As the 2016 Flower and Garden festival comes to a close in the next two weeks, Disney has announced the dates of the 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. We absolutely love fall at Disney World and this is our favorite special event! Details below!
The festival will run a record 62 days, opening on September 14, 2016 and running through November 14, 2016.
From Disney’s Pam Brandon:
We’ve already been tasting the dishes for the 30-plus global marketplaces, from a new beef brisket and pimento cheese sandwich for Hops & Barley to surprisingly delicious vegan Greek nachos. And anyone for a hard soda ice-cream float?
Look for new hands-on experiences with chefs, bakers and mixologists in the Festival Center, and a new cooking school (details to come).
Celebrity chefs are back, already on this year’s roster are Jamie Deen, “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro, Masaharu Morimoto, Elizabeth Faulkner, Norman Van Aken and Cat Cora.
And once you’re happily sated, the free Eat to the Beat concerts at America Gardens Theatre are the perfect way to end the day – Wang Chung opens the concert series Sept. 14-15. Eight new acts will join the lineup, and favorites are back, including Wilson Phillips and Boyz II Men.
A few things you might like to know:
- The Festival Private Label California Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are back, available by the bottle or glass.
- Chef Remy of “Ratatouille” returns with his fun-for-the-family culinary scavenger hunt.
- Chase debit and credit card members attending the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival presented by Chase – including Disney Visa card members — will find complimentary non-alcoholic refreshments, a charging station and comfortable seating to relax at the Chase Lounge at American Adventure.
- Included with Epcot admission are the Back to Basics series, special book signings, Eat to the Beat concerts, cultural adventures, Festival Passport and all attractions and entertainment.
- Party for the Senses grand tasting events with a new theme each week, Rockin’ Burger Block Parties, signature dinners and other special wine and culinary programs require reservations and separate event admission. When a reservation booking date is announced this summer, guests can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) and get details at epcotfoodfestival.com.
Related Article: 9 Strategies for Making the Most of the Epcot Food & Wine Festival
by Cindy N
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, we’re not talking about Christmas. We’re excited that the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is finally here! It’s one of the top reasons fall is such an amazing time to visit Disney World. As amazing as this festival is, it can be overwhelming for first timers and veterans alike. With over 30 global marketplaces to visit, special dining experiences, seminars, and concerts, not to mention big crowds, navigating the festival can be tricky. We’re all about maximizing your time and enjoyment at the parks.
Over years, many weekends, and many, many dollars, we’ve learned a thing or two about how to tackle the festival. Here are our top 9 tips for experiencing the Epcot Food & Wine Festival.
9 – Have a Plan
It’s best to review the menu options before you head to the Food & Wine Festival. There are literally hundreds of choices once you get there. Out of those hundreds of options there are always a handful that I know I need to have the second I hear about them. I want to make sure I don’t miss those favorites so I plan what I want to get first. If you still have room after that, keep going. You can review the festival map and menu here.
8 – Visit the Festival Center
You’ll want to visit the Festival Center, tucked away near Ellen’s Energy Adventure, to get your bearings. The Festival Center is open at 9:00 am – park closing. First, pick up your Marketplace Discovery Passport (see tip #7). Then, stroll around the circular building and find shopping, Intermissions Cafe, Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak (a scavenger hunt for kids), wine bottle signings, book signings and celebrity chef meet and greets, and food and wine seminars. There are a lot of things to see here and some great learning opportunities if your appreciation of food and drink goes beyond just consumption. It’s also a nice way to ease into the festival and get into the right frame of mind.
7 – Get a Passport
The Marketplace Discovery Passport is a fun and helpful way to keep track of everything you’ve done during the festival. We highly recommend using this passport for many reasons. First, it’s an entertaining challenge. It’s fun to go to each marketplace and get a stamp that shows where you have visited. Second, it’s a great way to plan your “must haves”. We always start in the festival center and highlight the items we really want to enjoy so we make sure we don’t miss anything we were looking forward to. Also, it’s a great way to track what food and drink you have actually tried. With so many choices, after awhile it can get challenging remembering what you have and have not had.
We like to have a goal to get one item from every marketplace. Using the passport throughout the festival, we can easily see which marketplaces we still need to visit. Finally, in the end they make fantastic souvenirs.
