Epcot Food and Wine Festival Review
Epcot Food and Wine Festival for Adults 2019
As you can probably guess from the name, the Epcot Food and Wine festival celebrates chefs, food, and drinks. For us, this translates to a festival made for adults. While the festival has plenty of food and beverage options, there are also concerts and special events. The various events offered throughout the Food and Wine Festival are one of our favorite parts. This post provides details on what the Food and Wine festival offers, why it is fun for adults, and our recommendations.
What Is The Food And Wine Festival?
Epcot’s Food and Wine festival emphasizes a variety of food, beverages, and culinary experiences. While wine is in the title, the festival covers all alcoholic beverages (and some nonalcoholic ones). This year the Food and Wine Festival takes place from August 29 through November 23.
The country food booths are the main focus of the Food and Wine festival. Disney refers to the booths as the Global Marketplace. For 2019, this includes over 30 booths and a wide range of food and drink options. The food and drinks are tasting size, which means they are small. Most of the food items cost around $5. Alcoholic beverages are around $5 for beer and wine and around $11 for mixed drinks. Below we provide more information about the food and drinks. We also give some of our recommendations.
In addition to a variety of food and drinks, the festival has free concerts every night. There are also numerous extra-cost events that you can attend. These events are one of our favorite things about the Food and Wine Festival. We provide details on the concerts and the variety of the extra cost events below.
Is The Food and Wine Festival Fun For Adults?
We feel that all of the festivals that take place in Epcot are created with adults in mind. The Food and Wine Festival probably the most of all. This festival is dedicated to eating food and drinking. Need I say more? One benefit of the Food and Wine Festival is the variety of food and drink options available. There is something for everyone.
While the Food and Wine Festival is definitely a fun experience for adults, there are some downsides. First, the popularity of the event can cause large crowds. This is especially true on weekends when more locals attend the festival. Secondly, the festival can get expensive.
The Festival Is Free, But It Can Still Be Expensive
Access to the festival and the Eat to the Beat concerts are included with your Epcot park ticket. However, the cost of the food and drinks from the festival booths can add up quickly. Since the portions are tasting size, you will need several dishes to add up to a meal. The cost of this definitely adds up quickly, especially if you are also drinking alcohol.
Also, there are extra-cost events that take place throughout the Food and Wine Festival. These events are one of our favorite aspects of the Food and Wine Festival. The downside? They are an additional cost on top of your theme park ticket. We discuss the extra-cost events available during the Food and Wine festival below.
Advice For Sticking To A Budget
As we mentioned above, it is very easy to spend a lot of money at the Food and Wine Festival. The portions are not large, so it is easy to get a lot of items without giving it much thought. If you want to stick to a budget, our best advice is to purchase a Disney gift card. This way, once the gift card is out of money, you know you have hit your budget. The downside of this method is depending on what you purchase, you may end up with a dollar or change on your gift card.
Similarly, you can bring a set amount of cash. Once that cash is spent, you have hit your spending limit. The downside of this is that you have to carry cash. That is never a good option for us.
Lastly, the menus and prices for the items at the Food and Wine Festival are easy to find on Google. So the best way for us to stick to a budget is to make a list of what we want ahead of time. If we stick to our list, we have preset our spending for the festival.
Eat to the Beat Concerts
The Eat to the Beat concerts are FREE concerts that take place at the stage in the America pavilion. The performances change every couple of nights and include a variety of different bands. The concert schedule is available on Disney’s website. There are typically three shows a night. Some of the bands for 2019 include Smash Mouth, Tiffany, Kenny G, Boyz II Men, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and DCappella.
While some concerts can get busy, most of the time we find that you can walk up to the concert just before or during the show and find a seat. If there is a band you are really excited to see, we recommend arriving early. If you arrive before the seating has opened up, there will be a line (typically to the right hand side of the seating area). Seating is on a first come, first serve basis. The exception is if you have a dining package.
Eat to the Beat dining packages are available if you want to combine dinner with guaranteed seats for one of the concerts. The cost of this package covers dinner at select restaurants and guaranteed seating for one of the shows that night. We have not had any of the concerts interest us enough to justify this additional expense. However, if you are really interested in a specific band, you may want to look into the dining package option.
The Food and Wine festival offers numerous events that are an additional cost. Many of these events are very popular and we recommend booking them well in advance. Food and Wine event booking opens several months before the festival starts. In prior years, booking Food and Wine extra-ticket events opened in mid-May. This being said, we have booked several Food and Wine events the week or even the day of our trip. If there is an event you know you want to attend, we recommend booking it early. The main thing to be aware of is that most of these events do not allow cancellations, transfers, or refunds.
Some of the extra-cost events are relatively affordable. For example, the beverage seminars currently cost $19 plus tax. The beverage seminars include a wine, champagne, or beer tasting plus a 45 minute seminar sharing information about the beverages. The speaker is typically from the vineyard or brewery, which provides a unique perspective.
