It's been fun spending summer time with the tadpoles, but I'm glad the calendar is flipping towards fall. Why? First, the Lilly and Tad are back in school. YAY. Second, this seasonal change brings one of my favorite Disney World events—the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival! With new flavors and tastes debuting at the global marketplaces, the 2017 festival is sure to have delectable items for everyone.
As many of you past attendees know, the festival can get quite busy, especially in the evenings and on weekends. It's important to have a plan and be in the know. You can find our top tips at the end of this festival guide. However, feel free to hop straight to them!
Since we like to stay in the know—especially when it comes to dining and drinking— we'll be hopping down to the festival for some in-person, ahem, research. Be aware that the dates, times and celebrity guests listed in Talks, Demonstrations & More and Premium Events may change and the prices are subject to change as well.
Epcot Food and Wine 2017 Dates & Overview
One of Epcot's most popular events, this daily festival runs from August 31 through Nov. 13, 2017. That's 75 days, a new record for the event! This festival keeps getting bigger. Last year, the event ventured beyond Epcot by adding experiences to select on-site resorts. To borrow a phrase from Tad, we thought last year was toadally awesome, and we can't wait for this year!
Now, you'll be able to experience the bulk of the festival with regular park admission, but you will need to foot the bill for your eats and drinks. Food prices vary between $4-$9 with beverages running between $3-$8. There is an additional charge for some of the talks, demonstrations and premium events. Reservations are strongly recommended for those experiences. There are plenty of free things to do though, including book and bottle signings, meet-and-greets and more. You'll find more about that at the Festival Welcome Center, which also offers plenty of foodie merchandise and delicious wines! This year's festival mascot is Remy from "Ratatouille." Yes, anyone can cook. Except Leap.
Epcot Food and Wine 2017 Global Marketplaces
The global marketplaces take center stage at the event. In 2016, more than 25 marketplaces represented different cuisines from around the world. New for Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017 are these delicious debuts :
- Avocados of Mexico
- Cheese – Hosted by Boursin
- Beer (in the former Segway room of Innoventions)
- Flavored by Fire
- Active Eats
All of these marketplaces take credit and debit cards, but we find it's easier to use our MagicBands if we're staying on-site. You can currently save big on select Disney World rooms for select days if you book through us! We're also fans of purchasing an official festival gift card for the day. These mini-sized gift cards include a wearable plastic band so that you can swipe and go! Set your limit at the outset, and these gift cards keep you on a budget. They also make a fun souvenir and let you enjoy all the food and drinks you want until reach the end. Magic band indeed!
Full list of Epcot Food and Wine 2017 Global Marketplaces
- Active Eats - NEW
- The Almond Orchard Hosted by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze
- Brewer's Collection
- The Cheese Studio, Hosted by Boursin Cheese - NEW
- Chocolate Studio
- Coastal Eats - NEW
- Craft Beers
- Earth Eats, Inspired by The Chew
- Farm Fresh
- Flavors from Fire - NEW
- Hops & Barley
- Islands of the Caribbean
- Light Lab - NEW
- New Zealand
- Wine & Dine Studio
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017 Talks, Demonstrations & More!
Don't you want to be as happy as the guy in the photo above? YES YOU DO. The festival allows your inner chef or aspiring sommelier shine. You can fine-tune your kitchen skills at a number of cooking demonstrations; wine and beverage, mixology and cheese seminars; and food and wine pairings. Many of these events require reservations (you can call 407-939-3378 to make them) and some are an additional fee. You can see the full list here, but here are some 2017 highlights:
Epcot Food & Wine 2017 - Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It!
Held during the festival from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It! ($49) teaches guests hands-on lessons to improve culinary and beverage skills. The daily workshops are at the Festival Center in the Chef's Showcase. Each lesson offers instruction by a hands-on chef and other kitchen experts. Guests can learn everything from cooking with stouts to rolling their own sushi. Spots are limited, and reservations are strongly encouraged.
Epcot Food & Wine 2017 - Wine, Beer and Spirit Tastings
Sip, sample and drink in amazing adult beverages at a seminar that's full of flavor. Held each day during the festival, sommeliers and other beverage experts will share their extensive knowledge at these insightful and delicious presentations. Drink in the full list of experiences and sign up at the Festival Center, Vineyard Stage. Each session is $17 plus tax.
