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2019 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

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I was invited to attend an Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Family Media Day and provided park passes and a food stipend. All opinions are my own.

I’ll admit I was a little unsure going in. This would be my first trip to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival this year and I had heard lots of differences happening from previous festivals. Although I always enjoy it, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival has never been my favorite of the Epcot festivals. I’m not sure why but I prefer the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and the Epcot International Festival of the Arts.

2019 Epcot Food & Wine

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is in its 24th year. It is being held this year for 87 days (the longest so far) from August 29 to November 23 so you still have lots of time to visit. 

What I Do Like This Year 

The food – all of the food. I always use the festival to try new things that I’ve never eaten before. All of the kiosks offer the perfect sampling size and if you share an item you are unsure of with someone else, there really is no waste. I do this with new cocktails also (this helps to curb over-indulging!)

2019 Epcot Food & Wine

Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak scavenger hunt is back. Kids (and adults!) can search for 15 little Remy statuettes with maps and stickers (available for purchase at Port of Entry, Pin Central, and World Traveler at International Gateway).

2019 Epcot Food & Wine

Once you (I mean the kids) have completed the map and found all the Remys, you can show the completed map at Disney Traders and choose a prize. Unfortunately, no prize for me! My old eyes just couldn’t find them all! But, I will say it was lots of fun trying! I guess I need to bring the grandkids back to try – I bet they find them all!

Another big hit for me was the Appleseed Orchard located in the Canadian Pavilion. The Appleseed Orchard Marketplace features apple-inspired beers, ciders and wine, along with a Charcuterie and Cheese plate and a kid-friendly frozen apple pie drink. A great sample of caramel and apple flavored popcorn in an apple container also makes a great snack.

2019 Epcot Food & Wine

Since it’s located indoors it’s a great place to cool off while tasting some Apple Jack Maple Syrup! 

The Alps Marketplace serves Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese with Baby Potatoes, Cornichons and a Baguette and Venison Stew with Crushed Potatoes. There is a wine flight available too which makes a great addition. 

I was a bit disappointed that The Donut Box and Cool Wash were not yet ready to debut (they both had an October 1 start date).

The band at the Mill Stage in Canada was great – lively – fun – energetic and fabulous! The Blueberry Grass Band is a French Canadian group and they definitely know how to get the crowd moving. Unfortunately, I think their run during the Festival ends October 6, but I’m sure they’ll be back since they have played at the Mill State before. I definitely would love to listen to them again!

2019 Epcot Food & Wine

Although everyone automatically thinks that the festival isn’t kid friendly I’m happy to say there are lots of great things for the kids to do. Along with Remy’s Scavenger Hunt the Candy Sushi seminar has returned. Kids (and adults) can learn how to roll their own sweet sushi treats with a Disney Chef and NO reservations are required. Best yet – the cost is only $10 per guest (any age).

The Disney du Jour Dance Party takes place in Future World and takes place 7 days a week. Sunday through Thursday a live DJ will get everyone dancing and on Friday and Saturday stars from Radio Disney will perform live.

The Family Play Zone is located near Test Track and there are  lots of  Kid Friendly and KidApproved food options throughout the festival. Look for the STRAWBERRY throughout y0ur Festival Passport to find all the food and beverage items for the kids. 

The Eat to the Beat Concert Series never disappoints. The shows take place at the America Gardens Theatre and are always great performances by major recording artists. This year there will be different 36 acts and is the biggest and best lineup in the festival’s history. The shows run daily at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00 (Sunday to Thursday) and at 6:30, 7:45 and 9:00 on Friday and Saturday. Valid Epcot admission is required.

Sadly I have to admit that I wasn’t familiar with Mark Wills who played at the American Gardens Theatre during my visit. He is a country music star and I don’t normally listen to country music. Based on his performance, there is now a new country music fan in the world!

Illuminations Dessert Party!! OMG! Honestly I have never come across a Disney dessert or treat I didn’t love.

2019 Epcot Food & Wine

Being able to enjoy a table full of samplings in a dedicated area is definitely something every WDW visitor should do at least once. Every Disney dessert looks so good all the time it sometimes feels like they are too pretty to eat – but . . .!!

2019 Epcot Food & Wine

Being able to experience one of the last showings of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth was special. Since this fireworks display has been a staple in Epcot for 20 years, I’ll be the first to admit the show was taken for granted. I actually stopped watching the show a few years ago. Seeing one of the last showings though was special because I knew it would be the last time I would ever see it. Illuminations: Reflections of Earth ended on September 30 after two decades! What will be next?

