Citrus Blossom situates itself on the Canada side of World Showcase across from Refreshment Port and Pineapple Promenade. Disney typically reuses the same booths for each seasonal Festival, but gives them a different name to help differentiate the offerings. For example, Canada is “Canada” during Food and Wine, “Yukon” during Festival of the Holidays, and “Northern Bloom” during Flower and Garden. Citrus Blossom remains…Citrus Blossom all year. At least it makes some thematic sense, unlike a booth called “The Blizzard” or something, that only served hot cocoas when temperatures were above 85 degrees in June. They can give that a shot closer to Canada.
This is where you’ll find the popular Orange Bird Sipper with the Orange Cream Shake either inside the vessel (not recommended) or in a plastic cup on the side (recommended). While it may now be hard to believe, there was a time when lines to order one of these little guys would be 40 or 50 people deep, necessitating a nighttime return when waits dissipated. With the late arrival, you would have also benefited from not having to lug the souvenir cup around all day, though if I had to carry around a piece of plastic for the rest of my life, it would probably be this precious little guy. Those crowds are typically nonexistent, though lines are typically longest from 12 to 2pm, particularly on weekends. Note that there is a slight difference in this year’s cup design as the Orange Bird gingerly holds a slice of orange. It seems a little messed up considering you’d have to think the wedge of cool citrus at one time belonged to a friend or colleague, and our orange mascot is carrying around a memento from some sinister act, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s hard to look past the rosy smile and playful beak, even if he is a serial killer in real life.
Meyer Lemon-poached Lobster Salad with Grapefruit-Rosé Vinaigrette, Yuzu-marinated Hearts of Palm, and Avocado-Yuzu Panna Cotta – $8.25
Above is how the Lobster had been prepared in the past, inside the shell with a stick running through it to make it easier to pull apart.
This year, we have just about the same flavors going on with more emphasis on the tart citrus from the grapefruit vinaigrette. The lobster, where the portion has probably dropped in half since the first year, is easier to eat, but it’s hard to look past the loss of bites. The presence of the Avocado is probably meant to temper things a bit, but the yuzu really just makes the dish that much more pucker-y. Freshness may also come into play as the meat only gets gummier under the heat lamp. The slices of the Hearts of Palm add a little bit of crisp water chestnut to the mix, and the Panna Cotta is an attractive touch, but your money is primarily going towards about three bites of lobster. While this would have been a good use of a snack credit on a Dining Plan that doesn’t currently exist, $8+ is an above-average price point out of pocket, and I don’t think this delivers anything special enough to demand a purchase, especially with less food to eat. It is one of the fancier items available at the Festival.
Citrus-braised Crispy Pork Belly with Kumquat and Carrot – $6
I’m a bit surprised they moved away from the ease of the Crispy Chicken that had been plated here in the past, but we’re going with a more adventurous version of Pork Belly instead. The portion won’t knock your socks off here either. Combined with the Lobster, you’d be looking at three bites of crustacean, two or three bites of pig, and that carrot. Fortunately, our pork was tender and meaty with a light crispy glaze making for an interesting texture and the Kumquat and Carrot Puree adding a citrusy zest. The Carrot was surprisingly satisfying too, soaking up the flavors from the sauce and picking up a little bit of charred pork flavor. It would be a slam dunk if the pork was twice as big, making this a so-so investment for six dollars. For one of the finer dishes that would fit in just as well or better at the Festival of the Arts, it’s still a great new entry on flavor and presentation.
Citrus Shortcake: Orange Chiffon Cake, Lemon Curd, Mandarins, Whipped Cream, and Citrus Crumble – $4.50
This light, airy cake carries a mild orange flavor alongside the bright slices of Mandarin, the sweet Whipped Cream, and the zesty Citrus Crumble. I like the Honey-Mascarpone Cheesecake from the nearby Honey Bee-stro more, but this is certainly on-theme for the booth and won’t do a ton to weigh you down even if you’re eyeballing other options. I wouldn’t specifically seek it out, though.
Orange Cream Slushy in a Souvenir Orange Bird Sipper Cup — $15
Standing about eight inches tall, the Bird is full of an Orange-Julius-like, thin orange substance; the consistency is similar to a melted Creamsicle bar. The very sweet orange and vanilla flavors are probably too sweet to be refreshing, but most people are probably after the souvenir vessel, anyway. Note that this version is non-alcoholic, while a later review will contain wine. For $15, the construction of the bright orange plastic bird “feels” pretty good in the hand, and will probably look great on your shelf and/or eBay page. I’d recommend picking one up if you like this sort of collectible. It’s also a slightly different take on his look than previous years.
Islamorada Beer Company Coconut Key Lime Ale, First Magnitude Brewing Lemon Hefeweizen, and Playalinda Brewing Company Hibiscus Lime Ale – $9.50 as part of a flight of three 4-pours or available individually at $4.50 for six ounces or $8.50 for 12 ounces.
The Islamorada Coconut Key Lime Ale is heavy on the coconut flavor that lingers throughout the sip, with just a brief tinge of zesty lime at the beginning. Six ounces will probably be enough for most people, but it’s an interesting taste of something that I wouldn’t ordinarily commit to in a 6-pack.
The First Magnitude Lemon Hefeweizen tastes just like you would expect, with a heavier punch of lemon at the onset, followed by a little bit of banana and clove on the back end.
The Playalinda Brewing Company Hibiscus Lime Ale is new this year, and a good choice for those who enjoy tart, fruity, citrus-forward beers without the extra sugar. I think it plays better with some of the sweeter dishes than on its own, but anyone looking for something a little more sour in the area should look no further.
Orange Sunshine Wine Slushy — $6.75
The Orange Sunshine Wine Slushy may be my favorite drink at the Festival. At under seven bucks, it’s also a relative steal with the sweet, creamy, perfectly-frozen-yet-still-very-sippable slush filling the plastic martini glass up to the brim.
It’s basically a sweeter, more orangelicious (not a word) version of the Wine Slushy that we may or may not see return at some point this year. It was popular at the New Zealand booth during Food and Wine for years. There probably isn’t a ton of wine involved here, but it’s so tasty and refreshing that it might not matter. I’d definitely recommend picking one up. You’ll come away with more Slush than the typical non-alcoholic cup for just about two dollars more.
Citrus Blossom was a little more interesting with the Tuna Tataki, but the Pork Belly and new presentation on the Lobster help keep things interesting, and the return of the beers is nice to see compared to those sweet, syrupy Florida wines they had been trying to push over the last couple of Festivals with little success.