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WDW Radio # 774 – Behind-the-Scenes of the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

We’re in EPCOT this week, as we dive into the delightful and delectable world behind-the-scenes of the 2024 EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival with two very special guests. I sit down and chat with Chef Kevin Downing, the culinary maestro behind the festival’s outdoor kitchens, who will sheds light on the innovative crafting of the Festival menus. And joining us is Rick DeCicco, the proprietor of the EPCOT festivals, who oversees the magic that turns the park into a feast for the senses each season. We’ll learn about the fascinating evolution, planning, innovations, experiences, challenges, and process of putting together each of the EPCOT Festivals.

Lou Mongello Chef Kevin Downing Rick DeCicco EPCOT Festival of the Arts 2024

Summary

Join Lou Mongello on WDW Radio as we dig into the blooming flavors of Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival! This episode weaves through the aromatic pathways of Epcot with insiders Chef Kevin Downing and Rick DeCicco, exploring the festival’s innovative dishes and the creative minds behind them.

Chef Kevin Downing, expertly harnesses the power of plant-based “impossible” meat to dazzle your taste buds with spice-infused meatballs and savory sliders. Discover the storytelling that goes into each plate, with a focus on seasonal produce that sings of spring. Learn how Chef Kevin and his team balance the heat in spicier options, ensuring every dish is a harmonious blend of flavor and fire.

Rick DeCicco, the maestro of festival logistics, delves into the intricacies of creating a seamless theme that tells a story beyond food, lining up the festivities with interactive experiences and vibrant gardens that educate and entertain. Listen as Rick offers insights into Epcot’s dedication to sustainability and reveals how each food station is an opportunity to learn about the vital role bees play in our ecosystem.

We take you on a scavenger hunt for Spike the bee, and unveil family-friendly attractions like PBJ gardens and playgrounds, enhancing your visit with sensory wonderlands of fragrance. Not to mention, the smorgasbord of food items like the unexpectedly popular cauliflower dish and a masterfully prepared warm water lobster tail, showcasing Epcot’s ability to deliver excellence on a grand scale.

Plus, get a peek behind the curtains into the festival’s planning process, driven by your feedback and culinary curiosity. With new topiaries and marketplaces to explore, Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival is a treasure trove of discovery. Our guests share strategies for sampling the fest’s offerings, whether you’re a local or a pass holder, from meticulously planned tasting tours to leisurely gourmet explorations.

As our conversation blooms, Lou, Rick, and Kevin extend their gratitude to the passionate resort cast members who contribute to the festival’s unique spirit. They also share their personal must-try dishes—will Rick’s choice of Florida fresh lobster tail tempt you, or will Chef Kevin’s picks from the Magnolia Terrace captivate your cravings?

So, plant your headphones firmly in ears and let your culinary imagination run wild with WDW Radio’s latest episode. It’s a feast for your senses and a love letter to the flavors of spring at Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival!

Be sure not to miss this episode filled with flavorful discussions, cooking secrets, and festival tips that will leave you hungry for more!


Takeaways

  • Versatility of ‘Impossible’ Meat: Chef Kevin Downing highlights the use of “impossible” meat as a versatile protein and its unique implementation in dishes like meatballs and sliders.
  • Balanced Spiciness: There’s an appreciation for new, spicier menu options, indicating a desire for more varied tastes among guests.
  • Seasonal Menu Development: The development of the festival’s menu prioritizes seasonal produce and food storytelling.
  • Collaborative Efforts: The festival’s theme and story require the integration of multiple disciplines and regular team meetings to discuss and refine ideas.
  • Interactive Experiences: Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival includes family-friendly activities like scavenger hunts and educational components about sustainability and ecosystems.
  • Educational Culinary Component: The festival incorporates educational experiences with culinary components, informing visitors about bees, honey, and sustainability.
  • Quality at Scale: The ability of the festival to deliver high-end dishes like cauliflower and lobster tail on a large scale is emphasized.
  • Guest Experience Balance: Rick DeCicco and Chef Kevin Downing discuss the challenge of maintaining favorite items and introducing new dishes for a fresh experience.
  • Seasonal Ingredient Showcase: Chef Downing talks about the importance of showcasing the best seasonal ingredients, such as peas, tomatoes, and corn.
  • Festival Strategy for Guests: Host Lou Mongello and guests discuss various approaches for guests to enjoy the festival, from planned routes to spontaneous exploration.
  • Community Inspiration: The support from annual pass holders and locals is acknowledged as an inspiration for new ideas and offerings.
  • Cultural Experience Appreciation: Lou Mongello expresses gratitude for the cultural experiences provided by the festival and the dedication of the staff.
  • Favorite Dishes: Rick DeCicco and Chef Kevin Downing share their favorite dishes at the festival, highlighting the Florida fresh lobster tail and items from Magnolia Terrace.
    Listeners can expect to hear in-depth discussion about these topics and more personal insights from the guests and host on the episode.

Timestamped Overview

  • [00:00] Creating Festival food content with extensive team.
  • [07:20] Discovering new Festival elements and enjoying impossible food.
  • [08:51] Authentic dish with essential Louisiana spice.
  • [11:59] Menu and content based on Mother Nature.
  • [14:56] Weekly meetings for creative ideas and projects.
  • [19:27] Epcot Flower and Garden Festival highlights nature.
  • [20:46] Honey’s importance and culinary uses are discussed.
  • [24:37] Enjoying new grilling equipment enhances outdoor kitchens.
  • [27:52] Unconventional flavors and fun with beverages.
  • [30:38] Unique outdoor kitchen with changing menu offerings.
  • [35:28] Epcot has become locals’ go-to hangout spot.
  • [37:25] Epcot festivals highlight culture, food, and appreciation.

What is your favorite part of the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival?

Share your thoughts in the WDW Radio Clubhouse at WDWRadio.com/Clubhouse, or call the voicemail at 407-900-9391 (WDW1) and share your story on the show.


Episode Transcript

Click Here To Read The Full Podcast Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Lou Mongello: Hello my friend, and welcome to the WEW Radio Show, your passport to the Disney Parks Experiences, movies, and more. I'm your host, Lou Mongello, and this is show number 774 and together as we have been since 2004.

[00:00:14] Lou Mongello: I want to not only help you have the best possible vacation experience when you go to the Disney parks, but I also want to bring you a little bit of Disney magic wherever you are. Here on the podcast, my weekly live video every Wednesday night, blog, events, free weekly newsletter, and more. Please join the community and find everything at WDWRadio.com

And this week, we're going to go to Epcot as we dive into the delightful and delectable world behind the scenes. of the 2024 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival with not one, but two very special guests. I sit down and chat with Chef Kevin Downing, the culinary maestro behind the festival's outdoor kitchens, who's gonna shed some light on some of the innovative crafting of the festival menus.