6 – Try at Least One Special Experience
Food & Wine Festival isn’t just about getting a bite to eat. It is a celebration of food and drink and the art of creating it. I’ve always felt strongly that great food is about more than just sustenance. It’s art and entertainment. That’s one of the reasons we love this festival so much. Beyond the global market places, Disney has incorporated dozens of special events and experiences. Some of them are paid, but many are free. Carve out time for at least one.
5 – Use Your Dining Credits Wisely
For those of you on the Disney Dining Plan, you will have one or two snack credits a day, depending on which dining plan you have. Using those credits during the festival can be an excellent way to save some significant money and get maximum value from your plan. Most menu items at the festival can be purchased with a snack credit and are often significantly more expensive than normal park snacks like popcorn or ice cream. Clearly, all snack credits are not created equal. We recommend using the credits for those most expensive festival items and use your cash for the items that you have to pay for. Another reason to check the menu ahead of time and have a plan.
4 – Get a Gift Card
Disney has made it really easy to spend money during the festival (that’s good and bad news). Every year, they release gift cards that have the festival logo you can wear around your wrist. There are a few reasons you’ll want to take advantage of the gift cards. First, it makes it paying for your items significantly faster! We all want the lines to move as quickly as possible. Do your part by using a festival gift card. Gift cards can be purchased and reloaded at many locations and can be loaded using cash or credit card.
It will also help you stay within a spending budget. The festival is not cheap, especially if you want to sample a lot of the offerings. By purchasing a gift card, you can (try to) force yourself to only spend what is on the card. Blindly, charging here and there on your credit card can quickly get out of control.
Finally, it makes reviewing your credit card statement or balancing your checking account a lot easier. Instead of dozens of small charges, you have one charge. You can also easily replace a lost gift card if you keep the receipt.
3 – Spread It Out
Epcot Food & Wine Festival is an event best spread out, both over time and physically. It’s very difficult to get everything in over the course of one crammed day. Unlike experiencing a park where your only limits on conquering everything are the park hours, at Food & Wine Festival you have to contend with the size of your stomach and alcohol tolerance. If you are going to be at Disney World for multiple days and have a park hopper pass spread Food & Wine out over your entire stay. Plan a couple hours of tasting each day rather than one marathon session. Better yet, replace one meal a day with a trip around the world.
I usually recommend experiencing all the attractions you want to in one area before moving on to avoid bouncing all over the park and adding a lot of time and mileage going back and forth. This is isn’t one of those times. You’ll do a little more walking, but we like to hit a marketplace on our list and then skip three or four making two or three laps around the lagoon instead of doing everything in order. It spreads the consumption out more and keeps us from getting too full or too tipsy too early. It also keeps our experience from becoming all lines and stuffing our faces and allows time for conversation and enjoyment of the atmosphere.
2 – Try New Things
We have a rule in our family; you must try everything, even if it’s just one bite. We have famously picky eaters in our family, but to their surprise they found new favorites in actually trying new things! Crazy, I know! There are so many different foods to try and we encourage you to take advantage of the extensive offerings, by trying foods you wouldn’t normally eat.
The best thing about Food & Wine Festival is the opportunity to try new flavors from around the world without committing to a whole meal. Just a bite of a sample is pretty low risk. We still get our favorites, year after year, but we also make sure to try new offerings. That’s one of the great things about the festival, there are always so many new things to try!
1 – Share
Disney World is about creating and sharing memories with other people. Food & Wine Festival is a great place to do that. If you are traveling with a group of people, take the opportunity to share. Instead of everyone getting their own individual food items, plan for each person to get something different and then everyone gets a taste of everything. It’s a great way to multiply the number of things you can try and create some conversation as you discuss and rate things as a group. There are disposable utensils at every kiosk to make splitting food up in a sanitary way is easy. If you discover something amazing and you just have to have a full serving you can always go back for seconds.
Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival is Disney at it’s best and is a fantastic opportunity to experience the adult side of Disney World. Soak up as much as you can and make sure you try the Canadian Cheddar Soup. Also, take a minute and let us know some of your favorites and strategies for Food & Wine Festival in the comments below.