentations May 17 – 19 and I’m now off that weekend!

Star Wars Weekends
Star Wars Weekends

Another of my favorite things that I will get to do for the third year in a row is Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This fabulous event has quickly become a must do for me! I still have so many things I haven’t done yet that are on my to do list. I need to get up early enough and get to the park to see the Stormtroopers on top of the entrance to the park above the turnstiles. Also, I really want to get my picture taken with as many of the characters as possible and go to some of the presentations and shows. And then, of course, there is Hyperspace Hoopla, my favorite of all! My apologies to anyone who now has that song stuck in their head (Hoooooooopla, Hyperspace Hoopla…).

Viva la Música
Viva la Música

Busch Gardens and Sea World are playing host to an awesome special event that I got to experience last year for the first time: Viva la Mύsica! This great offering is one that features Latin American food, merchandise, cuture, and of course, music. I got to go just for an hour or so to Busch Gardens after work last year and got to try to some amazing food, but was too late for the concert. This year I was hoping to catch at least one weekend at Busch Gardens and Sea World each. I was so excited when I found out that my favorite salsa band, El Gran Combo, was going to be playing at both parks. I know where I’ll be that weekend!

One of the greatest things about these three events is that they are all included in park admission. Food and beverages of course are extra, but the entertainment and most of the presentations are free of charge with your ticket. These add tremendous value to your vacation or even just a day in the park for us locals.

Water parks are definitely on my list for the next few months. I’ve lived in Florida for almost 20 years and I’ve only been to Typhoon Lagoon for a couple hours and did the lazy river and snorkled with the sharks before the park closed due to weather. This needs to be rectified. I’ve visited Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach for functions, but haven’t done a single water slide. This is a travesty! I also would love to check out some of the other area water parks like Sea World’s Aquatica and Adventure Island in Tampa.

Now we all know that sometimes with the spring come those showers that we need for those pretty flowers. What to do when it isn’t exactly park weather? Why not catch a film? Two movies I am ridiculously excited to see this spring are Marvel’s Iron Man 3 and Disney/Pixar’s Monsters University (visit this site if you haven’t already – it is hilarious!). I am a huge Avengers fan and loved the first Iron Man movie, enjoyed the second one, and adored the Avengers, so I cannot wait to see what they have in store for Tony Stark in this next installment. Monsters Inc was a great, feel good family flick and I think that this will be very entertaining to see some of Mike and Sulley’s adventures before they were best buds.

What are you looking forward to this spring? Did I miss any of your favorite spring special events? Have you been to any of these before? What are some of your favorite things to do in spring when the weather doesn’t cooperate? Hit us up and let us know.

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My Perfect Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival Day

This year’s Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is full of some great new additions, as well as some of my old favorites. I thought I would take you along as I look at what makes a perfect day at the 2013 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

httpv://youtu.be/nLssHT6H_fQ

When you walk in the main entrance to Epcot, it’s hard to miss the new Fab 5 Topiary ‘Party with Mickey & Friends’ as they celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. Also as you walk around Spaceship Earth towards Future World, make sure you check out the Phineas & Ferb Topiary.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

I am a big fan of the new ‘Radiator Springs’ interactive play area! Make sure you take a few extra minutes to become a Private Detective with Tow Mater. This area is sure to make the Cars fans in your family happy!

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

After taking a stroll through Radiator Springs, it’s a great time to head to the Festival Center. Here you can find all of the great Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival merchandise, see a presentation in the HGTV Theater with some of your favorite DIY gurus, take a class, or even ask an expert a question about your garden at home.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
This year’s Festival Pins!
Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
The upcoming release of the Disney Vera Bradley purses are on display in the Festival Center, too!

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Another area that I could spend all day in is Tinker Bell’s Butterfly House. This year Tinker Bell and her friends play host to a wonderful world of butterflies, and if you look closely you might even find some of their Fairy Houses! For a special treat, make sure you stop by around 11:00 am to watch the butterflies emerge from their cocoons.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
One of the many Fairy Houses in Tinker Bell’s Butterfly House.

You can visit the Land of Oz in the new children’s play area presented by the new Disney film ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’. In this area you can play midway games for prizes, take a break and play for a bit on unique play structures, and relax under a hot air balloon.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

While you’re in this area, a fun activity for the little ones is to decorate a flower pot for their seeds from The Land of Oz at the Water Wise Herbs & Vegetable exhibit.

Luckily the Pineapple Promenade is right next to The Land of Oz Play area, so it was time to grab a Dole Whip (I opted to get one without spiced rum) and a Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  What a great treat!

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

This year there are 12 food booths around the World Showcase Lagoon offering a Taste of Spring. While these booths look similar to those used for the International Food & Wine Festival in the Fall, that is where the similarities end. For the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, each booth features fresh foods prepared in the booth with plantings around each one of ingredients used in the foods. The Cottage in the United Kingdom Pavilion was my favorite, but the candied strawberries of Lotus House are unique and worth a try!

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
Shrimp and Grits from the Florida Fresh booth.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
Candied Strawberries from the Lotus House Booth.

 

Also, you will definitely want to pick up one of the Disney Gift Cards on a wristlet to make buying items at the booths super easy! It can be loaded with as little as $5, and is accepted as payment for nearly anything! Plus this year, they are themed to the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival! Super Cute! You can get them throughout Epcot at ticket booths, Guest Relations, the Festival Center, and almost anywhere they sell Disney Gift Cards!

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

And it wouldn’t be Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival without topiaries, and both World Showcase & Future World are full of some great ones! I definitely wouldn’t miss…

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

  • The new Disney-Pixar ‘Monsters University’
  • The Moose in the Victoria Gardens of the Canada Pavilion
  • Hook, Tic Toc Croc, and Peter Pan in the United Kingdom Pavilion
  • Beauty and the Beast in the France Pavilion
  • Woody & Lotso in the American Adventure Pavilion
  • Buzz in front of Mission Space
  • The Troll in the Norway Pavilion

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

The Backyard Play Garden is full of whimsical touches that you can add to your garden at home (with instructions), as well as a really nice play area for the kiddos. This is a great place to take a break since the kids have a place that is covered to play on with restrooms close by.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival
This little guy can be found, with directions, in the Backyard Play Garden

Two of my perennial favorites are the bonsai on display in the Japan Pavilion and the large terra cotta pots of Italy that are overflowing with beautiful flowers.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Now would be about the time to start queuing up for the Flower Power Concert Series performed at the American Gardens Theater near the American Adventure Pavilion. STOP TO AT LEAST HEAR ONE CONCERT! I know that these are older performers, but once they start going you will be surprised to see how many songs you know. We saw Micky Dolenz, of The Monkees, and he was amazing. I am personally stoked for The Village People to perform later in the festival.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

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Make sure you take a moment to take in the Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard & Shirley Kinsey inside of the American Adventure Pavilion. This new exhibit allows you to see authentic documents, books, artifacts, and are art including landscapes and flora in one of the largest collections of African American Art. I had the amazing chance to speak with the Kinseys, and their passion for this collection is breathtaking. We are truly lucky to have such an exhibit visiting Epcot!

After you watch Illuminations, a mandatory watching is included in a perfect day at Epcot, make sure you check out the topiaries as they are illuminated and pixie dust powered at night.

And that would be my perfect day at Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival. It’s a great time of year to visit, and I can’t wait to hear what your perfect day at the Festival would be like!

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