[00:01:00] Lou Mongello: Also joining me is Rick Tachiko. He's the proprietor of the Epcot Festivals and oversees the real magic behind the scenes that turns the park into a feast for the senses Each and every season, we're going to learn all about the fascinating evolution and the planning and the innovations, experiences, challenges, and the process of putting together each of the Epcot festivals, then stay tuned for our Disney trivia question of the week, where you can enter for a chance to win a Disney prize package and more updates at the end of the show.

[00:01:28] Lou Mongello: And if you like what you hear. Please share the show and tell a friend. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this week's episode of the WW radio show.

[00:01:46] Lou Mongello: Before we get into the interviews, I am so excited to finally be able to share Some very thrilling news with you because we are planning another spectacular group adventure. And this time, we're heading back to the breathtaking landscapes, the vibrant culture of my favorite place on Earth, Japan, with Adventures by Disney in 2025.

[00:02:10] Lou Mongello: And yes, I want you, you, to come along with us. From the peaceful temples and beautiful gardens of historic Kyoto, which is my favorite city. Anywhere to the historic Hiroshima. There's very serene Takayama and the bustling, exciting, no place else like it on earth city of Tokyo for nine days and 10 nights, we are going to truly immerse ourselves in the beauty and the tradition and culture.

[00:02:39] Lou Mongello: And yes, the food that Japan has to offer. It is going to be, I promise an unforgettable journey through the heart of Japan. And there's no one that I want to share this with. Other than you, my WW radio family. Now we're still finalizing the exact dates, but it will be most likely in May or June of 2025.

[00:02:59] Lou Mongello: And I want to extend an invitation to you to sign up and show your interest in this trip today. By signing up, you're not just expressing your interest, but you're also going to be securing your place in line for priority access to join us once we finalize the details and open up spots. So this is your early chance to make sure that you are part of this incredible adventure.

[00:03:21] Lou Mongello: To learn more and join the interest list, simply head on over to www. radio. com slash Japan 25. There you'll find more information, a full itinerary, FAQs, and the interest signup form. Fill it out. Let me know that you're interested in joining us on this trip to Japan, because signing up now gives you the best chance to secure your spot with us.

[00:03:42] Lou Mongello: As we explore the wonders and the flavors of Japan together. And yes, there will be an option to add on Tokyo Disneyland and Disney sea after our adventure concludes. I am so incredibly excited about the possibility of traveling with you and creating memories that I promise will last a lifetime. If you have any questions, please reach out and let me know, but I cannot wait.

[00:04:17] Lou Mongello: I visited Epcot earlier this week, it was not my first time, nor shall it be the last, for the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival and had an opportunity for an exclusive interview featuring two of the people behind the scenes that make the magic happen. Rick DiCicco is the festival's proprietor and chef de cuisine, Kevin Downing.

[00:04:36] Lou Mongello: So I invite you to join us at the table at the Connections Eatery for a conversation as Chef and Rick provide a fascinating dual perspective on what makes this vibrant event such a beloved annual tradition. Rick offers an insider's look at the operational intricacies, highlighting some of the meticulous and long term planning that ensures the festival's success year over year.

[00:05:01] Lou Mongello: Meanwhile, Chef Kevin delves into the culinary magic behind the festival, sharing the inspiration for the innovative menus, the excitement of introducing new dishes, and some of the challenges of catering to a diverse audience at such a grand scale. The conversation is a great, fascinating peek behind the curtain to show how the magic And the food gets made.

[00:05:22] Lou Mongello: Enjoy. Chef Rick, it is good to see you again. I think Flower and Garden Festival, I think, is when Epcot may be at its most beautiful. I want to talk a little bit about this year's festival overall, as well as your roles. Um Rick, so you are the proprietor of Epcot. So first things first. What was the proprietor of Epcot actually

[00:05:43] Rick DiCiccio: do?

[00:05:43] Rick DiCiccio: It's a very good question. Uh so I lead our festivals group. And so while food is really kind of where it all starts for me and kind of my my passion, um, I do get to work with everybody that impacts our festivals. So particularly at this time of year with Flower and Garden and the park coming alive. I'm working with our horticulture team.

[00:06:07] Rick DiCiccio: We're developing new topiaries, which we rolled out this year and some brand new ones last year as well. You know, uh, we have a very talented group of Walt Disney Imagineers that work directly with the festival as we develop content. I mean, truly, the way that I love to explain it is, uh, from a festival standpoint, we really have three big, Buckets that we look at the first bucket is creative content that can be any of these things from our horticulture to our nighttime events to the food and beverage to area development to build, you know, building kind of the way that the park looks.

[00:06:45] Rick DiCiccio: The second would be our logistics. Which is a team that works behind the scenes. That is really some of the unsung heroes of our festivals. And that's our engineering support team, our program development team, lots of construction folks that are just absolutely, you know, burning the candle at both ends to make the magic happen.

[00:07:04] Rick DiCiccio: And then where it really happens is in our operations team. So that's Kevin's team and our operations team out there taking great care of our guests every single day. It's, um, we're very busy. We have,

[00:07:17] Lou Mongello: we have a lot to do, but it's a very well oiled machine as well too. And from a guest perspective, we almost can't imagine the, the, what is happening behind the scenes to make all this happen, not just on a day to day basis, but in the months that go into planning a chef, Kevin, tell me about your role specifically when it comes to, uh, the festival and specifically flowering garden.

[00:07:39] Lou Mongello: Well,

[00:07:39] Chef Kevin Downing: as a chef de cuisine for festivals, uh, It's really, uh, myself and my team's, uh, job to create the food content, the culinary content for all of our outdoor kitchens for flower and garden. So we spend a lot of time in the creative process, you know, after we do some preliminary discussions where we'll discuss, uh, you know, what new concepts we might be doing, what's coming back, uh, what maybe needs to be reimagined.

[00:08:09] Chef Kevin Downing: We'll spend a lot of time working on. Now what do we want to put into those outdoor kitchens? What kind of food are we looking at? We do a lot of tastings. Uh, we do a lot of development. And then once we get to that point where we've landed our menus, it really falls on the entire culinary team of festivals to really execute, produce, not just from our production kitchen standpoint, but also the cast and the culinary cast that you see in our outdoor kitchens every day, plating and preparing the food as it goes out to the guests.

[00:08:40] Chef Kevin Downing: So it's quite a large group that we have that works on all of this. We're spread around throughout the park. Obviously we have our outdoor kitchens just about everywhere. So we really spend a lot of time really trying to make sure that what we put out is great. It's going to resonate with our guests, um, and they're

[00:08:56] Lou Mongello: going to want to come back.

[00:08:58] Lou Mongello: And, you know, like you said, it, it, it evolves, right? It's an iterative process from year to year. How do you go about deciding what are we changing this year? What are we adding? Do you take feedback from guests, you know, and for this year specifically, what was the thought process going into the decision?

[00:09:14] Lou Mongello: 2024 festival.

