One of the highlights of fall vacationing at Walt Disney World is the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. For this mom, who’s more likely to be found at the same family-friendly restaurants with the same menus that my kids prefer rather than the hottest new restaurant in town, the festival is the perfect “Me” time. It’s day after day filled with
gluttonyindulgence and experiencing fresh, well-prepared restaurant-style dishes.
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
Held every fall from late September through early November, the Food and Wine Festival (F&W) features representative food and wines from regions, countries, and cultures throughout the world. Far from being static, new booths are added each year and dishes from well-loved veteran kiosks are switched up. This year there are 29 “International Marketplaces”; it’s the freshman year for Florida Local and Terra (featuring vegan dining). Each marketplace generally features a few beverages and three dishes ranging in cost from $3-8 each. There are also concerts and seminars.
I’ve made a lot of rookie mistakes in the past but I think I’ve finally come up with a solid approach to tackling such a large event during our vacation. Here are the five cornerstones of my success.
1. Strategize. Not all marketplaces and dishes are created equal. Some are a better value than others, some are returning fan favorites, some are unique enough that they must be tried once, and some just appeal to me more than others. Besides the sheer volume of food to consider, the culinary offerings are spread out over a mile so creating a good logistical plan will help save your feet. Although I have been subjected to much good-natured ribbing by my family, I do have a five page plan that groups the 55 dishes I want to try into eight “sessions” containing 7-8 items (more on that later.) Will I make it to the end? Probably not which is why the highest priority items are at the top of the list and the nice-to-eats are grouped into sessions 7 and 8. For the map and list of items, visit the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival webpage (http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/epcot/special-events/epcot-international-food-and-wine-festival/marketplace/)
I won’t be on the Dining Plan while visiting the F&W Festival but many guests will. Many dishes are designated as a snack credit which is a fantastic use of Disney Dining Plan snack credits. Guests can make a meal without spending a fortune.
2. Enlist Help. Bring a buddy or two on your culinary travels around the world and share everything you purchase. With this strategy in place, eating seven or eight small plates of food is achievable and you won’t feel as if you’ll need to be rolled out of the World Showcase.
3. Desserts are Key. As I mentioned, I didn’t purchase the Disney Dining Plan for this trip but that doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy some scrumptious sweet treats. Typically, my family picks up dessert a couple of hours after dinner in World Showcase each night, which we prefer to having dessert in the restaurant. Eating dessert at the F&W Festival will allow us to knock a few items off our food bucket list and the offerings are less expensive than in the restaurants.
4. Freebies. Look for free snacks offered by sponsors. Last year, Ocean Spray provided small packages of Craisins to passing guests and it looks to be the same this year. I felt as if we passed this display many times daily and my children snacked well on these healthy samples. This year, my interests have been turned to the new Chocolate Experience and the promise of a Drinking Chocolate sample.
5. Stretchy Pants. Perhaps the most practical items on my list is stretchy pants. Really, it means planning to wear the most well-fitting pants in the beginning of trip and saving my comfy “relaxed” fit clothes for the end when a little more room may be needed!
That’s my five-pronged approach to getting the most of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. I’d love to hear yours!
Lisa M. Battista is the author of Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers and a columnist for WDW Fan Zone. When she’s not chasing after her little ones, you can most likely find her at the beach or in the kitchen trying her hand at a new recipe. You can follow her on Twitter @DisneyExplorer or become a fan of Beyond the Attractions on Facebook.Share