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EPCOT's Food & Wine Festival - pros and cons

Walt Disney World: What does the festival have to offer and are other attractions inhibited during this time? Insider advice needed!

From Lauren Hayhurst
Posted August 8, 2011 at 6:45 AM
My family and I are going to be in town just before the festival starts and during. Should we go to ECPOT for the festival or not? (And yes, unfortunately we can only go once!) Recommendations, cautions, highs and lows from the TPI experts would be greatly appreciated!

From Kelly Bean
Posted August 8, 2011 at 11:29 AM
I love the Food and Wine Festival! As a local, I make a point to go every year. Unfortunately for some, so do a lot of others. I woud definitely recommend going but manage your expectations of the Epcot experience. If you only have a single day, there is just too much to do, see, eat and drink to do it all. Also, the crowds are pretty heavy on the weekends. With that said, Food and Wine is a great experience.

There are some food kiosks that are annual favorites (Canadian cheese soup) and some that are new each year - check out the festival guide for the details. Unless you must have a formal meal, don't worry about booking a table anywhere. When walking around the World Showcase, you will pretty much be able to eat and drink all day long. I never bother buying the little gift card wristlets. Cash and debit cards in a small wallet work just as well.

As a local with easy Epcot access, I may only check out one or two attractions during Food and Wine (Get that Soarin' Fast Pass early!) and spend most of my day just walking around eating, drinking, chatting with my friends and shopping in Mitsukoshi (my favorite Epcot store).

Use the WDW Web site to plan ahead of what you want to do and what you are willing to miss and you will have a great time!!!

From Anthony Murphy
Posted August 8, 2011 at 8:09 PM
Pros: Great Food, Great Wine, Lots of food stars, nice events with most being pretty reasoonalbly priced, music acts

Cons: Can get expensive if you don't watch yourself, there is alot of fish dishes, it can get very crowded, special events tend to sell out quickly

From Lauren Hayhurst
Posted August 9, 2011 at 12:23 AM
Thanks guys, this is really helpful. can I ask, how much difference does it make to the queuing times for rides (esp Test-track and Mission Space)?

Do you know if the opening times are extended?

From Tom Rigg
Posted August 9, 2011 at 6:49 AM
Once the world showcase opens the ride times for future world rides are that much different with maybe the exception of Soarin'

I would definitely go. Be prepared to not see every last thing, but the food more than makes up for it.

Another consideration would be if you are taking kids and at what age. Food and Wine isn't very exciting for kids.

Finally, the first weekend is heavy with locals, but I don't mind that so much as they know what they are doing and aren't in the way like some tourists can be.

From Mitchell Botwin
Posted August 9, 2011 at 7:10 AM
The lines for the kiosks move quickly. In the past it has taken us 2 days to do the whole festival, as we can only eat so much. There are 3 new kiosks this year. I strongly recommend doing the festival. We put cash on the card as we have found it easier then dealing with cash and it also lets you control how much you spend.

From Anon Mouse
Posted August 9, 2011 at 8:31 AM
From what I read online, it appears to be a world buffet where you paid for each "sample". Each entree is so small, you'll need several to to enjoy so most just move on to the next one. They are smaller than appetizers. If you're a light eater, you'll get by easily. So forget about the food, how about the show? Get in line. They seem worth it with the celebrity chefs, but they sell out quickly. Reserve in advance. You'll enjoy their entrees especially the wine/food pairings. From what I've seen, you'll get more if you skip EPCOT and go to actual cooking demonstrations that are offered all around the country. This isn't possible in a smaller town. If this is your only chance, just go and like what others said, manage your expectations and pocketbook.

From Tony Duda
Posted August 9, 2011 at 10:20 AM
First thing to do is go to the Festival Center and get the "Passport" which is a nice little booklet that has all the kiosks and food and drink selections printed in check-off fashion. Last time I went, I did get the little gift card to use and it did speed things up but what makes your trip through the line faster is if everyone in front of you uses one. Maybe 25% of people do. Regular credit/debit cards are the slowest, cash is next, gift cards fastest. It seems less crowded if you go right as you enter World Showcase to Canada, most people just seem to go left, don't know why. Canada, UK, and France seem to have easier food on the palate also. Spicy Latin food is also left towards Mexico.

As for rides and attractions, strange to say but I never saw any impact. "Foodies" and "Ridies" seem to be different crowds. Maybe the rides even are less crowded since the Festival may scare some people away from Epcot.

You will never do it all in one day, just enjoy what you do. The Passport has been a really great help in planning my visits.

From m johnson
Posted August 9, 2011 at 10:52 AM
If you are on the Disney Dining plan most of the kiosk foods are covered under snacks. If you are in a group order a few different items and share. If you love it you can go back later on in the day. For rides just use the fast pass system for either Test track or Soaring and start eating around the world. You can hit the rides in each country usually the wait is less then 20 mins.

From Russell Meyer
Posted August 9, 2011 at 5:59 PM
There's no guarantee that snack credits can be used on kiosk dishes. They have in the past, but the Dining Plan is always going through changes. A few years ago, you could not use a snack credit for the lobster roll, but this past year you could. Also, with the changes to the Dining Plan, you only get one snack credit per day, so you'd have to stay a lot of days at a Disney Resort or have a bunch of people in your party to make a dent in all of the offerings. My wife and I went last year, and used all 20 of our snack credits at the kiosks, and still needed to pay out of pocket for 5 other plates to taste everything we wanted. As far as crowds, the World Showcase turns into a mob scene on Friday and Saturday nights when all of the AP's and locals slam into the park. The crowds can also get pretty raucous as 20-somethings turn "drinking around the world" into a competition complete with t-shirts, costumes, and craziness.

I highly recommend the World Showcase kiosks, but try to limit yourself to one plate/drink per kiosk, and work your way around. I also recommend, if you're not using dining credits, to purchase a gift card or use just cash in hand, because you can very quickly run up a $30 tab before you get halfway around the World Showcase. Most of the items are between $3 and $7, but when you start adding it up, a meal can turn very quickly into an expensive proposition.

For the special events, take a look at the schedule, and read reviews of similar events from previous years. Understand that the more well-known the chef, the more expensive an event will be. The "tasting" events are a little cheaper than the full meals, and offer a more casual experience. Typically the full meals necessitate dressing up in more than "park casual" (t-shirt and shorts), so make sure you plan a trip back to your room to shower and change before the event. I haven't looked at the schedule this year, because we typically only go every 2-3 years, and went last year.

If you want to attend the most diverse event, try the Party for the Senses, which features between 20 and 30 different dishes and wines and spirits from around the world. It's pretty pricey ($130 per person last year for the base ticket), but is by far the best value if you're a big eater (all you can eat and drink for 3 hours). You never know what will be served at the Party, but unless you're a really picky eater, you are guaranteed to find a dozen or more delicious dishes. Because of the capacity of the event, the Parties (held every week) do not sell out early like the signature dinners. For the signature dinners, you're typically relying on the chef to assemble a menu that you like, because most do not construct the menu before the event sells out.

If you need additional information, I have a lot of experience attending and planning around EPCOT's F&W Festival.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted August 9, 2011 at 6:00 PM
Mealplan can be used at the kiosks, but its only a select amount of items.

As for lines, it is important to try and get a Fastpass for Test Track or Soarin ASAP. Since they are a bit slow loading, the line tends to grow. Mission Space, on the other hand, usually only has a 10 minute or so wait. If its longer, just come back later! All three rides are open until 9

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