Secret Guide to Epcot Food & Wine Festival in One Day

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Matt Stroshane, photographer

Matt Stroshane, photographer

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.

The 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 QuarterShades 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.

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Posted on August 5, 2014

13 Responses to “Secret Guide to Epcot Food & Wine Festival in One Day”

  • Will a magic band not work at the booths, versus carrying a separate gift card?

    • They probably will do fine this year. Last year about half the kiosks kept the card readers only in reach of the Cast Member. They were having a lot of problems with them. Hopefully the bugs have been worked out by now.

  • I have a question. We are planning on doing the Food and Wine Festival in 2015. I’m trying to decide between the regular and deluxe dining plan. I am assuming if we are planning on eating at the booths when we are in Epcot for a full day that we will not need to use our dining plan that day. Is it a good idea to assume that we will just eat at the various booths that day and skip any table service meals in Epcot?

    • If you are planning on spending the entire day doing booths, then yes, you will have plenty to eat. It will cost you about the same as a really nice sit down meal anyway.

    • This year will be our first F&W but I did book us a dinner reservation. Our plan is to snack around the world for lunch but with 2.5 year old ds in tow, I thought we would appreciate a break from the heat and lines. I did however book dinner on the earlier side so we could always head back to F&W for a snack before Illuminations!

  • What’s the reason for the “No sweets before sunset” rule?

  • Here’s how to do the Epcot food & wine festival:

    Book your vacation overlapping the end of September/beginning of October. When the Free DDP dates are released, upgrade your package to include the Dining Plan. Book a couple signature restaurants you want to try early in your trip. Leave the Epcot World Showcase out of your plans until the end of your trip, with no ADRs on those days. Save the majority of your snack credits until those Epcot days.

    Then snack around the world, using up all your remaining snack credits on a glorious tasting spree.

    • We did this and it worked a treat. 12 snack credits each and the F&W Festival was muchos fun :)

    • Just a side note: It does limit your choices a little since not all items are available for snack credits. But it is a great way to burn through unused credits.

      • Scott,

        It’s true, not all items are available, but it doesn’t seem to be completely related to cost. In 2013, for example, the mushroom-steak ($7.50 – Canada) and the lobster tail ($8.50 – USA) were both available with DDP snack credits.

  • Shades of green opens up its allowable patrons to all former service members in september too!