The Food and Wine Festival Aka the Food and Line

[And now an editorial from Kurt Nelson. Normally behind the scenes working magic at The Disney Blog, Kurt chimes in with a few thoughts on this years Food and Wine Festival. – John]

The Epcot Food and Wine Festival has always been one of my favorite events. But not anymore. The lines are long, the food is overpriced for even Disney, and there is no place to eat your food.

Having a large selection of booths is a nice thing but it comes with a caveat: For each one I visit, I have to wait in yet another line. And these are not short lines, generally taking about 20 minutes. If I get 3 dishes, this is an hour waiting in line, to pay for something. The bottleneck is not the food but the purchase.

I think Disney should move to a token system where the guest purchases all of his tokens at once up front and just turns in 1 or 2 for each item he gets. Along with this should come (generally) uniform pricing. Make all food 1 token, drinks 3. Adjust the portion to match this new price. Stick some token vending machines around world showcase.

I do see why Disney currently charges the way they do though: It leads to more spending. If you are paying as you go, you are much less likely to prebudget or realize how much you have spent. If the system was prepurchase, guests could easily buy a specific amount of tokens and stop after they have used them. Still Disney should fix this problem because it kept me from purchasing things today.

I (mostly) understand paying $2.29 for a cup of coke. I can understand paying $24.99 for a buffet. I don’t understand paying $4.50 for part of a slice of pizza. Just plain sausage pizza too, not with caviar or veal or something. After eating your $5 dollar bill, you are still quite hungry. So you go get in yet another line and get a thimble of cheddar cheese soup for $3. By the time you are actually full, you probably have had 4 or 5 things adding up to about $20. For this $20 you have to eat with a plastic fork, while standing up, with no drink, and have to wait in line for an hour. Or you could go drop in to a counter service restaurant and for half the price be full, have a drink, and sit down in air conditioning albeit still with a plastic fork.

I like the idea of sampling many foods. I like the idea of the whole festival. But I don’t like the idea of spending $20 on Costco-reminiscent samples. Disney should deflate their prices a bit. Or increase the portions. I think this would increase revenue because people would feel like they are getting a better deal each time they stand in line for 20 minutes. Even if they lowered the price and the portion, it would allow me to sample more things. There are tons of things on the menu I would like to try, but I can only sample 3 or 4 of them (minus the mandatory cheddar cheese soup).

My third gripe is the environment the festival creates. It clogs the pathways, it takes over sitting areas. But it generates more people walking around with food. So Disney, please add some tables or benches or something. I like to sit down to eat my food and not have to worry about my ankles being taken out by a stroller while eating.

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13 Responses to The Food and Wine Festival Aka the Food and Line

  1. They have added a new Food and Wine gift card this year, which lets you put a set amount on the card. It even includes a band for wearing it on your wrist. We tried it out on the preview night and some booths had a problem scanning it and some of the regular food stands that are there all-year wouldn’t take it.

    • Kurt Nelson says:

      The gift card doesn’t really do much good, as you still have to wait in the line. Also it locks you in to spending a certain amount and you probably end up with a dollar or two stuck on it.

  2. Tink *~*~* says:

    You make so many excellent points, I just had to Stumble this post. :D

    I think the Food & Wine Festival gift card is a great idea, because at least it lets you budget how much you’re going to spend on a taste of this and a taste of that. When your 50 bucks is gone, it’s gone. However, you still have to stand in line to pay with it.

    Tink *~*~*
    My Mobile Adventures *~*~*

  3. Amy says:

    I definitely agree with this article. I was at Epcot last night, and the only thing I bought was my favorite Epcot treat- the Lefse from the Norway bakery. The portions are so small, and the prices so not small for the amount you get, that it’s not even worth waiting in line, no matter how yummy the food is. The Barcelona booth had a churro with chocolate sauce for $2.50 or $3.50 or something like that. It was so tiny, it fit on the little plastic plate. Someone could just go to the Mexico counter-service restaurant and buy a big churro for about the same price- I don’t understand it (but my husband said you’re probably just paying for the chocolate sauce)! The thing about the gift card, though, is that you’re still paying the expensive prices; if the little piece of pizza cost a dollar, for example, more people would probably get it, and Disney might even make more money. If the portions were made bigger, though, I can’t imagine Disney not upping the prices…”If people pay this much for this little morsel of food, they’ll pay double that for double the food,” is what the Disney execs woud probably say. Ugh. :(

  4. Mike says:

    You make very good points I agree w/ most, but if it has so many problems, why is it more and more crowded each year?

    • Tink *~*~* says:

      I think it has been more and more crowded each year because the dollar continues to tank against various European currencies, so they are all flocking over her to partake of what, for them, is a pretty inexpensive vacation.

      Tink *~*~*

  5. I went back tonight and they were still having some problems with the gift cards at some locations, but it was better. The lines weren’t very long at all and they moved quickly.
    We used up our card and ended up paying cash for our last few items.

    • mark says:

      WOW…talk about 2 completely different perspectives on the same event. We are going tomorrow, so I guess we’ll see for ourselves.

      Kurt,

      How can you be critical of the card system? I don’t see much different from your token idea (which I like):

      1. Allows you to budget.

      2. Quicker paying (according to the Orlando Sentinel writer)

      3. The issue you have with having extra $$ left on card is no different than having extra tokens left over.

      • Kurt Nelson says:

        The card does not solve the line problem at all. You still have to wait in the same line as everyone else, and it is the same as paying with a credit card.

  6. JA Huber says:

    I definitely agree about the lines; I was at Epcot on Friday night and usually Disney does a great job managing lines but not that night.

    I purchased one of the gift cards and it worked out great – I highly recommend getting one of those and budgeting about $30 per person (if you like to try the adult beverages).

  7. Ed says:

    It all depends on what time of the year you go. I went on Sunday September 29 and it was empty. Lines at the booths probably had 2-3 people in front of us. We were there from the time Epcot opened till it closed. Also the food was relatively cheaper this year than last. We’ve been going for the last three years. You want expensive? Come down to the food and wine festival in South Beach where it will cost you almost $200 per person.

  8. Sarah says:

    The card shouldn’t have a couple dollars left on it. The card is a Disney gift card, and as such, can be used at most locations within the parks.

    Food and wine is an interesting thing. I have been working at Liberty Inn for a couple weeks now (got shifted to help out during food and wine) and I understand the whole thing completely as a ploy for Disney and the (in my opinion) hugely underrated World Showcase, but it also does create an issue of belligerent drunks, more dragging of kids that don’t want to go, and unbalancing the crowds to where some areas just aren’t staffed enough to cope.

    If you ever are sick of the lines though, head to Liberty Inn. The place is never crowded.

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