By Guest Blogger, Ashley Nichols of Theme Park Foodie
On September 28th, the annual Food and Wine Festival will return to Epcot®. One of Walt Disney World's most celebrated events, Food and Wine can be an unforgettable experience for Disney fans and foodies alike! That being said, like any special event, navigating the festival can be stressful for even the most seasoned of Disney's veterans. But never fear, savvy Food and Wine attendees who follow these tips can kick back, relax, and enjoy all that the festival has to offer!
1. Plan Ahead
If you know you'll be visiting the festival, be sure to do some research. Look up a list of the International Marketplaces, concerts and special events before you arrive at the park. Doing this can help in two ways! For one, you can plan which International Marketplace booths you want to visit during your trip. Knowing how many booths you want to visit can help you budget for your day at the festival. You can find a full menu for the International Marketplace here. For two, by checking the special events schedule you may find a workshop, tasting or experience that is worth trying.
2. Avoid dining at a World Showcase Restaurant
Although the restaurants in Epcot® are some of the best on Disney property, try not to eat at them during the Food and Wine festival! There are so many delicious, unique foods available at the international market booths that half of the fun of the festival is eating your way through the World Showcase. Enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner by trying different culinary offerings from around the world. There IS an exception to this rule: If you rarely visit Epcot® and have a favorite restaurant, then by all means enjoy.
3. Purchase a Food and Wine gift card
If you stop by one of the gift shops in the World Showcase, you'll have the opportunity to purchase a Food and Wine festival gift card. There are no perks or discounts that come with having the card, but it does have its advantages. The gift card comes on a spiral bracelet that you can wear on your wrist while going from booth to booth, so you don't need to pull out your wallet at every stop! This saves time, and eliminates the age-old struggle of juggling food and drinks while trying to pay.
4. Dodge the Crowds
Remember the tip about checking the festival calendar? Check it twice! Be aware of the times that certain areas of the park will be busiest. For example, if there is a tasting going on in the Festival Center (in Future World between the Universe of Energy Pavilion and Mission: SPACE® Attraction) and you are not interested in trying it, avoid the area until another time! Or, if you are not a big concert fan, avoid the areas around the America pavilion during the Eat to the Beat concert events.
5. Hit the Must-Try Booths
This tip is more of a suggestion, but there are some booths that you truly MUST consider trying during the festival! The Belgium booth will once again be offering the Belgium Waffle with Berry Compote and Whipped Cream, a prior festival favorite. The Florida Local booth, new to the festival, will be offering tastes of the Sunshine State including the Florida Shrimp Ceviche with Fire Roasted Vegetables, Fried Plantains and Cilantro. The Ireland booth has a savory Lobster and Seafood Fisherman's Pie that can be heavy for a hot day, but the perfect dish during the cooler evening. To bring the day to a close, the Desserts & Champagne booth is a must! The dessert sampler, which includes the Yogurt Panna Cotta with Orange Cake, Raspberries and Pomegranate, the Lemon Custard Verrine with Blueberry Compote and the Dark Chocolate Mousse with Chili and Salted Caramel is perfect for sharing during Illuminations: Reflections of Earth!
Ashley Nichols is the editor of Theme Park Foodie, a blog that highlights dining and cuisine opportunities at theme parks throughout the United States with a focus on Central Florida. TPF, an UrbanSpoon featured blog, features content on Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens and more! Join the theme park food conversation on Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Facebook.