I am really looking forward to what’s coming next since we all know that when most great things go way at Walt Disney World, they are replaced by something even greater! Illuminations will ultimately be replaced by “HarmonioUS,” a new show that will celebrate the role of music, (specifically Disney music), in uniting the world. Disney has described the new show as “the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park.” It will celebrate how the music of Disney inspires people all over the world. “HarmonioUS” will feature massive floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, lasers and more. The description reminds me of the Rivers of Light show at Animal Kingdom.

While we wait for the turnaround to HarmonioUS, time will be filled with the temporary “Epcot Forever” show.

What I Didn’t Like This Year

No Festival Center – What? How could this be? I was super anxious when I heard this since roaming through the Festival Center, listening in to some of the cooking seminars and sessions that I wasn’t able to get a ticket for or that just grabbed my attention when I walked through was always one of the highlights of my Food & Wine visits. It was easy to find all festival merchandise in one spot too. Now, all festival merchandise is scattered throughout World Showcase in four separate Festival MarketPlace kiosks. 

2019 Epcot Food & Wine

The old Wonders of Life building is under a transformation to become the Play Pavilion so no longer being used as the Festival Center. The Odyssey Pavilion is also out since its under construction for an upcoming exhibit about the transformation of Epcot.

2019 Epcot Food & Wine

Exhibits and demonstrations during the festival are now taking place at World Showplace (event space between the UK and Canada).

The Ghirardelli Chocolate exhibit still exists, and free samples are still being handed out (sporadically), but NO CHOCOLATE SCULPTURES – what? The Ghiradelli exhibit also has a new location. It is now located in the Land pavilion in the old Circle of Life theater and it is SMALL! It’s only purpose is to sell candy.

2019 Epcot Food & Wine

I will say I was in no way prepared for the crowds. A Saturday afternoon into Saturday night, the last weekend of September, and the crowds were shoulder to shoulder making it difficult to get around the park and making the lines for food very long. To the credit of all the Cast Members working the kiosks, they did move the lines as quickly as possible to keep things moving along.

Unfortunately there were some new items I didn’t taste simply because the lines were way too long and it was way too hot to wait in line.

What I loved about this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival far outweighs what I didn’t like. As a Walt Disney World Resort fan and frequent visitor, I understand there is always a very good reason for the decisions made, the construction and changes. I understand that some of the changes are due to construction being done to bring new and exciting experiences for guests. I may not like the temporary changes, but I do understand them.

I know when the transformation of Epcot is complete, it will be awesome!

My Tips for Visiting the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (This Year or Any Year)

Have a Budget: The easiest way to do this is with the purchase of a festival wristband gift card. Determine what amount is best for you and your family and only have that amount loaded on the wristband, You know you won’t over-spend.

2019 Epcot Food & Wine

Have a Plan: Don’t rush through the World Showcase. Get a guide and carefully look at what each kiosk is offering, You won’t want to miss something simply because you didn’t know it was there. If you have food allergy or sensitivity concerns, check your guide and Festival Passport:

  • V indicates Vegetarian items
  • GF indicates “Gluten/Wheat Friendly” items
  • KA indicates Kid Approved

Travel Outside of the World Showcase: Some of the best food offerings are outside of the World Showcase in several Future World areas.

Don’t Miss the Photo Ops: There are always great photo spots sprinkled throughout the Disney parks – don’t miss them! You just might be the next Instagram star!

Try New Food: Be adventurous. Share with a family member or friend just in case you don’t like something new. The festival is the best place to try new things because of the small sample size of the dishes. Don’t forget to wear your stretchy pants!

Avoid Visiting on Weekends: If your travel plans permit, try not to visit on the weekend. The festival is very popular with visiting guests as well with locals so the weekends always seem to be extremely crowded.

More About the Transformation of Epcot

Over the next few years, Epcot will be undergoing the biggest transformation of any Disney park in history, bringing the next generation of immersive storytelling to life through a plethora of new attractions and experiences.

Epcot will be unified into four neighborhoods that each speak to important aspects of the world and its people: World Showcase, World Celebration, World Nature and World Discovery. The neighborhoods will be filled with new experiences and hands-on wonder. 

World Showcase

  • World Showcase will continue to be a celebration of culture, cuisine, architecture and traditions with some new magic added in.
  • The United Kingdom pavilion will welcome the first attraction inspired by Mary Poppins. You will step in time down Cherry Tree Lane past Admiral Boom’s house, then enter Number 17, home of the Banks family, where your adventure will begin.
  • In 2020, following the limited-time run of “Epcot Forever,” the new “HarmonioUS” will debut as the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park. It will celebrate how the music of Disney inspires people the world over, carrying you away harmoniously on a stream of familiar Disney tunes reinterpreted by a diverse group of artists from around the globe. “HarmonioUS” will feature massive floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, lasers and more.
  • In summer 2020, the France pavilion will offer even more for you to discover, including the much-anticipated attraction Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, where you’ll shrink to the size of Chef Remy and race through Gusteau’s restaurant on a wild adventure. Summer 2020 will also see the debut of a delicious new restaurant in the France pavilion, La Crêperie de Paris, offering both table- and quick-service options featuring a menu from celebrity chef Jérôme Bocuse.
  • Also in the France pavilion, the classic Impressions de France film will be joined by the new “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along,” debuting in January 2020 and directed by Don Hahn, producer of both the animated and live-action versions of this tale as old as time.
  • “Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360” will debut in January 2020 in the Canada pavilion with new scenes and a new story.
  • In the China pavilion, “Wondrous China” will take guests on a spectacular journey across the country, filmed and presented in a completely seamless 360-degree digital format.

