The 2019 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival began on August 29, which was also the day that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened here in Florida. That was immediately followed by Hurricane Dorian and all of the uncertainty that came with the storm. It has also been hot, even by Florida’s standards! I’ve been to Epcot a few times since the festival started, but I’ll admit that it’s only been for the Eat to the Beat concerts. (I’m a Star Wars fan, so when I’ve gone to Walt Disney World the past couple of weeks I’ve been exploring Galaxy’s Edge.) My family and I were invited to attend a hosted Family Media Day on Saturday, September 14, and I am really glad that we went! It was great to spend a day exploring the Food & Wine Festival. I had almost forgotten how much fun it can be.
Epcot is a park in transition. That means that you aren’t welcomed at the entrance the way that you used to be. Where there used to be a display right after you would enter the park, there are now construction walls. The Fountain of Nations has been drained, and it is surrounded by more construction walls. Club Cool has closed, as has the Fountain View Starbucks location. Mickey and the gang have moved to a new place. (It’s easy to find, there are plenty of signs.) It’s a bit eerie at the front of Epcot right now. I like to remind myself that the construction walls are a sign of the good things to come, because the future of Epcot is pretty exciting. Once we made it past the front of the park the construction walls were forgotten, and it was easy to concentrate on the festival.
The first thing that you need to do when you arrive at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is to pick up a Festival Passport. You can grab one in a stand right after you enter. If you forget, there are Passports in locations around the park. They have them at all the Global Marketplaces, in the stores, and at the event merchandise locations. You will want a map as well. With the map and your Passport, you will be able to easily navigate the festival.
One of the most important aspects of the Food & Wine Festival each year is the extra food. This year does not disappoint. The Global Marketplaces are located around World Showcase, and some are in Future World as well. There are over 30 choices this year! Appleseed Orchard and The Alps are brand new. Returning favorites include The Chocolate Studios, India, and Simmering Sips Mimosa Bar. One other new Global Marketplace, The Donut Box, does not open until October 1. The Global Marketplaces are great because you can buy small portions and taste your way around the world. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages that are not always found in the park are also sold.
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In the past the Festival Center was where you would head for many of the events. This year, you will instead go to the World Showcase Events Pavilion. It is located between Canada and the United Kingdom. This is where you will find the demonstrations, seminars, and tastings. It is also the home of Sunday Brunch with the Chef and Party for the Senses, among other things. Remember that there is an additional charge for some activities.
There are two different “hunts” this year. The first is the return of Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt. You’ll purchase a map, and then look for Remy at the locations on the map. When you find him, place the corresponding sticker on the map to show that you found Remy. When you’re finished, turn the map in for a prize. I won’t give away any of the locations, just remember that sometimes Remy wants to stay inside. Remy’s brother Emile wants to be in on the fun, so he has his own hunt. With Emile’s Fromage Montage you will “hunt” for five different cheeses, and have your Passport stamped. Once you have five stamps, head to Shimmering Sips for a complimentary festival cheesecake! Since you can receive all five stamps at one stand you do not really need to do all that much hunting, but it is still a lot of fun.
Speaking of fun, my favorite part of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is the Eat to the Beat Concert Series. There is an incredible lineup this year! On September 14 we got to see fan favorite Tiffany. She always puts on a great show, and this was no exception. She said that Epcot is her favorite place to perform each year. The Eat to the Beat concerts run three times each evening. The last concert will be held on November 19, even though the Food & Wine Festival runs until November 23. This is so that the staff will have time to get things ready for the Candlelight Processional.
If you’re wondering what else there is for kids at the Food & Wine Festival, the answer is plenty. One favorite that has returned is Candy Sushi. It takes place twice each day, at 3:30 and 5:30, at Sunshine Seasons. Your children can learn how to make sushi. Since most kids aren’t going to want to learn with raw fish, they will use candy instead. Reservations are suggested for Candy Sushi, and can be made by calling 407-939-3378. The cost is $10 per person.
Playing with their food in the name of making sushi is not all that your kids will enjoy. They can burn off that Candy Sushi sugar rush at the Family Play Zone. Another way to burn off some of that energy is with the DJ du Jour Dance Party. It’s held near Mission: SPACE. On Fridays and Saturdays there is a Radio Disney Artist, and the other days it’s a DJ. Jenna Raine performed on September 14. Kids and dance parties seem to go hand in hand at Walt Disney World, the kids have a great time while the parents can watch close by.
Of course the best part of the day for me was seeing IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. We are counting down the days. The last show for IllumiNations will be September 30, it will be replaced on October 1 by a temporary show called Epcot Forever.
I’d like to thank Walt Disney World for inviting my family and me to the Family Media Day. Even with the changes that are taking place at Epcot, this year’s festival is a blast. I expected no less.