Festival Favorites is the “greatest hits” Outdoor Kitchen at the EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival. In this Walt Disney World dining review, we’ll look at the menu prices, share food photos, and offer thoughts on what is worth your money and what to skip.
Like Cider House and Farmers Feast, Festival Favorites is actually an indoor-Outdoor Kitchen, located in World ShowPlace. This colossal venue is tucked away between the Canada and United Kingdom pavilions, and was originally built as the primary home of Walt Disney World’s Millennium Celebration. It has since been converted to in-park convention space in recent years.
In addition to three food booths, you can find live entertainment in World ShowPlace, educational displays about horticulture, and a variety of photo ops. There’s a Disney Horticulture truck parked out front of the building, wire framing for a topiary, Mickey & Minnie character display, and even a vibrant floral backdrop that is essentially a temporary “Instagram wall” for the EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival. Point being, World ShowPlace is worth checking out even if you’re not planning on eating anything from its Outdoor Kitchens…
As for Festival Favorites, this Outdoor Kitchen is new to the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival. As the name suggests, this is a food booth where favorite dishes from prior festivals make their return. This booth debuted at last year’s Food & Wine Festival, which made sense there given the reduced lineup of Global Marketplaces. It’s also been added to the three festivals since, which is a bit more perplexing since the booth lineup has expanded to (more or less) normal.
Also perplexing at times is the menu choices for the Festival Favorites booth. In glancing at the menu, our first guess would’ve been that these are Walt Disney World’s favorites because they have higher profit margins. However, Disney claims these are “Guest-favorite” dishes, which is news to us…
Anyway, we’ll start with a rundown of the Festival Favorites food menu:
Watermelon Salad with Pickled Onions, Feta and Balsamic Reduction (Gluten/Wheat-Friendly)
Beef Brisket Burnt Ends and Smoked Pork Belly Slider with Garlic Sausage, Chorizo, Cheddar Fondue and House-Made Pickle
Fried Green Tomatoes with Blue Crab-Fennel Salad, Remoulade and Smoked Paprika Oil
Key Lime Tart with Toasted Meringue
Now our photos and reviews of each item…
Watermelon Salad with Pickled Onions, Feta and Balsamic Reduction ($4.25) – This is a great fusion of sweet, savory, and tangy. It’s a refreshing dish that is a great change of pace given the many heavy items at this spring and summer event.
With that said, we don’t really view this as anything special. It’s definitely good, but easily replicable at home (here’s the “recipe” via D23). We recommend it with those caveats in mind.
Beef Brisket Burnt Ends and Smoked Pork Belly Slider with Garlic Sausage, Chorizo, Cheddar Fondue and House-Made Pickle ($7.50) – We had bites of this that were fantastic, and others that were a disappointing blend of bread and dry meat. In general, there’s way too much (cheap/dry) bread and too little meat, and not enough juiciness.
Beyond that, the whole reason the Smokehouse Outdoor Kitchen was retired is because the excellent Regal Eagle Smokehouse effectively replaced it. While they’re obviously different dishes, you can order the Sliced Texas Beef Brisket Sandwich or North Carolina Chopped Smoked Pork Butt Platter for a few dollars more and get something roughly triple the size and much better than this.
Fried Green Tomatoes with Blue Crab-Fennel Salad, Remoulade and Smoked Paprika Oil ($6.25) – We don’t have any blistering criticism or high praise for this one. The fried green tomatoes were good, but there were too few of them. The blue crab salad was also fine, but nothing special.
It’s another refreshing dish–and definitely more ambitious than the watermelon salad–but it’s utterly unremarkable. I would’ve forgotten I’d even eaten this had I not taken photos and tasting notes (“fine/nothing special”). Neither recommended nor discouraged.
Key Lime Tart with Toasted Meringue ($4.25) – Based solely on appearance, we anticipated this being another dense and forgettable tart, which is historically a pretty common dessert at the EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival.
What it ended up being caught us by surprise. The key lime flavor is surprisingly tart and rich, with the toasted meringue having a far better consistency and quality than anticipated. This is a really good dessert–one of the better options at the event. Highly recommended!
There are plenty of options on the alcohol menu for the Festival Favorites booth:
Frozen Lemonade (nonalcoholic)
3 Daughters Brewing Maple Bacon Stout, St. Petersburg, FL
Frozen Lemonade with Firefly Blackberry Moonshine
Overall, the Festival Favorites indoor-Outdoor Kitchen at the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival does not live up to its name. It’s not that these items are bad, they’re just not particularly iconic or memorable dishes from past events. That’s too bad, because revisiting actual fan-favorites would be a lot of fun and perfect for a park rooted in nostalgia. Regardless, the dessert is good and a couple savory items are good enough to warrant tepid endorsements at Festival Favorites.
What do you think of the Festival Favorites Outdoor Kitchen? Do you view any of these items as the “greatest hits” of past Flower & Garden Festivals? Have you tried any of the food items at this food booth? What did you like or dislike? Portion-size or quality-wise, did you have better or worse luck than us with what you ordered? Questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!