Enjoying The Food And Wine Festival On a Budget

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Whether you plan to spend hundreds of dollars at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival this year, or just $20, it is always a good idea to have a handle on the money leaving your wallet. The festival can be a very expensive activity if you don’t keep and eye on your spending. However, with a bit of planning and a little will power you can certainly have a good time without taking out a loan from the bank. With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at ways to keep yourself in check while enjoying the yummy fun at this year’s festival.

You’ll want to set a budget and stick to it. A great and easy way to stay within your budget is to buy a gift card with your set amount. Once the money is gone, it’s gone; you can just wander around Epcot for the rest of the afternoon with your friends and family. It can be tempting to purchase another card once you’ve run out of funds, but you’ll have to stick to your guns and resist the temptation. You can use the same method by using cash, but I find it much easier to use a gift card for each transaction rather than fumbling with change.

You may want to do a bit of research to figure out your budget. There are a ton of online resources where you can check out the booths’ menu before heading out to the festival. Of course the best place to view them is here on touringplans.com! We list the prices for each item at each booth so you’ll be able to figure out how much you think you might spend. For example, if after looking at the menus you really want to try the coq au vin in France ($5.50), a 12 oz. Radeberger Pilsner from Germany ($6.75), the warm chocolate lava cake with Baileys ganache in Ireland ($3.25), and a grilled beef skewer from Argentina ($5.00). You would be able to do so for $20.50. If that sounds reasonable to you, go ahead and buy your gift card for that amount or maybe even round it out to $25 in case you find something a little extra along the way. Of course, you can always try to find some cheaper options too or limit yourself to fewer dishes.

A great way to get more bang for the buck is to share with your friends or family. Perhaps you and your spouse have looked at the menus and and you only narrow your choices down to six treats that you just had to try. Well, you could share each plate to get a taste and spend less money. Now you’ll only be buying six items instead of twelve! This method has worked out really well for friends and I in the past.

Now I know wine, beer, and cocktails are part of the show at the Food and Wine Festival, but if you are worried about your budget, I’d be sure to be mindful of how much you’re drinking. Not only are these libations pricey, the more you drink, the less concerned you become about your spending. If you are tipsy you’ll be more inclined to pull out your credit card and buy a round for all of your friends.

You may be interested in some of the demonstrations, tastings, and parties offered at this time time of year. If you can afford to attend, go for it! But if you have champagne dreams on beer budget, there are several more reasonably priced events for you. You don’t have to go to the Party for the Senses ($145 per person), you could try a mixology seminar for $14 instead.

There are plenty of free events throughout the festival as well. The Eat to the Beat concert series takes place throughout the festival and features popular bands from the 80s and 90s.  The acts perform three times daily in the American Gardens Theater at the American Adventure. There is usually plenty of seating, but if you get shut out of the theater, you can always just hang out in the pavilion and listen while munching on a lobster roll (they’re really good). Celebrity meet and greets are also free if you’re into that sort of thing. Since the festival is sponsored by HGTV many of their TV personalities will appear to sign autographs and chat with guests; some of them will also give lectures and demonstrations. Most of the celebrity chefs who appear will give demonstrations at a cost, but many of them also have meet and greet sessions as well.

Yes, the Food and Wine Festival can be very expensive. If you aren’t paying attention it is easy to drop a pile of money in a few hours, but it is possible to do it on a budget too. I hope these tips helped you to see how you could head out to Epcot this fall without blowing through your rent money in one afternoon! What are some of your favorite tips for keeping your budget under control at the Food and Wine Festival? Let me hear them in the comments!


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Kristen Helmstetter

Kristen Helmstetter is an Unofficial Guide researcher who will share her 20-something perspective of all things Walt Disney World with blog readers. Kristen’s email address is khelmstetter05@yahoo.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @khelmstetter.

7 thoughts on “Enjoying The Food And Wine Festival On a Budget

  • October 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Do you Kristen (or anyone else) have any experience with taking kids to F&W?

    I’m not sure whether between me and my 2 kids I should get 1 of something and risk not having enough, 2 of it and hope we can all share well, or 3 of it and risk eating a lot myself, or throwing some away.

    (Though I’m pretty sure we’ll be ok with 3 cups of cheddar soup)

    • October 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm

      @Andrew: We went as a group of four adults (two couples) for a dedicated F&W trip with one of the main purpose of “Eating around the world” (it quickly became eating/drinking around the world).
      Basically we’d buy four food items and split them all four ways. You would get about a bite or two of the food. Enough for a good taste. The tricky part was not whether or not there was enough food to split but finding a good spot where we could cut the food in to four pieces…especially if you needed to use a fork and knife. In some cases we’d buy a double order of something if a) we knew it was really good or b) it was obviously next to impossible to split it 4 ways.

      Anyways: keep in mind it’s to sample different foods from different places. In the first few booths it’s easy to think “that’s it” after one bite but by the time you’ve gone through 8 or 9 booths you’ll be pretty stuffed.
      If there’s not enough and everyone really likes it… just get back in line. 😉
      Have Fun and enjoy!

  • October 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Seeking out vegetarian options is a good budget strategy, because there are so few of them. I ate well, but I didn’t have many choices. Hope to get back again next year – it was fun!

  • October 17, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    When we are down at WDW we go on the meal plan. If we are down for Food and Wine we never eat at the festival because of the plan. I wish that Disney would come up with at value on a either a quick service meal or a table service meal that we could trade for a Food and Wine gift card instead of a meal. For example $12.00 for a quick service and $25.00 or $30.00 for a table service.

    • October 17, 2012 at 7:54 pm

      Not quite the same but most food items at F&W can be purchased with a snack credit.

      • October 17, 2012 at 10:59 pm

        That is good to know, thanks!

  • October 18, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Tourplans is a great resource. This will be my first Food & Wine and I am excited to check out all the great food and fun. Thanks for the information and tips!


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