E39 – Let’s Go to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival
In this week’s episode of The Roaming Yeti podcast, I dive into our recent visit to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. I share my personal experiences, recommendations, and tips for attendees. Don’t miss out on this episode if you’re a food and wine enthusiast planning to attend the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Subscribe to the podcast now and be a part of the conversation!
In this episode, we will:
- Navigate the food paradise that is the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, learning about its culinary highlights.
- Delve into the history of the festival.
- Get the scoop on the most sought-after food booths, plus recommendations on dishes worth your taste buds’ attention.
- Embark on the adventure of the festival’s scavenger hunt and exotic cheese crawl, capturing the heart and soul of the event.
- Receive smart advice and insider thoughts on how to make the most of your festival experience, prioritizing fun and flavor.
Here is a transcript of the podcast. Please remember this was done via AI, so there are typos and mistakes.
Welcome to the roaming Yeti podcast where we share travel stories full of nostalgia, interesting locations, and the tales behind those locations. I am your host and head Yeti Beth Schillaci. This week we are going to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. We went there earlier in September. But before I get into our experience this year, I want to give you a little background on the festival itself. As many of you know Epcot opened its doors on October 1 1982. And one of its key features was the World Showcase, which is includes pavilions representing different countries from around the world. And each pavilion showcases the culture, the architecture and cuisine for their respective country. The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is a popular event, both for food lovers and Disney fans. And it’s a great way to sample the cuisines of the world, learn about different cultures and enjoy live entertainment. So the festival is an annual event, and it has taken place each fall since 1996. And it was originally conceived conceived as a way to boost Park attendance during the slower season. Imagine that there was actually a slower seat season in Disney. But it really bridged the gap between summertime crowds, and then holiday crowds. The first festival was only a 30 day event, and it ran from September 28 Through October 27. In 1996. It featured 25 booths representing the countries of the world showcase, as well as gourmet food market cooking demonstrations, seminars, wine sampling and appearances by celebrity chefs. The festival has grown a lot in popularity and size over the years. But like many things COVID really changed a lot of the festival. There’s no more demonstrations, there’s no seminars, there’s no celebrity chefs, it really now is the food booths. And there’s a concert series that takes place, which I have to say makes it you know, less special than in years past. I hope that they bring some of these back in the future. But I don’t know, I mean, based on the crowds and the popularity I don’t, they probably feel like they don’t need to but um, it’s it just it really lacks not having that. So hopefully they will will bring those back. So I want to go into a little bit about our experience this year at the festival, as well as some past experiences. I’m not going to give you a booth by booth rundown of food, there’s a ton of websites, and including Disney’s website will tell you all the menus. And there’s YouTube videos where people are tasting every single thing. You know, we don’t we don’t have the time and the time, frankly, the budget or the appetite to try to make try to try to do everything. So we did try some stuff. And we’ll get into that. So the 2023 Festival this year. It is running Iran started in July 27 and is running through November 18. Of this year, so um, much more much longer than the original 30 days. And as I think I’ve mentioned before, with Epcot, there’s pretty much festivals throughout the year now. So food and wine, I think it might be the longest one, as I’m talking and saying that I did not check that number. But let’s get into this year. There’s a lot of the same and popular foods return each year. Some new ones are added some old ones are taken away, of course. And the the bummer for us is we went for a long weekend over Labor Day, which was great. But a lot of the booths that are going to have the new food offerings open on September 22. So by the time you hear this, they’ll already been open. So if you’re making a foul trip you you get to try some of the new foods and you’ll have to let me know how they are. But so we were a little bummed because there were some good ones that I really wanted to try that that we missed. I feel like every year the festival and Disney in general for all their special events, they have to have that one sort of Instagrammable food that you know food that sparks debate, quote unquote controversial And this year, I seems to be that it’s going to be the pickle shake. Yes. I said pickle shake. There’s been a lot of people posting about it, talking about it, trying it. I love pickles. And I love shakes. But you know, we skipped it. There was a beer flight. At that booth. That sounded so much better. And we decided to go with that. So, you know, you’ll have to get other people’s opinion or try the pickle shake for yourself. But um, we were at Disney, like I said over Labor Day