Review: Class at Flower and Garden Festival

What is it like to take a class at Epcot Flower and Garden Festival?
Post by Kary 
Have you ever walked through the festival center and seen the people sitting in the gardening class or wondered about the people walking through the park with plant projects and fun festival bags? Full disclosure: I do not garden and every plant to enter my home has died pretty quickly. However, I really enjoy taking the gardening classes at the fest. Each class is themed around Disney and the parks. I have learned a lot and been able to try my hand at potting a plant and trying to keep it alive!
The classes I have attended over the years follow a similar format. There are Disney horticulturists who lead the discussion. They are long-time Disney professionals with interesting stories and impressive careers. They discuss a topic and then provide a plant. It used to be a project in that you had the opportunity to pot your own plant, but the last few years you are provided the plant already potted with instructions on how to care for it at home.
EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival Class
This weekend I attended the Disney’s Horticultural Heritage class conducted by Lewis Brehm. His storied career was mostly based in Walt Disney World, but he also branched out to Hong Kong and Tokyo. His love of Disney and horticulture were evident in his presentation. The presentation began with the early history in Disneyland when Bill and Jack Evans were tasked by Walt Disney to bring the park alive with foliage. Together they thought the flowers, foliage and landscaping were an extremely important part of the storytelling experience. Topiaries were the forefront of Disney imagineering and horticulture. The first topiary of Dumbo was created in 1963 at Disneyland and placed outside of It’s a Small World. It was so popular for the 1971 opening of Magic Kingdom, Walt commissioned 25 topiaries for the grand opening. 50 (2 of each kind)
were erected at a cost of $10,000. Several of those still exist today.
It takes 5-7 years to grow a topiary from scratch. Since that is not always possible, moss is used to move along the process quicker and bobby pins are used to control the growth and help with shape. They are boxed for easy moving of the
root systems and irrigation systems. When Walt was surveying his land to build WDW in Orlando, the long standing tradition of moving trees to preserve meaning and obtaining the perfect tree began. The oak tree in Liberty Square was moved from a different location, the tree that anchors the island in Port Orleans was a transplant and the Hero Tree installed in the new Harambe Marketplace at Animal Kingdom was also moved. When the perfect tree is found, Disney is not afraid to move it to the perfect place and it is a huge undertaking!
EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival
Over the years, Disney Horticulture has grown and grown. The nursery consists of 40 acres and 12 greenhouses. Over 3 million colorful flowers are planted each year. Flower and Garden alone utilizes 210 floaters and 41 flower towers among many, many others. Disney has its own weather centers around the World for water management and uses 80% reclaimed water for irrigation. They have their own Pest Management technicians who answer over 27,000 service calls per year on property. These are just a few of the interesting facts discussed during this particular class. It only lasted about 40
minutes and we were given the beautiful parting gift of a Dwarf Peace Lily. It is from South America, should be kept in low light and evenly moist soil. Only time will tell if I can utilize my new gardening knowledge!
The Traveling Gals


Disney World Challenge: 4 Parks in 1 Day

For those who love Disney World, a popular challenge is going to all 4 parks in 1 day. While this may sound like an impossible task, with a little planning it can be done. And it is so much fun! It is important to keep in the back of your mind that you won’t be able to do everything. If possible, try to plan some Fast Passes to coincide with when you will be in the park, just to save time. Also bring some snacks like granola bars to keep the energy levels up!

Now we routinely can do 3 parks in one day (Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, Magic Kingdom). The one that can cause problems is Animal Kingdom because it is not connected to any of the other parks. You can walk/boat/bus from Hollywood Studios to EPCOT and then take the monorail over to Magic Kingdom. Because of this we suggest starting your challenge at Animal Kingdom. We also highly suggest you use Disney transportation and not your own car if you are not staying on property. The toll booth lines can get backed up and you may end up parking really far away from the entrance. You can park for free at Disney Springs and head over to Saratoga Springs to catch your first bus.(You can also try parking at a resort. If it’s not crowded they will usually let you, but don’t tell anyone that was our idea!)