[00:09:15] Rick DiCiccio: Yeah, we were in a constant development cycle. So we do get asked a lot. You know, when do you start planning this event? We never stopped planning. So when an event starts, we'll take feedback right away and and we want guest feedback. One of the best sources for us is the internet, right? So we go to social media and and I personally spend a big mistake.

[00:09:39] Rick DiCiccio: I know, I know. And you know what? It, it, I don't take it personally, but it, we do take feedback. We love the praise, but we also love the feedback as well. Uh, we do a lot of guest surveying. Uh, we have a, a robust, uh, network of individuals that focus on capturing that. And we'll look at sales data as well from a prior year.

[00:10:00] Rick DiCiccio: And we like to keep it fresh. So we're constantly kind of noodling on what's the next thing or what's a, what's a concept we did before, but we haven't done for a while that we might want to bring back. Could start with a food item. It could start with an ingredient. Um, you know, Kevin's team just absolutely, uh, takes that and runs with it.

[00:10:20] Rick DiCiccio: And we always want to do continuous improvement.

[00:10:23] Lou Mongello: And it has to be a challenge because you have, uh, Festival favorites like classics that people look forward to, whether it's a topiary, a marketplace, certainly food items, but you also want to pardon the pun. You want to keep it fresh. Yeah, absolutely.

[00:10:36] Chef Kevin Downing: I mean, we know that there are items for each of our festivals, right?

[00:10:40] Chef Kevin Downing: That the guests come back for a year after year after year, right? So we have to walk a fine line between, uh, keeping festival favorites, but also creating new content, right? Creating new dishes. Uh, so we know we, we kind of have some ideas about what items probably can never go away. Um, but then, you know, we might also take a look and be like, you know, certain location.

[00:11:06] Chef Kevin Downing: Maybe we've done the same menu for three, four years now. Maybe it's time to give it a little bit of an update and refresh and then we'll see how it goes. And if, and if our guests aren't happy with it, we can always revert back to some festival favorites, right? Uh, that's the beautiful thing. We have a full.

[00:11:22] Chef Kevin Downing: You know, recipe books, so to speak, of a lot of different menu offerings from each of our festivals. So, we can really dive into that and pull things out when we need them, but we can also, uh, and we, like Rick said, we're also really in tune with trying to push and look for the next big thing, and get that out there for our guests to, uh, to enjoy.

[00:11:43] Lou Mongello: One of the things I love is, is the sense of discovery for each new festival, whether it's discovering a new topiary, Um, you know, it's been a long time since we've had a new marketplace, a new interactive experience of which there is a lot and certainly new food items. I listen, chef. I'm doing the research.

[00:11:56] Lou Mongello: I'm doing the work. Um, I'm trying to hit everything that's new and a couple of things I noticed one again because I think guests, um, desires and guests taste change. I've I've seen a lot of amazing impossible food this year and you know, for a long time, I think it was what we have options that are available for vegans and vegetarians.

[00:12:17] Lou Mongello: What I've really been finding is that I'm really digging the impossible, the, um, I don't remember what it's called. It's the impossible, it's like a wrap, it's like some sort of No, the impossible meatball. The impossible meat was fantastic, and I also noticed too, you're not afraid to put a little zip, a little bit of spice on some of these dishes as well.

[00:12:37] Lou Mongello: Well, I

[00:12:38] Chef Kevin Downing: think what you said there, that's a great example of a menu item that came back. So we have that impossible meatball, um I'll be back in 2019. Uh, and we determined, you know, we we've been wanting to give impossible a little bit more show its versatility, not just in plant based, but also that you can use it as a substitute, a protein substitute, right?

[00:13:00] Chef Kevin Downing: So that was an item that came back to us and we decided we were going to bring back again and use and to the spice piece. I mean, that's something that we've also been focused on. We know that Again, fine line. Some guests are super spice sensitive. Some guests go after the spice. So we want to make a dish very authentic as much as we can.

[00:13:21] Chef Kevin Downing: So the gumbo, for example, over in Magnolia Terrace, you can't really do a gumbo without some heat to it. And if we didn't put that little bit of zip into it, then we're not doing the dish justice. And we're really not providing our guests that kind of authentic. Louisiana type experience that we're trying to provide for Magnolia Terrace.

[00:13:40] Chef Kevin Downing: So we're going to give you that little bit of zip, but we're also going to mark it right now. We call it out as, you know, spicy chicken and sausage gumbo. So we're going to make sure that you know that it's spicy, but we're, and when we do that, we're able to say, okay, we're going to bring the heat just

[00:13:55] Lou Mongello: a little bit.

[00:13:56] Lou Mongello: And I like the fact that you have that option now. And when you say spicy, there really is. There's some heat behind what you're tasting.

[00:14:03] Chef Kevin Downing: And we've seen that. I've, you know, I've seen feedback from online that say, you know, Disney's afraid of spice. I mean, we see it a lot, right? You've seen that? Yeah. But what we've started to see for us is that guests actually do appreciate.

[00:14:17] Chef Kevin Downing: They appreciate when we give them a little heat. They're like, wow, you know, this just didn't disappoint. It has the heat and we can feel it. And it's not in a bad way. You know, we're not necessarily going to go out and try to put heat in for just heat's sake, but. You know, if, if the dish requires it or needs it, then we certainly want to provide it.

[00:14:35] Lou Mongello: All I know, Chef, is I had no less than six of the impossible, um, buns in Japan. Because it, if you tell me it wasn't chicken, I wouldn't believe that it actually really wasn't chicken. The, the impossible flavors have really sort of matured so much that you almost wouldn't know the difference. Well, and this festival in particular, part of the

[00:14:59] Chef Kevin Downing: Part of the festival is our garden grace plant based offerings, right?

[00:15:03] Chef Kevin Downing: So we really are trying to bring out not just plant based items, but also the impossible, right? That's something we want to showcase. Uh, and we were trying to give you unique ways to use it, right? You know, a meatball is a meatball, but how can we give you a cool, unique flavor profile, right? Putting it with the marinated veg, giving a little mint, wrapping it in the lentil bread gives it a unique, unique flavor profile, right?

[00:15:28] Chef Kevin Downing: And that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to really look at impossible and make it more than just a burger or a slider. Uh, and how can we use it, be creative with it? and have some fun with it that our guests are going to be to your point. If I didn't know, uh, if you didn't call it out as impossible, I

[00:15:44] Lou Mongello: would never know that it was.

[00:15:45] Lou Mongello: There's almost a sense that I get going from marketplace to marketplace and then back again from marketplace to marketplace that there's, there's even sort of a, and I was sort of wondering where the inspiration comes from. It was almost like a storytelling element from the connecting the food to the marketplace, to the overall theme of the show.

[00:16:02] Lou Mongello: the festival. What is that process like trying to figure out how do we narrow down the 10 different options we have for florida fresh to the three or four that might make it onto the menu? Well, and is there a tasting team and how do I sign up? Well,

[00:16:18] Chef Kevin Downing: there is definitely a tasting team. Um, you know, I think it all starts with kind of developing the content, right?

