Where did the summer go? The kids are back in school and Labor Day is over–dare I say that Halloween is just around the corner? Before we push on to the magic of the holidays at Walt Disney World, it’s time to get your taste buds in training for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival presented by Chase. Now in it’s 21st year, this year’s festival is 62 days long, spanning September 14 – November 14.
The International Food & Wine Festival is by far my favorite of the Walt Disney World special events. I’m not a big foodie, nor do I drink, but I do enjoy the intense vibe of the event and the opportunity to taste delicious samples of international culinary dishes created by Disney and guest chefs. Where else can you nosh on Le Cellier wild mushroom beef filet mignon with truffle butter sauce, pair it with a glass of Inniskillin Vidal Icewine, then top it off with a chocolate cherry explosion and a splash of Dom Pérignon? And if you prefer more familiar fare, you can try the roast bratwurst on a pretzel roll or the traditional New England lobster roll. There’s something for everyone’s taste buds!
Personally, I’m always impressed by the impeccable planning that goes on behind the scenes at the Festival and the enormity of the event – How many culinary dishes are served and how many chefs does it take to plan and present all those tasty morsels? – So, I did a little research. I found some of the information I was looking for, plus a few other interesting facts.
The Festival began in 1995, as a small-scale event to showcase signature dishes by Disney chefs and various worldwide cuisines. Initiated as a means to fill the parks during a previously labeled “slow season,” the event has grown exponentially each year due to its overwhelming popularity.
In 2014, the Food and Wine Festival served 1.5 million tapas-sized culinary samples, served 360,000 beers, and poured 300,000 glasses of wine. It is rumored that the beer alone would fill the aquariums at the Rain Forest Café three times over.
The Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog, which will be back in 2016, is colorfully filled with 900 pounds of the tart red fruit. Don’t forget to get your free sample of Craisins!
In 2016, the Eat to the Beat concert series will present 26 blast-from-the-past bands with three performances per evening ([5:30], [6:45], and [8:00] PM). Eight NEW acts will join the lineup for this year, including Wang Chung, the Bo Deans, Plain White T’s, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Jeffrey Osbourne, Living Colour, Soul Asylum, and Delta Rae. If my math is correct, I believe that might make it 186 concerts.
The expected plating of desserts for 2016 is anticipated to be 100,000 plus! I’ll take mine all in sweet, ganache-filled, French macarons, please.
My favorite event of the Festival is the Saturday evening Party for the Senses, a grand tasting culinary extravaganza featuring up to 50 food and beverage stations. During the 2 1/2 hour event at the Epcot World Showplace Pavilion, the food and beverages flow freely while you are entertained by the performers of Cirque du Soleil, La Nouba.
More than 375 hours of culinary learning opportunities are scheduled, which this year will be named Mix, Make it, Celebrate it! workshops (that title sounds oddly familiar). I wonder if they will have a Ghirardelli Gold Rush make-it and eat it workshop?
You will have the opportunity to meet and taste the creations of internationally acclaimed chefs and culinarians. That’s 250 guest and Disney chefs from 26 of the United States and 10 countries.
It is estimated that it will take approximately 5,000 pounds of lobster to fulfill the annual request for lobster rolls.
Remy’s Ratatouille Hide and Squeak scavenger hunt will be back in 2016, with 12 Remy statues hidden around World Showcase. During your hunt you can collect 12 stickers that you can trade in for one of six special pins at select merchandise locations.
Admission to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is included in the price of your park ticket, but all of the food and beverage experiences must be purchased. I suggest that you read the menus in advance, set a budget, and create your plan of attack. Head to the Festival early in the day to avoid the extended evening lines. Finally—pace yourself and graze. With so many aromas and eye-popping menus, it’s very easy to overdo it.
If you’ve been to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, what’s your favorite event, food, or workshop?
(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)
Looking for Magic is Kathy @ Two Roads Photo. As a librarian, walker of many miles, and Paper Bag Princess, Kathy dreams of having coffee with Belle at the castle and co-administering a fantasy book discussion group. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.