Laura's Flower & Garden Trip Report

May 3-7, 2001

I met a group of girlfriends at Walt Disney World the first weekend in May - which also coincided with Epcot's annual Flower and Garden Festival. Epcot was beautiful, with a lot of new floral exhibits and topiaries.

This isn't going to be so much a trip report as it is a photo album, so I'm not sure exactly how it's going to turn out. :-)

The picture at the top of the page was taken along the walkway between Future World and World Showcase, and this one was taken just inside the main entrance. Many of the World Showcase "countries" had new topiaries this year, and the older ones were moved to either the entrance or World Showcase Plaza area.

I'd seen Bambi and Thumper before, but I didn't remember seeing Flower with them.

Here are some other "older" topiaries:


 

Inspired by Fantasia 2000, there was this Yo-yo'ing Flamingo topiary (he turned around and around), as well as the sprite.

The weather was absolutely *perfect* on this trip - though it was actually raining when I arrived, it had mostly stopped by the time I was out and about. But the next 4 days it was sunny, with a few clouds, highs around 82-85, and not terribly humid. I don't know how it could have been any better.

One of the new topiaries was this troll at Norway. Pretty cute, huh? For a troll, at least? :-)

There was a new Panda topiary at China, but I was out of film when I walked past it. :-(

The train set at Germany was decked out for Flower & Garden (I really like how they decorate it seasonally - it was very festive for Christmas, too), and it had some new additions, too. At various points on the fence around it were these large buttons that you could push that would make something happen - some kind of sound (like a saw mill), or make something move (like a handcar). That was fun.

And the nefarious swans have infiltrated Epcot now...they may LOOK innocent, but don't believe their seemingly innocuous demeanor. It's a conspiracy!

(I had a room at the Boardwalk with a lovely view of the Swans again - though at least this time the one wasn't glaring malevolently straight down on the room like it was two years ago. And if this makes absolutely no sense to you at all, then I suggest you read Lee's Swan Paranoia Report. :-)

I did manage to see Tapestry of Nations once (but only once!) while I was there - I'm glad I did, because I've heard that they are going to start a new parade in October. I did my usual routine of getting dinner (Chicken Shuwarma sandwich - yum) from the Tangierine Cafe in Morocco, and then wandering down the parade route till I met the parade. This time I watched it from right in front of the American Adventure. There were two little kids across from me that were jumping up and down and getting a lot of attention from the puppets - they were great fun to watch.

One of the things I most enjoy about spending time at Epcot is all of the live entertainment. At the American Adventure I dragged several of my group in to see American Vybe perform - this is a (mostly) acapella group who sings 20th century American music. They're just amazing. There's also another group who performs there called the Voices of Liberty, and they are wonderful, too - they perform more folk and patriotic music. I saw Voices of Liberty several times one day.

In keeping with Epcot's "Flower Power" theme, there are a number of bands from the 60s and 70s performing at the America Gardens Theatre during the Flower & Garden Festival. Iron Butterfly, Davy Jones, and Bobby Sherman are a few of the names. Pam and I sat in on most of the "Peter Noone and the Hermits" (aka "Herman's Hermits" one afternoon. One of those bands where I recognized a lot of the songs, but could not have told you who performed them. There was a large group sitting in front - the "Nooniacs" - who are evidently huge fans, and were very enthusiastic, but not obnoxiously so. It was a lot of fun.

I spent quite a bit of time at Animal Kingdom on this trip. And unlike our trip in March, when I didn't take any flower pictures, this time I took *lots* of them. :-)

The lemurs were out and about when I wandered past the Tree of Life one day - they always seem somewhat cat-like to me. The way they move, I suppose.

The first safari I went on was disappointing - I think I saw fewer animals than I had ever seen before. When you head onto the savannah, the "wildlife researcher" says: "You should start to see a wide variety of grass-eating animals". Well, not this time - though there were some at the far end of the savannah. And I did see a few elephants, plus the male lion. On a safari a couple of days later we did a lot better - even saw a *moving* cheetah, and both lions. That's one neat thing about the safari, though - you never know exactly what you're going to see, and for the most part I've seen a lot of interesting things.