[00:16:23] Chef Kevin Downing: So we spend a lot of time, rick, myself, chef, our culinary director and several other partners, you know, we'll spend a lot of time just trying to figure out. Okay. What are we putting out this year for Flower Garden, right? What kiosks or what market outdoor kitchens are going to go into those locations?

[00:16:41] Chef Kevin Downing: And then, what's returning? What needs a new look? And then, yeah, we really try to tell the story. But I would say the overarching theme of this festival is really about Mother Nature. and what is the best of the season, what she can provide. And that's kind of the overarching theme of flower and garden. We think of menu content and menu development is really kind of looking at the best of the season and trying to put that forward.

[00:17:05] Chef Kevin Downing: You know, it's springtime, it's beautiful, right? So we have all the plants and the flowers and the topiaries. And really, this is the time to when, you know, farms are starting to come back and you're starting to get those spring vegetables and that spring produce. So we want to showcase some of that, and we really try to tell that story

[00:17:21] Lou Mongello: in the food.

[00:17:23] Lou Mongello: Chef mentioned the topiaries, which are always a fan favorite. I love seeing figment front and center in World Celebration Garden. This year there's some new additions. There's some new additions that have sort of really leveled up, um, from Groot and his cassette, and then talk about too, uh, over by Mexico and the, the projection

[00:17:41] Rick DiCiccio: mapping.

[00:17:42] Rick DiCiccio: Yeah, so, great new topiaries this year, yes. Groot is amazing. I love standing there and watching guests react to that. Of course, we've got Dante with Miguel, uh, over by Mexico. And yeah, it's our first time that we have projection mapped one of the topiaries. And, uh, our guests, many people are very surprised when they see that, right?

[00:18:07] Rick DiCiccio: At night, it just comes, it really comes to life. And it's just such a cool component. Of that film. Of course. We've also this year got, uh, Asha, Valentino and Star, uh, from Wish. So it really ties together all of the great work that we've done over the last few years to bring, uh, Tiana to be, um, right next to Magnolia Terrace in the American adventure.

[00:18:32] Rick DiCiccio: And we have our encanto, uh, display as well, uh, right front and center as you enter World Showcase. So lots of content there. It ties everything together, and even tagging back to what Kevin was talking about in terms of some of the menus, our horticulture team works very closely with us. They actually plant out around the locations where we're serving food, quite often components of those dishes, which just ties that whole story together.

[00:19:00] Rick DiCiccio: We are storytellers

[00:19:02] Lou Mongello: first. And I was going to ask about sort of the integration of the multiple disciplines and teams having to come together to ensure that there's a consistent theme and storytelling and that everything is able to work together again. I can't imagine from a logistics perspective what it must look like just planning out something of this.

[00:19:19] Rick DiCiccio: We actually we host a creative meeting um once a week and that can be a very logistically based meeting or it can be extremely blue sky. We have a lot of fun with that. And one of the things that we say all the time is There's never a bad time for a good idea. It just, sometimes that idea isn't ready for prime time.

[00:19:42] Rick DiCiccio: So we'll keep a log of whether it's a menu item or a concept or something that we want to do with, with an upcoming, uh, you know, Disney intellectual property. And, uh, we'll write that down. We keep it on the big idea board. And sometimes it's three, four or five years and a variety of reasons before we get to it.

[00:20:03] Rick DiCiccio: But we know that the good ones kind of always stick around.

[00:20:07] Lou Mongello: And I love that the topiaries afford guests and families. It's almost like a little bit of a scavenger hunt trying to find them. For me, the new food items are my personal scavenger hunt. But again, talking about the festival continuing to evolve, you know, you're also having to speak to and deliver different experiences for different guests.

[00:20:29] Lou Mongello: And one of the things I noticed this year walking around is there are those Instagram mobile moments, right? For those that want to sort of get photos, but there's some great family friendly experiences here as well. Uh, and, and to this continued evolution of the festivals being more interactive.

[00:20:46] Rick DiCiccio: Absolutely. It's a core strategy, obviously. And as you think about walking the park and seeing all of these gardens and the scavenger hunts like the spikes pollination exploration where you're just you're going around the park, you're trying to find spike the B. Donald Duck's nemesis. Sometimes, um, there's many other new components.

[00:21:09] Rick DiCiccio: Like this year, we have our PBJ garden, which guests are absolutely loving right now on the bridge to world showcase. That's directly across from the sensi, uh, blossoms of fragrance, which is also an interactive activity that you can do. We've got our playground, so there's a ton of family friendly activities.

[00:21:31] Rick DiCiccio: And then when you think about the food component of that as well, it's a tasting festival and we always encourage, I encourage my kids when, when I bring them out to the park. Which is pretty often to try that thing that they might not have tried, you know, when I was 10 I thought that mushrooms were you know from another planet and now I don't think I could live without mushrooms So the more that we can kind of spread the the culinary Messaging and get people to take chances and try an item that they might not normally try.

[00:22:04] Rick DiCiccio: It's very cool We're really rewarding to see it happen

[00:22:06] Lou Mongello: Yeah, Brussels sprouts used to be the thing that nobody would ever eat. And now sort of, but Brussels sprouts are like a gourmet, right? Everywhere.

[00:22:12] Chef Kevin Downing: Yeah, everywhere. I think Rick's exactly right. I mean, I think we really take some time to think about what can we show our guests?

[00:22:21] Chef Kevin Downing: And because it is a little bit of a smaller portion, the price point is a little bit different. You know, I'll use Farmer's Feast as a great example. You know, we have the grilled veal loin with the English pea and mint risotto. There are a lot of people that may not normally try a meal, um, for different reasons, but may not just try it, sometimes you go into a restaurant and you're just going to gravitate to what you know, you're paying top dollar, but here you're getting a little tasting portion.

[00:22:50] Chef Kevin Downing: So maybe you try it and you decide you like it. If you don't, you're You, you haven't broken the bank. You can go try something else. Right. And that's the beauty of the festival and the food component of our festivals is that it's really designed to let you try things, go to your festival favorites. If you know, we know people are going to gravitate towards those, but then there's plenty of other offerings out there to try something new, maybe try something a little different.

[00:23:14] Chef Kevin Downing: And if you don't like it, it's like no harm, no foul, right? Something right next to it.

You're

[00:23:19] Rick DiCiccio: going to love it. Yeah,

[00:23:20] Chef Kevin Downing: absolutely.

[00:23:21] Lou Mongello: What I love too about the festivals. And I think is, is in the spirit of Epcot itself is there's, there's an educational component to that's not sort of in your face kids. The beautiful thing is kids don't know that they're learning while they're here, but they are.

[00:23:35] Lou Mongello: The butterfly garden has for years has changed my daughter's life. Like it's the reason why she come here. She's wanted to learn more. Talk to me a little about some of the education, whether it's education from a culinary perspective. from a sustainability perspective, uh, and how that integrates into the theme of the festival.

