Walt Disney World knows me too well ... what could be better after a summer hoppin' around with the tadpoles than an entire festival dedicated to food and wine? That's exactly what we busy mommas need. The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is one of my personal favorite traditions, and it's back and better than ever for 2018. With new flavors and tastes debuting at the global marketplaces, the 2018 festival is sure to have delectable items for everyone.
Epcot Food and Wine has been taking place since 1995 and seems to expand every year to satisfy all of its adoring fans ... and we're not complaining! Epcot Food and Wine 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 it is our honor and privilege to stay on top of all things Disney — especially dining and drinking — we have taken the leap to Epcot Food and Wine 2018 for some in-person, ahem, research on the first day of the festival. The only downside to our visit is that it's quite exhausting to chow down on savory food in the heat of August, but we withstood these challenges for YOU, the readers! ;) Beware that the dates, times and celebrity guests listed for specific events may change. Prices are subject to change as well.
Epcot Food and Wine 2018 Dates & Overview
One of Epcot's most popular events, this daily festival runs Aug. 30 through Nov. 12, 2018. The good news is you'll be able to experience the bulk of the festival with your regular Disney World tickets. However, you will need to foot the bill for your eats and drinks, which can add up if you have a hearty appetite like us frogs. For the most part, kiosk food prices run between $4 and $9, with beverages varying from $3 to $10.
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!
Before you dive in, let us tempt your tastebuds with this video that showcases the sights and sounds of the 2017 festival. Please refrain from licking the screen.
Epcot Food and Wine 2018 Global Marketplaces
The global marketplaces are the heart and soul of Epcot Food and Wine. True to World Showcase fashion, the food and drinks focus largely on interesting cuisines from around the world. Fear not! The portions are intentionally small, so you can sip and savor around the world. Here is the list of global marketplaces for 2018:
- Active Eats
- The Almond Orchard
- Brewer's Collection
- The Cheese Studio
- The Chocolate Studio
- Coastal Eats
- Craft Drafts
- Earth Eats
- The Festival Center Wine Shop
- Flavors from Fire
- Hops & Barley
- Islands of the Caribbean
- Light Lab
- New Zealand
- Shimmering Sips Mimosa Bar
- Wine & Dine Studio
We're so hoppy that many of our favorite locations are returning. Some of the highlighted new items include more gourmet options such as these:
- New Brunswick Slider: Slow-braised Beef Brisket “Pot Roast Style” with Horseradish Cream, Crispy Fried Onions on a Potato Roll with Pickled Vegetables on the side at Hops & Barley Marketplace)
- Charred Chimichurri Skirt Steak, smoked Corn Cake with Pickled Vegetable Slaw and Cilantro at Flavors from Fire)
- Vegetarian Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Vinaigrette, Parmesan Cheese, and Pumpkin Seeds at The Wine & Dine Studio
If you're curious what some of my faves were ... I LOVED the Key Lime Mimosa from Shimmering Sips, which is new at the Festival Center. (The menu was everything I dreamed of and MORE. So many options!) Spain's Charcuterie Cone was seriously my *dream* snack, and don't get me started on the Guinness Baileys Shake in Ireland ... SO GOOD.
An absolute TADPOLE HIGHLIGHT is the Light Lab in Future World. Indoors (in the AC, might I add) is an ultraviolet room filled with colorful science experiments! Little ones can learn how their tastebuds work through interactive beverages.
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 on your Disney World hotel room by booking with 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. (Putting a finite amount on the gift card will also help you budget.)
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2018 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 (call 407-939-3378), and some are an additional fee. You can see the full list here, but here are some 2018 highlights:
Epcot Food & Wine 2018 - Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It!
I don't know about you, but I could always use a little how-to from kitchen experts to help expand my skills. Taking place Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., these interactive experiences allow you to get a hands-on lesson from kitchen experts. For $39, your senses will be enlightened as you learn anything between cocktail creations to sushi-rolling. Check out the official event calendar to get the deets on featured appearances and presentations and find out which seminar is right for you!
Epcot Food & Wine 2018 - Food & Beverage Pairings
Not ready to roll up your sleeves and cook, but still want to enjoy the yummy delights of a professional? For $25, join a featured chef and beverage presenter to learn how to pair a match made in culinary heaven. Taking place Friday through Sunday at 2:30 p.m., this 45-minute demonstration allows you to sample the dish and beverage in the spotlight! You can check out the official event calendar to see which demonstration is right for you, but we're especially excited for those featuring chefs from Disney World restaurants and resorts!
