It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I love Disney, I love fall, and I love food and wine! Put it all together and I’m one happy millennial. This year, Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival started on August 30th, which is super early, but that gives us even more time to enjoy it. My hubby and I took a little two-night getaway to Disney World and Epcot was our first stop!
I was planning on writing about my favorite foods because they can be pricey and there’s no point in spending $8 on something you’ll think is gross, but let me tell ya, there are so many booths this year that we only got to about half of them! And that’s between two days! So, instead, I pulled together my must-do’s for Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival 2018!
Whether it’s your first time or 10th time going, (this was my fifth, I think), get these must-do’s in.
1. Load Up a Festival Gift Card
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen me showing off our limited release gift card around my wrist. This. Is. Genius. Marc-André and I have almost always filled up a Disney gift card, especially for festivals. It’s easy to use everywhere and we know exactly what we’re spending. We also stick to a tighter budget because we can see how much is left on the gift card after every transaction. The fact that we can easily wear it on our wrist is a game-changer. I love it so much and officially want one in every color.
Stick to your budget, pay quicker, and keep track of your expenses at the festival with this gift card. Slip your receipt into your wallet or somewhere secure. If you happen to lose the gift card, you can take the receipt to the festival center where they can reimburse you for whatever was left on the gift card!
Make sure to also pick up Remy’s Ratatouille Hide ‘n’ Squeak Scavenger Hunt. You’ll find Remy hidden around the Global Showcase in all different areas and it’s supposed to be for the kids, but us adults love the scavenger hunt, too!
2. Share Your Food & Drink
Sharing your festival food is one of the best ways to try a little bit of everything. On top of that, it’s more budget friendly! A difficult part of the festival is wanting to eat more or try more things and simply being way too full. Marc and I always decide on a dish, and sometimes a drink, to split at each showcase booth. Getting a few bites is great, and if we hate it, no biggie. I’ve also read that the first few bites of any dish are the most satisfying and the more and more we eat, the less our taste buds can pick up on. Pretty cool, right?!
There can be a strategic way to go around the festival. Some people say to start in Canada instead of Mexico, but I say, go to where ever your little heart desires. Seriously, if you’re looking forward to a flight of beers in Germany or the curry dish at the India booth, just go straight there. Nothing is worse than getting to a booth you know you want to try things, but you’re just too full to have another bite (been there, done that). With that said, it seems like there are more booths than ever this year. So make sure to check out the menu before you go and see some of my favorites so far at the bottom of this post!
3. Visit the Festival Center
Ok, Disney bloggers might think I’m crazy, but I had never been to the festival center until this year! We went over to the giant golden dome (located in between the old Ellen ride and Mission Space, if you’re new like me) to collect our annual passholder magnet and I was totally impressed with everything in the festival center! From a brand new mimosa bar to wine tastings to beautiful scarf-dye demonstrations, there was so much going on. The cool air conditioning was more than welcome on a scorching hot September day, so we got to browse and sip without breaking a sweat. It’s a little bit off the beaten path from the rest of the festival booths and entertainment, so I think that’s why we didn’t even know much about it. There’s literally something for everyone!
Disney is also offering a small cutting board for annual passholders! You’ll get the Chef Mickey magnet on your first visit and the cutting board on your 4th visit. There’s no need to check in during your second and third visit.
4. Eat to the Beat Concert Series
Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival is the perfect spot for some concert series fun and it’s included in your admission! We never used to pay attention to the bands that would be at the concert series, but 2018 has a pretty amazing lineup! Vertical Horizon, Plain White T’s, Sugar Ray, 98 Degrees, Hanson, and Boyz II Men are all solid choices for the 2018 Food & Wine Festival. You can splurge on a dining package that gives you a dining reservation and guaranteed seating at the concert. If you’re just showing up to the concert, make sure to get in line nice and early to get a good seat!
5. Give Yourself More Than One Day
If possible, you must give yourself more than one day Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival. Like I mentioned, it’s next to impossible to eat at every single booth in one day (however, I feel a #DisneyChallenge coming on). Not to mention, you’ll be so full and your pockets will be hurting. Go ahead and check out the full list of booth’s along with their menu and decide what your must-haves are going to be.
A Few Food & Wine Festival Favorites (So Far):
This isn’t everything we tried during our two days at the Food & Wine Festival, but these were our top favorites! You won’t be disappointed in any of these, but let me know if you’ve already been and tried something else I need to dig into!
Active Eats: Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Nueske’s® Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers, and Green Onions .
The Almond Orchard Hosted By Blue Diamond Almond Breeze: Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip with Pulled Chicken, Toasted Blue Diamond Almonds and Parmesan Cheese served with Nut Thins® Crackers. I swear, this was some of the best spinach artichoke dip I’ve ever had. A total “winner” at the festival. We always buy Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thins so it was a plus for us.
Australia: Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies. This lamb chop is the perfect size.
Belgium: Belgian Waffle with Warm Chocolate Ganache and Whipped Cream. I don’t usually have a big sweet tooth at the festival, but this is so worth it!
Canada: Le Cellier Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter Sauce – A festival favorite every time, the filet is such a delicious start to the day. The cheddar bacon soup is a popular choice, too, but it was so hot when we went that we didn’t want to touch soup.
The Cheese Studio: Cheese Trio – Profiterole topped with Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese and Orange Apricot Jam; Smoked Salmon Pinwheel with Boursin Shallot and Chive Cheese and Everything Seasoning; Strawberry Macaron with Boursin Pepper Cheese. The bite-size trio is filled with flavor. I paired it with the La Crema Pinot Gris and it was so refreshing!
Hawaii: Grilled Tuna Tataki with Seaweed Salad, Pickled Cucumbers, and Wasabi Cream & Maui Brewing Company Bikini Blonde Lager. I can be skeptical of the seafood at festivals, but this was a winner.
Japan: Steamed bun filled with Chicken, Vegetables and a Sweet Teriyaki Sauce. The bun was surprisingly perfect, but very filling so we split it and didn’t even finish it all.
Light Lab: Bleu Spectrum: Blanc de Bleu Cuvée Mousseux with Boba Pearls. A really fun stop for experiencing the different flavors that your mind makes you taste. They have flights of non-alcoholic drinks, but I got the Bleu Spectrum and loved it! Plus it was totally Insta-worthy.
New Zealand: Frozen Wine Cocktail featuring Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. This was a delicious and refreshing treat for a hot day!
Refreshment Port (not a festival exclusive, but new foods!): Traditional Poutine. We’ve always wondered why they didn’t serve poutine at the Canada booth, but the Refreshment Port is now serving it all the time! It’s even better than the poutine at Disney Springs. So while it’s not a festival size dish, it’s absolutely the best poutine I’ve had in Florida.