The other weekend (this blog post is a long time coming) I went with one of my friends and a group of her friends to Disney World for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. This was in fact my first time actually going to Disney World (besides briefly stopping at the gluten-free bakery at Downtown Disney- link here). It’s kind of embarrassing it was my first time after living in Miami going on three years. Even more embarrassing because before I moved to Miami I talked all the time about how I was going to get a yearly Florida resident pass and go all the time. Clearly the complete opposite occurred. I always figured my first parks would be Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom but a food festival is the perfect reason to visit it first, plus the park itself really grew on me.
The Food and Wine Festival goes for six weeks and there are the “international marketplaces” throughout the park where you can try food from different countries the entire time, as well as many VIP events such as tastings and cooking demonstrations that vary on different days. The nice thing about the Epcot festival is that you can control how much it costs for you. You have to pay for admission to Epcot which is $89 for a one-day one-park pass or $124 for a one-day Park Hopper pass that you get unlimited entries into all the parks. Florida residents pay the same $89 for a one park pass, but then $106 for the Park Hopper. The cost per day decreases when your purchase multi-day tickets. Once you’re in Epcot you pay for the individual food items, which ranged from about $2-8 for the food (with a lot in the $3-6 range) and then about $3-12 for drinks. Now if you can pick just your favorites and exercise a good deal of self-control than you can make the festival somewhat “affordable.” However it’s also really easy for those couple dollars for each plate or drink to really add up over the day. I’m torn on whether I prefer a festival like the South Beach Wine and Food Festival (post here), where the tickets are expensive but food and drink are unlimited, or this festival where the fixed costs aren’t so high but could equal out if you buy a lot of food. Regardless the Epcot Festival has a lot of great food in a can’t-beat atmosphere at Disney World so it’s definitely something people should check out!
The stands for the different countries are around the entire World Showcase Lagoon. The stands for larger countries that have pavilions, like Germany, China, Japan, etc., are next to their pavilions and the rest are spread throughout. How my group did the festival was we grouped the stands into groups of 3-4 based on proximity and chose our favorite from the brochure and got that food. We then moved on to the next group and picked our favorite and got that. Then on the second time around we did those same groups and went for a 2nd choice, plus spent more time in the actual Epcot pavilions/attractions, plus went into all of the cool country-themed stores. The options are numerous and we definitely didn’t try everything, but amongst our group we did pretty well! I felt I was able to try a lot of great stuff, especially the stuff I really wanted.
In the middle of our two circles we stopped off at the Food and Wine Festival Pavilion near the entrance. That’s where the food demonstrations and several booths from different companies are. There also is a Chase lounge for Chase cardholders, so we took a stop there and drank a lot of water (plus they had soda and coffee).
The list of options is long and so I’ll let the many pictures below give you an idea of the options. The main menu is still up online (link here), plus what’s great for us gluten-frees is that Disney published a map with the gluten-free options (link here). Take a look at the pictures below, but I will say a couple of my favorites. My top favorites were the corn arepas at the Florida stand (I ended up getting three total) and the Spicy Hand Roll from Japan (even though I don’t think I was supposed to have it because of the soy sauce- shouldn’t be saying this but was kind of worth it). Those were by far my top favorites of what I tried. The arepa was soft and delicious and the Spicy Hand Roll packed a big punch of flavor of salmon, tuna, and chili pepper. Some other favorites were the beef skewers in Argentina, the cheese plate in Germany, the sausages in Italy and Canada, and the creme brulee from France were really good too! Some of my friends favorites were the ceviche from the Florida stand, the sushi, the shrimp on the barbie from Australia, the chicken satay from China, the ropa vieja from the Caribbean stand, and the lobster and seafood Fisherman’s pie from Ireland (one of the top favorites with the ceviche).
In terms of drinks my favorite was the sangria from the Florida station, plus margaritas from I believe a permanent stand near Mexico. My friends also liked the frozen dragon berry colada at the Caribbean stand. There were tons of wine and beer options at throughout the stands, plus Brewer’s, Craft Beer, Hops and Barley and Champagne specific stands. We also stopped at a permanent wine bar in the Germany pavilion and did a sampler of various wines from around the country. I really liked the ice wine, as well as another of the dessert wines (although the apple dessert wine wasn’t very good).
Take a look at the pics below of the food to get an idea of all the variety, plus some pics of the actual attractions in Epcot. If you love Disney and love food you should make sure to check out the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot when it comes around next year!
Epcot International Food and Wine Festival (end of Sept to early Nov)- Website Link