Walt Disney World is amazing at putting on special events throughout the year to keep the park-going experience fresh for passholders and other repeat visitors. They’re all fun, but the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, held every fall, is my favorite.
The concept of the Festival is relatively simple: booths representing different nations are set up around the World Showcase to sell tasting-size portions of food, desserts, wine, craft beer and cocktails. Guest are invited to eat and drink around the “world.” The main attractions are the tasting booths, but the festival also offers a series of free concerts, cooking demonstrations, wine and beer tasting seminars and a variety of special dinner or cocktail events.
After hitting the Festival for a few years in a row, I’ve put together a quick list of my favorite tips for getting the most out of your visit:
- Plan ahead: It may sound a little Type-A to plan ahead for a tasting event, but trust me, once you enter the World Showcase, every booth will look and smell amazing and you can easily fill your belly and empty your wallet before you get half-way around the Showcase. By picking up a festival guide when you enter the park (or visiting the Festival website the night before), you can make a list of must-try items that will sound so delicious it won’t be as hard saying no to the other booths.
- Prepare to splurge (or set-up a budget): The one downside to the Festival is that it’s not cheap. Sure each portion has a tiny price tag (most items are under $5), but those tiny little purchases add up fast. It’s easy for a couple of two to spend $100 on food and alcoholic beverages at the Festival. You have two options: 1) relax and chalk it up to a splurge weekend–we all need those from time to time–or, 2) if you’re on a strict budget, pick up a Disney gift card for the amount you want to spend and when the card is empty, it’s time to head home. Epcot has begun selling mini-sized gift cards with wrist-straps made especially for the Festival. Although, I haven’t tried them, it looks like a fun and convenient option for managing your budget.
- Share your tasting for double the fun: The portions may look small, but they’re more filling than you might think. To keep the fun going longer and maximize the number of items you can taste, I recommend sharing each portion with a partner or friend. Not only will you get to try more items, but you’ll also have the fun of comparing tasting notes when your friend tastes the same items with you. And, don’t forget, if you really fall in love with an item, you can always go back for another portion later in the day or on your next visit to the Festival.
- Stay hydrated: This isn’t just a top tip for the Festival; it’s probably my top piece of advice for any visit to Walt Disney World. Even in October and November, Central Florida gets warm, and it’s easy to get dehydrated before you know it. This advice is even more important for people who are enjoying the Festival’s alcoholic offerings. Your mouth may not feel thirsty, but your body is, so make sure you take in some water between samples or you’re likely to have quite the headache later, even if you’re drinking only a moderate amount.
Those are my top tips for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Do you have a great tip for the Festival? Please post it in the comments below.
Later this week, I’ll post some photos and reviews from my visit to the Festival on opening weekend. For additional coverage of the Festival, check out the always great Disney Food Blog for live coverage and breaking news.