2024 March Trip (and FOOD) Report: DS, Citywalk, and Flower & Garden Festival Edition

This was my first work + leisure combo trip to DW. Work by day, gluttony by night!

We stayed in a hotel by the Orange County Convention Center and Lyfted to our food destination every night. The drive was about 15-25 min each way. My organization offered discounted Disney tickets but they were still relatively pricey. (High enough so that our non-Disney crazed work friends declined to join us at the parks). To save some money, my one like-minded Disney fan friend and I opted to eat at DS and Citywalk 2 nights and only went to Epcot Saturday night and Sunday (before flying back home in the early evening).

I went into this trip extremely apprehensive about spring break crowds. We were in Orlando smack in the middle of Orange County’s spring break but by some stroke of luck, crowd levels uncharacteristically fell this one week. The previous week produced the predicted high crowds and crowds have surged back the week following my trip. But crowds were surprisingly manageable during our March 20-24th stay. I encountered much longer waits at the food festival booths during my January trip on a regular weekend that was unseasonably cold! I initially attributed the relatively low crowds to it being a weeknight (Thursday night at DS) and the iffy weather forecast (Friday night at Citywalk) but it seems like the week of March 18th inexplicably saw a dip in crowds despite spring break. Win for us!

Day 1: Conference + DS (Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar)

We arrived to a beautiful DS just as the sun was setting and grabbed a table at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar right by the water. Chef’s kiss

I started the night off with a Shorty’s Singapore Sling (Plymouth Gin, Heering Cherry Liqueur, Bénédictine, Cointreau, fresh Lime Juice, Pineapple Juice, and Grenadine). This was quite tasty and had just the right amount of alcohol.

The 4 of us chose to split 5 appetizers:

Tacos Al Pastor
(Citrus-Chipotle Pork Belly, Pineapple Pico de Gallo, Red Cabbage, Grilled Corn Tortilla)

Club Obi Wan Chicken Wings (served with Lime Sour Cream and tossed in Birds Eye Chili),
Snakebite Sliders (Gourmet Beef Sliders with Tomato-Bacon Jam, House-made Pickles, Shredded Lettuce, and Cheese),
Berbere Flank Steak (Romesco Sauce, Manchego, Arugula and Peppadews)

Peruvian Potato Croquettes
Purple Peruvian Potato Croquette, Egyptian-braised Beef, Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce, and Pickled Onion

We were quite happy with most of our selections but the Peruvian Potato Croquettes were just plain odd. The texture was unexpected and not a hit with us. Everything else I’d get again in a heartbeat.

Hovito Mojito
Barson Quebranta Pisco, fresh Lime Juice, Mint, and Simple Syrup topped with Soda Water

And this above beauty was perhaps my downfall of the evening. Because after I drank this, I felt progressively more nauseous. I wasn’t inebriated (I was still aware enough to navigate my group of friends all around DS) but I felt steadily worse and worse. I don’t believe it was food poisoning though as someone else also ordered the same drink and felt fine. I was too nauseous to partake in my planned dessert of a bubble waffle from Marketplace Snacks or the new Banana Fosters Sundae from Swirls on the Water. :sob: Not the best way to end a DS evening.

Day 2: Conference + Citywalk (Voodoo Doughnuts & Cowfish)
Friday was very rain filled but luckily, it was mostly done by the time we finished with our conference workshops for the day. We arrived about an hour and a half before our reservation at Cowfish so we had some Voodoo doughnuts as an appetizer.

Raised yeast doughnut with chocolate frosting, dipped in mocha powder, and topped with peanuts, caramel, and chocolate drizzle

Raised yeast doughnut with chocolate frosting, Oreo cookies, and peanut butter

Cowfish definitely has some fun decor.

