No offense to the holidays, but EPCOT Food and Wine Festival might be the REAL “most wonderful time of year!” The festival has been underway for a few weeks now, and we’ve been eating and sipping our way through it!
Along the way, we’ve been met with all kinds of surprises…some good, and some…not so much. You know the feeling. When it comes to a colossal food fest like this one, there are just some things that pretty much EVERYONE is thinking but no one will say.
There’s a LOT to eat, drink, see, and do at EPCOT right now, from scavenger hunts to beer flights and everything in between. But through it all, we’ve noticed some details that shouldn’t be overlooked. Some details that we’d venture to guess most people are in agreement about.
Booze = $$$
Perhaps the LEAST surprising thing that we’re all thinking is how EXPENSIVE the alcohol is at Food and Wine! Granted, alcohol is pretty much ALWAYS expensive in Disney World, but it feels especially blatant during a festival like this when many drink portions are much smaller than you’d get outside of a festival.
Seriously, the Martini Slushies cost almost TWICE as much as Coq au Vin?! Most wine pours are relatively accessible (as they should be, considering the portions are thimble-sized), but it’s kinda hard to stomach paying $11 for tea with whiskey.
You can find some bargains on beer and wine, but if you want liquor, get ready to budget! Because it’ll REALLY amp up your overall costs if you’re planning on grazing all day.
Table Service Restaurants Must Be Jealous
EPCOT’s permanent Table Service restaurants are real gems. From Rose & Crown’s EPIC Fish & Chips to the fragrant foodie treasures at Spice Road Table, these are worthwhile dining destinations year-round! Well, except right now.
One of our top tips for tackling Food and Wine is to skip the Table Service restaurants so that you can focus on the special booths that are here specifically for the festival. Makes sense, right? Rose & Crown isn’t going anywhere, and they’re certainly not hurting for business.
But we still can’t help but feel a little bad that they’re constantly overlooked in favor of things like Spanakopita or Cheddar Cheese Soup. We’ll always have a place in our hearts for Fish & Chips, Tangines, and all the other nummy foods at the permanent spots in World Showcase!
Some of This Year’s Menu Items Are Pretty…Basic
While MANY of EPCOT’s Food and Wine menu items this year are stunning, impressive, and delicious (looking at YOU, Chilaquiles con Chorizo!), we can’t help but notice that other dishes are really…kind of…phoning it in.
Like, what’s going on with these wings and flatbreads? Are we in Disney World or a mall food court, circa 2001? (So the wings were actually pretty tasty, but still. That’s not what most think of as “foodie” foods!)
Most things being served this year look great, but others — like this “Traditional” (aka kinda basic) Poutine — just look like chain restaurant food with Disney prices… .
Disney Is REALLY Trying to Make Donut Sandwiches Happen
Well, it’s official. After eating cheesy bacon donut sandwiches at Everglazed Donuts & Cold Brew and a pulled pork donut in Animal Kingdom, Disney is at it again with ANOTHER Donut Sandwich at EPCOT Food and Wine. It’s officially a trend!
Not that we’re mad about it! Especially when said sammie is as good as the Sriracha Chicken Donut creation at The Donut Box, which is easily one of our favorite snacks in the festival right now.
But yeah, if Disney thinks we haven’t noticed their aggressive push to normalize Donut Sandwiches, they’re wrong. This is one trend we’re totally ok with them pushing though!
Italy Is (Still) The Most Skippable Booth
Between everything being way too expensive and most of the items looking totally meh (like a sad-looking trio of Bomboloni and rubbery Grilled Chicken Ravioli), not to mention when they flat-out run out of food! We wish we could say this is a first for this booth but many festivals now, Italy has just underwhelmed. We’d rather spend a few bucks more on good Italian food at the restaurants in the Pavilion. We’re gonna pass on Italy and use our valuable cravings elsewhere.
Disney Is Ready To Take Some RISKS!
Major food festivals like this one, which has to appeal to a HUGE population of people with all kinds of taste preferences, usually play it relatively safe with their menu items…save for the occasional snail snack.
But this year, it looks like Disney is stepping up their game and embracing their inner Top Chef a bit! After all, it’s not often you see things like pig ear on a Disney menu!
The Swanky Saucy Swine, a rather bold newcomer this year, is leading the way in terms of envelope-pushing food, featuring some off-cuts and whole-hog ingredients, like pig ear salads, pork rinds, and pork-fat roasted potatoes!
Why is Appleseed Orchard Lacking Actual Food?
With a fruitful name like Appleseed Orchard, you’d expect some actual food items, no?
