Epcot at Walt Disney World is known for its many festivals, but the crown jewel of them all is the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Held every fall in the park since 1995, the Food & Wine Festival keeps getting larger and held for an even longer period of time with each passing year. The festival’s popularity, combined with all the Disney World Halloween offerings like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, has made the fall an increasingly busy time of year at Walt Disney World.
Epcot Food & Wine Festival Basics
If you are new to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, what are the essential basics you need to know?
When: The Food & Wine Festival happens every year in Epcot in Walt Disney World for most of the fall. In 2019, it runs from August 29 until November 23.
Where: The festival takes place all around World Showcase. Booths (aka “Global Marketplaces”) fill in the extra spaces around the country pavilions. There are even a few kiosks that spill into the Future World section of the park. These booths offer speciality food and beverages from around the world.
While there are booths that correspond to the 11 countries of World Showcase, many more countries are in the mix. In 2019, there are 30 booths in total, so you can imagine that quite a lot of additional cuisines are available. Roughly speaking, the locations of the additional country booths make geographical sense. For example, the Irish food booth is located close to the UK Pavilion, the Caribbean food booth is positioned by Mexico, and so forth.
Who: The Food & Wine Festival is open to all guests visiting Epcot – there is no special additional ticket required or cost to enter the festival (with the exception of a few special premium offerings discussed below).
Beyond the Food Booths: What Else is There to Do at Food & Wine?
While eating food is the highlight, the Epcot Food & Wine Festival offers a lot more than just a lot of food booths.
Seminars & Culinary Demonstrations: There are also culinary demonstrations and paid seminars associated with the festival, some of which charge an additional fee. These are offerings that are more tailored to foodies and visitors who don’t have young kids in tow, but consider them if you have older kids who enjoy cooking or are on an adults-only vacation. One of the most well-reviewed options is Sunday Brunch with the Chef, where you cook and eat brunch with a celebrity chef.
Eat to the Beat Concerts: The Food & Wine festival also features a concert series, Eat to the Beat. Concerts are held daily (except for the final few days of the festival), with three performances nightly. The concert pavilion is near the American Experience and seats quite a lot of people. Acts like Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees, Hanson, Smashmouth, and Starship are a part of the 2019 lineup.
There is a dining package associated with Eat to the Beat where guests get reserved seats for a concert and dine in a table service restaurant. Personally, we don’t think these make sense for anyone but the true super-fan because walk up seats are usually pretty plentiful at most concerts. Additionally, most visitors to Food & Wine want to try food at the food booths and not dine at one of the restaurants that are open any time of the year.
For the Kids: Finally, there is a little something special for kids during the Food & Wine Festival – Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak. Kids can purchase a map for just $6.99 and look for hidden Remys all around World Showcase. Finish the hunt and you’ll win a tumbler.
Epcot Food & Wine Festival Tips
We think the Food & Wine Festival is very well done and worth a trip. Here are some tips to make your visit as smooth as possible.
- In 2019 (and well into 2020), Epcot is under major construction. More of the construction is taking place in Future World, so you won’t feel the effects as much if you come in to Food & Wine through the International Gateway.
- Seating is in short supply by some of the food booths. If you don’t see seats or standing tables near the booth where you bought your food, keep moving. Chances are good the next booth will have more availability so you don’t have to balance food and drink precariously while trying to consume it!
- There are multiple Eat to the Beat shows every night. Go to the earliest show of the night for lower crowds.
- A lot of guests like to save money by skipping the park hopper ticket option at Walt Disney World, but we think Food & Wine is one time of year a park hopper may make the most sense. Go to the other parks in the morning to ride and see shows. Then hop to Epcot to dine for a late lunch or dinner.
- If your schedule allows it, visit Food & Wine multiple times. There is so much to eat that you will be overwhelmed trying to do it all at one meal time.
- Food & Wine is on event that really brings out the locals, especially on weekends in the evenings. Go on weekdays or mid-day and you’ll experience lower crowds.
- The site to follow for all the food reviews and little details of this festival is, naturally, Disney Food Blog. Disney Tourist Blog does a pretty deep dive every year as well.
- Watch for nights Epcot is open until 10:00 pm because that gives you a bit more time to eat. Most Fridays and Saturdays offer this later hour. Kiosks are not open, however, during evening Extra Magic Hours from 9-11pm.
- Last but certainly not least, make a plan of attack by picking up the Food & Wine booklet and park map. Sneak a peek at the menus of each kisok before you decide on direction around World Showcase. World Showcase is huge. You really don’t want to find yourself constantly backtracking because you missed something as you walked.