weekend, and it was hot capital H, capital O and capital T. Probably the hottest. I haven’t been at Disney ever. Maybe the hottest. I’ve been on any trip anywhere even more than China in July. I’m not sure it was it was bad. And why do I bring up this, this information? It’s because some of the food choices that Disney makes for their food and wine festival boots. Just don’t he just don’t line up with that heat, especially for the people not from Florida. Especially for me that brings my own personal internal heat are everywhere these days. So, I mean, it’s, they just have some really good food, but it’s just too hot. So let me give you an example. They had a noodle booth, and they had some amazing sounding noodle dishes. But they were all served in a hot broth. And maybe if you’re used to the heat, it’s a great choice. Maybe if you’re there end of October, November and it’s you know, a cooler day. Perfect. But man it was was too. Too hot to dry. It was really almost too hot to eat. But we did try a few things. And, you know, we did a little sampling we planned ahead while we wanted to do and it just in the heat. It just sort of all all fell apart. I’m not gonna lie. Worst. You know, I’m sorry. I don’t have the full report for you. But um, we did try a few things that were new. And then I’m going to tell you about some things that are still on the menu that we’ve had in the past and are very good. We had a grilled it was called grilled sweet and spicy Bush berry shrimp from the Australia booth. It was very good. The shrimp were actually cooked perfectly. It was a nice refreshing really good. Good choice. I was really excited about that. I did not try this next item John did he’s our he’s my spicy expert. They were called the unnecessarily spicy yet extremely tasty scotch bonnet pepper curry wings at the brewing lab. He said they were very good and they were spicy. So kudos to Disney because often they say things aren’t spicy but but these were the brew wing lab is also where the pickle shake is. But where we decided to partake in a delightful beer flight in China, China in Epcot always makes me laugh. The restaurants aren’t my favorite, but their food booths are always very good. We had chicken dumplings and Ileana bowl of Dan Dan noodles. They were so good and it was actually a really large servings so I was glad we were we were sharing everything but definitely check out the the food booth in China. And like I said I wanted to share some of the items we did not eat on this trip but we have in the past and again our are available. There’s a pasta greerton I think is how it said with ham, onions and cheese in Germany. Again, it’s one of those sort of heavier ones but one time we were there in November and tried it and it was delightful. Also, the apple strudel in Germany is very good. There is a cheddar cheese and bacon soup with a pretzel roll in Canada. That’s very good. And my parents were actually with us on this trip. And my mom had that she she’s braver than I am and when it for went for hot liquids in the heat, and she really liked it. We’ve had that in the past too. There’s also a filet mignon in Canada, which is very good. And then near Canada, there’s booth called the refreshment station, and they usually have different kinds of proteins. And when we pad them, they’re very, very good as well. So, you know, again, we didn’t hit all the Who’s I’m I don’t have a food by food review for you.
But those were some there’s some of our favorites, both new and in the past. But if you’re there at the festival, in addition to the food, there are a few other activities. One of them is Rameez, ratatouille hide and squeak scavenger hunt. And it’s a self guided scavenger hunt takes you around World Showcase from country to country. And you’re looking for statues of Remy from Ratatouille, and Remi is holding something in each one of these statues. So you go in and you buy a map by the scavenger hunt map. And when you complete it, they’ll give you a prize. Honestly, I had to laugh. The cast members like would you just like the prize now? And I’m like, No, we’re gonna go do it. And they’re like, Okay, well, you know, you don’t have to finish it to get the prize. It’s like, Thanks. That’s great to know. So you know, if you don’t finish don’t worry about take it back and you can get your your prize for sure. But we we definitely wanted to do it. In the map, it tells you country or booth that you’re looking for. And then there are stickers with Remy holding whatever item for that country and you just have to match them up. It’s just a fun little thing to do as you’re going from from country to country food from food, gives you something to look out for and do as well. We we had a good time. Some of them are really tricky. And we spent a lot of time walking around countries but it’s again, it’s it’s something to do it’s I think it was $10. And once you found everything you return your completed map, and this year’s the prize was a reusable Lunch Bag with various Disney characters on it. There was a Mickey Mouse, Remi figment and one with characters from Tonto so you, you get one of those. And as when you hand in your map, you get to keep your map to but of course, for my figment loving correspondent, we’ve picked up a figma one for Julia for sure. And then in addition, there’s another it’s not a scavenger hunt, they call it a cheese crawl. It’s a meals fromage montage, and it’s a cheese crawl at the festival. And to participate you must purchase five items from a list of qualifying dishes available at select a marketplaces, these are all