The Epcot Food and Wine Festival is one of the biggest events at Epcot, running from the end of August to the middle of November every year. It also just so happens to be our favourite event at Walt Disney World, we haven’t missed the festival for years!
If it is your first time at the festival or you just need a bit of advice on how best to tackle this huge event, we have a few tips to make your festival trip less stressful and more fun!
1) Avoid Evenings and Weekends
While the Food and Wine Festival is an incredible event to attend, it attracts a lot of people, especially during the evening and weekends. This is simply because local residents come to the park to enjoy a drink at these times. Friday through Sunday are also the natural days in which people go out drinking so these are usually the busiest days of the festival.
One of the only downsides of the Food and Wine Festival is that you can get guests spoiling the fun for others by drinking too much and this tends to happen more over the weekend. This isn’t a huge issue as it is the minority but worth keeping in mind if you are planning to go with children at the weekend.
The best time to head to the festival is Monday-Thursday from our experience and getting there for when the marketplace booths open at 11am has always worked well for us.
2) Get a Festival Passport
Grabbing a festival passport at the start of your day at Epcot is a great way to get an understanding of everything that is available at the food and wine festival. Each page contains the name of a festival booth alongside the menu with checkboxes so that you can tick off what you have tried or what you want to try.
You can also get a stamp to go in the passport at each festival booth and its a nice way of taking some of the memories home with you.
3) Stick to a Set Budget
While this isn’t an absolute necessity, it is surprising how quickly you can spend money at the Food and Wine Festival. Some of the food options can cost around $5 to $7 and the alcoholic options don’t come cheap either, it is very easy to spend at the festival.
The best way to avoid overspending at the festival is to avoid cash entirely and load up a Disney gift card with a set amount of money you are willing to spend in a day.
For the festival Disney provides gift cards attached to a wristband to make payment even easier, simply visit any cashier around World Showcase (and any other area where the festival is present) to load up a gift card with any amount of money you want. This can then be topped up at any time if you want to spend a little more.
4) Make a Plan
Though you shouldn’t have to plan your time at the festival to the nth degree it is good to go into it with at least an idea of some of things you want to try. Grab a Festival Passport when you arrive at the park to map out some of the more interesting booths that you want to try. It is impossible to visit 35+ booths in a single day so planning what food and drink to sample can mean you eat and drink what you like the most.
All of the menus are available online well ahead of the festival starting (we usually publish them here on TPT too) so you can even do your research ahead of arriving at the park.
While planning is great, it can also be good to just walk around the festival and sample some of the items you see as you are walking. Planning isn’t for everyone and it certainly isn’t as essential as say booking FastPasses 60 or 30 days in advance.
Experience the festival in the way that you will enjoy the most.
5) Avoid Opening and Closing Dates
Naturally, the opening weekend and closing weekend of the festival is extremely busy and can result in long lines at the more popular marketplaces. Avoid these if you are visiting the festival for a chilled walk through the different marketplaces but make sure you visit during opening weekend if you are wanting to get your hands on the limited edition merchandise!
6) Use the Disney Dining Plan
If you are on the Disney Dining Plan then we would encourage you save up your snack credits to use at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Every single food item at the marketplaces can be redeemed as a snack. Even the New England Lobster Roll that comes in at around $8 can be used as a snack, you can really get a lot of value out of your snacks at the Food and Wine Festival if you work it out.
We usually head over to Walt Disney World for 2 weeks so you can imagine just how much value we get from saving up our snack credits.
Of course the only downside is that you can’t redeem your snack credits for an alcoholic beverage but then it would be carnage at the park with the amount of drunk guests so I can understand why Disney haven’t allowed it!
7) Try New Things
Use the Epcot Food and Wine Festival to try things you haven’t had before. The festival usually features around 35+ marketplaces that have food items from countries all around the world and is the perfect time to sample something new.
While the festival isn’t quite as experimental as it could be (still yet to see items like Horse on the menu), as the portion sizes are small it means you can try something without worrying too much about lots of food going to waste.
8) Make it Fun for the Kids
People often say that they won’t go to the festival with their kids because it would be too boring for them. It doesn’t have to be! You can easily make it fun for the kids by teaching them about the different cultures of the world and encouraging them to try new things. Better yet, give them the passport we mentioned earlier so that they can collect the stamps.
In addition to this Disney offer Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak. A paid addition to the festival that gives kids a set of maps and clues to hunt down ingredients scattered around Epcot. Return the map once you have collected all of the ingredients (stickers come with the map) and you will get a limited release Remy pin.
9) Trash Cans are your Friends
This may sound a bit weird if you have never been to the Food and Wine Festival before but there are famously very limited seats available around World Showcase to actually sit down and enjoy the food and drink available at the marketplaces. This means that one of the best places to pop your drink or food item down for a second to take in the atmosphere is on the top of a trash can.
Yes this sounds weird and a bit gross but trust us, as soon as you walk into World Showcase you will understand that this is very normal during festivals at Epcot. Also remember just how frequently Disney clean everything, this isn’t as unhygienic as it sounds.
10) The Festival isn’t Limited to World Showcase
As the festival has evolved over the years it has expanded outside of just World Showcase. There are now marketplace booths outside of World Showcase and some of them over the last couple of years have been among the best at the festival, the Craft Beer pavilion right by Test Track is a favourite among us here at TPT. Let’s not forget one of our favourite items that can be found just outside World Showcase, this incredible chocolate raspberry torte.
When you grab your Festival Passport make sure that you take the time to check out all of the locations around the park to get the most out of the festival.
11) Go to the Festival Center
For first time festival visitors it is actually pretty easy to miss the entrance to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival Center. It’s located just by the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy attraction (or the old Universe of Energy building) and is the go to location for the biggest selection of festival merchandise.
In addition to this, the Festival Center has its own selection of food and beverages (the key lime pie is particularly good) and the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company are often sponsoring part of the center, meaning that you can get free chocolate. We’d also encourage you try out the drinking chocolate there too as it is amazing!
In addition to the merchandise, food, and beverages, the Festival Center is the location to go to for the food and beverage seminars hosted by some of the best chefs in the world. These all come at an additional cost but provide an educational experience that also result in a treat for the tastebuds.
These are some of our top tips for making the most out of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, do you have any to add? Make sure you comment below and do go and check out some of our other Epcot Guides.