It’s one of our favorite times of the year at Walt Disney World (we ARE a food blog, after all), and we’ll be sharing all the Food & Wine updates from now until the opening day…and beyond! We’ve been tackling this festival for YEARS, so we pretty much consider ourselves experts, and we have some tips that you’re definitely going to need to know if you plan on visiting this year.
Go in the Morning, Right at 11AM
The first thing you’ll need to know when visiting the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival is that it gets progressively more crowded throughout the day. That means that you should arrive early, preferably right when the park opens at 11AM. (If that’s the opening time on the day of your visit.) Festival booths open at 11AM each day, so if you plan to be there ready to eat right when they do, you’ll get far. Think of it like Food and Wine Rope Dropping! 😉
When visiting EPCOT, many people hit up Future World first to knock out the rides, then head back to World Showcase in the afternoon/evening. If you visit World Showcase first thing, you’ll likely beat the crowds there and be able to accomplish a LOT more. Also, the guests in the evening tend to be rowdier than earlier in the day (thanks, alcohol!), so if you want to avoid that crowd, go earlier.
Skip the Weekends
Another time when the festival gets the most crowded is during the weekends! Who’s to thank for this? Locals! On Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday, local passholders show up to enjoy a quick meal or snack around the park, so you’ll typically find a more packed park than what you may have been expecting. Locals have date night and weekends off too — they just have a cool place like EPCOT to spend it in!
And since the festival is a big draw for Disney fans, you also have many out-of-town guests roll in for the weekend simply to visit EPCOT. If you want to ensure that you have the shortest waits and lowest crowds possible, we recommend visiting on a weekday if possible!
Start on the Canada Side
When it comes to the World Showcase pavilions, everyone has a preference of which side to start on. We blame the lure of the big inviting pyramid on the left, but from the lines we’ve seen over the years, the booths. to the left near Mexico seem to form long lines first. If you visit Canada first, you’ll likely have a slightly easier time making your way through the festival.
Even though you may be walking against the crowds, it’s possible that you’ll encounter shorter lines at the festival booths (as long as you start early!). That means more time enjoying the park and less time waiting to order your food. Just remember that between the UK and France Pavilions is the International Gateway which, thanks to the Disney Skyliner, is a much more popular “back entrance” into EPCOT for many guests now. You might hit crowds as you reach this area too.
Check the Menus Ahead of Time
When we say that there are a TON of options at the Food & Wine Festival…we mean it! This year there are more than 30 different “global marketplaces” (food booths) stationed around EPCOT, each with multiple drinks and small plates on the menu. That’s why we recommend looking at those menus ahead of time!
If you don’t prioritize which items you want to try and which booths you want to stop at, you’ll probably only make it partway through the park before you find yourself completely stuffed or at the end of your budget. If you’re having a hard time deciding, then make a secondary list of things that you want to try if you have room in your stomach and cash left over at the end! Menus for this year have been released and we update our list of ALL the booths and menus as often as possible so you can find all the info in one easy place.
Add Your Money to a Gift Card
And speaking of running out of money, let’s talk budgeting! When you visit an EPCOT festival, it can be easy to overspend — you’re only spending a few dollars on each item so it doesn’t seem like you’re paying as much as you actually are, but it adds up quickly.
What we suggest is using a gift card! Put your festival budget amount on the card and once it runs out, you’re done for the day. It’ll be a quick and easy way to keep track of what you’ve spent. Plus, if you have a change of heart and just need MORE, you can always add cash to your card and go for more! This has really helped us in the past to not blow our entire budget in one day!
Read Food Reviews Ahead of Time
When there are SO many things to try, you don’t want to waste your time eating something that you won’t like — THAT’S why you should check out reviews online ahead of time! Here at DFB, we visit EPCOT on the opening day of every festival to try ALL the things, and we put up reviews on our website of EVERYTHING that very day.
We keep the reviews up on our site so that you can keep checking back throughout the festival. Reading our thoughts on each dish might just help you figure out which items to add to your must-try list! Seeing a name and description is one thing but actually seeing the food IRL and what others think can help you make your decisions.
Bring Your Own Accessories
If you’re planning a hardcore day at the Food & Wine Festival, then there are a few purchases that you might want to make ahead of time. Think we go in there empty-handed ready to tackle food at 30+ locations in a day? NO WAY! First of all, we recommend buying yourself a small tray to help carry your food and drinks — if you get multiple things at each booth, it’s a lot to carry!
We also like to bring our own reusable utensils and straws. It’s a lot easier and a lot less wasteful than getting new ones at every booth, plus it’s one less thing you have to grab before you get to eat. (When you’re ready to chow down, you don’t want to waste valuable seconds!) Plus, some foods are just hard to cut up with those flimsy plastic knives. A sturdier reusable option is reliable! Disney often sells sets of small trays and utensils at the Festival each year if you’re looking for a souvenir as well as a handy tool!
Get the DFB Festival Guide
And last, but certainly not least, is one of the most important tips of all — get the DFB festival guidebook! The DFB Guide to the 2021 EPCOT Food & Wine Festival is available for pre-order ahead of the festival, and you can purchase it throughout as well, for only $14.95. In our book, we have all the big information you need to know about Food & Wine so that you can tackle it like a pro!
We share exclusive maps, a list of all the booths, menus, tips, and so many other important things that you’ll need to know. We receive tons of great reviews and happy messages every year from our readers who purchase the guides, and they rave about how helpful they are. Best part — it’s so easy to have handy on your phone. Think of it like a pro at your fingertips ready to make sure you have the best Food and Wine experience possible! Make sure to pick up one for yourself!
There you go! With those tips, you should be able to take on the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival without a problem! Stay tuned to DFB for the latest festival news, updates, and advice.
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Have you ever been to this festival before? Tell us in the comments!