Epcot readies its earliest-ever International Food and Wine Festival

August 29, 2017, 8:58 PM · The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival kicks off at the Walt Disney World Resort on Thursday, for its earliest-ever start.

The 23rd annual event expands by nearly two weeks this year, running for 75 days through Nov. 13. To celebrate Epcot's 35th anniversary this year, the Food & Wine Festival will offer 35 "global marketplace" food and beverage booths throughout the park. The five new booths include:

Items are sold individually, though you can use Disney Dining Plan snack credits on many items, as well. Disney is selling a $65 Tasting Sampler for eight food or beverage items, plus a limited-release Festival trading pin.

In addition to the food and drink, the Festival includes plenty of live entertainment. The Eat to the Beat concert series will present 32 headline acts on the America Gardens Theatre stage during the festival, kicking off with Delta Rae this weekend and wrapping up with Squeeze on Nov. 12-13. The park will present additional bands playing throughout World Showcase, as well, including Suroit on the Mill Stage in the Canada pavilion, Musique Aramenco in Morocco, and Margret Almer & The Bavarian Band in Germany. Bodh'aktan takes over for Suroit in Canada on Oct. 2, yielding to Raffy on Oct. 23.

Why the early start? As I wrote in my Orange County Register column last week, with the school year starting earlier in many parts of the United States, what passes for the off season at Disney's theme parks is starting in mid-August now, instead of after Labor Day as in years past. So it makes sense for Disney to get going with its most popular off-season festival ASAP after the summer crowds begin to thin.

We invite you to post photos of your favorite Epcot International Food & Wine Festival eats and drinks to us @ThemePark on Twitter and to tag ThemeParkInsider on Instagram.

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Replies (8)

August 30, 2017 at 8:26 AM · AKA: Get plastered at EPCOT.
August 30, 2017 at 11:15 AM · Yes. Exactly. The only thing to do is get plastered at Epcot and this is the only reason for such an event. I am sorry the word wine triggered you to make that irrational comment. The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is much more than an opportunity to come on down and get drunk. If anything only the truly well off could afford to properly do so. I invite you to open your small mind and give it a shot.
August 30, 2017 at 11:54 AM · Here here Barry. Anyway, guests can go "Drinking Around the World" even when the F&W Festival isn't going on (many drinking groups never make it past Rose & Crown with its plentiful taps). Even if you're an AP-holder, trying to get drunk at EPCOT F&W would set you back a week's pay, especially since they've trimmed back the number of spirits offered at the kiosks.
August 30, 2017 at 3:29 PM · Crazy idea: Place bankruptcy lawyers and sobriety counselors around World Showcase, and let's see who gets the most clients by the end of the day.
August 30, 2017 at 8:32 PM · Have you discovered any information regarding why school districts have opted to begin the school year in August rather than the traditional September after Labor Day start?
August 31, 2017 at 7:00 AM · Jeez Barry lighten up, it was a joke. For what it's worth I've seen some pretty crude behavior during food and wine while waiting for Illuminations.
August 31, 2017 at 10:47 AM · @ - School districts have been moving up the first day of school for years now. Much of this has to do with the increasing number of holidays and additional teacher workdays needed throughout the year. Most states require districts to have 180 school days per year. When you take 10 days for winter break, 5 days for spring break, the 8 traditional holidays between September and June (Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and day after, MLK Day, President's Day, and Memorial Day), somewhere between 5-10 "weather" days, and 4-8 teacher workdays, it takes more than 40 weeks to reach 180 school days.

In Fairfax County Virginia, where I live, the school district used to recognize an unwritten "Kings Dominion Rule" that mandated the start of school after Labor Day so high school kids working at the local theme park would maintain their summer jobs throughout the park's daily operational schedule. However, a few years ago, Maryland, which observed a similar rule referred to as the "OC - Ocean City Rule", started allowing counties to move up their starts to before Labor Day because of increasing occurrences of extended school years into the end of June because of snow days. That was all flipped upside this past year when Maryland Governor Hogan made the controversial decision to force all Maryland schools to start after Labor Day as an effort to increase tourism to Ocean City, which according to early reports appears to have had in impact.

So in a strange twist, my son started school on Monday, while many of my friends that live in Maryland are at the beach this week. Interestingly enough, I had planned almost 5 years ago to be in Austin and San Antonio this week to see the Maryland/Texas game on Saturday, which would have been perfect around the Labor Day holiday (maybe not so perfect with Harvey though), but because of my school district's change in schedule (not formally announced until January), we could no longer take the trip because of missed school days, especially when we have an 11-day trip to Orlando planned in October where school days will be missed.

September 3, 2017 at 12:29 PM · Standardized testing is the reason to move up the school year. Schools want high scores - children starting school earlier have longer to prep. Common Core (called by many different names to hide the reality) is all about data mining children through more standardized testing AND moving that testing on-line.

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