[00:23:51] Rick DiCiccio: Well, yeah, as Kevin mentioned earlier, every festival sort of kind of has a different guiding light. And for, uh, the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, it is, of course, Mother Nature. So, Mother Nature is the star of the show, the Earth, and telling all of those stories. I love the, I wouldn't call them the hidden things, but I love that Epcot is a park of discovery and that there are museums and the pavilions.

[00:24:16] Rick DiCiccio: And at this time of year, you can look to all of these outdoor spaces and gardens to get that education. So right down, uh, at the, um, end of the, um, path from test track, you've got the, um, Songbird Meadow Garden, uh, sponsored by Wild Birds and You can stand there for an hour and watch the songbirds and watch the butterflies.

[00:24:41] Rick DiCiccio: And there's all kinds of signage that is going to tell you that story. And again, the self discovery of exploring the park and your truly discovery is, is really the buzzword for this park. It continues the original vision and storytelling that started when Epcot was conceived, and it modernizes it and brings it to something that's fresh for today's audience as well.

[00:25:09] Rick DiCiccio: Yeah, I would

[00:25:10] Chef Kevin Downing: agree with that. I think, you know, another example, and this one has kind of a culinary component to it, is at the end of the Rose Walk, Honey Bistro. Uh, you know, lots of learnings about honey. How do we get honey? Lots of learnings. learnings about bees and how important they are, uh, to our ecosystems and to our environment.

[00:25:29] Chef Kevin Downing: And then there's that whole component about different kinds of honey and what we can use them for. And all that's brought together by the National Honey Board, you know, and they do a great job of telling that story. And that ties into the food dishes that we're showing in that outdoor kitchen, right?

[00:25:43] Chef Kevin Downing: Everything contains honey, different forms of honey, different uses of honey. So we're really trying to incorporate that into the food as well when we are able to do so.

[00:25:52] Lou Mongello: I'm smiling because it's been one of the Honey Bistro continues to be one of my favorite and I absolutely love it this year. I also think it's the best value of, of the, that, um, the dish with the

[00:26:02] Rick DiCiccio: chicken and

[00:26:03] Lou Mongello: waffle or the, the other, um, the cauliflower and the shake that are 5 each.

[00:26:08] Lou Mongello: Like that's a nice, that's a nice little meal for

[00:26:10] Rick DiCiccio: 10. Cauliflower is my favorite, is my favorite dish this year.

[00:26:14] Lou Mongello: It's such a complex dish and that carrot puree on the bottom is spectacular. Yeah. And why are we not doing this at one of the actual marketplaces? That's a good

[00:26:23] Rick DiCiccio: question. The beverage too. Yeah.

[00:26:25] Rick DiCiccio: The honey peach cobbler freeze is great because it not only tastes great, but anytime you can top a drink with streusel, I mean, you're winning.

[00:26:35] Chef Kevin Downing: You know, and again, that dish that you were just talking about, the cauliflower, that's another good example of, uh, an item that came back. We had that for a while, it went away for a little bit, and then we decided to bring it back, we gave it a new look, we freshened it up a little bit, and now we, uh, have a dish that our guests are really enjoying, right?

[00:26:54] Chef Kevin Downing: Almost to the point where it was a little shocking how many of those that we were

[00:26:59] Lou Mongello: selling a day.

[00:26:59] Rick DiCiccio: It's sometimes, well, and Kevin loves to talk about how every festival we sometimes get surprised by something in a really good way of, Wow, this is way more popular than we thought it would be. We do a lot of research.

[00:27:11] Rick DiCiccio: We have a ton of historical data that we, that we mine as we're planning. And that helps with procurement and with, uh, you know, working with our vendors. And having the appropriate staff to produce these items. And sometimes we get surprised, but it's pleasant surprise.

[00:27:29] Lou Mongello: So speaking of pleasant surprises, when I was looking through the, the, the guide, uh, and I saw that there was lobster tail, I said, wow, that is, that's a, that's a big step, right?

[00:27:40] Lou Mongello: In terms of being an elevated experience, especially being able to deliver something like that, where a few seconds of cooking time could make or break that dish. Yeah. I tried it. I was wildly excited and surprised to see it. Um, talk about, you know, that type of an offering on there and then being able to sort of deliver that at scale.

[00:28:02] Lou Mongello: Yeah. So,

[00:28:03] Chef Kevin Downing: uh, lobster made its return. We've had it off and on throughout the years. Uh, this one is a warm water lobster tail. So it's a little different than your kind of main lobster that people are normally used to. Cooks a little bit differently. Holds up a little bit better too. Doesn't get as tough as if it goes a little bit over.

[00:28:21] Chef Kevin Downing: So that helps with that. But I think the big thing that made it different and allowed us to bring it back was some of the evolution of our outdoor kitchens and what we're able to do, whether that's technology inside of them or in that particular case, having the grill pad and the grill out there where we can really grill them to order.

[00:28:41] Chef Kevin Downing: And then they're not sitting for too long, right? We're cooking them. We're handling them with respect that they deserve. And then we're, you know, we're selling them inside. They're not spending a lot of time or have an opportunity to overcook or sit for too long because you can watch us cooking them right there

[00:28:58] Lou Mongello: front and center.

[00:28:59] Lou Mongello: It's almost like a show kitchen outside being able to see these.

[00:29:01] Chef Kevin Downing: And having some of those things, whether it's the grills that are provided to us by Yoder, I mean they do a fantastic job of giving us new equipment to play with, uh, and look at. If you go over to Farmer's Feast, you'll see that big grill with the wheels, almost that Argentinian style.

[00:29:18] Chef Kevin Downing: Uh, you know, that was a new piece that they built for us. So it's a great showpiece and it allows us to do different things. And so in that particular case, over in Florida Fresh, um, we were able to say this may be an opportunity to bring that item back. And, um, and do it and do it well. And so our guests will enjoy it.

[00:29:39] Chef Kevin Downing: And we do that a lot. We look at our equipment and what we're able to do. And sometimes we'll find a new piece of equipment that really changes the game on what we can do in some of these outdoor kitchens because they're small. There's not a lot going on. You can't do a lot of things in there. So we're constantly trying to figure out, can we do that?

[00:30:00] Chef Kevin Downing: Can we pull it off? Because we can do a lot of cool things in our big production kitchen when we're doing a tasting. But then we have to put it through the lens of, okay, yeah, this is great. But how are we going to execute this for the number that we have to do in the space that we have with the equipment that we

[00:30:16] Lou Mongello: have?

[00:30:17] Lou Mongello: When it's 97 degrees outside with 200 percent humidity. And we

[00:30:21] Chef Kevin Downing: have to filter every menu item through that lens in order to get there. And sometimes we get to that last step and it's like, yeah, this is just not, it's not feasible. In that environment, but maybe a year down the road, two years down the road, maybe there's something new that will come along.

