7 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid at the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival

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EPCOT’s International Food & Wine Festival is a fan-favorite event celebrating delicious cuisines from around the globe, spanning the course of several months, and including special events and entertainment as well as the numerous food and beverage booths. It is a really cool festival to experience, but it can also be overwhelming if you’ve never been before.

EPCOT Food and Wine Festival

My husband and I visited Walt Disney World in early-mid September this year and were so excited because it would be our first time attending the Food & Wine Festival. We looked at all the menus ahead of time, decided some booths we wanted to prioritize, and thought we were prepared. Unfortunately, it turned out that we just didn’t know what we didn’t know.

We still had a great day, but some blunders were definitely made along the way. I hope this article will help you be more prepared and avoid some of the rookie mistakes we made during our first trip to the Food & Wine Festival, as well as some of the missteps we saw other attendees around us make.  Here are some things to avoid at all costs:

Going on a Saturday

This was our biggest mistake by far. As devout TouringPlans followers, we checked the crowd calendar. We really did. The crowd level was predicted as a 1.

Unfortunately, the data for the calendar is based primarily around attraction wait times, and as a Food & Wine newbie, it never occurred to me to consider all the locals and bachelorette parties (so. many. bachelorette. parties.) that would visit EPCOT on the weekend just to enjoy the Festival.

So, yes, the wait times for rides were low. But the park was absolutely jam-packed with Festival goers. We were thrown completely off-guard and it took a while for me to adjust my mindset and just go with the flow.

We still had fun, and got to try 4 of the booths we were interested in, but I cannot, in good conscience, encourage anyone else to visit on a Saturday (or probably a Friday or Sunday, for that matter) regardless of what the crowd calendar says. If it is at all possible with your schedule, check out this Festival on a weekday. You’ll thank me later.

Not Looking at Menus in Advance

I can’t tell you how many people I saw clogging up the walkways scouring their Festival passport (a booklet listing all of the booths and menu items) or walking up to each booth individually to read over their offerings, clearly having done no research ahead of time.

It will save you a lot of time and headache to look over the menus before your trip, maybe read a trusted website’s reviews, and make a list of things you want to try. Then, when you arrive, you can have a little bit of a gameplan and won’t have to stress over figuring it all out on the spot.

Having Eyes Bigger Than Your Stomach

With over two dozen booths and hundreds of delicious items to choose from, it’s easy to want to try as much as you possibly can, especially if it’s your first visit. But it’s important to know your limitations too. There’s only so much you can eat in a day!

Keep that in mind when you’re doing your research, and try to prioritize just handful of items. If you’re still hungry, you can always get more! My husband and I shared five food items and three drinks throughout the morning and early afternoon and then still had enough room for dinner later that night.

There will always be more you wish you’d been able to sample, but I guess that’s how they keep people coming back! 

Expecting to Get Ice Water at the Booths

We visited EPCOT at the tail end of our week at WDW. It was still incredibly hot and muggy, so we’d gotten accustomed to asking for a few cups of ice water at counter service locations throughout our day to help keep us hydrated.

Unfortunately, since the Food & Wine booths are not permanent dining locations, they do not have the ability to serve free tap water. So, keep in mind that you will either have to wait in line at another dining location just for water, pay for bottled water that is expensive and harmful to the environment, or find drinking fountains to refill at.

Bringing Your Whole Group in Line

If you are part of a group larger than two adults and you are paying all together, there is no reason why your entire party all has to get in line. I once saw a group of six grown adults go up to the same cashier together; the space was so tight and they took up so much room that no one could get around them to the other cashier or the food pick-up area. Why??

Give one person the entire order and the rest can look for a bench or table to claim. You can have one additional person stand near the food pick-up area to assist the first person if there is a lot to carry.

For families with strollers, the roped-off queues and payment areas are quite small with tight turns, so if you have multiple adults, have one wait with the stroller while the other one orders. I saw multiple parents attempt to get their double-wide strollers through the queues and it looked very stressful. If you don’t have to do it, just don’t.

Being Discouraged by a Long Line

The lines for most of the Festival booths will likely look pretty long. However, don’t let this discourage you from getting in line if it is something you had your heart set on. There were a few booths we almost skipped due to the length of the line, but I’m glad we didn’t, because we found that the lines actually moved fairly quickly.

Disney has their payment and pick-up system down to a science and they are pretty efficient at moving crowds through. Yes, you will have to wait, and a few of the most popular booths will have extremely long lines you may want to skip, but for the most part, it won’t be as long as you think.

Thinking You Can’t Visit the “Regulars”

A lot of people have the mindset that if they are going to Food & Wine, especially if it is their first time, then they should focus only on the booths and special offerings. However, EPCOT has so many amazing permanent dining options, that you shouldn’t feel like you can’t enjoy those as well.

I personally enjoy doing table service dinners as often as I can at WDW because I feel it’s a good chance to sit down and rest (in the AC) after a long day. So, after snacking at booths earlier in the day, my husband and I still had a nice, peaceful dinner at Tutto Italia Ristorante. It was the best of both worlds!

EPCOT’s Food & Wine Festival is incredibly popular, and with good reason! It is something every Disney fan should experience. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and avoid these seven blunders for an even more magical visit.

What mistakes have you made, or witnessed, at the Food & Wine Festival? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Amy Crockett

Amy Crockett is a native Michigander who works at a library by day and dreams of Disney by night. Planning Disney trips is her favorite thing in the entire world to do (apart from the trip itself)! In addition to all things Disney, she loves reading, musical theatre, playing tennis, traveling, and cheering on the Detroit Tigers.

6 thoughts on “7 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid at the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival

  • October 6, 2021 at 4:33 pm
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    Agree about Saturday. Very crowded. Agree about the lines. They went quickly. We did not plan our food ahead of time and it was fine. As a couple, we bought one portion of whatever and shared.That allowed us to try more foods. We did skip some long lines for Mexico and China as those types of foods are readily available near our home. So we opted to try Kenya, Ireland, Belgium and Greece. Over two days, we visited 18 booths!

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    • October 8, 2021 at 3:38 pm
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      Wow, 18 booths! That is awesome!

      Reply
  • October 11, 2021 at 8:29 pm
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    I would like to add not going Friday nights if you are bringing your family with young children. A lot of college kids come out and get drunk. One drunk guy was flirting with my way under age daughter and we also saw a few sick and vomiting in the landscaping. So yeah, never again on a Friday night for us. I was really disappointed that Disney allowed this to happen.

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    • October 13, 2021 at 3:23 pm
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      Yikes, that is unfortunate, but really good to know. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  • October 12, 2021 at 9:14 am
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    My 2 daughters and my 11 yr old grandson just returned from WDW this past Saturday. Thanks to their extensive planning, our Food and Wine experience was great! Those who did not plan were struggling—their confusion and impatience were obvious. Heavy crowds and hot, humid days added to the chaos. I had an EVC, thanks to my daughter’s insistence. At 74 with knee/hip issues, I couldn’t have “done” WDW without it! Combined with planning and my EVC, my experience was “magical”.

    Reply
    • October 13, 2021 at 3:24 pm
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      I’m so glad you had a magical experience!

      Reply

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