That time of year is coming up, and I am so ready I can’t stand it. It is getting near that time where I can enjoy some sun, enjoy some amazing food, enjoy some unique people, and have a blast. Am I talking about summer? Heck, no! I am eager for the fall to get here and along with it, the Epcot Food and Wine Festival! Where else can you have an amazing vacation, enjoy food and drink from 20+ countries, listen to some amazing bands, and even see Mickey Mouse? No place else!
Food and Wine, as it is more commonly called, is really an assault on your senses in a way that only Disney can do it. From entering Epcot and seeing the amazing topiaries and flowers, you are assaulted by signs that promise what is just a half mile walk away. As you pass through the “Leave a Legacy” section before Spaceship Earth, make sure you pick up a passport and Food and Wine guide. You will be shocked at the number of food booths that are situated throughout the property. These guides are hugely beneficial in helping you get the best out of the festival and will fill you in on what band is playing that night back at the theater in front of the American Adventure.
As you head back toward the countries, you notice how many banners they have up for the festival. Epcot knows why you are here and really puts out the merchandise for this event. As you approach Mouse Gear, the king of all Disney shops in my opinion, they usually have quite a few event-related items for sale. Last year there was a cookbook, tons of kitchen items, and some other neat things to check out. Passing Mouse Gear toward Showcase Plaza, one really cool thing that they have had the past couple of years is an actual cranberry bog demonstration right in the path back to the countries. Most people don’t know that cranberries grow on bushes, and, as they become ripe, they flood the cranberry fields to make the berries pop loose from the bushes for easy harvesting. This is a neat demonstration, and I have enjoyed looking at those bright red berries both times I have seen it.
Another great thing they had last year in the old Odyssey Restaurant location to the left before Mexico is a great craft beer location. You could come in and with small cups really enjoy tons of different craft beers from around the world. This had a HUGE line though, and I would warn you it could be a real time sucker. Plus, there are tons of beer selections at the other booths.
When we go, we always start in Mexico and follow the path in a clockwise motion around the countries. Every year there is a different featured country and that has ranged the full gamut of countries and flavors. To me, the point isn’t to focus on one country, but to try at least something small from as many booths as possible. Each booth has abbreviated menus of a country’s foods. Some of my favorites have been Kimchi hot dogs in Korea, shaved ribbon ice from China, Waffles from Belgium, Beef Bourguignon from France, and the Lobster Roll from America. Each are the perfect portion and really let you try something new from a different land. Prices range from $3-7 per serving, so they aren’t cheap but are definitely worth your money. It is Disney prices for sure, but it all adds up to a great vacation.
Beer and Wine are another huge element of the experience. Each booth will have a showcased drink from their country, and we simply rush to get in line to get our favorites. Every year I have to run to get the Schöfferhofer grapefruit beer from Germany, and I love trying the wines from France and Italy. I even had an amazing plum wine from China last year that I can’t wait to try again.
Once you are absolutely done stuffing yourself, you have two unique entertainment/education avenues before continuing on eating more. One, it is Food and Wine and Disney does everything they can to bring some of the best food experts in the world to teach you something while you eat. They give seminars, cooking demonstrations, and help to educate you on the things you are trying around the countries. It is tremendous the amount of things you can learn from these chefs, critics, and experts. Last, when you simply are full of knowledge, full of food, and are ready to relax a bit, Disney does a concert series every year called “Eat to the Beat.” If you can handle it, grab a drink, grab two or three desserts, and head to The American Adventure to enjoy the bands. Last year, some great bands played: 38 Special, The Commodores, Sugar Ray, Smashmouth, and even Wilson Phillips. Check out this year’s schedule when it goes live; you might be shocked who shows up.
All in all, Food and Wine is my favorite Disney event. We stay close to Epcot, and we love taking advantage of being able to walk in and have a blast. Now, if only I can figure out how to take two trips to Food and Wine this year!
I was never a massive Disney fan until I saw the wonderment and joy of my two year old daughter on her first trip to Disney. Now, she is twelve years old, and we have been over 15 times and can’t get enough. We go every opportunity we get, and we leverage our hard fought info to help people plan amazing vacations through our company Wishdrawals Travel. We take advantage of everything Disney from cruises to the parks, and every trip creates for us a magical memory. We hope we can go for the rest of our lives and love helping our clients do the same. They say it isn’t work if you do what you love, and we are lucky that we can do that. –Corey Townsend