The 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival is coming up soon, and we’re already covering the latest news about the event.
You can “follow the festival” on our Food and Wine Festival page here, and start making plans to attend September 28-November 12, 2012.
This annual event showcases food, wine, and other beverages from around the globe at marketplaces set up around Epcot’s World Showcase. You can also take advantage of some of the great seminars, demos, and events going on throughout the festival!
So, to kick off our coverage appropriately, let’s take a look at our…
Fun Tips for Visiting the Epcot Food and Wine Festival
Here are a few of our favorite dining tips when it comes to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival! I hope they’re helpful, and that you’ll share some of your great tips, too!
1. Make It A Meal
The World Showcase Booths around the Lagoon offer some great eats in small, appetizer sizes! Save one or two (or three!) meals for “eating around the World” Showcase.
Some of the perennial favorites include: Canada’s Cheddar Cheese Soup; Australia’s Shrimp on the Barbie; Italy’s Baked Cheese Ravioli; Argentina’s Grilled Beef Skewer; Poland’s Pierogies; and Germany’s sausage. We’re hoping that griddled cheese is back in Greece this year!
2. Take Advantage of Low-Cost Seminars and Demonstrations
Take advantage of low-cost Epcot Food and Wine Festival seminars and demonstrations to see celebrity chefs!
Culinary demonstrations are held multiple times per day and are usually about 45-minutes in length. Featuring professional chefs and wine presenters, you’ll watch a dish being prepared on the show kitchen stage. Watching is fun, but tasting is even better. Yes, expect to sample the finished product along with its wine pairing! In 2011, these demonstrations were $11-13.
Last year, I enjoyed dessert made by Cake Boss Buddy Valastro at a low-cost seminar!
Wine and Beverage seminars (and also similar Mixology seminars) follow the same format. The focus is on meeting a beverage expert, discovering some new tips, and sampling the featured beverage. In 2011, these seminars were $10-12. Cheers!
With your Epcot admission, you can also enjoy Authors without Borders (30-minute intimate gatherings with a famous food or wine author) or Authentic Taste Seminars (30-minute lively and informative sessions) at no additional cost.
Book Signings, Bottle Signings, and Meet ‘n Greets give festival guests the opportunity to meet celebrated authors, famed chefs, and renowned winemakers. Upon arrival at the festival, it’s always a good idea to check the daily schedule!
In 2011, HGTV Home Entertainment seminars were offered by some of great personalities such as Vern Yip of HGTV Design Star. Offered Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, these fun sessions were free!
Tip: Ask about discounts for Tables in Wonderland members, Annual Passholders, and DVC members — usually available on seminars offered Monday through Thursday only.
3. Include the Kids!
Have Kids? Take ‘em With You! This is a great time for kids to expand their palates without you having to pay big bucks. They can try numerous dishes around the World showcase with you.
This is a good time to note what they like, and visit a corresponding restaurant in the World Showcase for a meal later in the trip.
Think the kiddos might be bored? No worries! Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure will keep them eager to visit the different World Showcase countries while you nosh away. In this adventure (which opens in June), kids use interactive, hand-held devices to follow clues as they complete missions around World Showcase. You won’t hear one “I’m Bored” if they’re engaged in these fun quests!
4. Impress Your Friends
Impress your friends when you get home! Show off your wine-tasting certificate from the wine seminars, or learn more than you ever wanted to know about cheese at a cheese seminar…and have a wine and cheese party at your house!
Want to spend a little less? Head to a food and beverage tasting seminar like the Pizza and Beer Pairing in Italy, tequila lunches in Mexico, or the wine and food pairings in Morocco. These can offer a great education that you can share with your crowd when you get home.
5. Indulge Yourself
Want to be truly pampered? Try a Signature Dining event with one of your favorite chefs or at one of your favorite restaurants in Walt Disney World! Victoria & Albert’s showcased the culinary talents of Chef Scott Hunnel to a sold-out group at the Grand Floridian last year!
If that idea blows your budget, consider attending a seminar like the new Chocolate Discoveries. Lucky participants (this was sold out!) enjoyed tasting a savory dish and desserts made with chocolate. Oh, and there were chocolate-inspired wine and cocktails too.
Think you need a few more desserts to indulge? Head to a “Sweet Sundays” event where a celebrity chef will treat you to several delectable desserts of their own creation.
More Tips From the Experts
DFB readers and Epcot Food and Wine Festival Facebook Fans shared a few more great recommendations!
One proven method to avoid extremely long lines is to visit during a weekday and arrive early. Becca advises, “Go during the week… Weekends are crowded with locals!”
If you are visiting on a weekend, Christine C. suggests, “On a Saturday, get there early (the booths usually open early); you should be able to get more than halfway around before it gets really busy.” We like to start our tour when World Showcase first opens!
When it is crowded and table space is limited, Dee T. shares her touring tip: “Trashcans make great table tops”. I concur.
There were great ideas about planning a successful festival day, including reading about the Festival before arriving in Epcot. Cookie W. has some great tips: “Use a Food and Wine Festival passport or print out a list of all the foods at the food booths. Mark each one as you sample it and even rate it if you want. Then you’ll know what you like so you can go back for seconds.”
We’ll have a list of all menu items (many with photos!) long before the festival begins, so stay tuned here at Disney Food Blog!
Many festival-goers (such as Mary T.) recommend setting aside more than one day to partake in the delicious food and fun events. And this is one time when you shouldn’t make any Advance Dining Reservations — save your appetite!
Enjoy the Eat to the Beat Concerts by planning your evening meal around the shows. Carol S. shares this tip, “Get a couple items [at the World Showcase booths] for dinner, go watch the concert, then get dessert.”
Consider booking a hotel room at the Beach Club Resort. Carol V. likes the convenience of the nearby hotel; she recommends “stay at the Beach Club so you can walk in and crawl out!”
Use a Wristlet Gift Card
You can find one of these mini-gift-cards at most Festival merchandise stores or the Festival Center. The small card has an expandable wrist wrap so that it’s easy to scan multiple times (as many of us do at the Festival).
This tip received the most shout-outs, suggesting that if you are a guest paying out-of-pocket for your eats and sips that the gift card is a must-have. Jennifer O. stated: “And I agree about using the gift card that goes on your wrist. It helps to keep you within your budget and it makes paying so much quicker.”
First, it’s convenient. Instead of digging out other funds, you’ll have your hands free for carrying a plateful of food and glass of wine or other beverage. It’s also a good idea as a budget-saver: put the amount that you are comfortable spending on the gift card. We suggest doing this before visiting the Craft Beer booth.
Use Your Disney Dining Plan Snack Credits
If you have the Disney Dining Plan, save your snack credits for your adventure through the marketplace booths. Many of the tapas-sized menu items are a great value for DDP guests.
Special Diet Planning
Bonnie F. has a helpful idea: “If you have food allergy/intolerance issues, pick up the festival cookbook first and check out the ingredients. Then make a pocket list of do’s/don’ts for the kiosks.”
In both 2010 and 2011, gluten free items were available at the World Showcase booths. But it can be difficult to find out which ones are safe. We love the idea of looking at the cookbook!
Come Follow the Festival With Us!
We will be covering the festival from head to toe again this year, and we’ve already reported on the eat to the beat concert schedule line up. Stay tuned for more reviews from last year’s events as well as previews of this year’s events, coming soon!
Don’t forget to follow along on our 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Page!