Top Tips for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival

It’s nearly here: the Epcot Food and Wine Festival kicks off shortly and we are counting down the days!

2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Logo Disney

Before long, we’ll all be traipsing about Epcot, noshing on old favorites and new finds.

And with more marketplace booths joining the ranks every year, there is always something to be excited about.

But planning is key, especially as the festival continues to grow. And we’re here to help!

We’ve been around the festival block a time or two, ;-) so I’m happy to share with you some of Disney Food Blog’s Top Tips for making this the best Epcot Food and Wine Festival yet! Let’s dig in!

1. Know Before You Go

The Epcot Food and Wine Festival has become massive, both in terms of timeframe and offerings. Every year, it gets longer, and more booths are introduced. This pretty much guarantees that if you show up expecting to wing it, you’re gonna miss some stuff. So planning has gotta be your starting point.

Spend some time looking at the menus, and determine your must eat and must drink lists. Give special attention to this exercise if you have particular preferences or sensitivities as Disney labels items that are gluten free and vegetarian. (For all of this year’s gluten free offerings, check out our list of GF menu items here.)

Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée at Patagonia

Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée at Patagonia, a Gluten Free Option

Also, give some thought to where you might escape the heat for a bit. Craft Beers, located in The Odyssey, offers a nice respite from the sun. Besides, it’s a great place to grab a cold one. In World Showcase, duck into Mitsukoshi Department Store in Japan for a breather, or take in the Voices of Liberty for a break.

2. Visit During the Down Times

Because of the festival’s popularity, avoiding crowds has become a little more challenging. But there are still plenty of times that lines are shorter and crowds are thinner. You just have to give it a little forethought.

Avoid Lines By Planning Ahead

Avoid Lines By Planning Ahead

Avoid both opening and closing weekends. Typically crowds swell during both extremes. Likewise, plan your visits for the middle of the week. The Epcot Food and Wine Festival is as much a destination for locals as it is for out of town guests, and weekends are predictably times when the guest count increases. Finally, avoid holiday weekends like Labor Day, Columbus Day, and Veteran’s Day.

Aim for early in the day — booths typically open at 11:00AM — weekdays, once the festival is well underway.

3. Get a Festival Passport

Since Festival Passports debuted several years back, we’ve become big fans! Not only are the passports a great way to keep track of what you’ve tried, but they make super cute mementos of the festival.

If you’re not familiar with them, Festival Passports are the little booklets that you can pick up at Festival Center and at registers throughout Epcot (especially in World Showcase).

2016 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Passport

2016 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Passport

The passport lists the menus of each booth as well as other festival details, such as the Eat to the Beat concert schedule and festival merchandise. Use the stickers that are included to mark all of the booths you visit to help you keep track!

Start Your Planning NOW!

News! The DFB Guide to the 2017 Epcot Food & Wine Festival e-Book is now available to order!

food-and-wine-guide-cover-2017

This 250+-page guide to the Festival offers insider tips and advice as well as all of the details you need to know to plan your best Festival visit ever.

We cover every single World Showcase Booth, and include full-color photos for most of the food items being offered at this year’s festival!

Your purchase includes several bonus items as well — including a full daily schedule of events at the Festival and a printable World Showcase Booth Menu Checklist to carry with you as you Eat around the World!

Use code Chefs at check-out for a 20% discount!

Be sure to stay tuned to Disney Food Blog for all of the latest coverage about the 2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. We’ll have the details FIRST!

4. Try New Things

We know — we’re right there with you. It just wouldn’t be a festival without favorites like the Empanada at Patagonia, that Chocolate Pudding at Ireland, or a Crème Brûlée in France — we don’t care WHAT the flavor is.

Warm Chocolate Pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard

Warm Chocolate Pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard

But you guys — you gotta try all the things! The NEW things! We’re talking dishes like Smoked Corned Beef with Warm Crispy Potatoes, Pickled Onions and Blonde Ale Beer Fondue from Flavors From Fire.

Flavors from Fire Smoked Corned Beef

Smoked Corned Beef with Warm Crispy Potatoes, Pickled Onions and Blonde Ale Beer Fondue

Wash it down with festival exclusive Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen Pomegranate Beer!

