If you’ve been following along my Disney adventures on the Touring Plans Blog you may remember I just took a trip to WDW a couple of weeks ago. You can read all about that trip here, but I’d like to take this week to focus on Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival and the time I spent there. For the folks who are not familiar with this annual event, the Food and Wine Festival comes to Disney’s Epcot every fall for several weeks of yummy fun. This time around the theme was “Celebrating 15 years of Delicious Discoveries.”
I had only done the festival one other time, and we only really sampled a few sips and snacks on that trip so I was really looking forward to hitting it this time around. Heck, I even booked a stay at the Yacht Club so I could be within walking distance of the wining and dining fun. I did my research on the event and what was new this year. I checked out the Disney Food Blog to read menus and got myself all excited to experience the Festival. I couldn’t wait to enjoy leisurely afternoons with my friends munching on tasty morsels with a drink in hand.
Ha! Leisurely? Who was I kidding? While I had high hopes of taking it easy strolling around World Showcase with good friends and good food, it didn’t quite work out as planned. There was so much going on that weekend with the 5k, the half marathon, and all of the Disney community events that I did not get to spend as much time as I would have liked at the festival. I also thought I’d get to enjoy Food and Wine with fewer crowds during the half marathon after party. Unfortunately, that plan didn’t work out either since the party was a mob scene. So while I did not get to hang out at the Festival as much as I would have liked to, I did enjoy the time I spent there. I think I’ll try again next year and hope for a more successful outing.
With all that being said, let’s take a moment to get a lay of the land during the festival for the readers who may be heading down in the coming weeks. Guests are welcomed to the event at the main gate with a display in the entry garden in front of Space Ship Earth to set the tone for your visit to Epcot. The Festival Welcome Center is set up in the old Wonders of Life Pavilion in Future World. There guests will find a wine shop, merchandise, and areas for seminars, book signings, and other special activities. The rest of the Food and Wine fun is scattered throughout World Showcase. 28 booth line the walkways of World Showcase offering food and drink from countries from Chili to New Zealand and everywhere in between.
Upon arriving at Epcot one of the first things we did was purchase the wristband gift card sold for the event. It is simply a smaller version of a regular gift card which comes attached to a stretchy bracelet to make life easier for folks enjoying the festivities. I highly recommend picking one up if you are headed to Epcot for Food and Wine. There are several benefits to using one of these cards. First of all, you won’t have to fumble around with cash at every booth. Another great thing about the card is that is a built in budget. If you only want to spend $30 around World Showcase during your visit, just put that amount on your card. Once your $30 is spent you know its time to move onto one of the 900 other activities offered throughout WDW.
Speaking of money, lets discuss how much touring around the festival might set you back. Let’s be clear this is not a cheap event if you intend to sample the goodies at several booths and spend days wandering around this International hot spot. For example, a Godiva chocolate liquor iced coffee costs $7.95 and it is not a large serving by any stretch of the imagination. However, there are ways to keep your budget under control my getting a hold of an event guide and selecting a few sips and snacks from around the world you can’t live without. Making these decisions may be hard, but if you are working with a tight budget your wallet (and possibly your liver) will thank you later. Guests should also keep in mind most of the portions provided for a fairly high cost are small. While this allows you to taste several of the festival’s offerings without getting stuffed, you may be shocked to see what you get for the price.
If you really want to splurge there are several presentations and demonstrations guests may opt to attend for an extra fee. Some of these events can be enjoyed for as little as eight dollars, but others like the Party for the Senses will sent you back $135. Some of these demonstrations are given by well known chefs and beverage experts. I even saw a host from the Food Network at my resort who was in town to speak during the first weekend of the festival. I like to eat, but I am not enough of a foodie to pay for these events. I’d love to hear about readers’ experiences at these seminars and demonstrations.
Although I did not get to try as many international delicacies as I would have liked to, the bits I did get to sample were pretty stellar. I can recommend the Belgian waffle and their Godiva coffee drink with full confidence. I also really enjoyed the Fisherman’s Pie at the Irish booth. My friends also seemed to enjoy the warm chocolate lava cake with a Bailey’s Irish cream ganache. The sweet treat called a Nanamiano (which I will never be able to properly pronounce) bar in Canada was also great for chocolate lovers. Despite running out of time to sample more culinary delights we had a great time tasting what we could and hanging out together at the festival!
I highly recommend checking out the Food and Wine Festival for yourself! Even if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you can enjoy a beautiful fall day in World Showcase occasionally snacking. It would be a great excuse to take a weekend trip with your sweetie or gather up some friends to hit Epcot. Every Disney World enthusiast should try to experience this annual event at least once. My friends and I are already talking about going back next year!
So what about you? Have you paid a visit to the Food and Wine Festival this year? Let me know what you thought about this year’s event as well as some of your fondest memories of years past. The readers of the Touring Plans Blog are always looking for great tips for touring WDW so please don’t be shy!
Next week I’ll take a closer look at my recent stay at the Yacht Club!