Whether you plan to spend hundreds of dollars at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival this year, or just $20, it is always a good idea to have a handle on the money leaving your wallet. The festival can be a very expensive activity if you don’t keep and eye on your spending. However, with a bit of planning and a little will power you can certainly have a good time without taking out a loan from the bank. With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at ways to keep yourself in check while enjoying the yummy fun at this year’s festival.
You’ll want to set a budget and stick to it. A great and easy way to stay within your budget is to buy a gift card with your set amount. Once the money is gone, it’s gone; you can just wander around Epcot for the rest of the afternoon with your friends and family. It can be tempting to purchase another card once you’ve run out of funds, but you’ll have to stick to your guns and resist the temptation. You can use the same method by using cash, but I find it much easier to use a gift card for each transaction rather than fumbling with change.
You may want to do a bit of research to figure out your budget. There are a ton of online resources where you can check out the booths’ menu before heading out to the festival. Of course the best place to view them is here on touringplans.com! We list the prices for each item at each booth so you’ll be able to figure out how much you think you might spend. For example, if after looking at the menus you really want to try the coq au vin in France ($5.50), a 12 oz. Radeberger Pilsner from Germany ($6.75), the warm chocolate lava cake with Baileys ganache in Ireland ($3.25), and a grilled beef skewer from Argentina ($5.00). You would be able to do so for $20.50. If that sounds reasonable to you, go ahead and buy your gift card for that amount or maybe even round it out to $25 in case you find something a little extra along the way. Of course, you can always try to find some cheaper options too or limit yourself to fewer dishes.
A great way to get more bang for the buck is to share with your friends or family. Perhaps you and your spouse have looked at the menus and and you only narrow your choices down to six treats that you just had to try. Well, you could share each plate to get a taste and spend less money. Now you’ll only be buying six items instead of twelve! This method has worked out really well for friends and I in the past.
Now I know wine, beer, and cocktails are part of the show at the Food and Wine Festival, but if you are worried about your budget, I’d be sure to be mindful of how much you’re drinking. Not only are these libations pricey, the more you drink, the less concerned you become about your spending. If you are tipsy you’ll be more inclined to pull out your credit card and buy a round for all of your friends.
You may be interested in some of the demonstrations, tastings, and parties offered at this time time of year. If you can afford to attend, go for it! But if you have champagne dreams on beer budget, there are several more reasonably priced events for you. You don’t have to go to the Party for the Senses ($145 per person), you could try a mixology seminar for $14 instead.
There are plenty of free events throughout the festival as well. The Eat to the Beat concert series takes place throughout the festival and features popular bands from the 80s and 90s. The acts perform three times daily in the American Gardens Theater at the American Adventure. There is usually plenty of seating, but if you get shut out of the theater, you can always just hang out in the pavilion and listen while munching on a lobster roll (they’re really good). Celebrity meet and greets are also free if you’re into that sort of thing. Since the festival is sponsored by HGTV many of their TV personalities will appear to sign autographs and chat with guests; some of them will also give lectures and demonstrations. Most of the celebrity chefs who appear will give demonstrations at a cost, but many of them also have meet and greet sessions as well.
Yes, the Food and Wine Festival can be very expensive. If you aren’t paying attention it is easy to drop a pile of money in a few hours, but it is possible to do it on a budget too. I hope these tips helped you to see how you could head out to Epcot this fall without blowing through your rent money in one afternoon! What are some of your favorite tips for keeping your budget under control at the Food and Wine Festival? Let me hear them in the comments!