As much as I am in denial about the fact that there are only a few weeks left of summer, I know that summer will inevitably say goodbye as sure as The Great Movie Ride already has (We’ll always have Paris!). Fortunately, I can’t be too down in the dumps because there are some things to look forward to – the return of must-see TV, cool fall weather, and the start of Epcot Food & Wine Festival. This annual showcase of food, drinks, and merriment may very well be my most favorite event in all of Disney. This year, the Festival promises to be bigger than ever: not only is the Festival running for a record 75 days – from August 31 to November 13 – but there is also a record number of Global Marketplaces (35!) featuring amazing dishes from across the world.
Here are the top 5 things you can’t miss at this year’s Epcot Food & Wine Festival:
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Reason Number 5: See World-Renowned Chefs
If I were to have a network playing on the background on the TV, it’s most likely The Food Network (which will change to Disney once my children get a hold of the remote control, but I digress). The Epcot Food & Wine Festival is showcasing some amazing culinary talent this year – and you can see them live in action! Here’s a small sampling of a very long lineup of culinary greats: Art Smith, Bryan Voltaggio, Buddy Valastro, Carla Hall, Cat Cora, Geoffrey Zakarian, Garham Elliott, Jehangir Mehta, Maneet Chauhan, and Robert Irvine. And of course, we’ll also see famous chefs within the Walt Disney World resorts, including Scott Hunnel of the legendary Victoria & Albert’s.
Reason Number 4: Party for the Senses
It might be considered a splurge, but Party for the Senses promises to be a great evening of food, drinks and entertainment. Held at the World ShowPlace Events Pavilion, this event runs on select Saturdays from 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. World-renowned chefs and master sommeliers get together to create a feast for all guests. Picture different tasting stations with various food items & drinks scattered all throughout the event – yours to enjoy over and over! And if you’re ready to take a break, have a seat and enjoy the performances – in previous years, we have seen Cirque du Soleil acrobats, singers, and musicians. As a bonus, this event also gives you reserved seating for either the 5:30 pm or 6:45 pm Eat to the Beat Concert Series (more on that later).
Pricing ranges from $179 to $329 per guest based on different categories:
- Category #1: Wine View Lounge ($329 per guest plus tax, gratuities included) – includes a private reserved table, artisanal cheeses and a specialty cocktail toast; transportation will also be provided to and from the main entrance at the start and end of the event
- Category #2: Reserved Seating ($199 per guest plus tax, gratuities included) – includes private table seating on the main floor
- Category #3: Guaranteed Seating ($179 per guest plus tax, gratuities included) – includes guaranteed seating which may have obstructed or distant view, and you may be seated with other guests
The event dates for this year’s Festival are: 9/23, 10/7, 10/14, 10/21, and 11/11. On 9/23, Party for the Senses will feature chefs from Disney Springs, and on 10/21, the party will feature chefs throughout the Disney Parks.
Reason Number 3: Watch The CHEW Live
Live from Epcot, the cast of The CHEW – including Mario Batali, Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly and Michael Symon (we will miss you, Daphne Oz!) – will showcase their charm and wit while talking about their favorite dishes and cooking tips. The show will be live from Wednesday through Friday, 10/4-10/6, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm (airing 10/9-10/13). Valid audience ticket is required, and valid Epcot admission is required. To request tickets to see the show, click here.
The Eat to the Beat Concert Series, in my mind, is as seminal to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival as the Global Marketplaces. Each night of the Festival, Disney will showcase top notch performers across different genres at the World Showcase at Epcot America Gardens Theatre. Showtimes are at 5:30 pm, 6:45 pm, and 8:00 pm. Click here for a listing of all the performers this year.
