AUTUMN IS MY ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE TIME TO VISIT WALT DISNEY WORLD.
The extreme heat of the summer has passed, so you feel more comfortable while you’re in the parks. School is back is session, so the crowds (as well as many of the resorts’ prices and the airfare) are much lower. To attract visitors during its slower periods, Disney offers seasonal events. During the autumn, guests enjoy Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and my personal favourite, The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival!
Epcot is already my favourite theme park in the world, so including a Food & Wine Festival in the price of admission is only icing on the cake. This event is especially popular with Honeymooners, adults-only groups, and families with adventurous eaters and foodies!
The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival happens around World Showcase Lagoon. In addition to the 11 countries that are on display year-round, dozens of booths open up, each representing a different country or region. The booths offer a small assortment of foods and beverages from that region – usually a couple of savoury options, a couple of desserts and a small selection of wines, beers, and/or cocktails. Everything is served in small-sized portions, so you get to taste many of the offerings. For a meal, you’ll probably get full after around 4 or five portions.
In the past few years, they’ve added a few more booths that revolve around a theme, rather than an individual country, such as Brewer’s Collection, Active Eats, Flavors From Fire and The Chocolate Studio!
The menu above from this year’s festival gives you a good idea of a typical booth’s options and prices. Most of the dishes are easy to share, so you may want to order one of each, so you get to taste everything! Notice the purple square Dining Plan logos to the left of many of the options – this informs you that you may redeem one Dining Plan Snack Credit on that item, if you’d like. The more expensive items at Food & Wine are a GREAT value for your Snack Credits!
Here’s one of my FAVOURITE items from this year’s festival: Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans and Tomato from the Brazil booth. When I was last at the festival, this dish was $5.50 USD (prices are subject to change), and like most items at Food & Wine, it was eligible as a Snack Credit on the Disney Dining Plan.
Unlike many of the poorly organized food events I’ve attended in Toronto (never again!), my experiences at this festival have always been smooth and pleasant.
You simply line up at each booth, where your order is imputed and you pay. You can pay with cash, credit or a Disney Gift Card, but if you’re staying at a Disney Resort, the best way to pay is using your MagicBand! You touch your band to the reader and enter your PIN number, and it’s charged directly to your room account – so easy! And again, if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, tapping your MagicBand will allow you to simply use one of your snack credits, in eligible.
There is also the Eat To The Beat Concert Series during this time, where many of your favourite artists from yesterday come to perform FREE concerts throughout the day! This year’s line-up includes Boyz II Men, Hanson, Everclear, Tiffany, Smash Mouth and Sugar Ray.
On top of all of that, there are free demonstrations by celebrity chefs, premium “cooking school” experiences, food & beverage tastings, exclusive festival merchandise and a swanky VIP-style party, called “Party For The Senses”.
I usually recommend that when visiting Walt Disney World, you plan to spend two days at Epcot anyway (especially if all the members of your party are ages 13+), and during Food & Wine, this is especially true.
The best way to tour Epcot is to enjoy attractions in Future World in the morning, then have lunch at Food & Wine, go back to your resort for a mid-day break, then return to Epcot at night to explore World Showcase and enjoy a Table Service meal at one of the Pavilions. You amazing day ends with a viewing of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, one of the best fireworks shows you’ll ever see.
I recommend you avoid the festival during weekends, when locals visit and it can get very crowded. Also, lines for the booth are the shortest when World Showcase opens, at 11am – this is why I recommend going for lunch.
This year’s festival runs for a full SEVENTY-FIVE DAYS – from August 20 to November 12! This event is so popular, they keep adding more days to it, year after year.
If you’d like to go, I advise that you consider booking SOON. Reservations for Table Service restaurants have already begun, and FastPasses become available as of 60 days prior to your arrival.
I would love to help you select and book those important reservations. I can also help you choose a week which won’t be very busy, and tell you the best days to visit Epcot, to avoid the crowds. As a Vacation Planner who specializes in Disney travel, Disney pays me commission so I can help you find the least expensive package available, so you get all of my services for free!
Want to know how much it would cost? I can prepare a free, no-obligation quote for any party size, any travel dates, any resort… or anything else you have in mind!
Do you love the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival? I’d love to know what you think about it in the comments section!
All otherwise-uncredited photos courtesy of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.