Epcot’s Annual Food and Wine Festival remains one of the park’s most anticipated events every year. Even with Epcot’s festival lineup having doubled, the Food and Wine Festival remains king, and as of 2017, the celebration is available to guests longer than ever.
Maybe you’re a veteran of the Food and Wine Festival, or maybe it’s your first time. Want to get the most out of your visit? We gathered some of our best tips, tricks, and hacks to make the most of your culinary adventure.
1. Have a “must-try” list
While you certainly can have a blast swan diving head first into the Food and Wine Festival without any sort of plan, if you’re looking to get the most out of your festival day, it pays to know what your “non-negotiable” items are. No one wants to be in the position of spending your budget on an impulse disappointing corned beef only to realize you totally missed that Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel you were dying to try. Even if you have carte blanche to enjoy what you want, eventually your stomach will give out if you aren't selective with your choices (and no, the Epcot Food and Wine Festival does not serve those little ipecac shots from The Hunger Games so you can keep horking it down).
Finding menus, food pictures, and even detailed reviews on Food and Wine Festival items is not difficult. Do a quick Google search before you trip and take a look at the items available this year. Which ones speak to you? For example, during our visit, we knew without a doubt we wanted to hit the Beijing Roasted Duck Bao Bun in China, the Chocolate Picante at Flavors of Fire, and the Spicy Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew with Vegan Yogurt and Quinoa in Africa. All three ended up being some of our favorites, and we planned our festival explorations around hitting those three kiosks. Everything else we found was icing on the cake (literally, in the case of the exquisite Pistachio-Cardamom Cake in India).
You can track your list even more easily if you grab a festival passport available at most of the kiosks and the Festival Center. They even come with stickers you can use to mark which kiosks you visited!
2. Set a budget and share dishes to save
This is the tip guests are most likely to ignore, but seriously—set yourself a budget. Especially if you are a foodie, it is very, very easy to get carried away at the Food and Wine Festival, particularly if you are imbibing in multiple drink flights.
Most of the dishes at the festival cost around $5-10. By checking menus ahead of time, you can get an idea what you are likely to spend. One method would be to take the amount you would normally spend on table service meals and use that as your budget. You also can have a Food and Wine Festival-specific budget. Just know what your limits are.
To stay within the budget, you can purchase Food and Wine Festival gift cards with a convenient wrist strap to use throughout the event. You can also bring your own gift cards or a limited amount of cash. The Tasting Sampler package (which gives you 8 dishes or drinks for $65) is not a good value unless you’re spending the entire thing on alcohol.
The best way to stay in budget? Share your dishes! Very few of the festival dishes are so tiny that two people couldn’t share enough for you both to get a taste. If you really love something, you can always get a second one. This allows you to try to more items and save while doing it.