Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
One of our favorite times to visit Walt Disney World (other than visiting any time!) is in the fall for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. World Showcase is currently home to eleven countries that allow guests to explore the highlights of the culture, including the food and drink the country is known for. The Food & Wine Festival takes this concept and puts it into overdrive by transforming Epcot and utilizing every nook to add booths throughout the park. Over 30 booths represent new countries or specialties such as chocolate, beer, cheese, and BBQ. Each booth has an average of 3-5 food options and another 3-5 drinks all in tasting size portions. This festival style allows for people to try a variety of things, some of which people typically would not order so it is a great opportunity to try new things!
This year, we were fortunate to be on vacation during the opening of the 2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival so it was a great chance to get first looks of everything on our own and uninfluenced by other’s opinions. We spent the majority of one day eating all our meals at the festival and sporadically throughout the rest of the trip.
TIPS and TRICKS!
- Splitting items instead of buying multiples allows you to try more things- save money and stomach space! Then you can decide which items are worth for a round two.
- Set a budget- it items add up and the magic bands are dangerous. While each item is between $4- $8, you can easily hit $100 or more if you are not careful! For us, we substituted several meals and ate exclusively at the festival to mitigate the cost.
- Drinks are expensive and quite small so be alert on which are a better value.
- Weekends are more crowded than the weekdays but the lines for the booths are not generally too long of a wait. Make use of lower crowds at festival open and close.
- Study the guide book ahead of time and make a plan. We sat with a pen and circled the items we wanted to hit so we could prioritize those menu items before adventuring on to others. Also look at the photos of the item at the booth before you order to ensure it looks like something you want, or vice versa- something you did not expect to look good on paper is just want you were looking for when you see the photo.
- Don’t forget to check out the Eat to the Beat Concert Series performers! Many bands make an appearance so make sure to check out the list if you want to work that into your plans.
- Booths are also in Future World so do not forget to explore the areas outside of World Showcase.
- Avoid the heat of the middle of the day. Try and start when World Showcase opens and return later in the afternoon when it is more comfortable to walk around and eat. If you do not want to take a break or leave the park, take AC breaks by popping into a country or plan your rides for this part of the day.
You can visit here for all the booths and their menus! (In order of appearance in the Festival Passport)
Festival Center- Simmering Sips Mimosa Bar, Craft Drafts, Wine Shop
- The Festival Center is home to many festival activities including demonstrations and merchandise. While we did not get anything at these booths but the Mimosa Bar was very popular.
- Home to a variety of cronuts (croissant doughnut)! I desperately wanted to try one of the sugary options, especially the one dipped in chocolate topped with marshmallows. Unfortunately each time we passed we were either too full from eating or the line was incredibly long. The pancake milkshake was also an enticing option I wish we got a chance to try.
Flavors From Fire
- Smoked Corned Beef with warm crispy potatoes, pickled onions, and blonde ale beer fondue featuring BelGioioso romano and American Grana cheese
- Instead of being corned beef focused dish, it was more reminiscent of nachos so it felt like a misnomer but it was a great surprise because it was one of our favorite snacks. The fondue on top of the thick cut potato chips with shredded corned beef in between- so good!
- Piggy Wings roasted pork wings with Korean BBQ sauce and sesame seeds
- Super flavorful with a mild heat- a popular choice at this booth. In fact, every item at this booth was a crowd pleaser!
- Orlando Brewery Smokin’ Blackwater Porter
- Such a fun space! We walked in to check it out but ended up not getting anything. There were no descriptions of the drinks and while part of the allure, was probably the reason we did not get anything.
Next Eats- Earth Eats, Active Eats, Coastal Eats
- No enough stomach space to try these booths!
The Art of Pairing- The Chocolate Studio, The Cheese Studio, The Wine & Dine Studio
- This was one of my favorite spots! This gated area had several different standing options and umbrellas for the three booths showcasing chocolate, cheese, and wine- heaven!
The Chocolate Studio:
- When we got to this booth, I couldn’t decide so I ordered both chocolate options- it’s vacation right?
- Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with warm whiskey caramel
- Kevin and I shared the first one. The daily stop there after we each got our own. While this took several minutes to make and had the longest wait for an item, it was worth it. It was frozen ice cream on the outside and gooey mousse on the inside. Such perfection and I still want more.
- Dark Chocolate Raspberry Torte
- A decadent option that was plate licking good!
- Daou Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa
The Wine and Dine Studio:
- Seared Scallops with truffled celery root, brussels sprouts, and wild mushroom
- This would be a dish I would order at a restaurant and it was very good here. I’d say it was one of my favorite scallop renditions at the festival.
- Butternut Squash Ravioli with brown butter vinaigrette, parmesan cheese, and pumpkin seeds
- My personal savory favorite that I got every day we were at the festival (along with the Liquid Nitro!). Brown butter is so stinking delicious and the combination of the other ingredients were perfection on a plate.
- Rainstorm Silver Linings Pinot Noir Rose from Oregon
The Cheese Studio
- La Crema Pinot Gris from Monterey
The Almond Orchard
- Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Dip with pulled chicken, toasted Blue Diamond almonds and parmesan cheese served with nut thins crackers
- One of the few disappointing items ordered. I am not sure what spice was hiding in the dip but it was not welcomed and threw the dip off. The small crackers made it difficult to eat the dip as well- not enough surface are to grab dip.
