With the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival beginning September 19, it’s time to share my secret guide to doing it all in one day. Although it seems difficult, I have refined a strategy over time and now effortlessly cruise through the day eating and drinking everything that appeals to me. The secret? Eight rules.
1. Stay on-site
The closer you can afford, the better. You won’t want to drive (nor should you) at any point during your day of gluttony. Epcot resorts like Beach Club are ideal, but not necessary. I recommend Port Orleans French Quarter. Shades of Green is a good option if you have access to it.
2. Arrive early, on a weekday if possible
Booths open at 11:00 AM and you will want to be one of the first guests wherever you choose to start. Weekdays are less crowded since locals are working. If you stick to these rules though even a busy weekend will be okay. The Food & Wine Festival Welcome Center opens with the park and is a good place to kill some time while you wait for the booths to open.
3. Use a gift card
Small gift cards on a wristband are available at the festival center and kiosks. These are harder to misplace or drop, but a full-sized gift card will work too. Using a gift card is much quicker than cash or credit cards. After a purchase at a booth, your printed receipt will show you the remaining balance. If you run short, the cards can be refilled anywhere in the park with a cash register. Don’t try to do it at a food booth for the sake of those behind you.
4. No sweets before sunset
You won’t turn into a Gremlin, but it impacts your will to continue. This is the hardest rule to follow but is absolutely necessary. Start at either Mexico or Canada, ordering any savory item that jumps out at you. Save the “maybes” for later. You’ll be coming back.
5. Mid-day break
After you’ve made a complete circuit around World Showcase you will be full, fuzzy, and tired (if you are doing it right). The lines for food will be lengthening. I usually get to this point around 1:30 PM. Head back to your resort and take a long nap and rest.
6. Return to the Festival in the early evening
Make your way back to the park around 4:00 or 5:00 PM. Although the lines will be much longer than when you began, you have slept through the longest lines of the day. I suggest going in the opposite order you started. At this point feel free to mix in as many sweet treats you like and pick up any savories you missed, had second thoughts about, or want seconds. This is the point where I usually drink heavier and sweeter wines and any spirits that sound good.
7. Take your time
Using this strategy you will have five hours to enjoy yourself. Rushing will defeat you. Marathons are for people with 26.2 stickers on their cars.
8. Know what’s on the menu
There’s no need to make a list or stress out, but it’s a good idea to check over the Food & Wine menus (hint, we’ll post them on this site when they come out) before heading out. This way you won’t have to pass up the fantastic snack at the UK that you didn’t know about because you ran out of time, money, or appetite before you saw it.
That’s it. You didn’t even have to plan ahead!
Oh, and before you go, check out Rikki’s full writeup of this year’s offerings. If you have any other tips, please leave them in the comments below.