Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Epcot's Food and Wine Festival
At 20 years, this year’s Epcot International Food and Wine Festival promises to be the biggest one yet (and probably busiest). Running from September 25 to November 16, the festival will feature 30 different food booths, with more cooking and tasting demonstrations than ever before. This list will help you survive a grueling eating battle and hopefully conquer every nation you visit!
1. Game Plan · Plan out which direction you want to visit the food booths on a map. Pick out a few dishes that you want to try the most so you don’t overeat. Popular dishes usually come back the following year. Go early in the week to avoid long lines. Stay at a local hotel where they offer bus service. Or if you don’t mind spending a small fortune, stay at one of the onsite Disney hotels (Boardwalk, Yacht Club, and Beach Club).
2. Get a Gift Card · Get that tiny gift card that goes around your wrist for easy access to payment. These can usually be picked up at any store, but they should always have them at the Festival Center located on the east side of the park (left when you walk in).
3. Get a Partner · Samples from every booth can be overwhelming unless you have a partner to help you eat and drink. Not to mention, they can save you some money if you choose to buy every other dish. They can also try to save you a spot at a table when you’re getting the food!
4. Stay Cool · Stay hydrated. Drinking water helps you stay cool and also aids in your digestion. Bring a water bottle and fill it up at the fountains. Cool off in a gift shop. Visit Club Cool for free samples of Coke products from around the world. Any Chase credit card holders and friends can go to the Chase lounge for A/C, phone charging (good luck finding an empty charging station) and free fountain soda. Remember to wear cool and comfortable clothing. Preferably UPF-rated.
5. Sunscreen and Poncho · This is Florida: It can rain on one side of food booth and be sunny on the other. Grab a cheap poncho that you can keep in your pocket. Get some good sunscreen, 30 SPF or higher, because you’ll be out there a while. Remember to apply when necessary. Buy both items outside of Disney.
6. Grab those passports! · Not only the passports provide food listings for each booth, but they provide sections where you can get stamped. It’s a great memory keeper. Usually you can find them in front of the food booth registers and in the Festival Center.
7. Book Demonstrations in Advance · Sometimes the cooking demonstrations and wine tasting events can be sold out so book in ahead of time. These demonstrations are fun and informative. Don’t just eat the food, learn about what you’re eating, where they got it from, and how each ingredient aims to complement each other. Some of these demonstrations can range as little at $15 and can be booked at the Festival Center.
8. Eat to the Beat! · Popular bands and artists will be playing in front of the American Adventure at the outside amphitheater. Check out which ones you want to visit or avoid them. Be prepared to wait hours in line if you want to grab a seat.
9. Ride a Ride · As hard as it is for me to say this…take a break from eating and wait in line for a ride. Ride lines are often long, but many queues are inside with some great A/C. Nonetheless, I would grab a Fast Passes ahead of time.
10. Have Fun · Take your time, enjoy the food and relax. Find a nice spot to sit down or lean on while you sample the foods. Snap a few photos. And mark down which foods you had in your passport!
Though it’s not an exhaustive list, I hope this top 10 helps. If you have a tip of your own, please share it in the comments section below. We’d love to hear them!
Wow! What a great list of tips! My family loves Food and Wine! Which booth are you looking forward to the most?
I am looking forward to a lot of them. I always love the lamb chop at Australia and the pierogis and kielbasa at Poland. I am also very excited about desserts and champagne!
Love Food and Wine! I definitely agree with some of your tips! It is a marathon not a sprint :)
Mmmm...the Australian Lamb Chop with the potato chips and pesto is my absolute favorite! I also love Hawaii's Tuna Poke, and though it may be Flower & Garden, Florida's Shrimp & Grits is awesome, and I'd love to see it at Food & Wine.
Jeff, what is your recommendation for where to start our dining adventure?
I just turned 21 and I don't really understand alcohol. It just tastes bad to me. Is it an acquired taste?
It's an acquired taste, as far as I've been told. Why continue to eat, drink, or do something you don't enjoy? Especially when it's super expensive and full of empty calories? Meh. I don't drink, and I save a lot of money. :D
These tips are all valid. But beware, this and Flower & Garden are Epcot's two biggest events of the year. So expect huge crowds and longer lines. Despite this, definitely do some rides! Especially if you have kids who would get bored with having to wait in multiple lines with Mommy and Daddy for food they don't even care about. And lastly, BEWARE DRUNKS.
Be prepared for larger crowds at WDW this year. There has been no September lull. The parks have been as busy as they are in April & May. Attendance is booming. They just extended October park hours also, in anticipation of larger crowds. Looks like there is no such thing as a slow time of year anymore.
@Gabriel - I can't believe I forgot that delicious tuna poke! Putting sun tan lotion on when it's cloudy is actually a very good tip.
I would also recommend if you happen to be on the Disney Dining Plan, use your snack credits at the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival kiosks. During the rest of the year, snacks are only good for snacks like popcorn, ice cream novelties, bottled soda and the like. However, during F&W, snack credits can be used for real food, and all F&W festival kiosk food items are eligible snack credit items, meaning you can use a credit for a $7.00 lobster roll instead of a $3.00 bag of popcorn. For those that don't have enough snack credits to get everything you might want from the kiosks, plan ahead so you use snack credits for the more expensive items and save a few bucks on your out of pocket costs. In the past, I've typically set a cutoff of $4.50 and above to use snack credits and below to use cash/gift card to avoid having to plan everything in advance.
The rule of thumb for snack credits is anything costing less than $5.00 when I went in 2014 and had the dining plan. So if you can get a $7.00 lobster roll, then that's a worthwhile free upgrade. Anyways, popcorn is not $3.00. More like over $4.00.
The small pre-made bags of popcorn that qualify as snack credits in the resort convenience stores were $3.00 that last time I looked.
Do the booths ever run out of things? We'll actually be going on the last day of the Food & Wine Festival and I have a slight concern that they may run out of some things by then.
Really good question, but the short answer is don't worry. Although I have seen them change dishes or have one temporarily unavailable, they tend to have many of the ingredients widely available so the dishes will eventually be there. I will try to get an official answer and will post it in the forums.
What an informative article! Food & Wine is definitely one of my favorite Disney experiences. I agree with your game plan on how to tackle the day.
This makes me so excited! I can't wait to go! Great tips!!
Cannot pig out...planning on wearing a bikini later in the week.
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