The 4 of us had these delicious drinks:

Dragon Fruit Spritz (dragon fruit, lemongrass syrup, San Pellegrino blood orange, lemon juice, Gosling’s ginger beer); The King Lives (Cruzan rum, 99 Banana liqueur, vanilla ice cream, banana, peanut butter cups); Ruby Panther (Deep Eddy Ruby vodka, simple syrup, agave syrup, fig and strawberry jam); and Butta Pecan (Ole Smoky butter-pecan moonshine cream liqueur, vanilla ice cream, salted caramel, house made praline crumble, topped with an Ole Smoky moonshine infused cherry)

Sesame Chicken Bites (panko crusted chicken bites tossed in sweet n’ sour glaze, served over a bed of pickled kale slaw, dusted with sesame seeds)
The All-American Bacon Double Cheeseburgooshi (seasoned premium black angus beef, yellow cheddar cheese, white cheddar cheese, and applewood smoked bacon wrapped in soy paper and potato strings then flash fried. Topped with dill pickles, red onion, and Roma tomato, served with signature Cowfish sauce topped with ketchup and mustard)
Crispy Brussels (flash fried Brussels sprouts, wasabi yuzu vinaigrette, rice noodles, bonito flakes, sesame seeds, with a jalapeno citrus aioli dipping sauce)
Spicy Togarashi Shrimp (flash fried shrimp tossed in a spicy Japanese chili sauce, served over Asian slaw with pounded ginger sauce)
Tropical Storm Roll (kani, avocado, and cucumber inside, topped with tuna, salmon, yellowtail, Japanese mayo, sweet eel sauce, sriracha, and tobiko, served with wasabi yuzu dipping sauce)

This night ended much more tranquilly and we meandered around Citywalk before calling it a night.

To be continued…


Day 3: Conference + Flower & Garden Festival Evening

We wrapped up our last conference workshop on Saturday and skedaddled over to Epcot. We were in front of the most beloved golf ball by 4:45pm. :smile:

First stop: The Honey Bee-Stro

  • Honey-glazed Cauliflower with honey-roasted carrot purĂ©e, wild rice pilaf, spring vegetables, honey-blistered grapes, and sunflower brittle
  • Honey-Peach Cobbler Freeze with Streusel
  • Chicken and Waffles: Crispy chicken and a honey sweet cornbread waffle with whipped honey butter and spicy honey

This was a truly solid booth. All 3 items we tried were delicious and unique in some way. The fried chicken from Homecomin’ is of course way better than this chicken but the use of cornbread in the waffle was innovative. The cauliflower dish provided a nice contrast to the chicken and waffle, in addition to being interesting on its own.

Next stop: Refreshment Port:

Plant-based Buffalo Chicken Tender Poutine on crispy potato barrels with ranch, and plant-based blue cheese crumbles. This dish was ok- not bad but not something I’d necessarily get again. The tots were nicely crispy. The plant-based “chicken” did not in any way resemble chicken in texture or taste. Not horrible but somewhat perplexing and myeh. Same with the sauces- not horrible but not awesome either. I’d eat this dish again if I was hungry but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.

And from Swirled Showcase:

Peanut Butter and Grape Jelly Soft Serve
PB- delicious! Grape Jelly- incredibly artificial tasting! But I had to try it together cuz come on- PB&J!

At this point, my friend’s stomach pleaded for mercy so we slowed down our gluttony. We started counter-clockwise around World Showcase and admired the English Tea Garden for a bit. And then I squeezed in “just 1 more dessert for now” from La Isla Fresca.

Coconut Tres Leches: Vanilla cake soaked with oat, almond, and coconut milks topped with toasted coconut. I enjoyed this cake quite a bit but I am also accustomed to all 3 milks. If someone was unfamiliar with the taste of oatmilk, he/she may be turned off by this cake. But my friend also liked this cake and she admitted that she doesn’t usually like coconut.

From Bauernmarkt, I tried the Apfelschaumwein: Apple Sparkling Wine and Apple Liqueur.

It had a sprig of something herbal. Maybe rosemary? I didn’t like this wine as much as I hoped as it was not sweet enough for me.

My friend was craving a frozen coffee by this point so we stopped by Kringla to pick up a Kristoff Kaffe
(Frozen Coffee with Coffee-Chocolate Sauce and garnished with Coffee-Chocolate Crunch)

My previous drink had been unsatisfying so I tried another. This time from Jardin de Fiestas:

Lychee Margarita: Centinela Blanco Tequila, lychee liqueur, citrus juice, and agave nectar
This was also just ok. I liked it more than the apple wine because it was sweeter but it also wasn’t anything special. I wished it had had a stronger lychee flavor.