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Christmas at Disney World

Christmas at Disney World [Updated For 2017]

Celebrating Christmas at Disney World

Our family has spent Christmas at Disney World for many years. It is our favorite place to spend the holidays. We love all the decorations, music, and holiday events throughout the World. Although we are sad that our beloved Osborne Light show is gone, there are still some wonderful things to do. Because our family is small, we enjoy being able to go out of town to celebrate Christmas at the most magical place on Earth. When we lived in Chicago, we would exchange gifts and have our big Christmas dinner a few days early before escaping the cold weather and heading down to Orlando. Now that we live only a couple hours from Orlando, it is easier than ever for us to hop in the car and celebrate Christmas at Disney World.

Christmas at Disney World - Magic Kingdom

  • Magic Kingdom

Of course there is nowhere more magical then the Magic Kingdom. (Or more crowded.) The decorations here are so beautiful and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is probably the most fun event. It is also a great way to enjoy the park with less of the crowds.


At EPCOT there is the Holidays Around the World (which has basically become Food & Wine Festival Part 2). This is a fun way to learn about holiday traditions in other countries around the World Showcase. You can also try different seasonal food and drink favorites. The Candlelight Processional is a beautiful retelling of the story of Christmas with celebrity narrators and a 50-piece orchestra. You also can’t miss Illuminations which has an added holiday presentation that is breathtaking.

  • Hollywood Studios

While we are very disappointed that the Osborne Lights are no longer at Hollywood Studios, they have sort of made up for it with the decorations, the new event this year called Sunset Seasons Greetings and Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! We still really miss the magical feeling of the Osborne Lights.

  • Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom doesn’t have any specific holiday celebrations, but we love the decorations! Also check out the decorations at Animal Kingdom Lodge!

  • Disney Springs

Now that everything is open at Disney Springs (and we love it! Check out our review of the Town Center) they have really brought the Christmas magic. You can also meet Santa, sing Christmas carols, and more. Oh, this is also where you can SHOP! And there is even stuff on sale! Our new favorite store is definitely Uniqlo.


What are your holiday traditions? Have you ever spent Christmas at Disney World? We would love to hear about it in the comments!

The Traveling Gals




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Food and Wine Fest

Disney On A Budget: Food and Wine Festival $25 Challenge

Savor the 2015 EPCOT Food and Wine Festival with only $25!!!!!

We are always trying to think of ways to save money for travel without skimping on the things we love. Kary decided to challenge herself and buy a $25 festival gift card and spend only that amount this Friday evening at the Food and Wine Festival.   While the tastings at each booth around the World Showcase are reasonable, they can add up quickly! It is always a challenge to pick the healthiest fare and spend the least amount of money.

$3.50     Festival Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles at Chew Lab

  • I wanted to try something at this new booth and the cabernet sauvignon is one of two wines created especially for the 20th anniversary of Food and Wine. At tastings over the last few years I have switched to mainly reds because there are so many to try! This one was very nice and not as heavy as some cabs. Paso Robles, California is defined mainly by cabernet varietals. The climate and growing conditions echo those of Bordeaux, France. Their cabernets are award winning and great addition to the Festival.

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Alesund, Norway
Kary World Travel

Norway: Land of the Midnight Sun

Norway is known for its world famous fjords, majestic mountains and spectacular glaciers.  Norway encompasses a beauty so stunning it almost does not feel real.  The other two gals and I were lucky to visit Norway as part of a trip to Northern Europe.  We visited Bergen, Alesund and Geiranger.  Cruising the fjords to Geiranger felt like I was part of a movie.  The scenery was unbelievable.  When we arrived at the bottom of Geiranger fjord we embarked on the most memorable hike of our lives so far. The climb to the top was steep and physically demanding, but entirely worth it.  You could drink the crisp, cool glacial water streaming the waterfalls.  The view from top evoked a feeling that our small group was the only people in the world.  It was July so it was misty, but warm enough to wear pants and a light jacket.  The hike down was the most treacherous part as the mist created a slide of mud and foliage.  It was thrilling, exhilarating and unforgettable.

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