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One of the events that we attended when we visited Walt Disney World for the first time was the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Unlike Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, the food and wine festival is not a ticketed event. A regular park admission ticket lets you enjoy and partake in the festival.
What is the Epcot Food and Wine Festival?
The Epcot Food and Wine Festival is one of Walt Disney World’s popular annual events. It takes place during the Fall season around late August to mid-November. More than 30 food booths are scattered in Epcot’s World Showcase offering different drinks and snacks representative of various culinary styles from countries and regions around the world. Each food booth offer a unique menu from another. The festival also has activities and shows such as culinary demonstrations from food industry professionals and celebrity chefs, book signings, hands-on workshops, drinking, and food sampling seminars, and an evening concert.
Tips and Strategies during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival
With all the selections available during the food and wine festival, it is impossible to try everything. Believe us, we tried. Even with a family of 7 with us, nobody was willing to take on the glutton spree challenge.
Nevertheless, you can try doing these tips and strategies to make the most of this popular annual event.
When to go
Weekdays are definitely less crowded than weekends. Coming early is also an advantage. Crowds tend to build as the day progresses, most especially during dinner time.
The festival attracts both tourists and locals alike. With alcoholic beverages also available in the menu, the weekend evenings can get more rowdy. If you want to avoid the street party vibe, you can always consult the crowd calendar and plan ahead.
You might also want the calendar for the line-up of performers scheduled for the evening concerts. They change almost daily. So, if you think you would enjoy listening to Boyz II Men over Sugar Ray or Air Supply, plan to go that day.
Book smart and save money
A regular park admission ticket includes access to the festival. One way to save money for your Walt Disney World trip is by purchasing tickets from a third-party vendor that offers discounts like Undercover Tourist.
Purchasing from a ticket broker will count as travel, most of the time, which can count towards travel rewards and points you accrue from a travel credit card. Unlike purchasing directly from Disney, which may count under the Entertainment category. Unless, you are booking a vacation package which includes a hotel stay.
Set a budget
It’s easy to splurge and go crazy on the selections of food and drinks in the festival. One way to avoid blowing up your vacation expenses is to set up a budget for every one.
A popular way for frequent Disney goers to save money is by using a Disney gift card. And they usually get a break from its retail cost by utilizing discounts from wholesale clubs like Sam’s Club, which offers gift card packs for a fraction of the face value.
If you don’t have a membership from Sam’s club, you can easily buy one from the Disney store prior to your trip or in one of the parks. They even have specially themed ones for the festival. It makes for a great souvenir afterwards.
Distribute the cards among the family members and let it serve as their Disney allowance.
Make use of snack credits
If you’re booking your family vacation to Walt Disney World with the Disney Dining Plan, even moreso, the Free Dining Promo which occurs during the same time of the year, you can use your snack credits to redeem some items.
Skip restaurant reservations
Epcot is one of the parks in Walt Disney World with a good selection of table service restaurants. However, you might want to skip booking dining reservations during the event. You can snack your way through the park from breakfast until dinner.
The individual items usually costs under $10 and are well worth spending over the expensive choices in the sit down restaurants.
This is one of the rookie mistakes we made when we first visited. We had to cancel our dinner reservation to Biergarten because we were all stuffed.
Don’t forget your passport
The guide for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival comes in a form of a “passport”. Since, you are trotting along different countries in Epcot’s showcase, it’s a nice touch. The passport includes menus and information about the events. Everytime you buy something from a booth, you get a unique stamp. Makes for a cool Disney trip memorabilia.
Do Future World rides
The crowds gather primarily in World Showcase, where the Food and Wine booths are. Attractions and rides in the Future World tend to have fewer guests and thus, have shorter waits.
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is a must-do in our list and it runs from late August until mid-November, which could have lower crowd levels because most kids are in school. With no need of purchasing an additional special event ticket, it is a great way to experience Epcot for a day.