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The Sun Rises over EPCOT’s Food & Wine Festival

Friday, September 30, 2011

When Walt Disney World releases their schedule of events for the upcoming year one of the first dates that gets circled is the start of EPCOT’s International Food & Wine Festival.  For me personally, this is my favorite special event at Walt Disney World each year.  From what I hear from other Disney park fans it’s their favorite as well.  Surprise!  Today is the day.  It’s September 30thand the Food & Wine festival kicks off and continues for the next 45 days until November 13th.  EPCOT transforms from a basic theme park to a theme park centered around food and drink from around the globe.  Sure you can still get your usual funnel cakes, Napoleon pastry, Sam Adams, and Fish & Chips, but during the Food & Wine Festival new offerings are available from the various food booths representing several countries from around the world. 

Festival Favorites

A couple of things I’m looking forward to at this year’s festival are the new marketplaces.  This year Hawaii and the Caribbean Islands will make their first appearances at the festival.  I’m a big fan of both flavors.  Another favorite of mine and a popular festival event are the Eat to the Beat concerts.  This year I’ll be able to enjoy the sounds of Taylor Dayne, 38 Special, and John Secada from the America Gardens Theater.  You can find the complete lineup of artists and bands for this year's festival here

A couple other events I’m looking forward to unrelated to the Food & Wine Festival, but still related to food are the Disney Food Blog’s Foodie Fest and the Swan & Dolphin Food & Wine Classic.  AJ Wolfe from the Disney Food Blog has put together an incredible lineup of events for this year’s Foodie Fest including an Illuminations dessert party (sold out) sure to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.  For more information about the Disney Food Blog’s Foodie Fest please visit their website dedicated to this weeklong event.  Secondly, the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic takes place on Oct 7th& 8th.  This will be my first time attending this event and the second year for the Classic.  It received rave reviews during it’s debut last year.  Foods from the Swan & Dolphin restaurants like Shula’s Steakhouse and Il Mulino will be on display along the causeway separating the two resorts.  For more information visit their website dedicated to this event. 

Festival Tips

Touring the Food & Wine Festival around World Showcase is not an inexpensive proposition.  As you make your way around the festival booths you’ll find prices anywhere from $3 to $6 for a sampling of food and wine.  Make sure you set a budget ahead of time or you could easily find yourself finishing your tour with little money left to enjoy Walt Disney World.  The best way to set a budget is to pre-purchase a Disney gift card with the amount of money you wish to spend on food and wine.  This way you will know how much money you have left as you make your way around World Showcase.  This also makes paying at the cash registers much more efficient. 

Enjoying the Food & Wine Festival coincides with the pace of your experience.  I’ve been through World Showcase when crowd levels have been off the charts.  Simply put, it’s not as fun.  The crowds during Food & Wine do go off the charts at times.  The busiest times for the Food & Wine festival are on the weekends, especially weekend evenings.  This is the time local residents choose to enjoy the festival.  If you have the flexibility in your schedule you should enjoy the festival on weekdays.  World Showcase is not very busy when it opens at 11:00AM each day.  Lines at the Food and Wine booths will be at their shortest during the week and very, very long on weekends.  If you wish to enjoy the festival at your pace plan on visiting during the week and early in the afternoon. 

Finally, make sure to pace yourself with the food selections.  Each Food and Wine booth will offer 2 or 3 food items and 2 or 3 wine items that compliment the food.  Just remember there are more booths waiting for you further along World Showcase.  Try not to taste and sip something from every booth or else instead of walking you may end up rolling out of EPCOT.  Trust me, that’s a very uncomfortable experience. 

Conclusion

If you’ve never been to EPCOT’s Food & Wine Festival you should consider a visit.  There are food and wine festivals all over the country, but what makes EPCOT’s so special is the setting and the other complimentary events throughout the event.  It’s not just a tour through the booths for food and wine.  There’s music, seminars, merchandise, and much more.  Just remember the festival is not an inexpensive experience.  Expect to spend some of your hard earned cash on some delicious samples of food and wine. 

Fall is in the air at Walt Disney World and so are some of our fall favorite activities.  If you can make it down to Orlando there’s plenty waiting for you to eat and drink.  Food is one of the joys of a Walt Disney World vacation.  A trip to EPCOT’s Food & Wine Festival, The Swan Dolphin Classic, and even the Disney Food Blog’s Foodie Fest is sure to bring the Disney food lover out in all of us.  Let’s get ready to Eat, Drink & Run, but mostly eat!     

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About this column

Aaron DelPrince looks at the various activities you and your family can experience at Walt Disney World


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