Epcot Food & Wine 2017 - Culinary Demonstrations
Feed your mind and fill your stomach. During these special 45-minute demonstrations, renowned gourmets will impart years of kitchen wisdom, while they whip up an amazing dish. These delicious demos are $17 per Guest, plus tax, and take place in the Festival Center, Chef’s Showcase. Check out the demos and times here.
Epcot Food and Wine 2017 - Behind the Scenes at Trader Sam's Grog Grotto
Enjoy South Pacific cuisine along with exotic cocktails at this Polynesian event at the beautiful Disney's Polynesian Village Resort on select Wednesdays from noon to 2 p.m. for $129 per guest. The dining event will teach guests about the history of the restaurant, as well as how to blend cocktails from a variety of spirits.
Epcot Food and Wine 2017 - What's Cookin' With... Series
Guests also have the chance to share a meal with a celebrity chef during brunches Fridays and Sundays for $129 (plus tax, gratuity included) per guest. Guests will have a cooking demonstration, as well as Q&A session. The premium event always has a stellar lineup! Scheduled celebrity chefs for 2017 include:
September 3 – Shaun O'Neale
September 10 – Alex Guarnaschelli
September 15 – Stuart O'Keeffe
September 17 – Jet Tila
September 24 – Art Smith
September 29 – Graham Elliot
October 6 – Jamie Deen
October 8 – Geoffrey Zakarian
October 15 – Bryan Voltaggio
October 20 – Robert Irvine
October 22 – Robert Irvine
October 27 – Cat Cora
October 29 – Cat Cora
November 3 – Carla Hall
November 10 – Sarah Fioroni
November 12 – Buddy Valastro
Call (407) 939-3378 to make a reservation.
Epcot Food & Wine 2017 - Premium Events
The festival holds premium events that offer guests the chance to explore even more fabulous cuisine. Can you tell your Asigo from your Roquefort? Fromage lovers will enjoy the Wine and Cheese Pairing Seminars, held on select Saturdays. The annual Party for the Senses, held on select dates in October, is a grand tasting event featuring bites from chefs of the Disney Parks.
Epcot Food and Wine 2017 Eat to the Beat Concert Series
On every evening of the festival, a classic American band from the last 40 years takes the stage at the America Gardens Theater at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8 p.m. The concerts are free and the perfect place to kick back and let loose! Listed below are the dates and performers for the 2017 slate, with first-time Epcot Food and Wine Festival performers noted.
Full Eat to the Beat 2017 Lineup
- 8/31 – 9/1 – Delta Rae
- 9/2 – 9/3 – The Hooters - NEW
- 9/4 – 9/5 – Baha Men - NEW . Who let the frogs out? Who. Who.
- 9/6 – 9/7 – Fuel
- 9/8 -9/20 – STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas
- 9/11 – 9/12 – Lauren Alaina - NEW
- 9/13 – 9/15 – Plain White T’s
- 9/16 – 9/17 – Sister Hazel
- 9/18 – 9/20 - Air Supply
- 9/21 – 9/22 – David Cook
- 9/23 – 9/24 – Everclear
- 9/25 – 9/27 – Sugar Ray
- 9/28 – 9/29 – .38 Special
- 9/30 – 10/1 – Mark Wills - NEW
- 10/2 – 10/3 – American Authors - NEW
- 10/4 – 10/5 – Christopher Cross
- 10/6 – 10/8 – Devon Allman - NEW
- 10/9 – 10/11 – Dennis DeYoung: The music of STYX
- 10/12 – 10/13 – Taylor Dayne
- 10/14 – 10/15 – Jeffrey Osborne
- 10/16 – 10/17 – Postmodern Jukebox - NEW
- 10/18 – 10/20 – 10,000 Maniacs - NEW
- 10/21 – 10/22 – Toad The Wet Sprocket - Ummm yes!