Schofferhofer Hefeweizen Pomegranate Beer

Schofferhofer Hefeweizen Pomegranate Beer

Find it at Brewer’s Collection.

You can see our full list of must-eats at the festival here!

5. Use a Wristlet Gift Card or MagicBand

There are lots of ways to budget for the festival, but getting a gift card is among the easiest. Just load the gift card with a predetermined amount of money and go. When you’re out of money, you’re finished with Food and Wine Festival fun.

But in addition to being a great way to budget, Disney’s mini giftcards come on little bracelets, which makes it super convenient to use at the booths. Rather than digging through your bag at every stop for a card or cash, it’s easy to pay with the little wearable giftcard.

See How Handy Those Wristlet Gift Cards Are?

See How Handy Those Wristlet Gift Cards Are?

Want to celebrate life and splurge a little? Check out the Commemorative Epcot Food and Wine Gift Card. It comes with a souvenir lanyard and medallion, and can be yours when you load it with a minimum of $200. And let’s be honest: it’s really not hard to spend that much. So why not?

Commemorative Gift Card Information

Commemorative Gift Card Information

Of course, MagicBands are another simple, convenient way to pay. Just watch those expenses. They can creep up on you. :-)

6. Or Purchase the Sampler Package

For years, guests have asked for an all inclusive festival ticket, an opportunity to pay a set price and sample as much as you’d like. (Think of events like the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic.) While this food and wine fantasy has never come to pass, Disney does offer a Sampler Package.

For a flat price, guests purchase a card with eight allotments, which allows them to visit the booths of their choice.

Tasting Sampler Credential

Tasting Sampler Credential

Tasting Sampler Entitlement Coupons

Tasting Sampler Entitlement Coupons

While the options are fairly wide open, there are a few restrictions. The good news is that they’re printed right on the card, so there’s no guess work involved.

Tasting Sampler Credential -- Back

Tasting Sampler Credential — Back

The upside is that you can come out ahead if you choose your items wisely.

7. Share

Because we love to try All. The. Things. — this is one of our favorite tips. Share, share, and share some more. It’s a great way to maximize the number of dishes that you have the chance to try.

Cheese Trio

Cheese Trio from The Cheese Studio

Here’s my personal TIP: head to the booths with family or a group of friends, and plan to share everything. Then, at the end of the day or the next day, go back for a full serving (or two!) of your favorites!

8. Be There for More Than One Day

Sure, you could do the Epcot Food and Wine Festival in a day — even less, if you have only a morning or an afternoon. We give you strategies for short visits in our DFB Guide to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival E-Book. But honestly, if you can, I recommend that you plan for more than one day.

2016 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Banner

There is a lot of food and drink to enjoy. And in my opinion, the best way to actually enjoy it is to space it out over the course of a few days. That way you can take in a few booths, alternate them with some attractions, and maybe even a few Special Events.

Welcome Drink: a Shrunken Zombie Head in a miniature glass

Take In a Special Event, Like Behind the Scenes at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

The exploration of food and drink should be more of a marathon than a sprint.

9. Drink Plenty of Water

This is a biggie, and something that is super easy to neglect because you don’t plan ahead, don’t want to spend money, or both. But you need to hydrate for lots of reasons.

First of all, it’s gonna be hot. Don’t let the calendar fool you, folks. Especially during the early days of the festival, it’ll be summertime. Sip on water throughout the day to prevent heat exhaustion.

Dasani Water

Dasani Water Is Available Throughout the Park

But add to the heat that you’ll probably be imbibing a few drinks. Alcohol is a notorious dehydrator, so plan now to drink at least a cup of water between cocktails or servings of beer and wine.

Soda Station

Grab a Free Cup of Water at Electric Umbrella

To accomplish this in the least expensive way possible, bring your own. We love these collapsible water bottles that don’t take up a lot of space in your bag. And remember that counter service locations will give you free cups of ice water. And for those of you who don’t mind tap water, make liberal use of those water fountains.

10. Bring a Tray

Yes, yes, and YES!! Have you ever gotten to a festival marketplace booth, ordered everything, and then tried to get it from the counter to a suitable eating spot without spilling everything? It’s not an easy task.

