This might be the best year ever to visit Walt Disney World’s favorite foodie event. The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival returns for its 21st year with the longest run ever – from September 14 to November 14th, 2016. That’s 62 days of delicious eating around the world, live culinary demonstrations and even concerts from major artists. Not sure what to expect? Consider this:
You’ll find kiosks around World Showcase Lagoon featuring cuisines from dozens of nations. Additionally, there are outposts for craft beer, German beers, even concoctions from the hosts of The Chew. Access to all 32 kiosks is included with park admission, but sampling the menus does cost extra. Most items come in a $3-$8 single serving, perfect for sharing with another person if you want to sample your way around the world. If that’s not enough foodie fun, visit the Festival Center, you can add on culinary demos with celebrity chefs or attend wine tastings with master sommeliers.
In fact, this festival has so many options, you might feel overwhelmed with planning. Don’t worry! You’ll have a wonderful time if you choose to just take it easy with a stroll around World Showcase Lagoon. Enjoy the best of Epcot Food & Wine’s tastes around the world with these tips.
1. Skip the sampler and go for a gift card. The official tasting sampler, which is a lanyard credential with little coupons to exchange for menu items, averages out to nearly $8 per item, but most menu items come in under the $5 mark. Even with the keepsake pin that comes with it, you’re going to have a hard time coming out ahead with the prepaid sampler. Instead, the best way to keep an eye on your wallet as you hop from country to country is with a gift card. Pause at one of Epcot’s merchandise kiosks to load up a Food & Wine mini-gift card with your personal sampler budget. The gift card even comes with a coiled lanyard to slip around your wrist, making it the must-have Epcot foodie accessory.
2. Visiting twice? Make a separate dessert run. Switching between sweet and savory can confuse the taste buds, especially when you’re combining so many cultures! Imagine going from a piece of carrot cake to a sushi roll and following all that up with a caramel and chocolate crème brulee. Better yet, don’t. Instead, save the sweets for a separate stroll around World Showcase when you can just indulge in the rich desserts, like the red wine chocolate truffle, or Belgian waffle with warm chocolate ganache and whipped cream… oh, and that chocolate crème brulee.
3. Call it brunch: arrive by 11 AM to beat the lines. Weekends and holidays during the Food & Wine Festival can create lines at the most popular kiosks which rival the wait for some of Epcot’s actual rides. Think twice before a supper-time stroll during these busy periods. Instead, enter the park around nine or ten, see a few attractions in Future World (think Soarin’ or Test Track), then head to World Showcase when it opens at 11 AM. You can brunch your way around the world with light crowds and short lines.
4. Take your Visa card: The Chase Lounge is a cool oasis. Does someone in your family have a Chase card? Whether it’s a debit or a credit card, it gets you complimentary admission to the Chase Lounge, a hidden retreat above The American Adventure. Here, you’ll find air conditioning, comfortable seating, and Coke Freestyle machines dispensing everything from classic sodas to fruit-flavored water. Conveniently located exactly halfway around the World Showcase from the entry point, the Chase Lounge is a welcome recharge station on hot sunny days. If you don’t have a Chase card, opt for The American Adventure show, instead. While it doesn’t come with free beverages, it does provide cool, seated comfort – and a really interesting show about American history!
5. Skip the familiar and try something new. Kiosks at the Food & Wine Festival blend familiar favorites with more adventurous temptations. Just bear in mind that you’re getting tapas portions made in a cramped outdoor kitchen (or possibly carted out to the location) so if you’ve had the best pasta in New York City already, do not order the baked ziti at the Italy kiosk. It will not stand up to the competition in your mind.
Instead, get the best value for your dollar (and experience some new flavors) by stepping outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes, it might be as simple as a little twist on an old favorite, like the Smoked Beef Brisket with Pimento Cheese at the Hops and Barley kiosk.
Are you ready to taste your way around the world? Visit the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival as part of your Orlando vacation this fall. Visit the Destinations tab to find out more about Summer Bay Orlando By Exploria Resorts, our flagship resort with roomy villas, lush landscaping, and even complimentary theme park transportation. It’s going to be a delicious autumn season!