By this time, the sun had set so I had us walk through the Moana: Journey of Water exhibit to admire the lighting at night. The Seas with Nemo was (unsurprisingly) a walk on. We had one more quick bite before heading over to see the fireworks.

Final food stop of the night: Citrus Blossom

  • Orange Sesame Tempura Shrimp with orange-chile sauce
  • Lemon Meringue Pie: Lemon curd, lemon mousse, and toasted meringue
  • Orange-Lemon Smoothie (without a souvenir cup)
    These items were pretty good but I had a few minor complaints. The sauce covering the shrimp was tasty but the tempura was a bit soggy. I understand that the sauce will of course make it less crispy but I suspect it had been sitting in the sauce for a while. The pie was delicious, no complaints. I first tried the Orange-Lemon Smoothie in 2022 and I remember it being more slush-like and refreshing. This 2024 version was more thick liquid without the icy texture, therefore not as enjoyable. Perhaps I got the end of the night batch?

We found a decent spot (near the area between the 2 shops leading into the World Showcase) to watch Luminous just 10 minutes before the show started. Afterwards, we swam against the flow of traffic to exit Epcot via the International Gateway so that my friend could experience the Boardwalk for the first time. We also admired the Easter Egg displays at the Yacht and Beach Club.

We closed out our 1 evening at Epcot by Lyfting from Beach Club. Only a bit more than 1/2 a day left! :sob:



Wild! What is this?


That’s Tamatoa, from Moana. He’s holding Te Fiti’s heart between his claws. Yacht Club’s eggs were Moana themed.


AHHH!!! Got it. Thanks :blush:


Day 4: Flower & Garden Festival + Departure :sob:

We rope dropped the lockers :wink: to store our luggage. After riding Soarin’, I gave my friend some Beverly to try at Club Cool :laughing: before admiring the Groot topiary and Prehistoric Garden. We also shopped a bit in the mostly empty Creations Shop before visiting the Butterfly Garden.

Next, we rode Figment’s Journey of Imagination. Even though my friend is a big fan of Figment, she elected to pass on meeting him because in her words, “the Meet and Greet Figment is freaky looking!” :crazy_face:

As we made our way to World Showcase, we also checked out the PB&J Garden. It featured fake grapes on the “vines”. We guessed it was because people would eat real ones. This is why we can’t have nice (authentic) things, people!

Onward to the most important part of the day: Food booths!

Northern Bloom

  • Seared Scallops with French Green Beans, marble potatoes, and bacon vinaigrette
  • Beef Tenderloin Tips with mushroom bordelaise sauce, whipped potatoes, and garden vegetables
  • Chocolate Maple Whisky Cake

Another solid booth. The cake was rich (but not overly so) and moist, with a hint of whisky. The sides that came with the savory entrees complemented the scallops and beef nicely. My friend also said that the price of the tenderloin dish was reasonable (she cooks tenderloin at home fairly frequently) and gave it high marks for the quality of the meat.

Swirled Showcase

I had the PB & Jelly soft serve at this booth the previous day but we returned to obtain the
Liquid Nitro Honey-Mascarpone Cheesecake with fresh honey, granulated honey, honey mead blueberry compote

I’m not usually a cheesecake fan (I only like Cheesecake Factory’s various flavored cheesecakes because they no longer taste like cheesecake) but I enjoyed this dessert. I would’ve liked more liquid nitrogen-produced crustiness to offer more contrast to the creaminess of the cheesecake but it was still tasty. The blueberry compote also added a bit more texture and broke up the monotony of the cheesecake flavor.

After this great start, we decided to head clockwise this day and next stopped at:

Trowel & Trellis

  • Chocolate Mousse Terrarium with matcha crumble, and chocolate soil
  • Soy-glazed Sticky Ribs with green onions and peanuts

The chocolate mousse was average: nothing bad, nothing special. The ribs were very tasty. They weren’t super tender but still relatively easy to extract from the bone.

Jardin de Fiestas

Sope de Chilorio: Guajillo pepper-braised pork on fried corn shells with black beans, shredded cabbage, crema Mexicana, queso fresco, and chives
I liked this dish because it was unique to me but it didn’t leave me with a very strong impression.