[00:30:38] Chef Kevin Downing: You know, we keep looking at something like a fryer, you know, doing fryers in locations like that is not feasible. But with all this new technology of air fryers and all that, who knows? Like a couple of years from now, there may be a piece of equipment that we might be able to use that allows us to get the same effect.

[00:30:55] Chef Kevin Downing: But without all of the environmental impact, safety impacts, all of those things that that we have to think about when we're designing a menu offering in an outdoor kitchen location.

[00:31:05] Lou Mongello: What about overlooked experiences, overlooked menu items? There's so much to take in. You really in the beauty of the festivals, you almost you shouldn't try to, and you almost can't do it all in one day.

[00:31:17] Lou Mongello: But we tried to. What are some of the overlooked experiences, the hidden gems or You know, I don't want to say your favorite menu items, but maybe things that might be off the radar for people that you think are really standouts.

[00:31:30] Rick DiCiccio: Wow, that is a, that is a good one because yes, I love them. I know they're all your babies.

[00:31:35] Rick DiCiccio: I love all of the menu items. You know, truly, if you think about some of the things that Kevin talked about, our Magnolia Terrace, like I love the muffalata. It's an incredible dish. It's something that I encourage everybody to try. You know, as you walk around the promenade, it depends on what you're, what you're in the mood for at that moment.

[00:31:56] Rick DiCiccio: I think our desserts are incredible. We've got Swirled Showcase, and I don't know if you've had the opportunity yet to try the Honey Mascarpone Liquid Nitro Cheesecake, but Um, directly across from the Honey Bistro. This item is a can't miss. It's a can't miss item. I was

[00:32:13] Lou Mongello: distracted by the peanut butter and jelly ice cream.

[00:32:15] Rick DiCiccio: Yeah, we it was peanut butter and jelly time. We've we've also got the strawberry basil there, which is fantastic. And you can do a float with a hard seltzer for that one, which is really kind of next level. It's unexpected, right? When When our team is developing these things and we've got a internal team that works on all of the beverages, uh, right here at Epcot.

[00:32:39] Rick DiCiccio: And when they come back with something, sometimes I go, what? But they always knock it out of the park. So trying those trying those unexpected things. And I mean, you think about scallops anywhere there's a scallop anywhere there's a lobster tail, you will find me there.

[00:32:56] Lou Mongello: What about from an experience perspective, things that adults, kids, families should make sure that they do or try for the first time?

[00:33:04] Rick DiCiccio: Well, I think our Garden Rocks concerts are not to be missed. Um, you know, I was here over the weekend and went to the concert on Saturday night and I was blown away that we're getting incredible artists that are coming in. It's a family friendly environment, especially, um, you know, I mentioned my bringing my kids to the park.

[00:33:28] Rick DiCiccio: My kids are both big music lovers. My, my son is a budding musician. So anytime I can take him to a show, and have them experience that. It's a, it's a win for the day. So I would encourage guests not to miss that. But think about also our scavenger hunts. We've got a couple of different things. Kevin mentioned the garden graze, which is, you know, you're going to go around the park for this festival.

[00:33:53] Rick DiCiccio: You're going to look for, uh, items that are on garden graze. They're all going to be plant based items for this particular. event, which is great. It's gonna maybe draw guests that would not have tried the plant based item to one of those items. And there are some really fantastic ones. I mean, at refreshment port, we've got the impossible buffalo chicken poutine.

[00:34:16] Rick DiCiccio: which is on, uh, served on tots. Fantastic item. And again, a little bit of heat. Uh, I might've tried that one on Saturday as well this week. Um, and then we've got, um, you know, other, other cool things. Like I mentioned, the, uh, spikes pollination exploration, it's stuff to get the family out and enjoying these things.

[00:34:38] Rick DiCiccio: And sometimes just walking the park and looking at the beautiful gardens. You mentioned earlier the figment topiary front and center right in front of Spaceship Earth. I mean, I love coming in early as the park is coming and watching guests. They're running to take

[00:34:53] Lou Mongello: that photo. And beautiful at night as well.

[00:34:56] Lou Mongello: Chef, what about for you? What's the overlooked item that the hidden gem among all the treasures? You know, I think for me probably, uh,

[00:35:04] Chef Kevin Downing: it's Farmer's Feast. Uh, I think that is one of our most unique outdoor kitchens in that area. It's a menu that changes throughout the festival. Um, so you're going to get three different offerings in there from the entree to the dessert component.

[00:35:20] Chef Kevin Downing: And I think that's something

[00:35:21] Lou Mongello: that

[00:35:22] Chef Kevin Downing: when we first discussed the idea of could we change a menu offering in the middle of a festival, there was some skepticism, but it's, it's worked. And for this particular festival, I think it's something that gets overlooked that I can come for this month, I'm gonna get one dish.

[00:35:38] Chef Kevin Downing: And when I come back in April, that dish is gone. Uh, and now there's something new for me to try. Both from the entree and the dessert. And then when I come back in May, it's gonna be something else that's new. And I think sometimes we overlook that because it's easy to think, oh, all the menus stay the same.

[00:35:54] Chef Kevin Downing: But in this one case, this is one of those we're really trying to do what we say, which is really showcase the best of the season. From peas, kind of this early Late winter early spring into tomatoes into corn. We're really kind of trying to showcase that so for me I think that's probably one of the hidden gems from a food

[00:36:13] Lou Mongello: standpoint And I like that that over the past couple years with the festivals you have sort of been slowly rolling out different Marketplaces or different marketplace items as well, especially for those of us who are locals gives us reasons to keep coming back over and over again

[00:36:28] Chef Kevin Downing: Yeah, I think, you know, it's, it's interesting because we hear a lot of times that you can't do the festival in a whole day if you really want to do it.

[00:36:36] Chef Kevin Downing: We kind of use that to our advantage, right? To get people to come back. But then when we do a menu or something like this, where we are truly changing it, that really is a good reason to come back, right? Because now I know, well, when I go back this time, if I enjoyed it the first time, now I get to go back.

[00:36:50] Chef Kevin Downing: You have my, that dish that I really enjoyed won't be there, but now I get to try something new and maybe you'll like that one. And I like that, right? It really shows that we don't want our menus to become static. We don't want them to be boring. We want to give you, give our guests new offerings. Um, and I think that was a, that was a fun change for us to be able to do that.

[00:37:09] Chef Kevin Downing: You know, I don't know if we can do that for every festival or for every, every location,

[00:37:13] Lou Mongello: but thank you for adding.

[00:37:15] Chef Kevin Downing: But you know, in this one case, and especially for this festival, when we're really talking about a festival that spans kind of three seasons, right? You're late winter into spring into early summer.

[00:37:26] Chef Kevin Downing: It really does

[00:37:27] Lou Mongello: fit. for us. Yeah, and you can't do it all. I used to try and do it all. I used to do like a live walkabout and I would try and taste everything that at least was new. By the time I got three quarters of the way around World Showcase, I just needed to tap out and I just felt bad for the countries I didn't hit because they just weren't getting their fair shake at that.