This is a very popular event, so guests have been known to line up way before showtime starts. To get reserved seating, you can opt for the Eat to the Beat Dining Package where you can dine at one of many of Epcot’s amazing sit-down restaurants and get guaranteed seating for the show. Here are the restaurants participating in this package:
- Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room ($57 for adults; $21 for kids for lunch and dinner)
- Coral Reef Restaurant ($66 for adults; $22 for kids for lunch and dinner)
- Biergarten Restaurant ($44 for adults; $25 for kids for lunch | $51 for adults; $29 for kids for dinner)
- The Garden Grill Restaurant ($43 for adults; $27 for kids for breakfast | $57 for adults; $36 for kids for lunch and dinner)
- Nine Dragons Restaurant ($50 for adults; $16.99 for kids for lunch | $58 for adults; $18.50 for kids for dinner)
- Restaurant Marrakesh ($50 for adults; $16.99 for kids for lunch | $58 for adults; $18.50 for kids for dinner)
- Spice Road Table ($50 for adults; $16.99 for kids for lunch | $58 for adults; $18.50 for kids for dinner)
- Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria ($54 for adults; $20 for kids for lunch | $57 for adults; $24 for kids for dinner)
- Tutto Italia Ristorante ($64 for adults; $22 for kids for lunch | $70 for adults; $25 for kids for dinner)
- Chefs de France ($65.99 for adults; $17.99 for kids for lunch | $75.99 for adults; $22.99 for kids)
- Tokyo Dining ($62 for adults; $16.99 for kids for lunch | $74 for adults; $20.75 for kids for dinner)
- Teppan Edo ($62 for adults; $16.99 for kids for lunch | $74 for adults; $20.75 for kids for dinner)
- San Angel Inn Restaurante ($60 for adults; $15.50 for kids for lunch | $74 for adults; $17.50 for kids for dinner)
- La Hacienda de San Angel ($80 for adults; $17.50 for kids for dinner)
- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall ($60 for adults; $36 for kids for breakfast | $70 for adults; $42 for kids for lunch and dinner)
Please note: if you are using your Disney Dining Plan table service entitlement, you will need to use 2 table service credits per person for the Eat to the Beat Dining Package.
Reason Number 1: The Eats!
Of course, you can’t go to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival without sampling some of the yummiest dishes across the globe. This year, we are seeing the return of India and Thailand (back for the first time since 2009) and Spain (back for the first time since 2010). There are 6 new Global Marketplaces added to the line up this year:
- Active Eats features a menu of “action-packed” offerings, like Loaded Mac n Cheese with Nueske’s Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers and Green Onions and Sweet Avocado Crema with Strawberries, Yellow Cake and Tortilla Streusel
- Coastal Eats features fresh seafood, like Lump Crab Cake with Napa Cabbage Slaw and Avocado Lemongrass Cream, Baked Shrimp Scampi Dip with Sourdough Baguette, and Seared Scallops with Roasted Corn and Butterbean Succotash and Chili-Chipotle Butter Sauce.
- Flavors from Fire will bring on the heat with spicy food offerings, like Piggy Wings: Roasted Pork Wings with Korean BBQ Sauce and Sesame Seeds, Smoked Corned Beef with Warm Crispy Potatoes, Pickled Onions and Blonde Ale Beer Fondue featuring BelGioioso Romano and America Grana Cheeses, Sweet Pancake with Spicy Chipotle Chicken Sausage, Onion Jam and Maple Butter Syrup, and Chocolate Picante: Dark Chocolate Mousse with Cayenne Pepper, Chili Powder and Raspberry Dust
- Light Lab has some super fun alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks – try the T=CC2: Vanilla Tonic Water and Cotton Candy (Non-Alcoholic), RGB: Citrus Apple Freeze (Non-Alcoholic), and Bleu Spectrum: Blanc de Bleu Cuvée Mousseux with Boba Pearls
- The Almond Orchard Hosted by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze is all about almonds – don’t miss the Banana Almond Sundae layered with Fresh Berries and topped with Dark Chocolate and Blueberry Almonds or the Cold Brew Coffee with Almond Milk Foam
- The Cheese Studio, Hosted by Boursin Cheese is an homage to Jaq and Gus’ favorite thing to eat – cheese! There’s Braised Beef “Stroganoff” with Tiny Egg Noodles, Wild Mushroom, and Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese Sauce, Savory Caramelized Onion Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese Tart with Cold Arugula Salad and Aged Balsamic, and Cheese Trio: Profiterole topped with Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese and Orange Apricot Jam, Smoked Salmon Pinwheel with Boursin Shallot and Chive Cheese and Everything Seasoning and Strawberry Macaroon with Boursin Pepper Cheese
And with that, let me turn it over to you: what are you looking forward to the most at this year’s Epcot Food & Wine Festival? Which new Global Marketplace will you try first? Which Eat to the Beat Concert Series performer will you line up for? Sound off in the comments below!
Fall is a great time to visit Walt Disney World. With events like the Epcot Food & Wine Festival and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, there is just so much to see and do. If you are thinking about planning a vacation to Disney, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (920) 526-0809. As the resident travel agent for Guide2WDW, it is my job to make sure you get a great deal when you travel and also give you the latest tips and tricks to make the most out of your vacation! Contact me for a FREE quote today!