We have done one beverage seminar. Our main takeaway is that the seminar met our expectations for the price. Disney publishes a calendar that details what beverage will be presented on each day. We chose a day where the seminar was about prosecco. We were given three samples of the prosecco. I especially enjoyed the information about what prosecco is, how it is different from champagne, and about the vineyard we were tasting. One word of caution, a large part of this experience will depend on the presenter. Sadly, there are a lot of different wineries and breweries represented, so the quality of the presenter may be a bit of a wild card.
There are also much more costly events such as the Party for the Senses. This extra-ticket event is very popular and can cost up to $359 for the 3 hour Wine View Lounge seating. We have not attended this event.
Our Favorite Extra-Cost Event
Our favorite extra-cost event so far is the Parisian Afternoon at Monsieur Paul. This event currently costs $58 (plus tax, but gratuity is included). The best part of the event is the unlimited mimosas. You also get delicious food which is accompanied with information from the chef. It is the perfect example of everything that the Food and Wine Festival stands for. Guests get wonderful information, amazing service, delicious food, and a lot of champagne. We highly recommend this event. For more details about this event, click here for our full review.
Of all of the Epcot festivals offered throughout the year, the Food and Wine Festival has the largest variety of food. This is a nice benefit of this festival. Most of the dishes are really tasty too. Our best recommendation is to look over the menu before heading to the festival. When you are at the festival, stick with the items that have on your “must try” list, unless something really catches your eye. This will help you stick to a budget and not miss out on the dishes that you are really interested in.
As we mentioned above, all of the food served at the booths for the Food and Wine Festival are tasting portions. What this means is the portions are small. The benefit of this is that you are able to try a lot of different items without getting full. The downside, the cost of eating adds up quickly.
Food To Try
The teriyaki chicken bun is one of our go to favorites. One bun costs $5.75 and it can be found at the Japan booth. The bun is simple and delicious. Jeff loves the teriyaki-glazed SPAM hash with potatoes, peppers, onions and spicy mayonnaise. This dish can be found at the Hawaii booth and costs $4.25. Given the prices of most of the festival food, we feel this one is a pretty good value.
We also really like the Pao de Queijo. (Also known as the Brazilian cheese bread.) This dish is gluten free. It can be found at the Brazil booth and cost $4.50. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, the liquid nitro chocolate almond truffle with warm whiskey caramel from the Chocolate Studio Booth is our go to dessert. The nitro freeze makes the dish unique and really tasty. The nitro truffle dessert costs $5.25.
Food To Avoid
The frothy ramen is a unique dish at the Japan booth ($6). While the frothy ramen makes for an awesome photo, we did not care for the flavors. That being said, we do know a couple of other people that have tried this item and liked it. The choice is yours, but for us it is a definite pass.
As expected, the Food and Wine Festival has a variety of alcoholic beverages. While there is plenty of wine to choose from, we feel there is an equal amount of beer and other beverages.
Full disclosure, we skip most of the alcoholic beverages at the festival. Why? The drinks are tasting size, but still have a pretty high price tag. Epcot has a lot of amazing drinks. So even during the Food and Wine Festival, we tend to drink non-festival drinks. The non-festival alcoholic beverages are often a similar price as the festival beverage, but a full portion size.
Drinks To Try
Even though we don’t order a lot of the alcoholic festival drinks, we still sample a few every year. We really enjoy the Guinness Baileys shake from the Ireland booth. However, the drink is $11 and a pretty small portion.
We do like some of the non-alcoholic festival drink options. The mango lassi from the India booth is really delicious and refreshing. This one is $5 for the non-alcoholic version and $11 with chai cream liqueur. We usually stick with the non-alcoholic version.
Drinks To Avoid
As we mentioned above, we do not get a lot of drinks from the Food and Wine Festival booths. For us, the drinks at the booths are overpriced (even for Disney). We will typically get other drinks that we love from Epcot that are available year round. The beverages from the normal Epcot locations are similar prices and the full size. For example, the full size frozen fiesta margarita from Choza de Margarita is currently $11.25. I would prefer to have this frozen margarita over an $11 mixed drinks from a festival booth any day.
The atmosphere during the Food and Wine festival is not as magical as it is during the Flower and Garden or Art Festivals held at Epcot. For us, the atmosphere of this festival is the biggest downside. On weekends in particular, the countries can be very crowded. There are also a lot of people drinking heavily, which can take some of the magic away. For the best experience, we highly recommend visiting the festival during the day. Also, if you can, go to the festival on a weekday (Monday-Thursday).
Our Overall Recommendation
We love all of the festivals at Epcot. We highly recommend that adults attend any of the festivals, including the Food and Wine festival. For us, the best parts of the Food and Wine festival are the extra-cost events and the variety of food available. The main downside of this festival is the crowd and atmosphere. The festival can get very busy, especially on weekends. If possible, we recommend visiting the Food and Wine Festival on a Monday-Thursday. If you have any questions about the festival or if you have attended the Food and Wine Festival and want to share your experience, please leave us a comment below!
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