[00:37:45] Lou Mongello: Yeah, it's

[00:37:45] Chef Kevin Downing: tough. I was in the park a few weeks ago with my family and we were walking and when we have come in for the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, we kind of hit a lot of food really early. And then we're like, we're kind of done now. So this time we kind of did the same thing. We hit a couple really early and I'm like, we need to take a break and walk a little bit so we don't end up the same thing that we did before.

[00:38:07] Chef Kevin Downing: So it's easy because sometimes we have a lot of our outdoor kitchens grouped together. So you could hit like, Three or four right in a row, but um, yeah, sometimes you just got to break it

[00:38:17] Lou Mongello: up And there's a military like strategy almost I have to have like I sit down with the book and I sort of lay out You know, what my eating what am I sort of?

[00:38:26] Lou Mongello: Eating strategy gonna be to make sure I can hit all the things I want to without getting overly filled too early My family came with a list

[00:38:32] Chef Kevin Downing: piece of paper, and we went down and just crossed everything off as we went and did it.

[00:38:36] Rick DiCiccio: So I think it's 50 50. I think it's 50 50, though. I generally I'm a planner, so no matter where I'm going, I actually sometimes do a dry run to make sure that I, you know, know the exact way and what I'm getting myself into.

[00:38:49] Rick DiCiccio: You know, that's weird, but that's just me. But, you know, my family likes to kind of meander sometimes. So that drives me crazy because I'm like, no, we have to, we have to do this and this and this and hit all of these things, but there's something for everyone. And yeah, repeat visitation is a, is a great thing.

[00:39:08] Rick DiCiccio: Of course, we love our locals and we love our annual pass holders. They come out again and again, and, you know, truly the benefit is to be able to come for one thing or just to see the show and grab a light bite. Really cool.

[00:39:22] Chef Kevin Downing: And to tag on to that, I mean, I would say that our annual pass holders and our locals are probably our biggest supporters of our festivals because they are the ones that really keep us driving to give new, new ideas and new offerings because we want it to be fresh for them.

[00:39:41] Chef Kevin Downing: Um, and we know they're the ones that keep coming back. So, you know, we want to Always try to put new things out so that they want to come back and see the festival year after year

[00:39:51] Lou Mongello: after year I was as somebody who is local I say the parks Especially Epcot and with all the changes to Epcot and having these shady areas to come and sit The theme park has become our park it is the place that we go just to sort of hang out and wander and bring friends and you can come for a couple hours or you can come for the whole day and It's why I love that sense of Discovery.

[00:40:12] Lou Mongello: I actually what I did the first day of the festival I did a drive by. I walked all the way around World Showcase. I took pictures of all the topiaries, but what I was really doing was sort of side eyeing all the marketplaces and getting in my mind sort of the the lay of the land so I knew where I wanted to make sure that I hit as soon as it opened at 11.

[00:40:28] Lou Mongello: Making the plan. You gotta make a plan. Yeah. What else? Is there anything else that we missed? Anything else that you want to make sure Because I, again, there's, we've only sort of scratched the surface, both from a food perspective, from an experience. Like, I love the Twining's Tea Tour, it's one of my favorite things to do during the festival.

[00:40:46] Lou Mongello: Yeah, that's a hidden

[00:40:46] Rick DiCiccio: gem. For sure. Yeah, I

[00:40:48] Chef Kevin Downing: mean, I think we've touched really on just about everything. I think the big thing that people should take is that for all these festivals, it truly takes a, A huge amount of our cast members to pull these off and they enjoy what they do. And we have a team from at every level, whether it's like Rick said, horticulture planning, you know, to our operators, you know, front and back of the house, it really is a team effort.

[00:41:15] Chef Kevin Downing: to put this together. And I think when you walk around, you can see that. And I think that's important. And I, I, and we're proud of what we put

[00:41:23] Rick DiCiccio: out. We always love to mention our, our cast is our, it's our key competitive advantage to have such a passionate and diverse group at every point in the organization.

[00:41:34] Rick DiCiccio: And we talked about ideas before. And truly, we will take an idea from anyone in the org and quite often a new dish can come from an unexpected place.

[00:41:48] Lou Mongello: Well, you talk about, one of the things I love about EPCOT as a whole, and certainly the festivals, I think one of the best ways we can learn about a culture is through its food and through its people.

[00:41:58] Lou Mongello: And I think that's one of the things that, that this festival can do. really shines when I will let you know that your work and the work of the people behind the scenes is very much appreciated. Um, the, the, the feedback that, that I know that I have and have seen from other people is that this festival is bigger, more beautiful, more delicious than ever.

[00:42:16] Lou Mongello: So, uh, chef Kevin, Rick, thank you and your teams for not just your time today, but for everything you need to make this festival

[00:42:23] Rick DiCiccio: special. Of course. Thank you.

[00:42:24] Chef Kevin Downing: Thank

[00:42:24] Lou Mongello: you very much. All right. If we were to go to eat, hypothetically, if we were to go to eat right now, where would you, just from a personal perspective, where would you go?

[00:42:31] Lou Mongello: What

[00:42:31] Rick DiCiccio: would you have? Oh, I mean, right now, I would say right down to either Florida Fresh for a lobster tail or Honey Bistro for that cauliflower. It's, it's, it's speaking to me and I'm hungry.

[00:42:44] Chef Kevin Downing: I mean, top to bottom for me, Magnolia Terrace. I love that menu. The gumbo, the buffalata and the bread pudding. You can't go wrong with any of those three.

[00:42:53] Lou Mongello: I might have to do a quick little American adventure in Japan trick before I head out today. Gentlemen, thank you guys both so much. Really appreciate it.

[00:43:14] Lou Mongello: It's time for our Walt Disney World Trivia Question of the Week, where I invite you to test your knowledge of Walt Disney World history, or see how well you pay attention to the details of what you see, hear, remember, maybe even taste. And if you think you know the answer, you can enter for a chance to win a Disney Prize package.

[00:43:29] Lou Mongello: And this week's trivia contest is once again brought to you by Disney. By you, because as part of the WWO nation, you can become an important part of every episode, every live show and the community. And for as little as a dollar per month, not only do you help support the show, but you also unlock exclusive rewards like scavenger hunts, group calls, private community access and monthly surprise care packages from the parks.

[00:43:54] Lou Mongello: Plus your contribution helps our dream team project, which sends children with life threatening illnesses to Walt Disney World. Through the Make A Wish Foundation and thanks to your generosity, we've raised more than 550, 000 so far. So please help join us in making magic happen as well. I am so grateful for your love and support and friendship and help.

[00:44:12] Lou Mongello: And I love being able to give back to you each and every month. I want to thank some of the new and longtime members of the Nation family, including Bridget Tully, Emma Wegner, Jim Webb, Kevin Shea, John Maloney, and Crystal A. None of this happens without you, so I am incredibly and forever grateful. If you want to find out how to become part of the Nation family, you can visit www.

