For some people, fall means pumpkin spice lattes, breaking out sweaters and boots, football games, or a colorful change of scenery. But for me, it means Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival. If you are a Disney fanatic or season pass holder, you probably know about each special event that graces the four Disney parks and anxiously await experiencing them. Epcot has always been my favorite park and their epic festivals, Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival AND the International Flower and Garden Show, are ones to plan your vacation around. They are that amazing!
Having attended the Food and Wine Festival for a few years now, I have learned some tricks of the trade and things to skip or to some worth the splurge. Disney has such creative playgrounds, for both children and adults, and I love experiencing their special wonders. At this festival, Epcot’s 11 World Showcases as well as 19 additional Marketplace kiosks that highlight distinct food, dessert, and drink items from that region to share a taste of their culture with its guests. Allow me to share with you some of the magic that Disney creates with this crowd pleasing event.
- You can use your fast pass option to secure a better seat at the Eat to the Beat concert or just line up for leftover seats about 10 minutes prior to the concert. Concerts last 30 minutes and hey, it is free! I attended Smash Mouth and Christopher Cross gigs already this season.
- Do not miss the American Adventure, which offered three kiosks this year. Be sure you leave room in your travels throughout the park for the mouthwatering carrot cake at Hops & Barley.
- If you are a fan of pierogis, I suggest you skip the ones offered at Poland. I found them bland and dry.
- Practice your cheese and wine etiquette at the Cheese Studio, located between Imaginations and Showcase Plaza. This year’s Trio of Artisan cheeses consisted of goat, Oregon blue, and Karst cave-aged cheeses. Generally the best cheese offering of all the booths comes from here.
- Epcot has used a vacant building at the beginning of the World Showcase to house their craft beer selections this year. Sample Florida’s best craft beers or beer flights and enhance your drinks with a Charcuterie Platter or Pimento Cheese Dip.
- Epcot offers limited release logo pins commemorating the International Food and Wine event, so be sure to purchase one for your Disney lanyard.
- Browse one of Epcot’s newest booths, Dominican Republic, and their highly decorated set-up. I found this the most impressive of all the newbie kiosks.
- Study the menu’s before your trip so you will not be full and broke halfway around the park.
- The America Pavilion has the cleanest restrooms in the park.
- This year’s Chocolate Experience, featured by Ghiradelli in the Festival Center, displays chocolate sculptures based on Disney characters and movies, and offers free samples and limited edition Ghiradelli chocolate purchases. My favorite was the Frozen castle.
- Every food purchase lands you a stamp in your Marketplace Discovery Passport. Pick one up at the park entrance so you will have a souvenir listing the food and drink offerings throughout the park. The passport is laid out in order of the kiosks scattered throughout the World Showcase.
- Children will enjoy Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak scavenger hunt. Map and stickers can be purchased at several locations throughout the park.
- Don’t bother searching for the best food items in the park, I will go ahead and steer you to them. Canada’s Chicken Sausage with creamy polenta and onion jam OR the Sustainable Chew’s Pork Spareribs with red wine, fennel, and cheesy mascarpone grits. Would you agree?
- Ask for a cup of water at the kiosks rather than purchasing a beverage each time, it is free!
- Buy your tickets in advance as the lines are usually long.
- The Ocean Spray cranberry bog is back for the 4th year (which makes great photos) plus you can get samples of Craisins at their booth.
- I recommend going to the festival on a weekday for much thinner crowds and the earlier the better. The crowds get thick starting around 2 PM and the lines are very long. Practice patience, everybody is as excited as you are.
- The purchase of a $200 gift card scores you a limited edition 20th anniversary International Food and Wine Festival lanyard and plastic carrying case. The gift cards save time when paying throughout the park. It is also a good option if you plan on making multiple visits.
- For $20, you can purchase a limited edition lucite Epcot tray to hold your food items and drink. My daughter found this the greatest offering of all.
- Use the Food and Wine Facebook app to navigate your way through the festival. Turn on your Bluetooth, allow location services, and receive push notifications from the marketplaces.
- Epcot offers a free port wine glass souvenir after three visits for Annual passholders. Have your passport stamped inside the Innovations West upon each visit. A photo ID is required as well as your annual pass.
- Check the listing for the celebrity chefs and secure your seat for the event. This year Epcot is featuring many new book signings, beverage, mixology, and culinary seminars so step into the air conditioning and learn something new.
I hope these hacks help you have the best day at the International Food and Wine Festival. Check out our other Disney posts at: