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Florida versus California: Food & Wine Edition

My husband and I just returned from a 9-day west coast vacation. We started in Disneyland and then kept moving westward to Aulani. Originally, this was intended to be an Aulani-only trip. But who am I kidding? I knew we’d be in Los Angeles and after I heard Disney California Adventure was bringing back their Food and Wine Festival this year, I had to be there.

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 To provide background, I love Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival. It’s my favorite time of year to be in Walt Disney World. I was definitely curious to see how the west coast edition stacked up against the east. During Food and Wine in Florida, stations representing food and drink of different countries surround the World Showcase Lagoon. In 2015, there were 38 different booths at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival. In California, booths line the Buena Vista Street stretch of Disney California Adventure theme park.  Each booth is themed to represent a specific area of California. This year, there were 8 booths.

Crowds: My initial reaction when we walked into DCA on last Friday evening was that the turnstiles to enter the park were really busy. I thought this must be because of the Food and Wine Festival. Although, when we reached the hub of DCA, I didn’t notice too much Food and Wine Festival fanfare. There were a few signs, but not like the topiaries that welcome to you Epcot during their Food and Wine Festival. The first booth I came upon (La Style) I walked right up to the cashier. My husband and I were able to hit about 5 booths in an hour’s time with little to no waiting at the registers. The longest lines were those for alcohol. The alcohol serving time in DCA is earlier than the close of the park, so there was a mad dash to hoard drinks. I feel like locals avoid Epcot weekend nights during Food and Wine like the plague because it’s so overcrowded. Not in DCA. Sure, the park seemed really busy, but we never waited more than 5 minutes from ordering to picking up our food. Point, California.

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Atmosphere: DCA’s Food and Wine Festival seems like it was almost background noise to people moving through the park. Whereas in Epcot, the Festival is the main attraction. California has the edge in this respect: you will not see anyone shoving food into their mouths whilst balancing their drink next to their friend’s drink on a trashcan. In DCA, there are a few bistro seating options as well as high top counters with coverings that can fit many people on the front and back side. There’s plenty of room for everyone.

Food: let’s get down to brass tacks. The selection can’t be beat in Epcot. Even the pickiest of eaters can find something for them because there just are so many options. The options in California are a bit more limited, (see: 8 booths vs Epcot’s 38 booths) but they make up for it by bringing their A-game. The portion sizes are a lot better in California. In Epcot, I feel like I’m a bottomless pit and can sample my way around the World Showcase without feeling full. After I had the roasted cauliflower burrito in DCA, I thought to myself, what is this feeling? Satiation after eating?

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Results: To my utter joy, I don’t have to pick one over the other. Epcot is the original- which is really hard to beat. The selection is outstanding and you can really plan a full vacation around Food and Wine. DCA’s Food and Wine held me over until October, but it’s not the same main event that Florida’s is.


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