A big part of any travel experience is trying new food. From spicy Asian noodles to exotic Caribbean dishes and street food to gourmet meals, experiencing new tastes is all part of the fun of going on an overseas adventure. The trouble is, you have to actually visit each of the countries in turn to get the most out of every mouthful.
But what if you had the chance to try a huge range of different food and drink from all over the world, but all in one place? That’s exactly what the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival offers visitors, and every year the festival just gets bigger and better.
Because you’re just a few steps from Walt Disney World Florida too, it means that a family holiday to Magic Kingdom Park can also include a gastronomic delight, as well as keeping the kids happy. However, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is one of the biggest events of its kind in the world, so don’t expect to do the whole thing in a day. This is an event that demands at least two or even three days’ visits to get the most out of everything.
Your best bet is to go with a plan. Take a look at what’s on offer before you go, and decide which shows, stalls and events to catch, and which to save for next time.
Have a plan
If you want to avoid walking for miles, then go online first and see what’s on offer. You can then decide which events or demonstrations are a must-see, and which can be left off the list this time around. If you have a little extra time to play with then you may be able to go back at the end and catch up with bits you’ve missed.
Pick up a copy of the festival guide before you arrive. It’s a small extra expense, but it’ll also give you a map of the Festival layout to stop you walking around endlessly to get to the best bits. The guide includes a schedule of the demonstrations and events each day, and a checklist to help you ‘eat your way around the world’! You’ll also get menus from the World Showcase booths, as well as Festival tips for families, so the kids will have as much fun as you’ll do.
Go on a weekday
The festival stretches over two and a half months, so don’t worry about trying to catch everything, unless you want to outstay your visa! The fact that you’ve got so many dates to choose from means you can pick exactly when during your holiday to Florida you visit the Festival. Our advice is to go on a weekday rather than a weekend. There are just as many events, tasting booths and celebrity chefs doing demonstrations, but the crowds are considerably smaller than on Saturday or Sunday. Queues are shorter too, meaning you can pack much more into your visit.
Summer in Florida can be hot, hot, hot! So to avoid suffering from the heat, go early in the day. Again, you’ll spend less time queuing for the tasting booths, and as there’s not a great deal of shade on offer, the cooler early morning temperatures are much more pleasant than the height of the afternoon heat.
Take breaks, and drink plenty of water
During the heat of the day head for the Festival Welcome Center. Why? Because it’s got air-conditioning and is a cool oasis when the mercury starts climbing! This might seem a strange piece of advice at a food and wine festival, but take a refillable bottle of water with you as you walk around, too. Not only does a swig of cold water act as an excellent way to refresh your taste buds in between bites to eat, but it’ll help you avoid getting thirsty, too.
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is all about cuisine from around the world. It’s a chance to discover new flavours, new ways of cooking, and new experiences. Whether you’ve got a passion for classic French cuisine (which is exceptionally well represented at the Festival), or want to see what a cricket on a stick really tastes like, you’ll find it here. Wash it down with everything from craft beers and crisp whites or rich red wines. Some of the beers can be pretty potent, so pace yourself!
Doing the Festival on a budget
Like any festival, you can spend as little or as much as you want to. If you want to do the Festival on a budget then there are plenty of free ‘No-Cost Seminars’ you can go to. These include smaller demonstrations and cooking showcases. Don’t expect the big-name chefs at these free events, but you’d be surprised how rewarding and interesting they can be, without burning a hole in your pocket.
If you don’t mind spending a bit more money then there are plenty of low-cost seminars that come in at around $15 a head. These are more likely to offer up some free goodies and samples, as well as a wealth of information on how to recreate the dish for yourself.
If money is no object, then the Premium Special Events are the pinnacle of your Epcot International Food and Wine Festival experience. You may pay up to $100 per head for entry, but this is where you’ll see international chefs that you might recognise from the telly showing you how they do what they do! Wonderous creations appear in front of your eyes, and you get the chance to sample them, too.
Across the site you’ll find taster booths from all around the world. Ever wondered what proper Swiss cheese really tastes like? Or authentic Thai Green curry? Each booth specialises in a particular type of cuisine, so no matter what your taste buds are craving, you’ll find them here.
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is one of the USA’s biggest food and drink festivals, and is a food-lover’s paradise. You may have to go out a notch or two on your belt afterwards, but trust us when we tell you, it’s well worth it!