Monday, July 26, 2010

2010 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Overview

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is one of the best events hosted by Walt Disney World.  The 2010 festival is appropriately titled, "Celebrating 15 Years of Delicious Discoveries."  The 2010 event begins on October 1 and ends on November 14.  The Growing Up Disney team adores this festival and we're dedicating this whole week to tips, stories, and photos of past festivals.  Be sure to check out the Food & Wine Festival page on this blog.  I'm compiling information on the festival for you so check back often.

For those of you who have not yet enjoyed Food & Wine, it is held each fall at Epcot.  The majority of the food marketplaces and demonstrations are found around World Showcase Lagoon.  This year there will be 27 International Marketplaces selling beverages of all types and small plates of all sorts of food.  Click here for the Festival Map which includes menus.  There is not a separate admission fee for the festival; it is included with your Epcot park admission.  There are some seminars and demonstrations for free and others at an additional cost.  There are a phenomenal number of events held during the 7 week festival.  I encourage you to browse through the Festival Guide to see what is offered during your visit.  The Special Culinary & Beverage Programs are already taking reservations so if you are interested in any of those call very soon as most of those fill quite quickly.  However, there is plenty to enjoy in the main festival and if this is your first visit, just enjoy strolling the promenade and trying some new foods.  It's a wonderful opportunity to sample a cuisine that may not be readily available to you at home.

My husband enjoying the Ireland Marketplace
New to the festival this year are Belgium and South Korea.  Returning favorite dishes include the crab cakes at the Hops & Barley Marketplace, the cheese plate at Ireland, and the cheddar cheese soup at the Canada Marketplace.  Click here for Ridge's review of the Hops & Barley Marketplace.  I vow to never again be fooled by the chocolate creme brulee in France or the salmon in Canada.  I don't see the delicious chorizo quesadilla on the menu for Mexico this year, but I thank the chefs for providing us with new taste treats.

The wine portion of the festival allows you to try wines, beers, and specialty drinks that have been expertly paired with the food.  You might find a new favorite, but if not, at least you aren't out the cost of a whole bottle.  And don't worry if you don't drink alcohol, some of the booths offer teas.  My last visit to F&W was while I was pregnant with Tink and my mom doesn't drink at all and we both had a great time.

TIP: If you can, try to go during the week.  This event is very popular and the locals will be there in larger numbers on the weekend.

The Jammin' Chefs
In addition to great food, the festival features the Eat to the Beat! Concert Series.  This year's schedule includes artists such as Rick Springfield, Sugar Ray, Sister Hazel, Air Supply and Boyz II Men.  The musical acts perform three shows nightly at the American Gardens Theatre.  The Jammitors become the Jammin' Chefs during the festival.  Check the daily guide for exact times but don't miss their lively percussion act.  Everyone's favorite Celtic rock band, Off Kilter, is playing their normal schedule during the festival.

The Festival Welcome Center is located in the former Wonders of Life Pavilion in Future World, which sits between Universe of Energy and Mission Space.  The welcome center is home to book and bottle signings and both free and paid seminars.  Oh, and of course, there is shopping and a cafe.

Off Kilter
On their site, Disney is pushing the use of a Disney gift card at the festival.  I do have to admit this is a handy option.  We used one a couple of years ago that was a gift from my parents and it was easier than getting out the whole wallet over and over.  I bought Ridge a gift card for his college graduation at the Festival Welcome Center.  They sell cards themed to the festival that are smaller and attached to a stretchy bracelet.  Super convenient!  Check the Festival Map for the gift card location nearest you within Epcot.  If you are a Disney Visa cardholder, this is a fun way to spend your rewards dollars.

TIP: If you are on the Disney Dining Plan, you are able to use your snack credits for most of the food items at the festival.  Just look for the DDP logo on the menu board.  Be sure to check the one in the booth and not the one on the sidewalk.  For some reason, they don't normally put the logo on the sidewalk signs.

I feel like I could talk about the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival for hours, but I'll keep this to a brief overview.  In the coming months, I'll share more favorites, tips and photos related to the festival.

Please let me know if you have any questions.  Thanks!

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