We’re back in Orlando for one of the biggest Disney Parks events of the year: the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival! This little shindig has grown spectacularly year and year and we could not wait to try food from as many booths as possible and check out all the fun stuff Disney has planned for guests.
For those who have never been, the Food and Wine Festival is a big deal nowadays. Epcot is slowly turning into the Festival Theme Park, with the International Festival of the Arts in the Winter/Spring, Flower and Garden Festival in the Spring/Summer, Food and Wine Festival in the Fall, and Festival of Holidays in the Winter. The Food and Wine Festival really is the biggest of the bunch, with cooking demonstrations, chef meet-and-greets, special dining events, and the famed food booths lining the World Showcase Lagoon.
The booths are really where most of the party is at. World Showcase is known for their diverse array of culinary treats, a true trip around the world while staying in one theme park! But they are limited to the pavilions that were built. Not so with the Food and Wine Festival. Brazil, New Zealand, India, Belgium, Peru, Russia… more countries that Epcot could hold! All of them with amazing sampler dishes to get you excited to experience new cultures and new cuisines.
The first place you should head to is the Festival Center, located in the old Wonders of Life pavilion (anybody else miss Body Wars?). Here you can find helpful Cast Members to guide you through all the events, food, and merchandise you’ll encounter; be able to sign up for food and wine seminars; check out the Festival Wine Shop; shop for Festival Merchandise including cookware, art, apparel, home goods, ears, and pins; watch Seasons of the Vine, a short film on winemaking that used to play at the Golden Vine Winery in Disney California Adventure; and check out tastings from Festival sponsors like Diamond Almonds, and more.
Each year the Festival offers Annual Passholders a special deal: a discount on the Festival Tasting Sampler. This little beauty gets you eight items (some restrictions apply, especially on alcohol) and all you need to do is give the Cast Members a coupon off your pass. This could mean a decent discount on food items, but not always. If you want to shop around and budget it out you can, but this is more about convenience than saving money. If you want another convenient option for paying at the booths consider purchasing a Disney gift card on a wristband. This card is reloadable, useable forever, and comes in designs exclusive to the Festival. Just present it to the Cast Members at the booths and they’ll ring you up as if you’re using a credit card.
Among the merchandise we saw this year were the popular Figment Chef Ears, which we bought. There were also these great little trays, made just the right size to hold your food booth food and drinks.
Another popular activity to do during the Festival is the Ratatouille Hide and Seek with Remy. Little rodent chef Remy is hiding amongst the pavilions and booths in World Showcase gathering ingredients for a phenomenal ratatouille. You can purchase a map and stickers from the Festival Center to search for Remy, placing a sticker where you find him. Once you’ve completed the map you’ll get a prize! This year it was a selection of foam charms that could be used as key chains or luggage identifiers, each featuring Remy and his brother Emile. We participated and had a blast searching for a little rat in every nook and cranny of World Showcase. At the end of this post I’ll show you everywhere we found him this year.
But the food.
Come hungry. There is a lot of food to choose from and you will curse yourself if you fill up too soon. You can also check out great blogs like the Disney Food Blog to see what menus will be served before you arrive. That’s what we did so we knew which places to hit up and which we would be okay with skipping.
Every booth has a small menu of food and drinks, usually a few savory options, a sweet options, and at least one alcoholic beverage. Some booths are devoted to a particular style of food (the Food from Fire booth featured barbecue and fire grilled dishes) or even a particular food (there were booths for beer, wine, chocolate, and cheese). Most of the booths are focused on a country. This is a great chance to try something new and be adventurous!
Here’s a quick tour of the booth menus and a few things we ate:
As you can see there was a lot of food and we didn’t hit up everything, not even to take pictures. Plan your day carefully and if you’ve got a fridge and microwave in your hotel room you could consider packing some food to go, as we did.