We’re getting towards the end of August, which means one thing for many Orlando natives, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is starting soon! This is probably the best event for food lovers happening anywhere in the state, and it’s something everyone should experience if they have the opportunity. But it can definitely be overwhelming if it’s your first time, especially if you only have one day to make the most of it. Here are some tips from a seasoned pro about how to do Food and Wine best.
So we’ll get this out of the way first, you are not headed for an affordable experience. Prices of all the items are high, and they are constantly getting higher. It’s almost certainly going to cost more than you think, especially if you plan on drinking your way around the world. Most food items cost between $4 - $8, and drinks are often even more. That might not sound like much, but it really adds up over time. Don’t go into the festival expecting your meal to cost the same as a regular meal at Disney. Even some of their most expensive restaurants are affordable compared to a day at Food and Wine. That being said, the cost is worth saving up for if you love trying different kinds of food as much as I do! (Side note: if you don’t love trying lots of new food and treating food and drinks as an experience, it’s probably not worth it for you).
This is the thing I think a lot of people get wrong about Food and Wine. The dishes here are not best when they are eaten by one person. The easiest way to try tons of food without your stomach exploding is to share! Try to visit with a few people who share similar tastes to yours and who won’t mind sharing both the eating and the cost of eating. But don’t try to bring too many friends along. Most of the dishes aren’t big enough for more than four people to share. So travel in groups, but make them small groups if you can.
If you’re only planning to visit Epcot once during Food and Wine, one of your main goals should be to try AS MUCH FOOD AS YOU CAN. Obviously, your stomach can only contain so much food, so try not to overdo it all at once. Enjoy other activities in the World Showcase in between food and wine booths to keep yourself from ever getting too full. Alternatively, try visiting half the booths in the morning for breakfast and then come back to do the other half for dinner. Make sure you don’t head to the World Showcase too late in the day, or you may run out of time!
I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a plan ahead kind of person. I like to head to the festival without looking at the menus ahead of time so everything will be a surprise. This can be fun, but it might not be the best way to be prepared for a single visit. If you’re the type of person who likes to be prepared, or if you have any food sensitivities, this strategy will probably make the experience super stressful for you. There are many Disney blogs out there that have full menus and reviews of each item, so you can get an idea of what you definitely should not miss, and what you probably can. Pretty much everything available at the festival is delicious, so if you play it by ear you will definitely eat tons of amazing food, but you might miss some of the favorites. You have to decide for yourself what level of preparedness you feel most comfortable with.
Disney offers tons of extras at the Food and Wine Festival such as workshops and seminars. Listen, this is Disney, so these events are pretty much guaranteed to be excellent, but if you’re short on time you can probably skip them. These cost extra money (sometimes hundreds of dollars per guest), and they’re mostly meant for people who go to the festival multiple times and are looking for an opportunity to experience something new. If you see one that really catches your interest, don’t let me stop you from doing it, but don’t feel like you have to go out of your way to go to one in order to have a full experience. I promise your Food and Wine experience will be totally fantastic without doing any of Disney’s extras.
Unless your kids are much more adventurous with food than the average kid, this is not an event for them. Sure, there are kids meals available if you have to bring them along, but this is definitely fully meant for adults. I promise you will have much more fun without your kids, plus you will avoid surrounding them with all the drunk people Food and Wine attracts (and you can become one of those drunk people without worrying about parenting). If you’re on a Disney vacation and you’re worried about leaving your kids behind, you don’t have to be! Disney offers in room babysitting at all of their resorts (though this is an extra cost you’ll have to factor in).
Crowds at Epcot in the Fall are never going to be as extreme as crowds at Magic Kingdom in the Summer, so you don’t have to make avoiding them as big of a concern. Of course less people is always better at a theme park, and there are plenty of ways you can see less people. Most importantly, try to avoid going on the weekends. This is always a good rule of thumb for any Disney park. The later during the festival you visit, the less crowded it will be. It’s going to be especially crowded when the festival first opens. Plus theme park crowds overall are lower in November than they are in August (the weather is better then too). Also you will find less crowds in the World Showcase earlier in the day. A lot of people head to the showcase in the late afternoon, so crowds tend to be thinner earlier in the day.
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is easily my favorite thing Disney does. It’s a great time, but it can be stressful if you don’t do it right. Head there with the right preparation, and I promise you will have an amazing time! Happy eating!