After all the years visiting Walt Disney World, we had actually never made it to Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival. Recently some work travel popped up for Andrew in Orlando, and we decided to plan a quick weekend trip. After a late night at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party we woke up on Saturday to head over and check out the festival. It was an unusually hot day, but beautiful and sunny. We weren’t sure what to expect but made sure to show up hungry. Read on for a recap of our day, plenty of foodie pics, and five main lessons learned...
1. Map Out Your Day
At the entrance to the park you can pick up a (free) official event passport. This little book contains listings of all the items available for the festival, organized by location. It also includes stickers so you can mark off the pages of everywhere you visit. We loved having this overview book to get a game plan of what we really wanted to try. We started our day with a couple rides before heading towards the World Showcase, and this gave us a chance to figure out our top selections. There is so much food and drink available it is impossible to try everything, so we recommend prioritizing your favorites so you don’t get too full (or tipsy!) after only a few stops.
2. Explore More Countries than Usual
While we always love a trip around the 11 countries that make up World Showcase, during the festival we were excited to find so much more. There are many pop up booths (that actually are so well built they look like they belong there full time) with locations such as Australia, Brazil, India, Thailand and more. In addition to country specific booths, there are themed booths such as chocolate, wine, almonds, etc.
We had to pick and choose which booths were worth the wait. In France, Julie was hoping to try a Passionfruit drink but the line was super long. We chose another booth instead for a Citron drink, later finding out it is a standard offering we could get at any time. There were some more booths we had hoped to try but unfortunately some lines were as high as 90+ people deep (seriously, Andrew stopped and counted).
3. Pace Yourself (and Share!)
The festival offerings are certainly smaller portions than typical park fare. Even though small, we found items were still perfect for both of us to share a few bites or sips. With it being so hot that day we wanted to avoid feeling stuffed and this allowed us to try more items between us. We made sure to pace our sampling while wandering around the showcase. Some of our favorite items to point out from the day:
Australia: Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies
Canada: Canadian Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Soup with a Pretzel Roll
Ireland: Guiness & Bailey’s Shake
America: New England Lobster Roll with Fresh Herb Mayonnaise
Greece: Taste of Greece (Chicken Souvlaki, Feta Cheese Dip with Warm Pita, and Lamb Sausage with a Dill Tomato Ragu)
Wine & Dine Studio: Artist Palette of Wine and Cheese (Trio of Artisan Cheese paired with Reata Chardonnay, Rainstorm Silver Linings Pinot Noir Rose, and Spellboud Petite Sirah)
4. Consider the Quick Serve Dining Plan
We are usually not fans of the Disney Dining Plan. We find that even if we try to order the most expensive things on the menu we still end up eating more food and spending more money than we would just paying out of pocket on our own terms. However, on this short trip we didn’t have time to spend on table service meals and wanted to test how the Quick Service meal plan would work for us for this short stay.
The Quick Service plan costs $52.49 per adult per night of your stay. The plan includes 2 quick service meals (entree and drink), 2 snacks, and a refillable mug for your stay. The plan made sense for us as we were able to spread out our two days worth of meals over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And we saved all of our snack credits to use at Epcot. Many items were considered “snacks” and ended up being a very great cost value at an $8 average. This was the first time we felt like we ordered what we would have anyway and still save money. So Food & Wine is a great time to utilize a quick service plan. Here are some pictures of items we ordered that counted as DDP snack credits.
5. Avoid Weekends at All Costs
So unfortunately on this trip Andrew coined a new phrase: The Food and Line festival. Let’s just say the park was pretty crazy. And there were So. Many. Drunk People! All crammed together in lines In the heat. We typically visit the parks during low season and make sure to hit up popular Magic Kingdom and Epcot on slower weekdays. But given our schedule, we didn’t have a choice but to attend this on a Saturday. But we decided a busy day at Disney is better than no day at all right?
We knew we were in trouble when the line to enter the Epcot parking lot stretched out about a quarter mile down World Drive. It took us over 45 minutes by Magical Express to get from Coronado Springs to the Epcot drop off point (and we were ahead of many cars). Another example of an out of control line was for the Mexico Tequila bar. It stretched out of the bar, up the ramp, and into the main lobby just short of the entrance doors to the Pavilion. In the end after several hours we decided we had our share of crowds and hopped over to the Magic Kingdom for the evening.
One highlight of the day is we had the pleasure of meeting Jeff and Sara from Adults in Disney and hung out with them for a few hours. We would say if you do go during a busy try to take your time and embrace the line time together. Fun friends make certainly help, we had a great time chatting and simply walking around together.
It was tough to go on a Saturday but we still were able to try some great food and drink, and enjoy the atmosphere. We feel like we just started to scratch the surface of this amazing event. There were so many other things available that we didn’t get a chance to check out such as cooking classes, lectures, the Eat to the Beat concert series, and more. We are absolutely planning to go back another time and spend a few days to be able to really deep dive into the event. The Food & Wine festival certainly could be considered as one of the most adult experiences at Disney and we were glad to be able to get even just a little taste (pun intended). We would love to hear if you have been to the Food & Wine festival and what is your favorite part of the festival?