found in the festival passport that you can pick up. And you collect a special stamp each time you purchase one of these. So after you collect the five stamps, you get a surprise for completing it. And it doesn’t all have to be done in one day. You can you know if you’re spreading it out throughout your trip or you’re local, you can do it that way. But we we have not participated because we’re usually not there long enough to try to try to get it all done. But it does sound a lot of fun for any of the cheese lovers out there who are looking for a little little adventure, a little challenge for you. And in addition to all the foods, they do have the club they eat to the beat concert series. And it’s a free concert series that takes place at the American gardens theater in the American Pavilion in Epcot. And the series features a variety of popular bands, and singers. I won’t say current popular bands and things but it’s really a fun group. The concerts take place three times nightly, usually at 536 45 and eight. And you can sit in the theater for the for the concerts, or you can even do a special dining experience that gets you closer seats. But really, if you just want to hear the music, you can hear it all throughout the American Pavilion. So you know grab a beverage, grab a coffee, grab a beer, grab a slushy, whatever you want. You can just really enjoy it anywhere within that pavilion. Some of the performers this year are boys to men 98 degrees, Ray Parker Jr. Sugar raise their handsome Taylor Dean and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and there’s a lot more so there’s a lot of fun groups. You know, it’s names you’ve heard, you may not have heard for a while. But they’re a lot of fun. And it’s just a nice, nice way to sort of break up the evening as well. So, you know, again, this wasn’t a full booth by booth detail thing. But I did want to just offer a little advice for if you’re going for the festival. Do it Little planning ahead, we went on to the Disney website where they had booth by booth what what food was going to be there just so we sort of ahead of time knew what we might want to be trying. And with that, it’s it’s not a bad idea to set a budget, the plates can, you know, they can add up. And if you’re just putting it on your resort magic band or your resort card, you’re really not keeping track of how much you’re spending. And if if you’re on vacation, and that’s your thing, that’s what you want to spend, go for it. But if you sort of have an idea of how much you want to spend, they have these really cool Food and Wine Festival, gift cards, and it comes with like a bracelet. So you can just have it on new and it’s just a small card. And you can put as much as you want, and you can refill it. But it’s just another good way that to keep you sort of on budget and you know how much you’re spending. I will say if you can go during the week, if possible to avoid some crowds. You know, it’s a big festival, there’s a lot of great food, the concert so a lot of annual pass holders and people that are more local come on the weekend. So if you can get there during the week, you’ll probably get a little better access to to the food booths. Grab a Food and Wine Festival passport when you get to the park. This will help you see you know where the booths are times of things. What you need to do if you’re going to do the omit the meal, um cheese crawl. So you know, it’s just a good thing to have. And you can keep track of what you had. And just like a nice little passport to have. I will say if you’re up for it, share, share the things to try more items. We like to do this. And then if something was really really good, we’ll get a second one of our favorites or something but it just it’s fun to try and share if you if you if you’re with someone who’s up for it. Bring and this is going to be my new park. This is the first time we’ve done this and it was a lifesaver. Bring a refillable water bottle. We had class a plastic, refillable water bottle, and we filled it up either in water fountains, they’re having more and more bottle fillers. And really it was a lifesaver helps you keep hydrated. And then you can use that budget on the fun drinks and not water. So keep hydrated, spend that money on food and fun drinks and go for there. And if you’ve been to Epcot festival or you’ve tried to eat many places in Epcot, you know that trashcan tops are totally acceptable as tabletops they keep those keep those trash cans. So clean and you can’t always find a table to stand out. So trash can comes in handy. And don’t add me it’s just how it goes. And if you’ve been there, you’ve you’ve done it, and just have fun and pace yourself. There’s a lot to eat. There’s a lot to drink. I think I’ve probably said it before people sometimes lose their mind at Epcot drinking and they start ruining it for a lot of people so you know have fun pace yourself. Remember still a family park? And you know have a good time. And so I’m gonna leave you with like, who’s been to the festival? Have you been to the festival? Are you thinking of going to the festival? Let me know on one of our social media posts what your thoughts are about this festival? What sounds good to eat what you’ve eaten that you love. You know, let’s start that conversation. I want to know for sure. But I really hope these episodes inspire you to get out and roam even in your own neighborhood. So please subscribe so you don’t miss future episodes. And if you like what we’re doing here, please leave a review and a rating. 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