I did much better on the Maharajah Jungle Trek - saw some of the tigers wandering about - they are so beautiful. I didn't get the pouncing, chasing tiger show that we got in March, but it's always more interesting to see them doing something other than sleeping! :-) If I want to see sleeping cats, I can do that at home...of course ours don't take up quite as much room... ;-)

There was also a peacock in full strut, though I'm not exactly sure who he was showing off for, since I didn't see any peahens. Maybe he was just showing off for the tourists. :-)

I really love the murals on the walls in this section of the park, though my pictures never do them justice. I think the Jungle Trek is one of the most nicely themed areas in all of Walt Disney World.

Our group did several fun group activities - one of the things we did was go to Disney's new Animal Kingdom Lodge, which just opened in April, and have dinner at their Boma restaurant. The Lodge has its own private savannah, and many of the rooms have balconies that look out onto areas where there are often animals grazing. Just in the short time we had to wander around, I saw giraffes, Cape Buffalo, some kind of large bird, and an impala or other type of antelope thingie. (Antelope thingie being the technical scientific term, of course. :-) )We knew someone who was staying in a Savannah view room, and she was kind enough to take us up there and let us see what it was like - thanks, Amy. :-)

The Boma restaurant is a buffet, though I think the food is more inspired by *ingredients* available in Africa, rather than being authentic African food. :-) Two things that *were* supposed to be authentic were called "pap" and "fufu". "Pap" was sort of like squares of white corn meal mush - pretty bland. And the "fufu" was like mashed yams or sweet potatoes, with some spices in it. Not bad (and more flavorful than pap!), but I wouldn't want to have to live on it. There was also chicken, prime rib, and pork, and lots and lots of salads and side dishes. I really enjoyed it - I'm definitely planning to go back to Boma on our next trip.

The very best part was the desserts, though - that was quite a spread! Pam (my evil twin) and I went up to the dessert bar separately - and we both came back with the very same selection of items! We each had a Zebra Dome (white and chocolate mousse striped together, then filled with a light mocha mousse), some kind of a brownie with a pawprint on it, and a chocolate truffle thing, which was quite good, but not terribly sweet. I finished ALL of my desserts, though I resisted the urge to lick the plate clean. :-)

And speaking of desserts...another really cool thing that our group did was a private Illuminations dessert party at Epcot. Andrea set it all up for us, and did a wonderful job of organizing it, despite some curves that Disney threw in along the way. (Between the time Andrea reserved a space for us and the actual event, Disney decided that they were going to close Epcot to the public that night for a private travel agent event - so they bumped us from the prime viewing spot we had on the French Arm, and moved us over to Norway. Which did end up being a very nice spot. And we got our revenge because that night the wind was blowing the smoke from the fireworks directly towards France and the U.K. :-) )

We'd asked for a "Chocolate Lovers Dessert Buffet", and that's what we got. There were several different kinds of chocolate truffles, as well as chocolate mousse, s'mores, chocolate cookies, chocolate peanut butter clusters, tiramisu, chocolate brownies, and chocolate covered strawberries. We even had Asti Spumante (in addition to water, soft drinks, and lemonade) to drink. It was delicious, but there's no way we could eat it all, and unfortunately they didn't provide doggie bags. So much chocolate, so little time...

Because of the travel agent thing, we were restricted to staying in our small area and couldn't wander around - in fact, Disney sent vans to pick us up at the hotel, and took us backstage, and we entered the park between China and Norway. But we still had time to eat and visit and watch Illuminations - it was a very nice viewing spot - especially since the wind was blowing the opposite way. :-)

I did spend some time at Magic Kingdom and the Studios, though I didn't take any pictures at the Studios. Pam and Donna and I had a fun morning at the Magic Kingdom one day - we rode Buzz Lightyear and Pooh and Space Mountain, and then met up with Deb over at Splash. We got *soaked* on Splash - I've never gotten that wet before! Then Pam and Donna and I rode Thunder Mountain, Haunted Mansion and the TTA. We also played around with the photo ops in the Exposition Hall - Donna took a wild ride, and Pam was chosen. :-)

The other major event of this trip was our "Eating Around the U.S." resort tour - but that has its own separate web page. :-)


Some Final Thoughts

Let's see...the weather was great, the company was great, dinner at Boma was great (I'll take Lee there on our next trip), the Flower & Garden Festival was great, and the Illuminations Dessert Buffet was beyond great. That about sums it up. :-)


Other Links

Tigger's Fun Among the Flowers
Eating Around the U.S.
Back to Laura and Lee's Vacation page

Text and photographs copyright © 2001 by Laura Gilbreath. All rights reserved.

Laura Gilbreath lgil@cts.com
Last updated 7/6/01