[00:44:32] Lou Mongello: radio. com slash support. Now, before we get to this week's question, let's go back, review last week's, and select our winner. So last week I was in Epcot for the kickoff of the Flower and Garden Festival. And I was thinking back to how it has changed and evolved and grown over the years, especially that central Plaza and area in terms of the dining and shopping, including what is currently the creation shop, because before it was this massive store with floor to ceiling windows, it was known as mouse gear.

[00:45:01] Lou Mongello: But your question last week was to tell me, what was the name of the original shop in this location? First, thanks to so many of you who entered, got this one correct, some of you shared some stories and photos from your time in Epcot when you visited the The Centorium. And if you remember, the Centorium opened with Epcot Center on October 1st, 1982.

[00:45:22] Lou Mongello: It was the park's original and largest, by far, merchandise location right in Communicore East, so that heart of Future World. And it was a two story retail space with a wide variety of Disney merchandise. Obviously, a lot of Epcot specific merchandise. And it really was more than just a store, because I think it was meant to be an experience that encouraged exploration and discovery through it, which sort of mirrored that sort of forward thinking spirit of the park itself.

[00:45:51] Lou Mongello: In the mid 90s, it underwent a significant renovation and expansion, really sort of solidifying it as the premier shopping destination, not just within Epcot, but really throughout Walt Disney World. And in 1999, it was completely re imagined and it reopened as Mouse Gear minus the second floor. And then obviously Mouse Gear became the creation shop.

[00:46:11] Lou Mongello: Anyway, I took all the correct entries, randomly selected one last week. You were playing for a WW2 3d key chain, stickers, pin, and a mystery prize, which I bought for you at the flower and garden festival. And last week's winner randomly selected is Julian Ruff. So Julian, congratulations. I have your shipping address.

[00:46:32] Lou Mongello: We'll get your prize package out to you right away. And if you played last week and didn't win, that's okay, because here's your next chance to enter in this week's Walt Disney World Trivia Challenge. So as you heard, or maybe have seen at this year's festival, Groot is a fantastic, beautiful, new, and yes, musical topiary at this year's festival.

[00:46:53] Lou Mongello: And he's holding up a cassette tape. Kids who can google what that is like like he's john cusack at the end of say anything holding up his boombox But Groot actually made a mixtape. Like he's pining for somebody special and wants to ask her to prom. Anyway, the question this week is to tell me what did he title his special mega mix?

[00:47:13] Lou Mongello: What is the title on the cassette you have until Sunday, March 17th at 11 and 59 PM Eastern to go to www. com. Click on this week's podcast. Use the form there again. You're going to play for the key chain, the stickers pin, and I'm going to go back and get you another item. From this year's festival. So good luck and I am Groot.

[00:47:44] Lou Mongello: That's going to do it for this week's show. Thank you again for taking the time to tune in this and every week. I'd love to hear from you. What is your favorite part? Of the flower and garden festival. Is it the food, the merch, the topiaries, the garden rocks, concert series, or the food I'll post this question over in the clubhouse at www.

[00:48:02] Lou Mongello: com slash clubhouse, where I invite you to come be part of the community and conversation, or you can call the voicemail at 4 0 7 900 9 3 9 1 that's 4 0 7. 900 WDW one and share your answer and I'll play it on the air. And don't forget to please subscribe to our free weekly email newsletter. It's been recently updated, streamlined, and there's a lot more information for you each and every week, including the latest news tips and updates delivered right to your inbox.

[00:48:27] Lou Mongello: Plus I have a special gift. You can get a free download of my guide, 102 things to do in Walt Disney world at least once plus 40 incredible free experiences. To see, do, eat, and enjoy in the parks. It's my way of saying thank you and helping make your trip a little bit more memorable, a little bit more magical.

[00:48:46] Lou Mongello: Plus, it's a great way to make sure you don't miss a thing, including episodes of the show, exclusive contests, notice of upcoming events and live broadcasts, community updates, and much more. And again, the newsletter is completely free over at WW radio. com slash subscribe, please connect, follow, and chat with me on social lamp at Luman Jello on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

[00:49:06] Lou Mongello: And if you have a question you'd like me to answer on an upcoming episode, you can email me Lou at WW radio. com. Also don't forget to join me this and every Wednesday night for WW radio live now streaming over on YouTube at youtube. com slash WW radio. Please subscribe, turn on all notifications so you don't miss a thing, and sometimes I'll go live from the parks and out and about, as this is all part of my YouTube experiment with sharing and creating more content specifically on YouTube.

[00:49:33] Lou Mongello: And of course, I welcome your feedback, positive, negative, or otherwise. What you'd like to see. Do you like this platform? How it compares to Facebook? You can comment DM or email me also be sure to check out the events page over at www. com for upcoming cruises, including our cruise on the Disney magic Halloween on the high seas this October with a stop at lighthouse point at lookout key and our seven night cruise on the Disney treasure in February, 2025.

[00:49:57] Lou Mongello: Plus you can find out an RSVP to our meat of the month coming up this weekend. In Epcot during the festival, as well as some on the road meetups that I'm planning over the next few weeks and months, as I am traveling to speak at different conferences and events, speaking of which, if you are looking for a speaker for your conference or your event, or to your business, please visit LouMangelo.

[00:50:16] Lou Mongello: com. I've been a keynote speaker for about 15 years and can craft custom presentations for you that are inspiring and transformative with lessons learned. From the Disney parks on customer service and experience, as well as leadership lessons from Walt Disney and more, and on a more personal level. I also want to try and help you individually elevate your journey to success, both personally and professionally through my momentum events in Walt Disney world, including my momentum weekend workshop.

[00:50:43] Lou Mongello: Coming up this September tickets are going on sale soon. One on one coaching and the launch of a new course and mastermind group opportunity coming very, very soon. Again, to find out more, ask me any questions, please visit lumangelo. com. And speaking of visiting, if you are planning to visit Walt Disney world, Disneyland, anywhere on this big blue, beautiful world of ours, please go and visit my friends over at mousefantravel.

[00:51:06] Lou Mongello: com. They are my official and recommended travel provider. It's who I love it's who I recommend for more than 16 years, because it's who I trust for you and with you with their fee free personal travel services again, you can visit them over at mouse fan travel. com and finally, my friend, and you are my friend, whether we have met yet or not, all I ask is that if you like the show, please help spread the word, share a link to this or your favorite episode on social, and please leave a rating and review over on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

[00:51:36] Lou Mongello: Bye. And finally, thank you for spending and sharing your time with me. You have no idea how happy it makes me just to know that you're listening and hopefully enjoying the show and it's bringing you a little bit of magic wherever you are. And, and that's it, right? Yeah. Just remember that your choices, whether you realize it or not.

[00:51:53] Lou Mongello: Have the power to create these incredible ripples of positivity. So please always choose and be the good and be kind and patient and courteous to others. I love you. I appreciate you. If there's ever anything I can do for you, please reach out and let me know. So until next time, see ya.


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