I can smell the good cooking at EPCOT already. The 2016 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival is just says away now. The 21st year of the event begins Sept 14 and runs a glorious 62 days until Nov. 14. There’s no excuse not to get over to EPCOT for some foodie fun.
As a regular visitor to the festival, I do have some tips for newbies:
1) It adds up quickly. A $4 plate here, a $5 wine taster there, and before you know it you’ve spent $75 or more. To prevent overspending, put whatever money you plan to spend on a Disney gift card. Then when that’s out, go ride some rides or take in a concert.
2) The booths open at 11AM with World Showcase. Getting there early and heading quickly to the other side of the lake is a great way to avoid lines. There will be lines. Talk to people in them. Find out what they’ve tried. What they liked. Don’t like lines, try going on a weekday.
3) Party for the Senses is amazing. It’s not cheap, but if it’s for a special occasion or you’re just that big a foodie, it’s worth the splurge.
4) There are three concerts a night. The third one is almost always available with just a short wait. The best seats go to dinner package holders. So if you want the up close and personal experience, that’s your best option.
5) There’s more to the Food and Wine Festival than World Showcase. There are now food booths in Future World and, of course, the Festival Center. The festival center is air conditioned, which can make a nice break. On weekends you can enjoy some free seminars or some of the upcharge events.
The festival is believed to be the largest food and wine event of its kind in the world.
Here are some fun facts about the 21st festival celebration:
- Now 62 days long, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival began in 1996 with a first run of 30 days
- At the 2016 festival, 30 global marketplaces will include new offerings like The Chew Collective in Future World’s Next Eats festival area and Islands of the Caribbean along the World Showcase Promenade
- Producers of ABC’s “The Chew” will tape 5 episodes of the show before 5 festival guest audiences numbering in the hundreds for each show
- The 21st festival will feature 32 new marketplace dishes and 49 (as of right now) new cocktails, beers, wines and ciders
- In 1998, 200 domestic and international wines were poured at the festival. This year, at marketplaces and premium events, more than 300 domestic and international wines will be offered
- More than 50 wineries and more than 35 breweries from around the world, including local craft beer operations, will be represented at festival marketplaces
- The new “The Best of Epcot Festivals 2016” cookbook by Pam Brandon and the Disney Chefs features 75 recipes from the global marketplaces.
- 3 Rockin’ Burger Block Parties and 6 Party for the Senses grand tastings will take place at World Showplace during the festival run. In all, the festival will feature 204 premium events ranging from Signature Dinners and Food & Wine Pairings to Beverage Boot Camps and Festival Events in World Showcase pavilions
- Guest chefs and Disney chefs numbering 250 will present culinary demonstrations and will cook for festival events
- Celebrity chefs and visiting culinarians from 10 countries and 26 U.S. states will participate in the festival at culinary demos, book signings, and special tasting events and dinners.
- Nearly 400 culinary demos, beverage and interactive seminars will take place during the 62-day festival
- During Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak festival scavenger hunt, guests can help Remy scour the park for the ingredients to make his signature dish, ratatouille. Along the way, they’ll find 12 Remy statuettes hidden in each of 11 countries of the World Showcase and at the African Outpost location. Guests can redeem the 12 stickers they’ve collected for one of 6 special pins at Select merchandise locations
- More than 375 hours of scheduled seminars will take place at the Festival Center for the 62 days of the festival. These include culinary demos and beverage seminars, the new Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It! interactive events, plus more
- 186 Eat to the Beat concerts will be performed; 8 musical acts will appear for the first time at this year’s festival featuring entertainment ranging from rock and soul to funk and blues
- The Festival Passport (previously called the Marketplace Discovery Passport) was introduced in 2010 for the 15th annual festival; today, the free passport will feature pages with all 30 festival marketplaces
- More than 1,200 fireworks will explode each night over World Showcase Lagoon in IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth nightime spectacular
- Chase is the festival’s presenting sponsor for the 5th year; its Chase Lounge at the American Adventure Pavilion is open exclusively to Chase cardholders and offers an inviting place to relax and recharge
- More than 225,000,000 festival dishes were served during last year’s 53-day festival
- 100,000-plus desserts, including the Hard Soda Floats at Desserts & Champagne Marketplace, are expected to be served
- In 1997, during the festival’s second year, festival planners introduced the first Grand Tasting culinary extravaganza; in 2002, the event was renamed and moved to World Showplace as Party for the Senses, now featuring up to 50 food and beverage stations and, in 2016, new and different themed entertainment for each event
We hope you make it to this year’s Food & Wine Festival and that you manage to have a little fun, some tasty drinks, and a lot of great food.