Top Ten Tips for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
The 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival is September 19-November 10, 2014! This is the 20th Annual Festival and it will be bigger and better than ever! It can also be a little bit overwhelming, especially if you have never attended one before. With a little bit of preparation and the tips offered here you will soon realize why this is such a popular event. After it is over, you might want to start making your plans for the 20th Annual Festival!
10) Enjoy the Ride
Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed or rushed. Remember that you’re at a theme park, enjoy what is around you! Read up on all of the booths and special events ahead of time and figure out which ones are the most important to you. Plan your day around those things, but also take time to smell the roses. Epcot is a beautiful park, so make sure you don’t rush the experience. Also, don’t over do it or you’ll end up exhausted and with a hangover, instead of incredible memories. (See also tip 4)
9) Call a Cab
Needless to say, there is a lot of alcohol at the Food and Wine Festival. (124 different beverages to be exact.) If you are one to partake then don’t even think about driving back to your hotel when you are done.
If you are staying on Disney property you will have free transportation back to your hotel but remember that the buses get crowded when the park closes. If you take a taxi you will make it back to your room, whether on or off property, safely and quickly. There are plenty of cabs waiting in the parking lot at the front entrance. All that you need to do is grab one.
If staying off property and you are planning on drinking you might want to take a cab to Epcot in the morning as well. That way you will not be worried about your car.
8) Learn to Share
There are so many delicious and different choices available only at the International Food and Wine Festival, you can fill up quick and run out of money even quicker. That is why you sharing with the person or group that you travel with is a smart idea.
When you share, everyone will have a chance to sample more choices and no one will get filled up too quickly. You don’t want to feel bloated while making your way to the next booth. Sharing will give you smaller portions, which means you can try more of a selection. (Again, see tip 4)
7) Drink Plenty of Water
Even in November the heat can be brutal in Central Florida. Drinking water is important no matter when you visit. It is even more important during the Food and Wine Festival. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect, making your body need water even more. Add in the walking and the standing in line, drinking water will help you to feel your best.
You will also want water because dozens of items at F&W are hot and spicy. A cold bottle of water will bring welcome relief. Keep a water bottle with you at all times. You’ll be glad you did.
6) Book Events Early
The special events held at the Food and Wine Festival are part of what makes it so much fun. With choices such as The Discovery of Chocolate, Kitchen Memories, Cheese Seminars, and Food & Wine Pairings you are sure to find something that you will want to attend. Many of the special events require registration and they will often fill up long before the day that they are to be held. Sometimes, minutes after reservations open. As soon as you see a dinner or event that interests you, make the reservation.
There are also events that are included with your park admission and don’t require special registration. You will want to arrive early for those because seating is limited for most of them. This includes the Home Entertaining Seminars Hosted by HGTV and the Eat to the Beat Concert Series.
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5) Bring Your Piggy Bank
Set aside some extra cash for the festival. Probably double what you think you will need. Although the food and beverages at the tasting booths does not seem to cost a lot per item, it is stunning how quickly it can add up. The same holds true for the wine tastings. When you add on the cost of the special events and the must have souvenirs you will most likely spend quite a bit.
Plan accordingly so you won’t be shocked once your credit card bill arrives. Remember too that there are many items for sale that you will have a hard time finding somewhere else, whether it’s that rare bottle of wine or an autographed cookbook for your grandmother. Go ahead and splurge.
4) Don’t Try to Do It All in One Day
Epcot is hard to do in a day when there isn’t a special event going on. Trying to cram everything into 12 short hours is going to be next to impossible. You might have a chance to see everything but how much of it will you remember? If you plan at least two days at the Festival you will be able to take more time and really enjoy it. You might even have a chance to ride Soarin’, but remember that you probably should do that before you’ve had your first taste of wine for the day.
3) Avoid the Weekends
Weekends at Disney are usually busy. During the Food and Wine Festival they are insane. Lots of people arrive for the weekend only to take part in all of the festivities. You will have local residents and college students as well as those who will be there on a short, two-day vacation. If you really want to be able to enjoy your time at the Festival you will want to try to come on weekdays instead of weekends. If the weekend is your only choice, relax and enjoy. The lines will be longer, but after about 4 booths, you may not mind so much.
2) Start at the Festival Welcome Center
If you have never been to the Festival before, the cast members at the Welcome Center will be able to give you all the information that you need and help you get acclimated. If you have been there before they will be able to fill you in on all of your favorite events from the past and what is new for 2012.
Also at the Welcome Center you can pick up a Marketplace Discovery Passport. Take it around with you and have it stamped at each place you stop for a great keepsake. At the Welcome Center you can also find out about the book and bottle signings, check out a specialty shop, or enjoy a seminar. It opens daily at 9:00am and stays open until the park closes in the evening. It’s located between Mission: SPACE and the Universe of Energy Pavilion, in the Future World section of the park.
1) Buy a Preloaded Wristband
At all the food tasting stations you can purchase a preloaded wristband, which works just like a gift card. Purchasing one is a great idea for two reasons. First and foremost, the wristband is going to save you a lot of time and hassle, you won’t have to pull out your wallet every few minutes and sign credit card receipts.
Second, the wristband will allow you to better control your spending. (Which I personally think is a bad idea. Mostly kidding.) If you need to set a budget and stick to it, there is no better way to buy a card set it at your limit. When you are done, you are done. You won’t overdo it because the amount that you can spend has already been set.