But this tucked-away booth is honestly kind of a foodie wasteland, with literally just ONE prepared dish. There are technically two food items, but one of them is a sad pre-packaged bag of apple chips, which we choose to pretend doesn’t exist.
Seriously, there are SO MANY apple items that could be served here! Has Disney never heard of apple pie? Candy apples? Apple strudel? Waldorf salad? Being one of the most versatile ingredients, it’s just odd that Disney chooses to ONLY focus on drinks! And considering that Fall is apple harvesting season… shouldn’t we be basking in the glow of apple-themed cuisine?
While We’re On The Subject Of Appleseed Orchard…
Not to pile on, but it also needs to be said that garnishing cocktails with things like streusel crumbs and mini marshmallows will never not be weird.
We Need To Have A Talk About Soup
Listen, soup is delicious, and Disney is VERY good at making soup! But we prefer our hot broth inside an air-conditioned dining room, not outside in the scorching Florida sun.
We get that soup recipes lend themselves well to certain regional cuisines, and TBH the Cheddar and Bacon Soup from the Canada booth is legit yummy. But does Disney really think serving hot, creamy soup at an outdoor festival at the height of summer in Florida is an appetizing idea?
Sure, SOME folks really crave spicy beef pho when the heat index is in the triple digits. But most guests that are already sweating through every piece of clothing on their body will reach for a cold beer or ice cream instead of hot beefy broth!
The Festival Should Be Renamed EPCOT Food and Beer
There’s certainly no lack of good wine at EPCOT Food and Wine, but there’s no denying that beer gets most of the creative attention and spotlight here.
Even though most of the booths offer some wine pours, the offerings all tend to blend together with not a lot of distinction. Meanwhile, the emphasis tends to be more on the craft beer side, with so many unique and delicious options to sample!
Considering the boom in craft breweries across the country, and the uptick in interesting beers in Disney World in general, it’s obvious who the favorite booze child is here…and it isn’t wine.
Is EPCOT Turning Into One Giant Endless Festival?
From EPCOT Food and Wine to EPCOT International Flower and Garden and beyond, there’s almost ALWAYS some kind of festival taking place in EPCOT these days, and it’s time that Disney just acknowledges the obvious: EPCOT is one big endless festival park now.
Not only that, but all the festivals kinda blur together, with only subtle design and aesthetic differences. In fact, some booths even repeat menu items from different festivals, like the Dragonfly drink from the China booth, which has done double duty at Festival of the Holidays AND Food and Wine.
This certainly isn’t a BAD thing, because we’re obsessed with EPCOT’s festivals, but it’s becoming more and more obvious with each year and each event that this is THE festival park, with a LOT of familiar flavors.
Give it a week between fests or so and that Mexico booth will magically transform…into the same Mexico booth with slightly different foods and a slightly different name but still…totally…basically…the same. Put an artsy spin on the name and some extra garnishes, you get Festival of the Arts. Throw something floral in the mix, you got Flower and Garden, etc. Rinse and repeat for most of the other booths that repeat each fest. That said, there are some unique standouts of each festival that make visiting each special and worthwhile. But by and large, they’re essentially very similar year-round.
Between the Italy disappointments, the pricey booze, and the Donut Sandwiches, these are just a few of the not-so-subtle things we’ve noticed at EPCOT Food and Wine this year. What stood out to you this year? Anything you think deserves some extra attention?
It’s still easy to have a FANTASTIC trip to the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, especially when you make your basic plan of attack in advance. That’s why we publish an annual DFB Guide to the festival that includes detailed photos and information about every festival booth, a complete festival events calendar, and dozens upon dozens of tips we’ve gathered over many years of attending every EPCOT Food and Wine Festival!
Our eBook is easy to take along with you on your smartphone or your tablet, and it comes with fun bonuses, including:
- Themed Booth Crawls — a great activity for a group of any size or a solo adventurer! These booth crawls group together similar items so that you can hone in on what you’ll enjoy the most! We even have one for the kids!
- Customized Touring Strategies — We’ve prepared customized touring strategies to make sure you get the most out of your visit. At the Food and Wine Festival for just a half-day? Two full days? With kids? On a budget? We’ve got suggestions and recommendations about how to make the most of your time.
- A Printable World Showcase Booth Menu Checklist — Stay ahead of the game and strategize what you’ll be eating at the festival with this handy, printable checklist!
And we’re offering a special discount to DFB Readers! Use code CHEFS at checkout to get the DFB Guide to the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival for 20% off!
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What’s something you want to get off your chest about EPCOT Food and Wine? Let us know in the comments!