Photo via Disney Parks Blog

World Celebration

  • World Celebration will offer new experiences that connect us to one another and the world around us.
  • The iconic Spaceship Earth will remain a voyage through time as the journey transforms to reflect the power of storytelling to unite the human experience. New narration and an entirely new musical score will focus on the moments and ideas that define our story. You will follow a magical “story light” that brings the entire experience to life in dynamic ways, giving each scene energy and beauty that ties the entire journey together.
  • A new pavilion will be the perfect place for live events, and the home base for Epcot’s signature festivals. It will provide a stunning elevated view of the entire park and an ideal spot to witness Epcot’s nighttime spectacular. This beautiful three-level structure will have one of the most remarkable architectural designs at any Disney park, featuring a plaza level, a middle expo level, and a park that sits in the sky on the top level.
  • Epcot’s entrance plaza will be transformed with new experiences that connect us with the world, welcoming you with a reimagined fountain, new pathways and sweeping green spaces that beautify the entryway. The design will pay homage to the origins of Epcot.
  • A new pavilion will be the perfect place for live events, and the home base for Epcot’s signature festivals. It will provide a stunning elevated view of the entire park and an ideal spot to witness Epcot’s nighttime spectacular. This beautiful three-level structure will have one of the most remarkable architectural designs at any Disney park, featuring a plaza level, a middle expo level, and a park that sits in the sky on the top level.
  • Epcot’s entrance plaza will be transformed with new experiences that connect us with the world, welcoming you with a reimagined fountain, new pathways and sweeping green spaces that beautify the entryway. The design will pay homage to the origins of Epcot.

Photo via Disney Parks Blog

World Nature

  • World Nature is dedicated to understanding and preserving the beauty, awe and balance of the natural world. It will include The Land and The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilions.  
  • Journey of Water, Inspired by “Moana” will be the first experience inspired by the hit Walt Disney Animation Studios film. This lush exploration trail will invite you to meet and play with magical, living water. The water will have a life of its own – just like Moana’s friend, the ocean – and you’ll learn about the importance of the natural water cycle.
  • The Land pavilion’s new film, “Awesome Planet,” which showcases the beauty, diversity and dynamic story of the planet, will debut in January 2020.

World Discovery

  • In World Discovery, stories about science, technology and intergalactic adventure come to life.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be the first “other-world” showcase pavilion at Epcot. The adventure starts in the “Galaxarium,” a planetarium-like exhibition that explores the similarities and mysteries of the formation of Earth’s galaxy and Xandar. You will be invited to learn more about the treasures Xandar has to share – until the moment when the Guardians of the Galaxy arrive, and adventures across the cosmos ensue. The attraction will feature a new innovation from Walt Disney Imagineering – a storytelling coaster that rotates 360 degrees to focus your attention on the action, including the first reverse launch on a Disney coaster.
  • An expansion of the Mission: SPACE pavilion, the new restaurant Space 220 will be a culinary experience featuring the celestial panorama of a space station, including daytime and nighttime views of Earth from 220 miles up. You’ll board a special elevator for a journey to a space station that is home to an incredible dining experience. Along the way, viewports will give you a real-time perspective as you travel high above the planet. Once you arrive, you’ll enjoy fantastic meals and drinks while taking in views that are truly out of this world. Opening this winter, Space 220 will be operated by the Patina Restaurant Group.
  • The PLAY! pavilion will open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World. In this digital metropolis, you’ll discover an interactive city bursting with games, activities and experiences that connect you with friends, family and beloved Disney characters – both real and virtual – like never before. As part of this new pavilion, you’ll have the chance to help legendary fashion icon Edna Mode on her quest to rid the world of uninspired style, or make a splash competing in a water-balloon fight hosted by Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby.

You’ll now be able to visualize these exciting plans for Epcot at the Walt Disney Imagineering presents the Epcot Experience in the Odyssey Events Pavilion. 

2019 Epcot Food & Wine

 

Sarah

Saturday 2nd of November 2019

This was my first food and wine! I am hoping it won't be the last. So much to see, do, eat and drink!