We hung around this area for an additional 10 minutes to line up perfectly for a re-opened Asha Meet and Greet. I haven’t seen Wish yet but found it fun to meet a new character.

As we passed China, we stopped to admire the Bamboo garden and noticed to our dismay that people had carved their initials into the bamboo stalks. Again, I reiterate, this is why we can’t have nice things!!! :angry:

We next stopped by Karamell-KĂĽche so that I could stock up on some edible souvenirs.

Caramel Strawberry Butter Bar
This version is more interesting than the original Caramel Butter Bar but still extremely sweet.

Caramel Pecan Cluster
I found this pick tastier than either caramel butter bar since the nuts break up the sickly sweetness. The dollop of chocolate in the middle is also a nice touch to contrast the caramel.

In the America Pavilion, we stopped by the Joffrey’s stand for some refreshments.

On the left is a Festival specialty: Tropical Frosted Iced Tea (frozen lemon, Minute Maid Lemonade, iced tea, and Hawaiian Island Syrup garnished with a glazed orange peel). Even though it wasn’t very hot that day, the “frosted” portion melted pretty quick so that was a disappointment and the combination of flavors was pretty muted. Nothing special. My friend had the Frozen Cappuccino Dream, always a tasty classic.

Tangierine Cafe: Flavors of the Medina

  • Orange Blossom-Saffron Cake
  • Mediterranean Flatbread with chermoula, roasted vegetables, artichoke, olives, feta cheese

I was a little disappointed with the offerings from Tangierine Cafe this festival. I appreciated the slight crust from the orange layer of the cake but the cream portion underneath was way too perfumy-tasting for me to enjoy. The pistachio cake underneath did not have much flavor. My friend, however, LOVED this cake and happily devoured my portion.

With regards to the flatbread, neither of us were wowed. I usually love the flatbreads offered here during festivals but the sauce on top just didn’t hit us right. It tasted very heavy and I felt like I would be overly full if I ate my entire portion. Maybe I was just too full period from the previous eats to give this flatbread a fair assessment. I think it’s definitely worth trying as it’s more unique than many items at this festival (looking at you, dumplings and cheesy crab wontons from Lotus House!)

As we walked through France, I could not pass up one of my favorite drinks in all of Disney:

Orange Slush (Grand Marnier, Rum, Grey Goose Orange and Orange Juice) from Les Vins des Chefs de France. Especially since France’s Festival Food Booth’s slush offering had St. Germain liqueur. I had had enough of flowery flavors from Morocco’s booth, thank you very much.

I would’ve liked to stop by BRUNCHCOT to try their Biscuit and Gravy or the new version of the Fried Cinammon Roll Bites but I was just too stuffed. However, I had just enough stomach space for one more relatively light item.

EPCOT Farmers Feast

Grilled Street Corn on the Cob with savory garlic spread and plant-based cheese

This corn was DELICIOUS. The corn was crispy and sweet. The spread’s strong flavor provided a nice contrast. This entree was a great way to end my festival day of gluttony.

At the airport, we were stunned to see less than 10 people on line for security (this was around 4pm on the Sunday ending Orange County’s spring break). We saw more people clustered at various gates as we approached our own gate but the crowds were definitely mild compared to what we were expecting. (A co-worker who has a daughter living a few minutes drive away from MCO reported that the airport was slammed with crowds the following day!) :confused:

Before we boarded our flight home, I was happy to see an MCO location of Summer House. I knew they had opened their location in DS but had no idea they also had a location in the airport. I tried one of their signature cookies:

Krispy Chocolate Chip Cookie

Maybe this cookie wasn’t at its best when I tasted it (as I left it in the slightly opened brown paper bag throughout my flight home) but I wasn’t wowed by this cookie. Next time, I’ll try it fresh to provide a better comparison to Gideon’s cookies.

And this concludes my first ever work + leisure trip.
I heard that my work conference takes place in Anaheim, CA in 2 years… :wink:


I must try this!

This is the right pick. Yummm!

Your friend is not wrong about the creepy Figment at the Meet & Greet. No thanks! What a whirlwind trip. Sounds like y’all had a lot of fun!