There are many reasons why Disney parks are unlike any other theme park in the world. Their attention to detail, customer service and the special events are just a few that pop into mind when thinking about what sets Disney apart from the rest!
Disney does nothing but the best from tip to toe and the food served is no exception. I mean, there are whole Disney blogs that just cover the food at Disney! For those that travel to Disney and bring their own food into the parks and/or only enjoy a quick service or two, are missing out on some special treats! Eating at Disney is part of the whole experience but if you and your family aren’t the “lets-take-a-break-from the rides-and-spend-some-money-on-‘park-food'” type people, but you are still interested in seeing what you can sink your teeth into in small bites, then consider booking a trip to Disney during their Food and Wine Festival! This festival is an excellent way to sample some of what Disney can do with food and see the world showcase at the same time.
The Food and Wine Festival is held yearly in the fall at the EPCOT park. This year the festivals dates are September 27-November 11 and all you need to participate is your general admission ticket to the park (purchase of the food & drink and some events & demonstrations are at an additional cost, beyond the price of your general admission ticket.). After entering into EPCOT, head across the bridge into the World Showcase. There are decorative booths placed all around the World Showcase Lagoon and each of these booths have a selection of food and drink to sample. Most of the booths represent a country or region in the world and the food and drink they service are local to that area. When you first arrive at the lagoon, you can grab a guide map to see the location of each booth and what they are serving. My advise is to grab one of those maps and put together a game plan of what each member of your party wants to sample, but you can also decide to take a more leisurely walk around the lagoon and just see what tickles your fancy. Each booth will have a menu board in front of it listing each item that they offer, along with the price of the item. Walk up to the cashier and place your order. There are several ways of paying for these items including cash from your pocket, but not all 2013 food and wine festival information has been released as of yet, so I am unable to list all the ways you can pay (Information expected to be released within several weeks, per the two different cast members I spoke to recently via phone call). After placing your order, move to the pick-up counter and grab your order. Please be aware that these samples are just that, 2-4 bite tidbits or sips, do not expect a full meal with one plate. Then, sit with your selection and enjoy or eat and walk until you find your next desired booth! Many festival goers choose to eat their way “around the world” and do this for lunch or dinner instead of sitting down for a traditional meal and that is what we choose to do on our trip last fall…
Our little family of three had the great fortune to be at WDW during the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival last November and thought very highly of this special event! We LOVE food and as I mentioned earlier in the article, Disney makes excellent meals! Eating at Disney happens to be one of Husband’s favorite things about a Disney vacation and the F&W Festival was high on his radar, so this is what we did to tackle all that we wanted to do… er, eat. We were at WDW for 10 nights, so we were in no rush, therefore, one of the first nights of our trip we found ourselves in EPCOT for an Advance Dining Reservations (ADR) at one of their excellent restaurants. While there, we grabbed a F&W Festival guide map to study back at the hotel room after Lil’ went to bed. Husband and I each took turns marking what we wanted to sample. Then, later in the trip when we had a free lunch opening, we headed to EPCOT and ate our way “around the world”. We choose lunch time over dinner because I had read from several sources that lunch time was more family friendly, while “happy hour” through dinner time attracted more of the adult only crowd, meaning that a flux of drinking age adults would arrive on scene and partake in this special event, where as the lunch time crowd had a lot more strollers and different feel. I would tend to agree after attending both time frames (the second time being at dinner time but we were just passing through the F&W Festival to get to another ADR). Back to our lunch time meal at the festival… Right when we crossed into the World Showcase, we got a chicken nugget and french fry meal for Lil’, plopped him in his stroller and gave him his meal tray. We did this for several reasons. First, it was lunch time and Lil’ was ready to eat. We knew he would eat some of the food we wanted to pick-up at the festival but the World Showcase is LARGE and it can take several hours to walk, even if you are only stopping for food at some of the booths, so we weren’t exactly sure when we would get more food in his belly. Secondly, giving him a meal tray in his stroller with a meal we knew he would eat, meant he would happily sit there for a while eating and watching, so we could take our time walking and stopping at our desired booths. Some booths had extremely long lines, but if it was something we wanted to try, we waited. At other booths we were able to walk right up and had our food in no time flat. Please note that most booths have two lines for the same items, so if one line is long, check the other side to see if that line is long too. There were several times that we waited in a long line (early in our foodie journey) and then come to find out that there was a second line that had little to no wait and boy. Boy, we felt stupid that we wasted our time! One of the great things about the F&W Festival last year was that many (not all) of the items on the booth menus were tagged with a snack credit symbol. This meant that we could choose to use our snack credits from our dining plan if we wished, which we did! When we head to Disney with the dining plan, we take full advantage of our meals but only have a few snack items that are planned (think dole whip, Mickey premium ice cream bar, cupcakes) but for the two of us on a 10 night trip, that meant 20 total snack credits and only about five credits spoken for with previously mentioned items, so we had a lot of snack credits to “burn”. What a way to use them… make them a full meal! (Please note, again, the 2013 Food and Wine festival payment information has not been formally released so it is undetermined if snack credits will be available to use this year). Some of our favorites were the Canada, Japan and African booths but would recommend almost anything. We left with full, happy bellies and look forward to the next time we can sample these tasty morsels!
I hope this helps you and your family plan for your time at the Food and Wine Festival! For more information, please visit their official page here.