Epcot Food & Wine 2018 - Sunday Brunch with the Chef
Breakfast buffet? Gourmet guest of honor? Say no more. Start off with a sparkling wine toast before indulging in a spread of delicious dishes as you listen to the celebrity guest offer their favorite tips and tricks. Enjoying all-you-can-eat food while learning how to better cook for future reference is just my style.
Sunday Brunch with the Chef takes place select Sundays throughout Epcot Food and Wine at the World ShowPlace Events Pavilion. Epcot admission is required in addition to the $129 per guest cost. You can check out the dates and corresponding guests of honor below!
- September 2: Richard Blais (Top Chef; owner of Trail Blais culinary company in California)
- September 9: Jamie Deen (co-owner of The Lady and Sons restaurant in Savannah, Georgia)
- September 16: Tiffani Thiessen (actress and author of Pull Up a Chair)
- September 23: Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto (Chef/owner of Morimoto Restaurants, including Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs)
- October 7: Buddy Valastro (Cake Boss; owner of Carlo’s Bake Shop in New Jersey)
- October 14: Art Smith (Top Chef; restaurateur behind Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ at Disney Springs )
- October 21: Geoffrey Zakarian (Iron Chef, Chopped and The Kitchen; restaurateur behind Point Royal at The Diplomat Beach Resort in Florida)
- October 28: Carla Hall (chef and author)
- November 11: Alex Guarnaschelli (Iron Chef and Iron Chef Gauntlet; Executive Chef at Butter in New York City)
Epcot Food & Wine 2018 - Premium Events
The festival holds premium events that offer guests the chance to explore even more fabulous cuisine. Can you tell your Asiago 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 2018 Eat to the Beat Concert Series
On every evening of the festival, a classic American band or artist 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 2018 slate, with first-time Epcot Food and Wine Festival performers noted.
We've never felt the need to stake out spots too early for these concerts, and typically recommend getting there 20-30 minutes ahead of time and attending the earliest show.
Full Eat to the Beat 2018 Lineup
- August 30 to 31: Blue October
- September 1 to 3: Tiffany
- September 4 to 5: NEW! MercyMe
- September 6 to 7: NEW! Glass Tiger
- September 8 to 9: NEW! Tauren Wells
- September 10 to 11: Postmodern Jukebox
- September 12 to 13: NEW! Vertical Horizon
- September 14 to 16: Baha Men
- September 17 to 19: Plain White T’s
- September 20 to 21: Living Colour
- September 22 to 23: NEW! Sheila E
- September 24 to 26: Sugar Ray
- September 27 to 28: David Cook
- September 29 to 30: Jeffrey Osborne
- October 1 to 2: NEW! Jim Belushi & The Sacred Hearts
- October 3 to 4: Everclear
- October 5 to 7: Mark Wills
- October 8 to 10: Air Supply
- October 11 to 12: NEW! Anderson East
- October 13 to 14: Smash Mouth
- October 15 to 16: NEW! 98 Degrees
- October 17 to 18: 38 Special
- October 19 to 21: The Devon Allman Project
- October 22 to 23: Kenny G
- October 24 to 25: Billy Ocean
- October 26 to 28: Starship featuring Mickey Thomas
- October 29 to 31: Hanson
- November 1 to 2: NEW! High Valley
- November 3 to 4: Taylor Dayne
- November 5 to 7: Boyz II Men
- November 8 to 9: The Hooters
- November 10 to 12: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Eat to the Beat Dining Package
If you're a die-hard fan and can't miss your favorite band, check out the dining packages at some of our favorite Epcot restaurants for guaranteed seating. While we're usually huge fans of the convenient dining packages, this isn't our favorite option for Epcot Food and Wine since we're too busy stuffing our faces with the quick bites at limited edition booths. For the Eat to the Beat Dining Package, guests can book a three-course meal (breakfast and lunch prices vary from $45 to $70 and dinner $52 to $80 per person, adult prices listed.)
These are the restaurants you may dine at in 2018:
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
Chefs de France
Coral Reef Restaurant
The Garden Grill Restaurant
La Hacienda de San Angel (dinner only)
Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room
San Angel Inn Restaurante
Spice Road Table
Tutto Italia Ristorante
Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria
Epcot Food and Wine 2018 Merchandise
Leap doesn't believe me, but I swear the festival merch gets cuter and cuter each year, and I just cannot resist. These wine cork ears are PERFECT, and Disney just keeps hitting home runs with cool spirit jerseys.
Visit the Festival Center (to the left of Mission Space) for the widest selection in one place. You'll find ornaments, mugs, ears, apparel, kitchenware, art and so much more! You can also find festival merchandise throughout smaller kiosk locations in FutureWorld and World Showcase as well. (Oh, and this year, there is some fun merch for beer lovers too!)
