Without a doubt, one of my favorite times to be at Walt Disney World is during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. This year’s event runs an unprecedented 87 days. I feel fortunate that I will be returning to the Festival this year, to savor the spectacular cuisine, music, and so much more.
Over the years that I have attended the Festival, the experiences for Guests have increased to a culinary crescendo. There is more to do (and eat) than in the past, such that I feel it necessary to narrow down my “must-dos” for budgetary reasons and the limits of time.
Therefore, as my anticipation and the “rumbly in my tumbly” builds, here are the experiences I am looking forward to at the 2019 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival:
This year, the race is celebrating 10 Years Running, and no surprise, all adult races are sold out. But, for the children in your travel group, the runDisney Kids Dashes and the Kids One Mile Run are still open. If you’ve ever participated in a runDisney event at Walt Disney World you know that it gives you the bragging rights to say “I ran the world” — right down Osceola Parkway. I will participate in the half marathon this year, which in my mind earns me the right to eat more of the delicious dishes offered at the Festival.
I’m a sucker for scavenger hunts and have enjoyed the seasonal games that Disney has offered throughout the years. At this year’s Festival, Remy returns with Ratatouille Hide & Squeak for kids and kids at heart. To play, pick up your game map and stickers ($9.95 plus tax) at Port of Entry, Pin Central, and World Traveler at International Gateway). Your mission is to find the locations where Remy is hiding throughout World Showcase. Once you find them all, bring your completed map to Disney Traders (at the World Showcase entrance) to choose a surprise!
Like any well-dressed refrigerator, my Whirlpool is decorated with my collection of complimentary Passholder magnets. I like to say they add a special Disney “je ne sais quoi” to my kitchen. Between August 29 and October 14, Passholders can receive a Chef Minnie magnet, and between October 15 through November 23, a Chef Remy themed magnet. On your fourth visit to this year’s Festival, Passholders can obtain a complimentary Passholder Chef Minnie wooden coaster set. Last year’s Passholder gift, a Chef Mickey wooden cutting board, has made for a precious drink coaster in my office for my ever-present, bottomless coffee cup.
This event is pricey, but if the opportunity ever presents itself, it is a phenomenal culinary event. Held at the World ShowPlace Events Pavilion at Disney’s Epcot, you can enjoy the talents of a cornucopia of signature chefs. With entrees and desserts to die for, and beer and wine tasting stations, you will not go home hungry. In years past, there have been celebrity chef meet-and-greets at the event, with well-knowns such as Cat Cora, Keegan Gerhard, and Warren Brown.
During the Festival, I rarely make reservations for meals. Instead, I like to graze my way around World Showcase. This year, there are over 30 culinary kiosks with specialties from different cultures. I notice a few new options on the menu, such as The Donut Box, locate near Test Track, and the Appleseed Orchard, located at the Canada Pavilion. My favorite? One of the Festival staples that I enjoy is Le Cellier wild mushroom beef filet mignon with truffle-butter sauce at the Canada Marketplace, and the Guinness Baileys shake at the Ireland Marketplace.
The Chocolate Experience: From Bean to Bar
This Festival experience hosted by Ghirardelli has historically been in Festival Center. This year, Disney announced that it would move inside The Land Pavilion, at the entrance to the Harvest Theatre. It is unclear if the experience will feature the familiar storyboards that share the history of the Ghirardelli company or feature the intricate chocolate sculptures created by Disney chefs. But From Bean to Bar will feature the delectable chocolate we all know and love.
After you’ve checked off every Marketplace menu in your Festival Passport, have a seat at the American Gardens Theater and enjoy the music of some of your favorite recordings artists. This year, Hanson, Sheena Easton, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy are just a few of the returning performers, with the addition of first-time Eat to the Beat entertainers, DCappella, Spanish Harlem Orchestra, BBMak, and Joey Fatone and Friends.
There are SO many experiences at the 2019 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival that it can be overwhelming. Two tips — before your trip, check the Walt Disney World website to browse the wealth of experiences and events. When you arrive at Epcot, pick up a Festival Passport that will outline the menus and dates and times of special events.
What is on your Epcot International Food & Wine Festival favorites list?
To learn more about Kathy and read her other posts on the WDW Radio Blog, visit her author page.
(All photos from the collection of Kathy Wicks.)