Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival begins August 29 and runs until November 23. That’s 87 days of food booths, demos, Eat to the Beat Concerts, and more! With a Festival of this size (we’re expecting 30+ booths this year!), it’s impossible to see and do it all. So here are a few hidden secrets about the Food and Wine Festival as you start your planning.
1. You can meet your favorite celebrity chef!
Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival attracts celebrated chefs from all over the country, and they bring their expertise, personal stories, and great food to Festival fans. If you know where to go and what to do, you can meet your favorite celebrity chef! Many chefs will participate in meet-and-greets after their presentations, and in years past, you haven’t even needed to attend the event to get access to the meet-and-greet.
But you’ll need to check in bright and early at the festival info booth and inquire about meet-and-greets for the day. In some cases bracelets for the meet are distributed, and it’ll be first come, first served in that scenario. If you simply want to see your favorite chef in action, reserve your spot at her or his demonstration or seminar ASAP. Find details on chef seminars here!
2. The Festival is on — even in the rain!
Yup, Food & Wine is rain or shine — most of the time. The Festival booths, located all around the World Showcase, only shut down if the inclement weather is dangerous, so an afternoon shower isn’t going to bring the fun to an abrupt end. In fact, if you stick around during the rain, you’ll likely catch shorter lines because lots of guests won’t wait it out.
So pack a poncho and wear some shoes you don’t mind splashing through puddles with — and continue enjoying the Festival!
3. Use your Disney Dining Plan to the fullest!
If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan during your Food and Wine visit, be sure to save up those snack credits (and/or some quick service credits) to use at the Festival’s food booths! That’s right: most food booth items are snack credit eligible (with the notable exception of alcoholic beverages!), and because those booth items can be a little pricey, spending your snack credits at food booths is often a good value on DDP.
And we’re not just talking snack credits because you can actually cash in a quick service DDP credit for food booth items, too. There are a couple things you’ll need to know. Quick service credits convert to three snack credits, but you must use all three at one location and all at the same time. So if you know there’s a booth where you want to sample all of the menu items, you can plan to use a quick service credit to do so! Occasionally you may encounter a cast member who has not been trained in how to do this, so mileage can vary. (Try asking for a supervisor if your cast member needs some extra assistance with this!)
4. You may be able to get a discount on your event!
Believe it or not, Food and Wine special events often accept discounts for Passholders, DVC members, Tables in Wonderland members, Golden Oak residents, and other affinity groups. These discounts are typically amount to $2 off seminars and demonstrations, Mondays through Thursdays. Just mention your affiliation when you make your reservation, and the reservations pro you’re talking to can go through the process of applying your discount(s).
5. There are several Food and Wine Festival merchandise lines — make sure to find them all!
If you’re planning to shop-’til-you-drop at Food and Wine (or you just want to get a memento to remember your time at the Festival), keep in mind that there are several merchandise lines. Each line will feature different, themed merchandise, including Brews Around the World, Taste Your Way Around the World, Chef Minnie merch, Figment finds, etc., so you may want to see what’s available in each line before making your final decisions. (And check back with DFB because we share a preview of the merch before and at the start of the Festival!)
6. You can do the Festival in one day — but you’ll need some help.
It is possible to complete your must-do Food & Wine Festival list in a day, but you sure can’t do everything. Even if you’ve narrowed things down considerably, you’re going to need some help to figure out the most efficient and practical way to get it all done. The DFB Guide to the 2019 Epcot Food & Wine Festival has a One-Day Strategy that can help you make a realistic plan of attack.
Your primary focus will be attending one low-cost seminar OR a special event, then reserving the rest of your time to eat around the World Showcase food booths. Be sure to check the full menus before you go so that you can prioritize the booths you need to visit.
And if you’ve got more than one day, we have a strategy for that, too!
7. You can still make ADRs during the Festival.
Even if you plan to enjoy plenty of Food & Wine food booth offerings, it’s possible to enjoy some special Advance Dining Reservations, too. But you’ll want to be thoughtful about when and where to book them. Consider ADRs outside of Epcot so you can get a break from the crowds. And if you’re visiting other parks during your trip, plan your ADRs for those park days. That way you won’t have to pass on some epic Food & Wine items in anticipation of a big meal later in the day.
Another approach, if you must schedule an ADR for your Epcot day, is to make it really early or really late in the day. This will hopefully allow you to snack around the Festival for the rest of the day without compromising your enjoyment of the ADR.
8. The Festival is better in half-day chunks.
If you can schedule your Food & Wine visit over several days of your vacation, you’ll give yourself some flexibility — and that means getting out of Dodge when the crowds get too unmanageable or pacing yourself on all those heavy appetizer-sized portions.
We recommend going to the Food and Wine Festival booths right as they open at 11AM, eating around for a few hours, then going elsewhere — and repeating that for a few days. It allows you to get some great food before the masses descend each day, and it relieves the pressure of having to get to all of your target booths in one day.
It’s no secret that Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival is a massive endeavor, and we know it can be overwhelming. That’s one reason we’ve assembled decades of Food & Wine experience in the DFB Guide to Epcot Food & Wine 2019. This eBook discusses literally every aspect of the Festival and includes exclusive daily schedules to help you plan. A food and wine index and descriptions of all the Special Events are other useful tools — but that’s just the beginning.