Epcot's Food and Wine Festival 2019
The easiest way to travel the world in one day is definitely a day spent at Epcot. Epcot was previously never on my list of must-visit parks. My only memories of Epcot were as a child with long walks and viewing topiaries. Bor-ing. But then we woke up one morning as adults, we packed up the kids and headed to Walt’s world. We were able to get brunch reservations at Akershus with the princesses. It was July and it was HOT. But we were determined to give it a chance. It was unbelievable. Escaping to a new country every hour was magical, to say the least. And in true Disney fashion, the country copies are insanely close to the places it attempts to mirror. I have walked the real streets of Paris and traveled to Germany and I can honestly say you are swept away by the architectural replicas and atmospheres. The character meet and greets are unique as well. We were even able to meet Ralph and Vanellope at one location. That fateful July visit stapled Epcot as the Alfords new favorite park at Disney World! Even our son, Roman, was a giant fan! We knew we would have to come back for the famous food and wine festival! And that brings us to now, October 2019. The festival runs from late August to November 23rd 2019 and is NOT a special ticketed event. Meaning, your Epcot park ticket will include the Festival! Read along for tips, tricks and instagram approved photos of our trek through a foodies dreamland!
PACE YO SELF!
This festival is long and expensive. It is worth every single dime and I completely recommend it but in Florida during August thru November, it can be super hot. Hydration is key. Bring a water bottle, especially if you will be sampling the spirits on your quest. Most drink/food stands offer complimentary tap water as well. A mix of spirits and heat can be a nasty combination so definitely remember your H2O. And AlWAYS: Enjoy responsibly! Have a plan set up for your transportation exit after your long day. Uber, Lyft and disney buses are there to help! There is also a clever "Minnie Van" driving service that you can pay for as well. USE THEM to get TO and FROM the park if you will be drinking all day. NEVER drink and drive. EVER.
It's For the Foodie!
The food served around Epcot is not for the amateur tongue. Some of these foods take a mature palate to fully enjoy. For this reason I say, sample cautiously. My husband (Mr. Amateur Tongue, kidding but he does not have a taste for thai food) tried the Thailand marinated chicken with peanut sauce and hated it. I LOVED it. Read your guide carefully. Most plates are described in detail on what you are trying. If onions are a hard 'no' for you, then steer clear. Speaking of Thailand. The red hot spicy Thai curry beef, pictured here, was to die for!
The best of best:
In our group of four adults, the hands down winner winner, filet mignon dinner was in fact, Canada's "Le Cellier" Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter sauce. If you enter Epcot and start with the left of Showcase first, then you will not reach Canada until the end of your Food & Wine adventure. Leave room for this beauty. A little on the salty side, but cooked to perfection and can literally be eaten with a fork, you won't be disappointed. Also the poutine from Canada was a top contender located in the kiosk next to the filet stand. See below on filling and delicious options.
Spain offered a delicious charcuterie in a cone and we paired it with the wine flight. It was delicious. The Croissant aux Escargots in France was a tie for me in faves! It is a flakey, buttery croissant stuffed with pesto and garlic soaked escargot and it was AMAZING! No matter your opinion on snails, just try it! You will not regret it. This was paired with a La Passion Martini Slushy at the same kiosk. I tend to stay away from slushies. They are usually too sweet to my liking. But this concoction was so good we ordered two! Not to mention it's a wonderful cool down treat for adults. Another fan fave was the sparkling Moscato from Italy. I do not care for Moscato but several friends that went as well, tried it and raved about it.
Good but save your money:
There is a yummy funnel cake in the American Adventure area but honestly, you've tried one funnel cake, you've tried them all. Give this one a pass. The same goes for the spicy tuna roll in Japan. Good but nothing special. If you are a fan of sake, opt for the sake flight over the sushi. Other delights we tried were in Spain. We tried several here but the charcuterie with wine flight is the only one that I highly recommend. Most of us love tacos, I get it, but you won't miss anything mind blowing if you skip the ones in Mexico. I've dined at some pretty amazing Mexican restaurants and since you can literally go bankrupt at the food and wine festival, save your money here.
Earn a freebie for all of your hardwork:
New to the 2019 festival, You can find a list of Fromage Montage options at different locations throughout Epcot's showcase. Turn to the end of your 2019 Food and Wine Festival guide. If you complete all of the fromage stamps, you will earn a FREE cheesecake at the Shimmering Sips kiosk. You deserve a tasty treat for all of your hard work, and what better trophy to receive than a slice of cheesecake?
Kids or no kids?
Let me start with, our kids were with us. Walks between rides, character meet and greets and souvenir shopping was where all of the food and wine festivities were located so it is completely achievable and enjoyable to do with the kiddos in tow. However, sans kids would be just as fun, if not more. Epcot has a way of making adults feel completely guiltless about having responsible adult fun. We had several adults in our party so ensuring a great time for our kids, who were absolutely not interested in food sampling, was quite easy. But to include your tiny humans, there are kid friendly options available throughout the park, including a delicious alcohol free frozen blueberry lemonade in Italy, that my kids LOVED and a dance party with the characters from Zootopia! Soar and Test Track are my son's favorite rides so be sure to snag fast passes for those ASAP!
