We’re less than a month away from the start of this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. We’re looking forward to our chance to see some celebrity chefs, enjoy brand new Disney resort cooking and dining experiences and the fun Eat to the Beat concert series. The annual Disney celebration of global flavors, runs 62 days from Sept. 14-Nov. 14. It has become one of America’s top food festivals and features inspired sips and bites at more than 30 marketplaces.
For the second consecutive year, ABC’s Emmy Award-winning lifestyle series, “The Chew,” will produce a full week of programs from the festival. “Chew” hosts Mario Batali, Carla Hall, Michael Symon, Clinton Kelly and Daphne Oz will share their Disney culinary adventures and tasty recipes before Epcot audiences Oct. 5-7 in shows scheduled to air Oct. 10-14.
Our advice is to plan ahead by looking at the various marketplace menus online and arrive early. We find it great to browse the World Showcase once for an early lunch, then make a second loop for an early dinner. In between and after, take in some of the great entertainment, festival exhibits, or visit the festival center. If you can afford it, the Party for the Senses is a spectacular event, your taste buds will thank you.
More news fresh from festival planners:
- Iron Chefs Geoffrey Zakarian and Masaharu Morimoto, “Chopped” judge Maneet Chauhan and other celebrated chefs including Elliott Farmer and Graham Elliot will fire up the burners to host their very first festival special events. Other chef icons like Robert Irvine, Cat Cora, Norman Van Aken, Elizabeth Falkner, Buddy Valastro and Jamie Deen will return to entertain guests and inspire their palates at premium events that include Party for the Senses grand tastings featuring new entertainment.
- Nearly 50 percent of the global marketplace food items are new or reimagined dishes. Just some of the new flavors include: hard soda floats at Desserts & Champagne, savory vegan “nachos” at the Greece marketplace, sweet quesitos with guava sauce at the new Islands of the Caribbean kiosk and peanut butter and white chocolate mousse at The Chew Collective. Festival guests can pair food with wines, beers, cocktails and ciders as they stroll the promenade guided by a complimentary festival passport.
- First-time festival resort experiences include Brunch with a Twist at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa; Culinary Adventures with a Master Chef for a hands-on chef’s table experience in a professional working kitchen; The Secret of Flavor three-course lunch that gives guests a “sensory-food connection” at Yachtsman Steakhouse; and a tropical “Zombie” encounter during Behind the Scenes at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
- New “Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It!” hands-on workshops at the Festival Center will offer guests a chance to learn a variety of culinary skills from chefs, bakers, mixologists and other pros.
- For a second year, global marketplaces will extend into Future World to offer a wider range of taste sensations. New this year in Future World are: The Chew Collective, the Wine & Dine Studio, Chocolate Studio and Greenhouse Guru; plus Islands of the Caribbean marketplace debuts in World Showcase.
- Eat to the Beat Dining Packages give music fans a chance to guarantee seats at an Eat to the Beat concert and enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at one of many popular Epcot restaurants, including Chefs de France, Le Cellier and Spice Road Table.
- Speaking of Eat to the Beat, multiple new Eat to the Beat concert acts debut; fan favorites return to play 186 festival concerts in all –Wang Chung (Everybody Have Fun Tonight!) will open the Eat to the Beat concert series Sept. 14-15. Eight new acts in the concert series lineup — including Wang Chung, Plain White T’s, Delta Rae and Toad The Wet Sprocket – will rock their chart-topping tunes. Other popular acts, including Wilson Phillips, Boyz II Men and Jeffrey Osbourne, will return to the America Gardens Theatre stage this fall.
- Celebrity chefs, wine experts and mixologists join the fun – Celebrities ranging from Rock Harper to master sommelier Andrea Robinson will share their food and beverage know-how during culinary demos, beverage seminars and a variety of other events spanning the festival’s 62 days.
- The popular Festival Private Label California Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are back and available by the bottle or by the glass.
- Ratatouille returns — Chef Remy of “Ratatouille” returns with his fun-for-the-family culinary scavenger hunt that features six brand-new collectible pins this year.
- Festival Center buzzes with activity–Festival Center highlights will include new festival merchandise, the complimentary Back to Basics weekend series featuring epicurean tips and tricks from the pros, book and bottle signings and The Chocolate Experience: From Bean to the Bar, hosted by Ghirardelli and offering guest samples.
- Premium events like Rockin’ Burger Block Party and Party for the Senses grand tastings will showcase creative bites and palate-pleasing sips from eminent chefs and beverage experts plus new live entertainment.
- Intimate dining and tasting events to book will include the “Umami” Tokyo Pairing and other Epcot restaurant experiences as well as multi-course lunches and dinners at Disney Springs and resort restaurants.
- Members can rest and recharge at the Chase Lounge – Chase debit and credit card members –including Disney Visa card members — will find complimentary non-alcoholic refreshments, a charging station and comfortable seating for a relaxing break at the Chase Lounge at The American Adventure pavilion.
Included with Epcot Admission:
Back to Basics series, special book signings, Eat to the Beat concerts, cultural adventures, Festival Passport and all attractions and park entertainment are included with regular Epcot admission.
Special Programming by Reservation:
The Party for the Senses and Rockin’ Burger Block Party grand tasting events, signature dinners and other special wine and culinary programs require reservations and separate event admission. You can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) for reservations and get details at epcotfoodfestival.com.