Why Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival is Worth the Trip

Posted by Elizabeth Alton on Monday, July 21st, 2014

Party for the Senses

One of the best aspects of Epcot is its ability to transport you to so many locations around the world in a single day. Its global theme engages on every level and through every sense: you hear the music, see the colors and the costumes, and touch the textures of interesting souvenirs in the various shops. But for many people, the standout feature is the food. It’s a wonderful way to engage your sense of taste, and share the culture of whatever part of the world you happen to be exploring. Whether you’re craving the perfect margarita or something more exotic, Epcot has it on offer. And each year, Epcot ups the ante with its annual International Food and Wine Festival.

The Disney blog recently announced that the company will start accepting reservations for the Premium Events Series at the festival on July 31st. This year’s festival runs from September 19th to November 10th. There are a mix of standard features and Premium Events, as well as seminars, which let you customize the experience to your particular budget and tastes. Having had the pleasure to attend the festival a couple of years ago, I can personally attest that it’s a great time to plan a Disney vacation that offers a unique spin on the traditional park experience.

2011 Festival Map

Partaking in the festival is low key. It adds to the quintessential Disney experience, rather than distracting from it. Food and drink stations are set up around Epcot, thematically tied to the area of the park where they are situated. As something appeals to you, you stop and try it. Most people wander around, trying various foods and drinks as they explore the attractions and the rest of what the park has to offer. There are ways to tie in your food and drink purchases with your meal plan, so if you’re traveling during that period on an inclusive package inquire when you book your trip about how that works.

The Premium Events take your participation to a whole new level. These include culinary demonstrations and meals catered by some of the world’s top celebrity chefs. Favorite events are making a comeback, such as Cheese Seminar Saturdays and Parisian breakfasts. More ambitious events include Parties for the Senses, which in the past was held at held at the park’s World Showplace pavilion in Future World and featured exotic treats from around the world and acts from Cirque de Soleil.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival

There’s a hands-on learning component that many visitors love. During culinary demonstrations, you can see firsthand how expert chefs prepare a wide range of global dishes. Usually, you can sneak a taste as well. Mixology seminars teach you how to properly make the hottest cocktails from around the world, and are a great way to expand your horizons. If you’re an aspiring sommelier, a number of wine seminars are offered throughout the festival.

Booth at Epcot Food Festival

This year’s festival teaser has hinted at some new events, including Dining Through the Decades which is a tribute to Walt Disney food throughout the years. There’s also the engagingly named “Epcot International Food & Wine Festival — Boot Camp Series interactive epicurean adventure.” More details on this year’s events will be released in just a few days, but for Disney loving foodies it promises to be a banner year.

What stands out about the International Food and Wine festival from a visitor experience perspective is that it offers something truly unique. The ability to sample diverse cuisine at such a high level and have it integrate with the experiential components of the park is a truly one of a kind offering. Disney doesn’t sit on its laurels with the festival either, instead continuing to innovate and offer something new each year both in terms of the cuisine and the experiences. A large percentage of visitors to the festival are repeat visitors, which is perhaps the highest testament to its quality and success!

Image credits: Stone VIPs, Disney, WDW Dining, Examiner

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