Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Disney World
Dates: September 25 through November 16, 2015 – Epcot
Easily one of the most popular and most anticipated events, Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival is a celebration of food and drink from around the world. This experience runs from the last weekend in September through mid-November and draws big crowds anxious to sample everything on offer.
The Food & Wine Festival is included with your admission ticket to Epcot although each of the items available at the many booths will run you a few bucks. There are a lot of various things to see at Food & Wine, but the stalls set up for all the various countries and regions are the real stars.
Around the entire perimeter of World Showcase you will find 25 or 30 separate booths set up specifically for the Festival. Each one characterizes a country, continent, region, or culinary style and each one sells different food or drink items.
There are stands that represent Africa, Belgium, Cheese, Craft Beers, Florida Local, Greece, Hawai’i, Japan, Poland, Singapore…well, there’s a lot. The point is that everyone will find an item that sounds good, and in almost all cases, many more items than it is physically possible to ingest.
All of the food served is in small portions, with the idea being that you can sample from several booths. The other bonus is that if you gamble on an interesting sounding dish and lose, at least you aren’t wasting too much of it. Yet another bonus is that most of the items count as snacks on the Disney Dining Plan, which is a fabulous use of a snack credit.
In addition to food, each booth serves drinks that signify their theme. For instance, you can by Rosemount wines from the Australia booth or Glenfiddich Whisky flight from the Scotland stand. Again, most of these are small portions which not only allows for sampling, it helps keep the intoxication down ever so slightly.
Since we’re speaking of intoxication, be forewarned that many guests and locals alike view the Food & Wine Festival as a chance to sample as much alcohol as possible in a short time span. This means that you are just as likely to find someone’s lunch in the bushes as you are a hidden Mickey. If you are wary of this kind of behavior for any reason, you probably want to avoid Food & Wine on a weekend evening.
Once you fill the tank with choice offerings from the Food & Wine booth you’ll need some time to digest before you go back for more. Luckily Epcot also hosts the Eat to the Beat concert series featuring many popular acts from both the recent past and the, well, not-as-recent past.
The 2014 lineup looked like this:
- September 19-21: Jo Dee Messina
- September 22-23: The Pointer Sisters
- September 24-25: Rick Springfield
- September 26-27: Christopher Cross
- September 28-29: Hanson
- September 30 – October 2: Air Supply
- October 3-5: Starship featuring Mickey Thomas
- October 6-8: Sugar Ray
- October 9-10: Fuel
- October 11-12: Sister Hazel
- October 13-14: Richard Marx
- October 15-16: Billy Ocean
- October 17-19: Night Ranger
- October 20-22: Smash Mouth
- October 23-24: Jim Brickman
- October 25-26: Los Lonely Boys
- October 27-28: Wilson Phillips
- October 29-31: Dennis DeYoung, original member of Styx
- November 1-2: .38 Special
- November 3-5: Boys II Men
- November 6-7: David Cook
- November 8-10: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Celebrity Chef Demonstrations
Another popular series that takes place during Food & Wine is the celebrity chef demonstrations, which is where culinary techniques are demonstrated…by a celebrity chef (seems they are well named). Many of these events require separate tickets and the prices can range depending on the event (although they're usually around $15). Chefs in attendance for 2014 included Robert Irvine, Art Smith, Gale Gand, and Cat Cora. The full Celebrity Chef demonstration schedule is very long, but can be downloaded here.
If you still aren’t full of Food & Wine festivities there are plenty of extra events that Disney is only too happy to allow you to pay for. These seminars and exhibitions are very popular and sell out quickly. Here is the list for 2014:
- Mediterranean Food & Wine Pairing (Wednesdays) -- $55 per person
- Food & Wine Pairings (Tuesdays and Thursdays) -- $55 per person
- Food for Thought (Fridays, plus Saturday October 11) -- $169 per person
- Parisian Breakfast (Saturdays) -- $39 per person
- Cheese Seminars (Saturdays) -- $79 per person
- Shake and Indulge Like the French Featuring Grand Marnier (Saturdays beginning September 27) -- $55 per person
- Sunday Mornings With … (Sundays) -- $99 per person [Ed: We didn't forget to finish the sentence, this is how Disney lists it]
- Culinary Adventures in Signature Dining (more than 20 dinners throughout the festival; prices vary)
- Experience Puerto Rico – The All Star Island (September 20) -- $99 per person/li>
- Epcot International Food & Wine Festival — Boot Camp Series interactive epicurean adventure (September 21, October 5, 12, 19, Nov. 2) -- $119 per person
- Italian White Truffle & Wine Pairing Dinner (October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30) -- $295 per person
- “3D” Disney’s Dessert Discovery (October 3, 10 and 17) -- $59 or $99 per person
- Party for the Senses (October 4, 11, 18 and November 1) -- $149, $189 or $299 per person
- Party for the Senses Featuring Disney Chefs from Around the World (October 25) -- $149, $189 or $299 per person
- Dining Through the Decades, A Tribute to Walt Disney (October 24) -- $99 or $119 per person
Why yes, we’re glad you asked. In the Food & Wine Festival Welcome Center, which is found in the shell of a building between Ellen’s Energy Adventure and Mission: Space formerly known as the Wonders of Life Pavilion, you can find lots of goodies.
It starts with the Food & Wine merchandise to commemorate your visit and continues into culinary displays, wine seminars, mixology demos, and book signings with chef/authors. Several of these events carry extra costs in the $15 range, so be prepared to fork over a little dough in exchange for those tasty morsels of knowledge.
Epcot Food & Wine Late Nights LIVE!
This new, after-hours event appeared at Food & Wine for the first time in 2014. Every Tuesday and Thursday during the festival, and for the small matter of $79 per person, guests can remain in Epcot after Illuminations until the wee hour of 1 a.m. In addition to the extra park time, participants will get to sample a handful of offerings from various Food & Wine Festival booths. There will also be entertainment in the form of a disc jockey (or DJ for you cool kids). Unfortunately, guests will not have run of the park as the event will be happening in the area of the Canada and United Kingdom pavilions.
Also new in 2014 was the Food & Wine Festival Premium Package. This package costs $199 per person (plus tax) and only available to guests staying at Disney Resort Hotels or the Swan or Dolphin. The package includes an in-room gift with wine, a festival wine glass, chocolates, and a $50 Disney Gift Card. The Premium Package also gives you access to several VIP areas around World Showcase where you can have items delivered to you without having to wait in line. The package also includes one admission to Epcot Food & Wine Festival – Late Nights LIVE!
As mentioned above, the Food & Wine Festival is immensely popular with both tourists and locals. What makes it an odd event from a crowd perspective is that the crowds gather primarily in World Showcase, near the Food & Wine booths. What that means is that attractions in Future World tend to have average to below average waits. So if you are just going to Epcot for the rides, spending time in Future World is still not a bad idea.
If you are interested in sampling the food and wine from Food & Wine (and you should be, it’s wonderful), the best time to go is…early. The booths open at 11 am and the crowds build as the day goes along, peaking around dinnertime. If you go at 11 am you will find the shortest lines, and even those are sometimes longer than we hope they will be.
As you might expect, weekdays are also a little less busy than weekends, when many of the locals come out to play. Saturdays in particular can be crazy, and the abundance of alcoholic beverages can give World Showcase a bit of a college street party feel. Don’t worry though, with even a little bit of forward planning using our Crowd Calendar you can easily avoid the rabble and much of the crowd.
Last updated by Brian McNichols on March 6, 2015