All About: Reflections on EPCOT's Food & Wine Festival
"Going to look different this year." We've seen it over and over again for weeks. And last week, the phrase was applied to EPCOT's Food & Wine Festival - returning on July 15th with the reopening of the parks. The mere fact that the festival was coming back at all, was a shining, shimmering, glimmer of hope we needed. Permission to have a little fun, and magic, again.
As of writing this on Tuesday June 23rd - booth and menu information has not been shared for the (modified & slightly re-named) Taste of EPCOT Food & Wine Festival. When that information is released, please visit us back here at Wish Upon a Wine for more information. Today, I am reflecting on what I've learned during past visits to the Food & Wine festival and sharing those thoughts with you, dear wine and Disney loving reader.
My first visit in 2017. I only learned about the Food & Wine Festival, as well as runDisney's Wine & Dine race weekend, in 2016. When registration opened for the half-marathon in March 2017, I signed up. And I've been runDisney hooked since. During that first race weekend, my family and I visited the festival twice - one day as our lunch and a second visit after the half-marathon (on Sunday evening for the post-race party). Here are my reflections:
Going it alone. My family only stayed for a short while before heading back to the hotel. I remained. Until 1am. We were staying at the Boardwalk, so I could walk home from EPCOT. During that 10 minute walk, I thought about how amazing of a time I'd had that evening wandering EPCOT with the other runners, drinking wine from booths across the 1.2 miles of World Showcase, meeting characters and people watching. And it was TOTALLY FINE being there alone. Do not fear Food & Wine (or any EPCOT festival) if you are traveling solo. It was during that walk home I decided: this is definitely an annual trip for me.
You don't need a dining reservation. Make a trip around the booths your lunch or dinner. Or start at lunch and snack all day until the park closes! (Another option, since the dining options are so excellent in EPCOT, make a dining reservation for food then visit the booths for drinks and desserts!)
My second visit in 2018 had me visiting the festival for two days solo and one day with friends, in the pouring rain. Do not fear EPCOT festivals in rain or cold weather! There will be less people there. You can layer up. The food and drinks are just as tasty! And if you don't have an umbrella for the rain, Disney sells them. Though, heads up, having an umbrella did make carrying food & beverages tricky. A few people bought or brought plastic plates with thumb holes to help. Here are my reflections:
To be prepared? Or Surprised? Either way is a good time - it is your preference. I am a planner. I look up the menus in advance. I get an idea for what I want to try and what I can maybe skip. For me, looking at the information in advance enhances the experience and excitement. When it come to planning or just going with the flow, studying the booth menus as you traverse the Showcase, pick what method will help YOU enjoy the trip. In this case, because of the rain, having a bit of knowledge of what each booth had helped - less time being rained on.
Entertainment & Classes. Don't forget there are extra shows, classes and events happening beyond the food & beverage booths. That may not be the case for the 2020 modified festival (TBD) but don't forget about them as an option! In the past, classes have been very reasonably priced. I attended a wine tasting class in 2018 and was thoroughly impressed. One of the wines sampled - Diving Into Hampton Water - has been a repeat purchase for me and a bottle is currently sitting in my wine fridge awaiting summer enjoyment.
My most recent trip to the Food & Wine Festival in 2019 had perfect weather and a wine drinking buddy proudly displaying their "First Visit!" button. I got to be a tour guide in my third year to my Disney newbie boyfriend.
Sharing is caring. As much as I support going solo, there is a big benefit to going with friends or a significant other - sharing! Sharing this year was easier as we had two free hands (in 2018, hands were holding umbrellas). I got to sample the greatest amount of goodies this year by splitting samples with my boyfriend.
Don't rush. If you can, really take a full day to savor and explore the Food & Wine festival. Use your passport booklet - it enhances the experience; tracking down the booth in its pages, checking off your items, using the stickers to mark where you've been. Make it a true culinary cabaret experience by taking your time. In between smackerals (a la Winnie-the-Pooh), visit the rides (expect maybe Mission Space) and enjoy the amazing entertainers around World Showcase and Future World.
And one last reflection. Reuse. I try to keep my plastic spoon, fork and knife as I journey. They do get dropped, or a mess of course, but I try to cut down on getting a brand new utensil every time by stashing it in my pocket or bag. If I'm being real, I barely have time to rest them until I'm at the next booth, ready for a new treat.
As more information gets released, I look forward to welcoming you back for more tips and information on 2020.
~Cheers & Ears