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7 Facts and Secrets about Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival

Since its launch in 1996, the annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival has become one of America’s top food festivals, with more than 30 global marketplaces serving up culinary favorites as well as popular beers, wines, and cocktails originating from six continents.

This year marks the 21st anniversary of the festival, and will stir up a host of exciting new bites, sips, and experiences for visitors to the Walt Disney World Resort. Here are seven facts and secrets about the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival to help you get the most out of this year’s event.

7. It’s the Longest-Running Festival Ever.

This year, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival will run for a total of 62 days, from September 14 through November 14. Not only will Disney park-goers enjoy extra days to eat and drink their way around the world, but this year up to 47 percent of the menu food items will be either new or re-imagined dishes.

6. Celebrity Chefs Will Host an Array of Fun (and Delicious!) Events.

For the second consecutive year, ABC’s “The Chew” will offer a full week of programs on the show’s exclusive Epcot festival stage. But the festival also attracts an array of other celebrities from the culinary world each year to host special events such as seminars and demonstrations. This year’s festival will feature chefs including Geoffrey Zakarian, Elliott Farmer, Masaharu Morimoto, Maneet Chauhan, and Graham Elliot, as well as icons including Robert Irvine, Cat Cora, Norman Van Aken, Elizabeth Falkner, Buddy Valastro, and Jamie Deen to host premium events. Wine experts and mixologists like master sommelier Andrea Robinson will also be on-hand to share their best tips and tricks with festival-goers.

5. Your Ticket Includes a Free Concert Series.

Believe it or not, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is about more than food (and drinks). One of the festival’s major draws is the “Eat to the Beat” concert series, a schedule of free concerts held at the America Gardens Theatre stage. Each year the series features a wide range of musical genres, and this year a list of fan favorites as well as new acts will perform some 186 festival concerts. Popular returning artists include Wilson Phillips, Boyz II Men, and Hanson, as well as newcomers to the Epcot stage like the Plain White T’s, Jeffrey Osborne, and Wang Chung. Better yet, you can make a FastPass+ reservation for your favorite act to guarantee an up-close-and-personal experience.

4. Families Can Enjoy Special Activities.

The Food and Wine Festival may be an exciting night out for Disney fans over the age of 21, but there is still plenty for kids. This year, Chef Remy from Ratatouille will return with his family-friendly culinary scavenger hunt, which will feature six brand-new collectible pins.

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3. You Can Take Advantage of Premium Dining Experiences.

While admission to Epcot includes the Food and Wine Festival as well as special book signings, the Eat to the Beat concerts, and other special offerings, park-goers can also take advantage of opportunities to participate in premium events. This year’s Rockin’ Burger Block Party and Party for the Senses grand tasting events will highlight creative food and wine options from chefs and beverage experts as well as live entertainment. For a more intimate experience, you can book dining and tasting events  like the “Umami” Tokyo Pairing, as well as all-new multi-course lunches and dinners at various Disney Springs and resort restaurants like a brunch at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, a three-course lunch at Yachtsman Steakhouse, and a behind-the-scenes tour at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. You can also get involved in the fun with a variety of hands-on workshops like “Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It!” at the Festival Center, which are hosted by chefs, bakers, mixologists, and other culinary experts.

2. There are Also Plenty of Free Events.

Though this year’s festival boasts an expanded menu of premium offerings, be sure to stop by the Festival Center for complimentary activities such as the Back to Basics weekend series, featuring tips and tricks from culinary pros and book and bottle signings, as well as The Chocolate Experience: From Bean to the Bar, which is hosted by Ghirardelli and includes free samples.

1. Chase Members Can Take Advantage of Special Benefits.

Presented by Chase at the Walt Disney World Resort, the Epcot International Food and Wine festival will include extra benefits for anyone carrying a Chase debit or credit card—including Disney Visa card members—ranging from complimentary (non-alcoholic) refreshments, a charging station, and a relaxing place to take a break from all the excitement at the private Chase Lounge inside the American Adventure.

About Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer L. Nelson donned her first pair of personalized mouse ears at age 4. A lifelong Disney fanatic and avid runner, the New Jersey resident visits both Walt Disney World and Disneyland several times a year to cross the finish line of one of runDisney’s half or full marathons; among her proudest accomplishments to date was completing the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend’s 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon to earn the coveted inaugural Dopey Challenge medal. When it comes to theme park touring, she’s a self-described “commando” visitor who arrives at rope drop, follows a strict touring plan (and never waits in line!), and soaks up the Disney magic until the final gift shop has closed. She is a freelance writer and editor who blogs about her personal weight loss journey, running exploits, and Disney obsession at www.thefinalforty.com.