Epcot Food and Wine 2018 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 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.) We prefer the miniature-sized festival gift cards because they are convenient with their little wrist strap and also make nice souvenirs.
3. Don't limit yourself to World Showcase
The concept of eating and drinking "around the world" has become so common that many people forget about the Epcot Food and Wine Festival offerings outside of World Showcase. Some of our favorite items this year appear in Future World. You'll find tons of fresh, delicious and unique options here.
Just beyond this area, a bit closer to World Showcase is where you'll find some of the more classic — and always amazing — booths such as the Chocolate and Cheese Studios, and Wine & Dine. If I were limited to only visiting three booths at the entire festival, these would be it! The wine and cheese flight at Wine & Dine is a delectable deal, and we all know I can't pass up chocolate creations. These areas also have prime dining stops, with plenty of tables for all of your snacks. And for the beer lover in your family, don't miss the Craft Beer pavilion right behind Test Track — a great place for yummy food and snacks, and to cool off!
4. Visit the Festival Center
While a majority of the Food and Wine Festival technically takes place in fall, Florida weather tends to stay on the hot and humid side later into the year. If you're looking to cool off, we highly recommend taking a stroll through the Festival Center. You'll find this hub of festival activity to the right of the (now closed) Universe of Energy in Future World.
Aside from being a great place to enjoy some AC, the Festival Center is also home to the many food and beverage seminars. There is also a wine-centric film showing on a loop that you can sit down and enjoy. Grab a bite at a couple of the food stations inside, including one dedicated to Ghirardelli chocolate. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Not to mention, the Festival Center is a hub for all of the special edition merchandise available during the festival — Mickey-themed kitchen art, cookbooks, apparel and more. While you can find much of this merchandise in smaller booths around World Showcase, this is the best place to scout out all items in one spot.
5. Annual Passholders — get your goods!
There are usually quite a few Passholder-exclusive merchandise items available only in the Festival Center, such as pins, tumblers and shirts.
6. 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. Even if it's just you and your bestie, a good time is guaranteed. 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!
7. Scout places to eat
You don't want to dash and dine at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Don't underestimate the importance of having a place to enjoy all of the food you're about to consume. During crowded times (evenings and weekends) it can be tough to grab a place to set your food down to enjoy. Most of the dining areas are high-top tables with no chairs. However, there are hidden alleys and areas throughout Epcot to take a break and sip on that specialty drink.
We recommend scouting out a place to sit BEFORE grabbing those handfuls of food. That way, you're not left scrambling for seating. Have one member of your frog pack hold down your spot (or even a standing table) while others grab food and drinks.
8. Try this hidden photo-op near World Gateway
Cute photo with a short wait? Count us in. On your way to World Gateway (the path to the Boardwalk between the United Kingdom and France), you'll find an adorbs Epcot Food and Wine 2018 display perfect for a family pic. Don't worry ... you'll likely find a PhotoPass photog (or a nice frog) nearby ;)
9. Pace yourself
It can be very tempting to dive into every dish (or drink) 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.
10. Let the kids have fun
Epcot Food and Wine 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.
11. ... And let them eat!
Sure, first impressions of Epcot food and Wine Festival cuisine may come off quite exquisite and not exactly kid-friendly. But, have no fear! The festival does a great job of combining traditional favorites with something new and exciting. What better way to get your tadpoles to experiment with veggies than with interesting Disney dishes? (FYI, this Loaded Mac 'N' Cheese is still one of our fave dishes in its second year.)
12. Avoid evenings and weekends if possible
Floridians love Epcot Food and Wine, 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.
13. Try new things you might not consider beforehand
Small plates inspired by 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 interesting new drink. You might just like them! If not, I'll be hoppy to finish it for you.
14. 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 unexpected 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!
15. Hop on wearable Epcot Food and Wine 2018 gift cards
Tasting lanyards are no longer available for Food and Wine (boo!) so while no special deals are offered, your next best bet for convenience is getting this wearable festival gift card. This avoids the fuss of pulling out your wallet at each marketplace, and it's a good way to budget each member of the squad. Put an allotted amount on each to pace your spending.
16. Dress up and have fun
Whether it's just you and your bestie or a whole lot of you, you'll have more fun if you get in the wine and foodie spirit. Wear your team colors, custom trip T-shirts or matching wine glasses. It will be a blast!
There is a lot to digest (so to speak) as you decide what to experience at Epcot Food and Wine 2018! Do you have any questions about this year's event? Share in comments below!