If you’re not familiar with Epcot’s incredibly epic International Food & Wine Festival, it’s time to get acquainted! Every fall since 1995, temporary food kiosks pop up around Epcot to feature a huge assortment of small plates, desserts, and drinks. Some kiosks serve traditional food and drink from different countries. Other menus are more creative and experimental like the Light Lab, which serves phosphorescent drinks that glow under the lights. If drinking isn’t your thing, there is plenty of other options available too.
There is something for every budget and personality at this festival. I’m a huge fan of desserts, and I know some of you feel the same way, so I wrote a comprehensive Chocolate Lover’s Guide to Food & Wine. I also wanted to provide some tips for those of you who are not big chocolate fans (how dare you), but want to make the most out of your visit!
Tip #1 Avoid Weekends
Try to visit Food & Wine (or any Epcot festival) on a weekday. Even better, go early on a weekday. The crowds pick up around 3:00 or 4:00 PM and it will be cooler in the mid-morning/afternoon anyway. On the weekends, the lines are long and the crowds are rowdy, making introverts want to crawl into a hole and never come out. If you can’t avoid the weekends, that’s totally fine. You can still get a lot done despite the crowds. We went on a Saturday night, slowly wandered through World Showcase, and ate at 6 kiosks in 3 hours (don’t judge!). It’s also fun joining the party atmosphere of the weekend crowd. Make it a drinking game and take a sip every time you spot a bro in a giant Sombrero.
Tip #2 Ditch the Small Stand-Up Tables at Each Kiosk
There are usually free benches and tables near each pavilion and at Quick-Service locations. Food & Wine is much more enjoyable when you can sit down, take your time, and savor your bites and sips!
Tip #3 Check Out the Menus Before You Arrive
It’s best if you have a plan of attack and choose the booths you want to visit before you enter Epcot. There’s nothing worse than filling up on energy bars at Active Eats only after spotting someone dig into Beef Brisket Poutine fries at Refreshment Port. Take a look at the full Food & Wine menu here and make note of treats that you don’t want to miss!
Tip #4 Buy a Wearable Food & Wine Gift Card
Many guests will purchase a gift card at the festival merchandise booths before they start eating. This allows you to track how much money you are spending on snacks, drinks, and merch, without worrying about depleting your bank account. It is attached to a convenient bracelet so you can easily obtain your cash for quick access to Moscato and cheese.
Tip #5 There’s More Than Just Food Booths! Check out the other entertainment available!
- Eat to the Beat – This is a concert series featuring some well-known and lesser-known bands throughout the month. I saw Hanson Brothers in 2010 and this year 98 degrees is playing. All my 90’s boy band dreams are coming true. The concerts are free to anyone at Epcot and I suggest lining up an hour early to get a good seat! Check out the Eat to the Beat schedule here.
- Remy’s Ratatouille Hid ‘n’ Squeak Scavenger Hunt – Grab a guide and special stickers from the Festival Center, Pin Central, Disney Traders, or World Central and start searching for Remy! If you find all the Remy’s hidden around Epcot, you get a free souvenir cup! If you find the majority, the Cast Member may give you the cup anyway. Just ask!
- Culinary Demonstrations & Hands-On Experiences – In the Festival Center, VIP Chefs will give culinary presentations for different price ranges, based on how extensive the presentation is. If you want to get in the action without spending too much money, there are plenty of other events like the experimental Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It, Beverage Seminars, and Cheese Seminars. All of these interactive cooking and tasting classes cost extra and if you’re interested, you should make a reservation online.
- Sunday Brunch with the Chef – On most Sundays from now through November 11th, Celebrity Chefs host a special brunch with champagne toasts and a Q & A regarding their culinary knowledge. After brunch, you can meet the Chefs in person! This event costs an extra $129 and you will need to make a reservation on Disneyworld.com before you arrive.
- Food & Beverage Pairing – For a less spendy, yet exclusive event, you can opt for the guided Food & Beverage Pairing in the Festival Center every Friday through Sunday at 2:30 PM. Chefs provide a culinary demonstration and guests get to try the concoction at the end of the presentation. The cost is $25 per person and you will need to make a reservation for this too.
- Junior Chef Kitchen – An awesome cooking class for kids to learn some baking essentials! There’s also character dance parties on Fridays and Saturdays and a temporary playground where kids can burn off energy while the adults sip on their mimosas.
Tip #6 Use Your Dining Credits
If you’re on the dining plan, look for the DDP image next to menu items. Most snacks and beverages are eligible for the dining plan and you can maximize your snack credits with a lot of the dishes served at this event. Some of the “snacks” are big enough to feel like a small meal.
Tip #7 Best & Crowd-Favorite Snacks & Beverages of 2018
To make the most out of your money and appetite, these are some new tasty morsels that are all the rage this year (as well as some returning favorites!):
- Beef Brisket Poutine Fries – Refreshment Port
- Piggy Wings – Flavors from Fire
- Charred Chimichurri Skirt Steak – Flavors from Fire
- Crossaint Donuts with Gelato – Taste Track
- Phosphorescent Beverages – Light Lab
- Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey-Caramel – The Chocolate Studio
- Maple Bourbon Boursin Cheesecake – The Cheese Studio
- Frozen Mimosa (Fromosa) – Shimmering Sips at the Festival Center
- Loaded Greek Nachos – Greece (Vegan option)
- Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting – Hops & Barley (America)
- Maple Bacon Funnel Cake topped with Candied Bacon – Fife & Tavern (America)
- Steakhouse Blended Burger – Earth Eats (vegan Impossible Burger also available)
- Teriyaki Chicken Bun – Japan
- Ghiradelli’s Sipping Chocolate – The Chocolate Experience the Festival Center
- Canadian Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Soup – Canada
- Literally anything from the Mexico Kiosk
Tip #8 Try Not to Get Overwhelmed
This is my final and most important tip. If you’ve read my other posts, you know that I’m a firm believer in ditching Disney FOMO and staying in the present moment. You are guaranteed to have a good time whether you choose to shell out $130 and meet a famous Chef or choose to sit on a bench and listen to Baha Men at Eat to the Beat while you share a funnel cake. Don’t feel like you need to eat that Maple Bourbon Cheesecake even though everyone said you need to. Although that cheesecake is really, really good, so you won’t regret it if you do! The big takeaway here is to plan ahead, take some breaks, and stop and smell the rosé.
Have any more questions about Food & Wine or Epcot in general? Comment below and I’ll answer your questions! I love to talk about Food, Wine, and the Phoenicians. Whatever you need, I’m here! Or, if you don’t want to comment, feel free to shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy eating, friends!
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