- Banana Almond Soft-serve Sundae with fresh berries and chocolate almond streusel
- Love this sundae! Probably because I make a shake every morning using frozen bananas and love bananas. I am not sure what the chocolate almost streusel referred to- curious if mine did not have it- but the soft-serve and the berries were great.
- Traditional Poutine with gravy and cheese curds
- We are suckers for poutine! There is nothing like crispy fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds. Even in the hot Florida sun, it was nourishing our soul.
- Steamed Green Lip Mussels with garlic butter and toasted breadcrumbs
- A surprisingly large portion- the mussels were huge and swimming in a garlic butter sauce that makes everything taste better. We definitely enjoyed this one!
- Frozen Wine Cocktail featuring Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
- Favorite drink award! (DingDingDing!) This frozen wine is exactly what it says- frozen wine. Nothing added to enhance to booze factor and it was not sweetened, a complaint of many cocktails. We indulged in this treat several times. Perfectly refreshing in the hot sun!
- Spent so much time at New Zealand next door that we missed getting anything for Australia
- Teriyaki glazed SPAM hash with potatoes, peppers, onions, and wasabi cream
- Kevin ordered this one and really like it. He had a hash when we visited Food and Wine in 2015 so he was happy to find a hash this year.
Islands of the Caribbean
- Did not get a chance to try anything from this booth.
- Bougatsa- warm Phyllo dough strudel with sweet vanilla custard, lemon honey syrup, and cinnamon
- One of Kevin’s favorite desserts, this was flaky goodness filled with vanilla custard and swimming in honey- need to find this at home!
- Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko, Santorini
- We wanted several items at this booth but once again fell to bad timing for stomach space.
- We must have constantly walked the same way as we also missed items at this booth.
- Beijing Roasted Duck Bao Bun with hoisin sauce
- A popular item at the festival each year, it showcases the crispy duck wonderfully.
- Warm Indian Bread with Pickled Garlic, Mango Salsa, and Coriander Pesto Dip
- The nan was nice and warm with each of the dips being very different. We both liked the mango salsa the best. I think we could have used one additional piece of nan to finish all the dips.
- India- Madras Red Curry with roasted cauliflower, baby carrots, chickpeas, and basmati rice
- Another Kevin only dish that he really enjoyed. This is why we love this festival because while I do not like this cuisine and do not get it at home, Kevin is able to try things that normally we would not.
- I felt bad because this booth had meat and soup, neither of which work for August in Florida. I am sure this booth will pick up in popularity as the fall season approaches.
- Schinkennudeln pasta gratin with ham, onions and cheese
- German mac and cheese! I was concerned it was too hot for this dish but it was shocking not too heavy and very delicious. It was also a good portion size for the price so this was a good value item.
- J&H Selbach Bernkasteler Kurfurstlay Riesling Kabinett, Mosel
- Brewer’s Collection: Radeberger Zwickel Pilsner (unfiltered)
- We have such great, authentic paella back home so we did not feel the need to kill calories at this booth.
- Messi Rigatoni vodka sauce, crispy pancetta, and parmesan cheese
- A cute serving dish but reminded me of airplane food. The sauce was not reminiscent of vodka sauce but the pancetta pieces were very tasty.
America- Fife & Drum Tavern, Block & Hans, Hops & Barley
- Fife and Drum Tavern (America): Hanson Brothers Beer Company Mmmhops Pale Ale
- Block and Hans: Karback Brewing Co Love Street Kolsch style blonde ale
- Teriyaki Chicken Bun: Steamed bun filled with chicken, vegetables, and a sweet teriyaki sauce
- I really enjoyed this bun plus is was portable allowing you to walk and snack at the same time.
- Spicy Roll: Tuna and salmon topped with volcano sauce
- Kevin ate this one, commenting that it had a bit of spice but was disappointed in the fish ranking it as a less than average sushi roll.
- Chocolate Baklava rolled phyllo dough with toasted almonds and dark chocolate sauce
- Kevin loves baklava (hard not to!) and we both enjoyed this flaky chocolate treat.
- Belgian Waffle with Warm Chocolate Ganache with whipped cream (stingy on chocolate)
- I remember enjoying this staple item in 2016 but I have to say there was less than a squirt of chocolate ganache on my waffle. I want the chocolate ganache to waffle ratio to at least be enough chocolate per bit of waffle and this waffle was very dry. Disappointed on the skimping on chocolate!
- Crispy Pork Belly with black beans, tomato, and onions
- While we had amazing pork belly at Flying Fish earlier, I think I was expecting to be disappointed with this dish but it was actually quite tasty. The black beans underneath were surprisingly good!
- Croissant aux Escargot with garlic and parsley
- I think I ate four of these…yes I believe that is an accurate count! The flaky, buttery croissant with the garlic on top and the escargot tucked in the middle. Even for those that do not like or do not think they like escargot, I think this is a great way to try it.
- Guinness Baileys Shake
- A boozy treat that we both really enjoyed and you get to keep the cute Irish plastic glass- built in souvenir! It was a great cold beverage thickened and made creamy by the Baileys. We liked this way more than we expected to.
- Warm Chocolate Pudding with Irish cream liqueur custard
- A classic that warms the soul- perfect night time snack to finish the night.
- Moosehead Radler Lager infused with grapefruit, grape, and lemon juices, New Brunswick
Overall, we were very happy with 2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. We spent quite a bit of time on this trip at the festival and we made it a priority to explore as much of the offerings as our stomachs would allow. While we got to have some of our old favorites, we really enjoyed exploring the new options that keep this event fresh. We look forward to seeing the evolution of this event in the future!