That’s why we here at DFB are big believers in bringing your own tray. Sure, you can get one of the cute little food plates that they sell at the Festival Center and other merch spots, but it really doesn’t hold much.

DFB tray in use by DFB reader

DFB tray in use by DFB reader

Besides, plastic trays are super easy to come by. You can even order them ahead from and customize them. We think a DFB sticker is the PERFECT decoration. :-D

Make Your Own!

Make Your Own!

Please believe me when I say that a tray is indispensable. I know you’ll thank me when you’re enjoying your Canadian Cheddar Soup and Ice Wine instead of wearing them.

Want More Epcot Food and Wine Festival Info?

We’ll have all the coverage and information you need right here on Disney Food Blog!

2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Index

2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Booth and Menu Index
2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Special Events
2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Low-Cost Seminars and Demonstrations
2017 Eat to the Beat Concert Schedule
Epcot Food and Wine Festival Fans Facebook Page
2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Wine and Dine Half Marathon
2017 Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic
Food and Wine Festival 101
2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Gluten Free Items

How to Book Epcot Food & Wine Festival Events

To book all special events and demonstrations, call 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378) starting July 20 at 7:00AM ET. Culinary Demonstrations and Beverage Seminars and general admission for some special events may be bookable online at www.epcotfoodfestival.com as well as by phone.

Tables in Wonderland members, Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members, and Golden Oak Residents are eligible for a $2 discount (per person, per event) for beverage and seminars and culinary demos taking place Mon-Thurs during the festival. Members of these groups can also book all Special Events early on July 18th beginning at 9:00AM ET. Discounts are by phone only at 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378). Stay tuned to DisneyFoodBlog.com and the Disney Food Blog Newsletter for details.

Chase Disney Visa Cardholders will not have early access to booking.

Pin it for later!

Top Tips for the 2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Now we want to hear from you! What are your Top Tips for enjoying the Epcot Food and Wine Festival? Leave a comment and join in the conversation below!

Comments

  1. MarkM4 says

    Here is my tip on how to use the Passport. Put the country stickers on the front after you’ve done a booth. Then you know at a glance where you have already been. We are going the first Friday and will pick up a Passport then. When we get home we review the photos of actual dishes from booths that AJ and the crew post here and then highlight everything we each want to try that looks good in the real photos. Then over our next 13 visits we will try most of our picks. Great being local for Food and Wine and having this terrific planning blog.

  2. Mandi says

    Are they offering the sampler package this year?? I have been waiting to purchase it for our trip next month but have yet to see it advertised. It’s a short trip so the way our schedule works, we were hoping to get the reserved Eat to the Beat seating

  3. says

    Mandi — Yes. We confirmed that they are offering the sampler package this year, but I don’t know for sure if it will include the Eat to the Beat reserved seating.

  4. says

    MarkM4 — What a great suggestion! Thanks for sharing! We’ll be out doin’ our thing on Thursday, so hopefully we’ll have some good tips for you. :-D

  5. Liz says

    Definitely use all your snack credits at the Food and Wibe Festival. It is a great way to ensure you get a taste of everything! It’s also a good place to breakdown coubterservice meals into even more snacks!

  6. Rach says

    If you want to make your own try, be sure to order the sticker from Zazzle with plenty of lead time. I placed my order to make a new tray back in mid July & I’m still waiting for it. (I know DFB has no control over what Zazzle does. & I have contacted Zazzle directly. Just giving folks a heads-up in case they want one in time for the August start.)

  7. says

    Mandi — The sampler package is out, and I’ve updated our pages. The 8-entitlement package is $65 per person, and doesn’t appear to include priority seating for Eat to the Beat. I thought of you this morning when the info came out though, and wanted you to know. :-)

  8. Angie says

    If you break up your counter service credit into snack credits. Can you use those snack credits at different booths?

  9. says

    Linda — Prices are not usually available until the menus go up, and that normally happens once the festival begins. Prior to 2016, there was usually a festival soft opening the day before, but last year, they opened on opening day.

  10. says

    Linda — You’re welcome! We’ll be in the park, gathering pricing info and posting photos of the menus, on August 31. You may want to keep an eye starting the day before, because we’ll check and if they’re up, we’ll start snapping pics and posting them. :-)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *