Who doesn’t love eating good food and tasting fine wines with family and friends? At the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, you can do all of that and more -- while being immersed in one of the most magical places on earth: Walt Disney World.
Just like the park, the festival is a big and intricate affair. Tackling it can be overwhelming for first-time svisitors and frequent fliers alike. To help put you at ease and ensure you make the most out of your Food and Wine Festival experience, we’ve asked Disney experts for some of their top tips for enjoying the 2019 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Put these 13 tips to use to make this the trip of a lifetime thanks to the spectacular food, fun, and -- let’s not forget -- wine!
About Disney World’s 2019 Epcot International Food And Wine Festival
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is an annual affair hosted at Disney World’s Epcot theme park. It is an amazing opportunity to go to the park and enjoy cuisines from around the world --and to partake in some unique culinary experiences and shows that the festival offers.
According to Amber Delashaw, a Disney World blogger and owner of wdwspin, the park has consistently lengthened the festival every year, such that it’s the “longest-running festival at Epcot.” This year’s Food And Wine Festival will take place from August 29 through November 23, 2019, and promises to offer up some unforgettable experiences.
The 2019 festival’s opening day, August 29, is also the opening day of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge theme park at Hollywood Studios, also inside Walt Disney World Resort.
Delashaw went on to tell TravelAwaits, “Epcot and Hollywood Studios are the only parks at Walt Disney World that are in walking distance of one another. There is a pathway between the two parks that encompass the Epcot Resort Area.”
This means that attendees of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival may also be some of the first people to take a whirl through the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge theme park!
1. For The Best Experience, Invest In Your Accommodations
People travel near and far for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. When choosing to attend the festival, keep in mind that there are several accommodation options available, ranging from super expensive to fairly affordable, and keep in mind that if you’re at Walt Disney World for the festival, the consensus is that splurging on the pricier, but well-worth-it resorts is your best bet. Why? Experts Delashaw and Kris Morton, a former Disney World cast member and travel blogger of Nomad By Trade, agree that you’ll have the best festival experience staying at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort or the BoardWalk.
Morton told TravelAwaits, “If you're really focused on dedicating your time to everything Food and Wine, consider booking a stay at one of the BoardWalk-area resorts. They're pricey, but staying there will keep you close to the food and allow you to enjoy the wine and other drinks without worrying about driving home.”
Delashaw said, “In regards to staying at an Epcot-area resort, there is nothing more magical than being able to walk over to Epcot within a moment's notice at any time during your stay.“
Both experts said that the two resorts boast a major convenience factor. They’re less than a 10-minute walk to the festival and save you the time of having to shuttle there and back.
2. Time Your Trip Strategically
Few people like crowded areas and no one likes long lines. For this reason, it’s best to surpass all of this by arranging to visit the festival during less busy times of the week and day.
Expert Len Testa, coauthor of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and the owner of TouringPlans.com, said, “The best time of day to go is early! With crowds peaking around dinnertime, you’ll want to be in line for the Global Marketplaces food booths when they open at 11 a.m.”
She went on to say, “The worst time to go is the weekend. You’ll see more locals -- and some party animals -- enjoying the festival, which will lead to an increase in crowd levels.”
3. Stay Organized And Make A Plan
Any Disney trip will be full of fun and games, but in order to hit all the spots on your list it’s imperative that you plan, plan, plan, and when you think you’re done with planning, plan some more! It’s a great idea to organize and draft as thorough a schedule as you can to avoid any hiccups.
Nikida Metellus, owner of ThemeParkHipster, an award-winning top-50 theme park blog, urges you to “map out your day.”
“This is a classic tip for any first-time trip to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Mapping out your day will save you the headache of missing out on all the fun and unique things, especially if you’re only able to visit once.”
4. Browse The Menus Online Before You Go
There will be a ton of food at the festival, and it can be easy to get swept up in the chaos. Luckily, if you put this pro tip to use, you won’t have to experience that.
Testa said you need to browse the online menus in advance. “With 30 Global Marketplaces, having a plan is key. Look at the menus beforehand and select your must-try dishes. This will help you budget your day and save stomach space for the morsels you’re really looking to indulge in.”
A full list of Epcot Food and Wine Festival menus is available online here.
5. Check To See If Fan Favorites From The Prior Year Are Returning
Seeing as food is a major highlight of the festival, here’s another food tip: If you’re a returning visitor (or even a newcomer who’s not sure what that must-try item is) this tip is great!
Brittany DiCologero, the blogger and historian behind castlepartyblog.com told us, “There are fan favorites that return every year, like the Belgian waffle with either chocolate or a berry compote or beef tenderloin tips from Africa, but there are always a few new or returning options.”
DiCologero has recommended some awesome food choices, but consider asking someone you know has gone to the festival before what their favorite dishes were. Check to see if they will be around again on this year’s menu.