At some of the gift shops (particularly Marketplace) that you see on the beginning of your journey, there are options to buy a $8 tray that strategically holds a food plate and one drink of choice, all in one hand. TAKE MY MONEY! This makes eating and drinking AND walking around the world SO SO SO convenient. Purchase this as soon as you enter the park and you are ready to gooooooo!
Do I stick to the passport booklet?
NO! Relax, stroll, eat and drink. The food and wine festival booklet that you should grab as soon as you enter the park is just a guideline. They are available for free every couple of feet, so you can't miss them. There are cool stickers within the book that allows you to check off what you have sampled. This way, you can look ahead and note anything that you definitely do not want to miss. Pro Tip: If you have kids, you can try to get reservations at Akershus princess dining for brunch and go through your Food and Wine festival book at this time and map out your plan all while the kiddos enjoy the princess meet and greets. If you do not have kids, skip the character brunch and save all that money for sampling food and beverages.
The most filling and most delicious combined:
If your just looking for something filling and good, have I got the option for you... Duck Confit Poutine in Canada. They also have a brisket option for the more conservative foodie. I'm only slightly embarrassed to say that I sampled this TWICE! It is a large serving. Canada is where it's at folks. The food in this country within Epcot even made me start researching actually traveling there in 2020. We'll see.
Future World West:
If you walk into Epcot, Future World West will be a hang to the right. If you want to slow down and enjoy your food, Future World West is where it's at. All of the other locations only provide small cocktail tables to eat your food. Otherwise, you can just walk and eat, using your highly recommended tray that you really need to consider purchasing, but the Future World West is more of a low key area with ground and table seating for enjoying good company and great food. We did not make it there until almost closing so we were not able to enjoy this area as much. We did, however, sample the Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with warm whiskey caramel in this area and it was definitely interesting. Good and interesting. Try it and decide for yourself.
Wine, Beer, Liquor:
Big wine connoisseur? Try the wine. Like Beer? Stick with the beer but try the flights instead of one single drink. There are sooooo many options. Liquor drinks your jam? Read through your book and pencil in the must tries. I will say this. Mexico's Smokey Margarita was bleh. Definitely a strange taste that neither Garrett or I were vibing with. So go for the Clasica Reyes Margarita if the Marg is on your radar in Mexico.
Joffrey's is a small kiosk located at all parks that serve specialty coffee, some with spiked options. We love these kiosks. They get their own special spotlight at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. If you're a coffee buff, try any of the menu options, you won't be disappointed.
A Fun Treat for the Kiddos NOT in the festival booklet:
If your little ones are getting in line for the Frozen Ever After ride in Norway, stop by Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe for a rainbow colored cheesecake that is quite tasty. Enjoy this in line while waiting to ride this fantastic attraction. Another option is to take some food over near the Test Track area and let the kids play on the playground. There is also a "Search for Remy" where kids can go on a fun scavenger hunt around the festival. Map and stickers can be bought at Port of Entry, Pin Central, World Traveler or some of the Festival Markets to mark off the sightings of the little rat. I happen to catch a glimpse of him in Paris and it was so cool.
Get Festive With Your Clothes:
We all love matching disney shirts. When walking around the festival, I saw HUNDREDS of festival shirts. Some were creative, some witty, some tacky and some down right hilarious. But if you are going with a group of people, the vintage tee linked below is iconic and simple which will actually make you stand out. Have everyone in your group wear a different color and it will definitely make for great pictures. It also helps food to standout in "food selfies". I also have a discount code DOODLEBUG15 to save 15%! I can't tell you how many awkward moments were due to me staring at someone's chest, trying to read the paragraph on their shirts about "drinking around the world" and movie quotes. These are great! SO cute, but you will definitely be one of hundreds wearing the same shirt. https://www.etsy.com/listing/711328312/epcot-retro-rainbow-walt-disney-world
I will add a photo wearing mine on my Instagram soon. Follow me at www.instagram.com/theadventurousalfords
Warning: There is a Pizzeria in Italy that always seems to have a low line. This is trickery! The line for ordering is short. Once you have paid, you are sent to another line that is roughly 20 minutes (or more) long! So annoying if you only ordered a soda and then are asked to wait that long to pick up. This is where we ordered the kids frozen blueberry drinks. They were happy with the drinks but definitely not worth the wait.
The Epcot Food and Wine Festival is equal to what Disney World excitement is for a child, but for adults! All in all, I wish we would have went right instead of left. It seemed the REALLY good food was to the right. So when we went left and all of the way around World Showcase and finally made it there, we were almost too full to partake. Of course we didn't let this stop us but it would have made for a much better experience. Don't forget the new and improved Epcot show at the end of the night. It is spectacular. And of course, there was some food stops before finding our spot for viewing so that we could eat during the nighttime show! The kids loved it and so will you. Set a budget for yourself. Each sampling can cost anywhere from $5 to $20. Definitely go through that passport before starting so that you have a plan. And don't fret over all of those calories and carbs you took on... The amount of walking will surely balance it all out, right? Any who. Happy trails! Cheers!
The Adventurous Alfords