It is that time of year again! Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival has officially begun. This year the festival runs from September 14 until November 14, 2016, which is a record 62 days long! Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival is a yearly tradition that celebrates international food, wine, beverages, and culture! To start off the festival, the DIS team was there on the first day to cover the event.
The food at the Food and Wine Festival has always been my favorite part. Typically I am a picky eater, but the festival allows picky eaters like me to sample exotic foods somewhat affordably. Yes, the cost of the food does add up fairly quickly, but for $4 to $8 dollars for each small dish, I can’t complain. This year, there were 30 Global Marketplaces, which are small kiosks that offer additional food and beverages typically not served at Epcot. The newest of them all was the Islands of the Caribbean kiosk, which replaced last year’s Dominican Republic kiosk.
Last year, my favorite dish was the Crispy Pork Belly served with black beans, which can still be found this year at the Brazil Global Marketplace for $5.50. This year, my winner has to be the Korean-Style Barbecue with Steamed Rice and Cucumber Kimchi, which can be found at the South Korean Global Marketplace. For only $5.25, the Korean-Style Barbecue was flavorful and plentiful. This was a generous sampling and it was well worth the price. I had always heard great things about Korean barbecue, but I had yet to try it. I can now happily say, thanks to the Food & Wine Festival, that not only have I tried it, but that I really enjoyed it.
The festival has to be one of Walt Disney World’s biggest money makers, yet they seem extremely unprepared each year. Last year they ran out of food at the Dominican Republic Global Marketplace for a few hours, and this year, Belgium’s Global Marketplace was temporarily out of food as well. The food is so delicious at the festival that I think issues like this are forgotten about, but I hope Disney steps up their performance as the festival moves forward.
While there were some small mishaps, I’ve yet to be disappointed with the actual food at the Food and Wine Festival. Everything I’ve tried so far has been either good or fantastic. I will definitely be returning to sample even more of the food at this year’s festival, and I am excited to see what else is in store.
For those guests over age 21, there are a variety of drink options at the festival. Just like the food, these are typically small sample-sized pours of alcohol, which I actually enjoy because you can try and taste without worrying about drinking too much too quickly. Typically I am a beer drinker, but on an extremely hot and humid day in central Florida, sometimes a cold beer just isn’t cold enough. My favorite drink this year was actually the Frozen Margarita with Limoncello and Tequila found at the Italy Global Marketplace for $10.00.
For those who do enjoy drinking wine, there are a lot of great options as always. Many of the Global Marketplaces had a wine pairing for one of the dishes that they served. It was disappointing that at some locations (like the American Pavilion), the wine was served not just warm, but hot. As someone who doesn’t typically drink wine, I especially became disinterested when I found out about that.
In my opinion, the Food and Wine Festival is the best time of the year to visit Epcot. Oftentimes people say that Epcot serves as a permanent World’s Fair, and there is no time where that is more true than during the Food and Wine Festival. All of that excitement gives this park a spark of energy.
There were a lot of great changes to the atmosphere at this year’s Food and Wine Festival. The main improvement was the increase in the number of tables that could be found throughout the World Showcase. This might have been the biggest improvement to the festival in years, simply because guests no longer have to eat their food hovering over a garbage can.
Another great improvement from last year is that the Festival Center held in the old Wonders of Life Pavillon will now be open daily. In 2015, the Festival Center was only open on the weekends.
The first day of the festival was extremely hot and humid, so much so that it was hard to really enjoy the event to its fullest. This isn’t Disney’s fault in any way, but it did get me thinking. With Innoventions being essentially gutted, why don’t they extend the festival into these two buildings? Having more Global Marketplaces like the ones in the World Showcase held within the air conditioning would be a huge hit amongst the guests. I’d guess this would be a huge money maker for Disney as well because it would encourage guests to stay longer.
The Eat To The Beat series returns this year. Although I have never been interested in any of the concerts for this series, I can’t complain about a free concert. This year, the Eat To The Beat series will include performances like STARSHIP, Sugar Ray, David Cook, Hanson, and Boyz II Men.