Exploring a city doesn’t mean having to spend a lot of money! It’s hard to resist some of the fancy restaurants, paid attractions and shopping when you’re visiting new place or even just enjoying a day around your own town.
So, I put myself to the test: see if I could spend an entire day out and about in Gainesville with only $20. After a day of eating, exploring and learning I discovered that it was actually a lot easier than I thought. Here’s everything I did in one day for less than $20.
The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is my favorite festival at Epcot! I love the bright flowers, the interactive exhibits and, most of all, the tasty foods and drinks!
But let’s face the facts: dining at Disney can be VERY expensive! That’s no secret. So when my sister and I decided we wanted to explore the Flower and Garden Festival, we knew we had to be smart about what we spent our money on.
With 24 outdoor kitchens offering everything from meat and potatoes to vegan desserts, and beverages ranging from dark beers to light cocktails, there are so many options it’s practically overwhelming. So we knew we had to strategize in order to try the best foods and drinks without spending too much money or missing something we’d want to taste.
Here’s what we did to make sure we had fun and didn’t go broke doing it:
Check Out the Menus Beforehand
We looked online and made a list of everything we wanted to eat and drink at the festival, then went back through it a few times, canceling out items that were similar or that we weren’t in love with until we narrowed it down to only the items we knew we absolutely had to try. It was a bit excessive, but my sister and I are Disney experts (we went every other weekend for the first eight years of our childhood and now we’re both annual passholders), so we knew efficiency was key! That’s how we found our must-try items, like the Frushi (fresh pineapple, strawberry and melon rolled with coconut rice and topped with whipped cream, berry sauce and toasted coconut) from the Hanami booth in Japan ($5.95.)
“Is It Really Worth It?”
For every item you see and think you want to try, ask yourself, “Is it really worth it?” Remember, eating and drinking at the Flower and Garden Festival is an experience! So, if there’s a pricy drink you would love to try that you can’t get anywhere else, like this Watermelon Cucumber Slushy with Gin from the Florida Fresh Booth ($11.75), then it’s more worth it than a $9 glass of wine that you can buy from the grocery store. If the price doesn’t compare to the quality of the product or the experience that comes with it, cross it off the list.
Go With What You Know
I’m all for trying new things, but when it comes to spending money on food I find it best to stick with what you know! Like, if you know you don’t like barbecue, don’t try food at The Smokehouse booth. If you don’t like tequila, don’t try a new margarita. No matter how pretty something looks or how “insta-worthy” it is, it’s not worth wasting you money on something you probably won’t like.
As Italian girls, my sister and I know we love pretty much any form of Italian food, so we made sure to try Primavera Kitchen in Italy. Do yourself a favor: Get the Tri-Colored Cheese Tortellini served with sage butter and chicken veloute ($9) and the Frozen Italian Margarita with Limoncello and Tequila ($10) for the best combo ever! The tortellini were probably the best I’ve ever eaten and the margarita was perfect!
Find The Best Bang For Your Buck
I always try to scope out the food and drinks before I buy them at Epcot because sometimes the descriptions sound amazing, but the food doesn’t live up to the hype. Sometimes the portions are too small to warrant the price or the food just doesn’t look appealing. For example, my sister really wanted to try the Grilled Street Corn from Trowel & Trellis, but when we walked by and saw it didn’t have a lot of seasoning on it, she decided to pass. The best bang for your buck dish we had was the Potato Pancakes from Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market in Germany. They come with two large potato pancakes with either apple sauce ($4.50) or caramelized ham, onions and sour cream ($4.75). Definitely a cheaper food option and they were delicious and filling.
Sharing Is Caring
As far as Disney treats go, my policy has always been Sharing Is Caring! That way you don’t have to spend money on multiples of the same item and you can try more foods and drinks! We got the pineapple soft-serve ice cream with Parrot Bay coconut rum (basically an alcoholic Dole Whip for $10.25) to share and it was such a good choice! Not only was it a huge serving (of both ice cream and rum!) but it was also my favorite drink of the day.
Overall, we spent $56 at Epcot Flower & Garden, which came out to $28 a person! That is SO cheap compared to what it would have been if we went in without a plan and without sharing our treats. Next time you go to Epcot remember these dining and drinking tips so you can treat yourself on the cheap!