by Caitlin Corsello
Each fall, Epcot plays host to perhaps my favorite event held at Walt Disney World: The International Food & Wine Festival. This year, the festival will be running from September 28 to November 12 and will consist of dozens of booths themed around various countries and regions which offer small portions of scrumptious delicacies and beverages. In addition to the booths, the festival offers seminars, demonstrations, concerts, and exclusive merchandise. While there is plenty to taste and experience, let’s take a closer look into certain aspects to make your visit to the festival even more enjoyable.
Obviously the main attractions of the festival are the food and drinks offered. With two new booths being introduced this year, there are more options to experience than ever before. The two new booths are a Florida one, offering regional cuisine, and the Terra Vegan Marketplace which will offer vegan culinary options. Together with twenty-eight other booths, you could spend an entire day just eating your way around World Showcase!
In order to really enjoy the festival, there are a few tips to follow to help you to be able to experience more without being overwhelmed. First off, I recommend printing out a list and map of the booths and their respective menus. You can find this information and more on the festival on the Disney Food Blog website. Then choose and highlight what food and drinks you would like to sample ahead of time. This will allow you to enter Epcot knowing exactly what you would like to experience and thus eliminates wandering and losing time. I also advise that you approach the festival at a leisurely pace- you want to be able to really enjoy the food and experience and not become too full to carry on. You may also find that you have so many things that you would like to sample that you can separate it into two days! So knowing the volume of food and drinks that you would like to indulge in is crucial in planning before you head to Epcot.
As there are thirty booths to explore, it may be a good decision to visit the festival with a group of people. This allows you the option of ordering several offerings from a given booth and sharing them amongst a group. Not only will this save you money, but it also allows you to experience more of the options that the festival has to offer.
The Food & Wine Festival also offers a unique way of “drinking around the world” that you would not get to experience in the other months of the year. For those who have not tried it, drinking around the world consists of visiting all eleven countries in the World Showcase and sampling a beverage, usually alcoholic, from each. In the future, I am going to dedicate an entire post to this activity, but for now let’s stay focused on the festival and the different approach it provides.
Each booth has a beverage option which contains alcohol and many of these options are drinks that you would not be able to obtain throughout the rest of the year. There is even a Sam Adams beer brewed exclusively for the festival each year. For this year, the exclusive brew will be the “17th Anniversary Festival Beer – Sam Adams Chocolate Bock” offered at the Hops & Barley booth. A fun activity would be to map out the drinks that you would like to try ahead of time and have your own experience of drinking around the world. I recommend also trying this with a group of people as you can then share drinks and sample several options. On a more serious note, if you do choose to engage in drinking around the world, please be responsible and remember to stay hydrated, pace yourself, and make sure you are not drinking on an empty stomach. You don’t want to be that guy in the World Showcase. If you do not drink alcohol, you can still have your own drinking around the world experience as the booths offer numerous non-alcoholic beverages from all parts of the world!
One of the best parts of the Food & Wine Festival involves being able to utilize Disney Dining Plan snack credits for certain food offerings from the various booths. The dining plan can be a great option while visiting Walt Disney World as it provides varying levels of dining options ranging from quick service to signature dining experiences. Snack credits are also supplied with the dining plan for each guest. Often times in the fall, Disney offers the dining plan free on certain dates, many of which overlap with the festival. This is a fantastic thing as plenty of food options being offered at the booths can be purchased by using a snack credit. As some food options can be upwards of seven dollars, this is a great way to really stretch the value of your dining plan and save some extra money. If you are planning on using your snack credits for the festival, consult the list of food options you would like to sample that you created. Make sure you note which foods are eligible for the snack credit and choose the most expensive of the list to utilize your credits on. You want to make sure that you utilize your snack credit on something that is more than a few dollars as opposed to something that may be significantly less expensive.
In addition to the booths, you can also attend the Eat to the Beat concert series, attend seminars and demonstrations, and purchase exclusive festival merchandise at the festival welcome center located in the former Wonders of Life Pavilion in Future World East.
For this year’s festival, there are definitely a few select things that I am greatly looking forward to trying when I visit. On the top of my list is visiting the Canada booth which offers small sized portions of food regularly served in Le Cellier, a steakhouse located within the Canada Pavilion. With Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup, “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce, and Chicken Chipotle Sausage with Sweet Corn Polenta and “Minus 8” Onion Jam being offered, guests are provided with the opportunity to sample cuisine offered in the restaurant for lower prices and in smaller portions. Some other things I am looking forward to trying are the Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies from the Argentina booth, the Dark Chocolate Mousse with Chili and Salted Caramel from the Desserts & Champagne booth, and the Godiva Chocolate Liqueur Iced Coffee from the Belgium booth.
While there is a lot to experience at the Food & Wine Festival, keep in mind that no matter how you explore it there is always going to be great food, tasty drinks, and a good time had by all. Most of all, I hope this post did not make you too hungry!
What are you looking forward to trying the most at this year’s Food & Wine Festival? What was the best thing you ever tried there in the past? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.