10. Eat to the Beat – VIP-Style!
What better way to enjoy your food and wine than with a little – or a lot – of music? Three times nightly at the American Gardens Theater, popular bands from the 1980s through to today serenade guests while they eat and drink, in a free concert series known as “Eat to the Beat”. While you can of course stroll by and listen, those wanting a guaranteed seat will want to purchase a dining package (consisting of lunch or dinner at numerous participating restaurants) that includes reserved seating for one of the concerts the same day.
9. Fill Up in France
No one does food and wine quite like the French, so it’s fitting that Epcot should offer French Family Meal Traditions weekly during the festival. The experience involves a chef from Monsieur Paul cooking one of his or her favorite childhood French dishes for guests, who will also be able to take home a recipe book full of beautiful food photography.
8. Cheese, Please!
As someone who’s rarely met a cheese I didn’t like, the Food and Wine Festival’s cheese seminars are especially thrilling. They’re offered at the Festival Welcome Center, and are highly recommended for the cheese lovers in your party! Experts and industry professionals teach you about cheese, and you’ll be able to try a variety of cheese that are expertly paired with wine (a wine representative is also present). Each seminar centers around a specific type of cheese/wine, so check online to choose your favorite.
7. Chocolate Coma
Perhaps the only thing more exciting than cheese? Chocolate! Which is why The Chocolate Experience: From Bean to the Bar has been among our favorite stops at the Food and Wine Festival. Not only can you view stunning sculptures made of chocolate by talented Walt Disney World Resort pastry chefs, but you’ll want to sample some chocolate, enjoy wine and chocolate pairings, try some drinking chocolate, and of course, select some fantastic Ghirardelli chocolates to take home with you! (Personally, ours rarely make it home.)
6. Craft Beer
If cheese, gourmet chocolate and wine are a little too fancy for your tastes, don’t worry – there’s a Craft Beer Booth that might be just the thing! This booth allows you to sample various craft beers made by different craft brewers in Florida. Previous offerings have included the Orlando Brewing OTown Weiss, Two Henrys’ Blueberry Vanilla American Wheat Ale, and the Concrete Beach Stiltsville Pilsner.
5. A Twist on Korean BBQ
It’s always exciting to find booths representing dozens of countries that aren’t typically represented at the World Showcase in Epcot. The South Korean booth is a great example, and we were surprised to see that in addition to the delicious Korean-style BBQ offered, there is an excellent vegetarian option: an entree consisting of beefless tips, cucumber kimchi and rice. For beverages, choices include a soju fruit slushy, grapefruit sparkling rice drink, and raspberry wine.
4. Belgium: Best for Sweets
Guests with a sweet tooth will want to make a stop at Belgium’s booth. This is hands-down the best place for desserts at the Food and Wine Festival (with the possible exception of The Chocolate Experience!). The Belgian waffles here are just delicious, and you can choose between chocolate ganache and berry compote – or just try both!
There is an astounding array of additional programming (available, of course, at an additional price) offered during the Food and Wine Festival. There are demonstrations from chefs and “beverage professionals” available daily to offer tips and samples. Wine and beverage and mixology seminars are also available daily, and include samples. You can also learn from an expert how to plan the perfect dinner party, and you can meet authors and celebrities and get an autograph or two. There’s even a Beverage Boot Camp aimed at improving your culinary skills. Whatever your interest or skill level, there’s something here for you!
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2. Epcot and Beyond
Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival is so popular, it’s now expanded beyond the park itself! During the festival, you’ll find a myriad of special cultural dining experiences (including behind-the-scenes looks at how food is prepared, insider tips on mixology, and culinary collaborations by talented chefs), offered by resorts such as the Grand Floridian, Yacht Club, Contemporary Resort, and Polynesian Village Resort. You’ll also find food and wine experiences at various Disney Springs restaurants, meaning your festival experience doesn’t have to end when you leave Epcot!
Though planning may seem an unnecessary complication for a day revolving around snacking, trust us, you will fill up quickly, especially if you don’t have an idea of what’s available and don’t pace yourself accordingly! Read up on menus for each booth (available online) before you go, and know what foods you most want to try, so you can avoid being sucked in by other samples that might not be priorities. It’s easy to plan your route by getting a map and circling the areas and items you are most excited for. Unbeknownst to many visitors, you can actually purchase a Food and Wine Festival gift card to pay for your snacks as you make your way through the worlds, which is a lot faster than paying with credit cards or trying to find cash every time you want to stop at a booth. If at all possible, try to visit the festival early in the day, and on a weekday, to avoid the worst of the crowds (and minimize the “frat party” element of the festival!).