- 10/23 – 10/24 – Kenny G - NEW
- 10/25 – 10/26 – Billy Ocean
- 10/27 – 10/29 – Tiffany
- 10/30 – 11/1 – Hanson
- 11/2 – 11/3 – Blue October - NEW
- 11/4 – 11/5 – Living Colour
- 11/6 – 11/8 – Boyz II Men
- 11/9 – 11/11 – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
- 11/12 – 11/13 – Squeeze - NEW
Eat to the Beat Dining Package
Seating for the concerts is first-come, first-serve, but guests can also get reserved seating to concerts with a select dining package. For the Eat to the Beat Dining Package, guests can book a 3-course meal (breakfast and lunch prices vary from $43-$60 and dinner $51-$80 per person, adult prices listed). These are the restaurants you may dine at in 2017.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
Coral Reef Restaurant
The Garden Grill
La Hacienda de San Angel (dinner only)
Chefs de France
Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room
San Angel Inn Restaurante
Spice Road Table
Tutto Italia Ristorante
Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria
Epcot Food and Wine 2017 Tips
With so many visitors to Epcot during the festival, especially in the evenings and weekends, it helps to have a few insider tips. Here are some of our favorites.
1. Make a plan before heading out
If you take your food as seriously as I do, you'll definitely want to identify a few must-try items in advance. It's a great way to whet your appetite, and it can help you budget. I make a list of the things I want to try and which global marketplaces I can find them. It's not meant to be exhaustive because I want to leave a little room for discovery, but it helps me plan which foods (OK, desserts) I don't want to miss.
You can also do this when you get to the festival. Use your Food and Wine Passport to note the dishes you're most interested in sampling. Be sure to check the Eat to the Beat concert series, calendar of demonstrations and chef appearances as well. You never know who might be coming to town while you're visiting or what new skills you can learn at a cooking demo!
2. Have a budget and stick to it
As we mentioned earlier, setting a spending limit at the outset is the best way not to go overboard. You can use cash, credit, debit, cards, MagicBands (if you're staying at a Disney World Resort Hotel), and quick service meal and snack credits (if you're using the Disney dining plan). But we prefer the miniature-sized festival gift cards, because they are convenient with their little wrist strap and also make nice souvenirs.
3. Go with a group to maximize the adventure
Another way to sample a little bit of everything is to go to the festival with a group. Whether it's friends, family or even some happy folks you met in the hotel lobby, everyone is bound to have different tastes. Each person gets the dishes he or she wants and then shares with the group!
4. Pace yourself
It can be very tempting to dive into every dish you see, but this is where your plan comes in to play. Use that handy passport to help pace yourself as you travel around World Showcase. But remember it's OK to try something that just looks too yummy to pass up.
5. Let the kids have fun
The Food and Wine Festival isn't just for adults! One of the most fun things about the festival—especially for the tadpoles—is getting your festival passport stamped. Everyone can get a passport, but if you're doing the festival as a family, we think it's easiest if you only get one. Every time we visit a new marketplace booth, Lily and Tad take turns getting it stamped.
We also love Remy's Ratatouille Hide & Squeak. For $9.95, the little ones can pick up a set of maps and stickers and then set off helping Remy collect "ingredients" around the park. When they return their maps at Port of Entry, they get one of six limited-release Remy pins.
With these programs, we've encouraged the kids to try more dishes that they might not otherwise on a normal day. It's so fun to watch Lily get excited about trying French cuisine and see Tad be curious about Japanese offerings!
6. Go left to ease congestion from the crowds
When entering World Showcase, people naturally tend to turn to the right, starting toward the Canada pavilion. To avoid some of the crowds, turn left instead, heading toward the Mexico pavilion. This might let you grab more food with less hassle in lines!
7. Avoid evenings and weekends if possible
Florida locals love the Food and Wine Festival, so crowds tend to swell during evenings and weekends. For shorter lines, visit during the week and plan on going for lunch rather than during dinner hours. If you're going on a weekend, head for the World Showcase during the day or later in the evening as guests start to claim spots to see fireworks. It's worth going late if you go during the weekend—Epcot remains open until 10 p.m. on those festival weekend evenings.
8. Try new things you might not consider beforehand
Small plates inspired from cuisines from all around the globe could introduce you to your new favorite food! Don’t be afraid to try that vegetable you’ve never heard of, the cheese with the funny name or an intriguing new drink. You might just like them!
9. Get dessert for a memorable finish
The savory dishes are certainly delicious, but my sweet tooth always has me coming back for dessert. Disney has some of the best in the world! From classic pairings like lemon and raspberry to surprising combinations of strawberry and basil or innovative truffles chilled with liquid nitrogen, you’re sure to have a sweet ending to your day at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival!
Whew—there is a lot to chew on as you decide what to experience at Epcot Food and Wine 2017! Do you have any questions about this year's event? Share in comments below!