Attention foodies: the most magical time of year has arrived. The 24th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is scheduled for 87 mouthwatering days, running August 29 through November 23, 2019. That’s nearly two weeks longer (and tastier) than ever before! You’re invited to treat your taste buds to a worldwide epicure expedition featuring international indulgences and domestic delicacies. Prepare to eat, drink and feel the cultural sensations through edible and entertainment experiences throughout Future World and the World Showcase.
With over 30 global food and wine marketplaces dishing out deliciousness, navigating this robust affair can feel overwhelming. Fear not… our Disney experts have offered up insider tips so you can savor the best of Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival.
Planning Your Visit
When To Go
Food editor Pam Brandon has attended every single Food & Wine Festival since its inception in 1995 and has authored 21 Disney cookbooks, including the “Disney Festivals Cookbook.” She’s learned to avoid going on weekends when locals increase crowd size. “Instead, splurge and take off a Monday or Tuesday,” she advises. Upon arrival, stop into the Festival Center, an information hub, for a Festival Passport, a.k.a. your culinary compass. The Center is also the best place to explore passholder perks and shop event merchandise.
The Festival operates daily from 11am to park close (check calendar). Guests typically work the World Showcase clockwise, since that’s how the passport is outlined, so consider heading counter-clockwise to forgo the masses of ravenous festival-goers.
Before you go, explore online menus to chart out must-have items. The Disney Food Blog is a great resource for this. At booths, ask chefs about gluten-free, vegetarian and other dietary needs if applicable. And if you love a dish, ask for the recipe! Elizabeth Hernandez, founder of The Disney Mom Blog, instructs hungry park goers to split plates with friends so you can try as many dishes as possible.
Admittance to the Festival is included with a standard park ticket; however, food and beverages are not complementary. Appetizer portions typically range $4-9. To maintain a budget and avoid fumbling with cash or credit cards, Deb Koma, editor of AllEars.net, suggests using a Food & Wine gift card (capped at your budgeted amount). Available at most park shops and the Center, the card’s bracelet strap grants handy use.
After traveling around the World Showcase, stay in vacation mode at a world-class hotel. Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and Waldorf Astoria Orlando are hosting Food & Wine Weekends (September 13 – November 24, 2019) to complement Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival. These include exclusive tastings at property restaurants, like Bull & Bear, La Luce and Zeta Asia; plus special experiences dedicated to chocolate, cocktails, popsicles, tea, wine and more. Indulge for an evening or staycation to receive magical benefits, including free shuttle service to the parks, access to Disney FastPass+ service and Disney’s Extra Magic Hours.
Must-Try Encore Dishes
According to Molly Elias of DisneyDining.com, Canada serves up two fan favorites: the Canadian Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Soup served with a pretzel roll and the Le Cellier Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter Sauce. She describes the soup as “creamy and cheesy and bacon-y!” Koma agrees, “The tender beef and savory sauce are straight from the pavilion’s Le Cellier steakhouse, and this dish is truly a ‘don’t miss.’ As an added bonus, they prepare this dish gluten-free, too.” Elias can’t get enough of another cheesy creation, Ireland’s Warm Irish Cheddar Cheese and Stout Dip with Irish Brown Bread. “The rich Irish cheddar mixed with a bodied stout makes for a fondue to die for,” she declares.
Brandon and Elias both rave about Australia’s Roasted Lamb Chop with sweet potato purée, bushberry pea salad and pistachio-pomegranate gremolata. Other heavenly morsels, recommended by Brandon, are: Crispy Pork Belly with black beans, tomato and onions (Brazil); Seared Scallops with truffled celery root purée, Brussels sprouts and wild mushrooms (Wine & Dine Studio); Butternut Squash Ravioli with brown butter vinaigrette, Parmesan cheese and pumpkin seeds (Wine & Dine Studio); Escargot Croissant with garlic and parsley (France); Kalua Pork Slider with sweet-n-sour pineapple chutney and spicy mayo (Hawai’i); and Charcuterie Cone filled with imported Spanish meats, cheese, olives and herb vinaigrette (Spain).