6. Book Your Extra Culinary Activities ASAP
The festival has more to offer than just food and wine; it offers an entire experience. There are culinary seminars and demonstrations daily that will further enhance your time spent at the festival.
Testa told us you should “book any food and beverage pairings, culinary demonstrations, and seminars you want to experience as soon as possible. These events are extremely popular and sell out very quickly, so reserve your spot as soon as you have your travel dates to ensure you get one you want.”
7. Consider The Disney Dining Plan
The Disney Dining Plan comes with a couple of Food and Wine Festival perks. It isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth looking into.
“The Disney Dining Plan is a method to pay a flat rate for food during your Walt Disney World Resort vacation. If you choose to pay at a Global Marketplace in this manner, you can purchase one item using a snack credit and three items using a quick-service credit,” Testa said.
Morton also informed us, “If you're staying at a Disney World resort and purchase the Disney Dining Plan, you can use your snack credits for [festival] food. With some of the offerings topping $8, you can get a pretty good deal this way.”
8. Pick Up A Festival Passport
If you’re the type of person to pass up the mall directory and just wander in search of something that catches your eye, you will want to pay close attention to this tip. Although going with the flow and nibbling on whatever speaks to you is fine, you’ll probably be happier with your Epcot Food and Wine Festival experience if you afford yourself an overview of your options.
Delashaw said, “My biggest tip of all is to make sure to pick up a Festival Passport. They are located at all the entrances and a variety of stores and shops in the park. They are free and you can pick up as many as you like. The Festival Passport is a pint-sized guide to everything available at Food and Wine. It usually contains a center sticker sheet where you can use the stickers to mark off items you have tried. It’s a fun souvenir and a great reference during your vacation.”
9. Make A Stop At The Festival Welcome Center
Like the festival passport, most people probably pass this up, but Disney expert Testa is here to tell you exactly why you shouldn’t.
“Check out the Festival Welcome Center! Not only will you find festival merchandise, Global Marketplaces, and see where the culinary demonstrations and seminars are held, but it’s a great opportunity to enjoy the air conditioning and take a break from the Florida heat!”
10. Make The More Popular Marketplaces Your First Stops
This might sound a bit backward, but it’ll save you time! It may seem logical to start at the beginning of the food showcases and work your way around, however, no one likes long lines and this is the best way that our expert Testa recommends you can avoid them.
“Instead of beginning in front of the World Showcase, start your food journey with the more popular marketplaces on either side. France, China, Canada, Belgium, and Germany are always solid bets for long lines that will only grow longer as the day progresses, so head there first.”
11. Skip Out On The Usual Choices
This may seem like common sense, but it’s important to keep this tip in the forefront of your mind when traveling throughout the festival. Epcot Food and Wine is one of the best places to get outside of your comfort zone and try foods from around the globe. If you’re a chicken-finger-and-fries type of person, now is your time to take that leap of faith! Disney blogger Delashaw said, “Don’t be afraid to try something new and unique; these items are only available for a limited-time engagement.”
Blogger DiCologero echoed that advice. “I think it really depends on individual tastes, so, on the whole, I would recommend skipping things that you can get outside the festival. There is usually some variety of Dole Whip and cronuts, both of which you can find in other Epcot festivals and sometimes in other Disney parks. Or, if you live in the region where a certain food is from, I'd recommend skipping your 'local' food to try something different.”
Note that the fan-favorite cronut -- the unique croissant donut -- isn’t being served up at this year’s festival, but is on Electric Umbrella’s menu.
12. Split Food Costs With A Pal
This may be one of the least-applied tips, which also makes it one of the best. With so many options staring you in the face everywhere you turn, food costs will add up quickly.
Metellus has thought of a way to get around that: “Going with a friend lowers your budget and lets you make the most of the event without leaving the park broke. ...Being able to try $100 worth of food at the festival is way better than only being able to try $50 worth of food.”
If you plan on attending the festival with a friend or family member, discuss splitting dishes and therefore also splitting the cost with each other. You may end up with smaller serving sizes, but that just means you can try more things -- a fair trade-off for any culinary explorer on a budget.
13. Satisfy The Kiddos By Participating In Remy’s Ratatouille Hide-And-Squeak
If you’re bringing the grandkids or kiddos with you to this international extravaganza, then put this tip on your list! It’ll add some excitement for them while also introducing them to the world of food before them.
“Remy’s Ratatouille Hide and Squeak is an engaging activity the whole family can enjoy,” Testa told TravelAwaits. “We definitely recommend this scavenger hunt, which takes you around the World Showcase in search of Remy, the tiny rat chef. Should you purchase the map and stickers to aid you in your quest, you’ll receive a special prize at the end of your mission!”
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