A Guide to the
Epcot International Food and Wine Festival:
Eat, Drink, Play (and Learn)
Your Way Around the World
Epcot opened in Disney World in 1982 combining education and entertainment: edutainment (scroll all the way down for a brief history of Epcot). The park features two main sections: the area formerly called Future World and now undergoing major construction, which has rides and attractions that focus on technology, the environment and science presented in the Disney way. The second area is called the World Showcase, a World's Fair type presentation that features 11 countries in permanent pavilions showcasing culture, entertainment, food, merchandise, rides and attractions.
Epcot was initially successful when it opened but within 10 years, attendance and earnings starting declining. Along with closing and adding attractions, Disney added four international festivals: the Flower and Garden (started in 1994) March-June; Food and Wine (added in 1995), late August-mid November; Festival of the Holidays, formerly called Holidays Around the World (begun in 1996) Thanksgiving week - December 30 or so and the Festival of the Arts (recently begun in 2017), which goes from January - February. Disney fans jokingly note that the reason there are so many festivals is so that the kiosks can remain up almost all year long.
What's Epcot anyway?
One of the most popular festivals is the Food and Wine Festival, so much so that an abbreviated version had to be held during the 2020 pandemic (and sadly, the Flower and Garden festival was cut short when the parks closed in March).
YouTube Video: Food and Wine Festival
In keeping with the "edutainment" concept, the festivals are more than just eating and drinking. In its full form, the Food and Wine festival sponsors extra events (sometimes for a fee (after paying for the park admission ticket): wine tasting presentations, cooking classes, seminars and workshops with celebrity chefs, concert series, a scavenger hunt and added activities at Kidcot (the children's area in each of the permanent pavilions in the World Showcase. In addition to the normal 11 pavilions, kiosks are added to include other countries and regions around the world.
How to enjoy the Festival in 5 easy steps (make sure you download the My Disney Experience App and check out the latest information for buying tickets and visiting Disney World):
1. Check out the website for the special events that may cost extra and/or require a reservation, such as the seminars with the chefs. Disney dining is extremely popular. They say reservations are recommended, but seriously, they seem to be required.
2. The World Showcase usually opens up 2 hours after the park opens. But, some of the rides in the showcase, like Frozen Ever After or Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, open up when the park opens. You might want to keep that in mind if you purchase the express passes through Genie + or Lightning Lane.
3. During normal times, it gets more crowded in the evening (normal closing is at 9PM, but check the app). If you have little ones, this might not be a good time to visit. However, it might be hot earlier. So, from 3PM-6PM seems like an happy medium. Also, weekends tend to be even more crowded.
4. The festival is all throughout the park, not just in the World Showcase. So, read the app or pick up the Passport Guide booklet at the entrances of the park for all of the little hidden gems.
5. There are kid things to do while the adults drink their way around the world: activities at each pavilion, a scavenger hunt that comes with a prize when you redeem it, non-alcoholic fun drinks at many of the kiosks and the usual entertainment at each pavilion.
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All photos and videos created and copyrighted by Marcia Crayton, unless otherwise noted.