On the sweeter side, Brandon praises the Chocolate Picante, a dark chocolate mousse with cayenne pepper, paprika and mango-lime compote (Flavors from Fire), and the Quesito Puff Pastry with sweetened cream cheese and guava sauce (Island of the Caribbean). Koma suggests washing it all down with the Guinness Baileys Shake served in a commemorative glass (Ireland).
Can’t Miss New Nibbles
Several marketplaces will debut new dishes, such as: Korma Chicken with cucumber-tomato salad, almonds, cashews and warm naan (India); Pacifico True Striped Bass Tostada with slaw and fire-roasted tomatillo sauce (Coastal Eats); and Shimmering Strawberry Soft-Serve in a waffle cone (Shimmering Sips Mimosa Bar).
In addition to fresh fare, there are new marketplace locations too, like The Alps featuring Swiss-inspired flavors. Here you’ll delight in the Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese with baby potatoes, cornichons and a baguette; Venison Stew with crushed potatoes; a Blueberry and Almond Frangipane Tart with crème fraîche cream and almonds; plus regional wines. The Appleseed Orchard showcases sweet and savory apple bites, like the Charcuterie and Cheese Plate featuring Burton’s Maplewood Farm applejack brandy barrel aged maple syrup; and ciders, wine and beers, such as the Playalinda Brewing Co. Apple Pie Beer from Titusville, Florida.
Dinner and a show? Yes, please! Aside from the gourmet grub, the Festival hosts an Eat to the Beat concert series. At the America Gardens Theatre, located mid-way around the Showcase between Japan and Italy, acts perform three 30-minute shows nightly (Sundays to Thursdays: 5:30, 6:45 and 8pm; Fridays/Saturdays: 6:30, 7:45 and 9pm), through November 19. The diverse lineup has something to please all musical tastes ─ Billy Ocean, Boys II Men, Kenny G, Kris Allen, Plain White T’s, Tiffany, Zach Williams and more. Click here for the full schedule.
General admission seating for Eat to the Beat concerts is included with standard ticketing. However, reservations for upgraded dining packages ─ including a meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) at one of 14 participating restaurants and table serve near the concert stage ─ comes with an added cost.
Marvel more tunes at the Disney du Jour Dance Party. Kiddos can enjoy interactive fun with a DJ and, on Fridays and Saturdays, celebrity appearances with stars from both Radio Disney and Disney Channel.
Elias says kiddos will treasure the Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt. Pick up a hunt map, identify Remy statues throughout Epcot and claim your completion prize (pin or keychain) at Disney Traders. Hernandez also encourages children to earn a passport sticker at each marketplace and pop into gift shops for Kidcot activities.
Brave a sugar rush making Candy Sushi, located at Sunshine Seasons in The Land pavilion. Offered twice daily (3:30 and 5:30p), this workshop inspires maki- and nigari-style rolls using crisped rice, gummies and other candies. Candy Sushi costs $10 and requires reservations via (407) 939-3378.
A favorite of Brandon, Party for the Senses is a swanky ticketed event with acclaimed chefs and sommeliers wining and dining guests at multiple stations. Held at the World Showplace Events Pavilion on five select nights (Sept. 21, Oct. 5, 12 and 19, and Nov. 9), this event includes live entertainment.
Koma prefers the French Family Meal Traditions, a nostalgic multi-course feast and wine pairing. “These meals are prepared by the chefs in Monsieur Paul, the upstairs restaurant in Epcot’s France pavilion, using favorite family recipes,” she explains. During this upscale meal, chefs explain each dish to diners.
The Food & Wine Festival also hosts Sunday Brunch with the Chef, a series featuring celebrities chefs including Cat Cora, Jamie Deen, Andrew Zimmern, Buddy Valastro, Robert Irvine, David Burtka and others; and the Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It!, workshops pairing guests with chefs, bakers and mixologists.
More Food & Wine Fun
Need to burn off those Festival calories? The Disney Wine & Dine weekend (October 31 – November 3, 2019) includes a 5K, 10K, half marathon, kids dash and two-course challenge (participation in 10K and half marathon).
“Starting in October, guests can experience the brand new fireworks show: Epcot Forever. Although we’ll miss IllumiNations, we can’t wait to see the new technology and magic,” shared Elias. This fireworks reboot is the perfect way to end your boomin’ Food & Wine Festival celebration!