Guests of all ages can experience nearly everything at the Food & Wine Festival, with the obvious exception of alcoholic beverages for ages 21 and up only, but some elements are geared more toward youngsters, some toward older kids, and some are adults-only. Here’s our handy guide to the experiences your group must not miss.
But first, the food and drink. This year the festival features more than 30 global marketplaces—kiosks themed to various countries or interesting cuisines, such as Brazil, Islands of the Caribbean, Brewers Collection (European beers) and Active Eats (health-conscious choices), and while we tend to gravitate toward past-festival favourites, such as the Roasted Lamb Chops from the Australia market and the Spicy Vegan Kenyan Githeri from the Africa market, this year we have discovered a few more tantalising tastes.
Islands of the Caribbean’s Jerk Spiced Chicken with Roasted Sweet Plantain Salad and Mango Chutney was a big hit (and it’s Gluten-free!), with its moist strips of chicken and gently sweet plantain that paired beautifully with the poultry’s interesting pop of spice. Thailand’s Shrimp and Cold Noodle Salad was another winner, and it’s no secret we’re hugely impressed by the Impossible Burger, so it was with great delight that we happened upon Earth Eats’ Impossible Burger slider and Impossible cottage pie, both excellent Vegetarian options.
We also tried the Shimmering Sips Mimosa Bar flight of 3 mimosas and the Appleseed Orchard Cider Flight, refreshing choices on a hot Florida afternoon. Dessert (both on top of the glass and in it!) came from The Donut Box, in the form of a chilled black and white coffee cocktail garnished with a scrummy yeast doughnut. Heavenly!
We like to graze our way around World Showcase, usually over the course of a few days, so the pre-paid dining card on a wristband is a real boon, making it easy to swipe one card rather than rummaging around in our bag for cash or a credit or debit card. It’s ‘re-loadable’ so you can add to it as often as you desire.
And, while this event is rightly called the Food & Wine Festival, it could easily be called the Food, Wine, & Entertainment Festival for all the added-value elements, and that’s where visitors under the age of 21 will find plenty to enjoy.
Preschoolers and School-aged Children
Disney du Jour Dance Party: Live DJ music plays during the week, but on Fridays and Saturdays popular performers from Radio Disney join youngsters at this family-friendly dance party in Future World.
Remy's Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt: Returning for 2019 is this kid-favourite scavenger hunt, searching for ‘hidden’ Remy statuettes. Purchase a map and stickers at one of three locations in Epcot, find each hidden Remy, and then pop into Disney Traders (between Future World and World Showcase) for a surprise reward!
Candy Sushi presented by Adventures By Disney: Adults have a variety of seminars and hands-on sessions to choose from, but children are not forgotten with this super-cute culinary workshop that teaches them the fine art of sushi rolling—but with sweets ($10 per person, under-7s must attend with an adult).
Family Play Zone: This is the place to set young ’uns loose for some spontaneous play. Themed playgrounds are a hit every year, and your child may even meet a new friend while they climb and bounce their way around the play structure.
Also watch for the KA designation on various global marketplace menus; these are Kid-approved selections created with younger guests’ tastes in mind.
Tweens and Teens
Eat to the Beat Concerts: The first concert our niece ever saw was an Eat to the Beat Concert starring Tiffany, who was one of her favourite singers and just happened to be performing while she was visiting Walt Disney World from the UK. Watching her starry-eyed enjoyment as she danced and sang rocketed straight into our Top Two Most Magical Disney Memories, right up there with the time she met Belle when she was three years old.
Eat to the Beat concerts are an excellent introduction to new bands and the whole concert vibe, in a family-friendly atmosphere, and for all the enjoyment you get out of watching the kids you love rockin’ out to Joey Fatone and Friends, Boyz 2 Men and Hanson, they’ll get a laugh out of you knowing all the words to classic songs by STARSHIP Starring Mickey Thomas, Billy Ocean and Smash Mouth. TIP: Catch the first or second of each night’s three, 30-minute shows so that tweens aren’t too tired to enjoy it. Teens will last until the 8pm show.
Emile’s Fromage Montage: They’re not of an age where they can compare the finer points of a good wine, but tweens and teens can start to hone their taste buds with great cheese! Choose 5 cheese-specific menu items (from The Cheese Studio, Earth Eats, The Alps, Germany, Shimmering Sips or Brazil kitchens; they can be five of the same item or five different items), get a stamp in your Festival Passport for each item, then drop by Shimmering Sips for a free slice of cheesecake.
The Chocolate Experience: From Bean to the Bar—Hosted by Ghirardelli Chocolates: All ages will enjoy this walk-through exhibit that tells the story of how cocoa beans become chocolate, and while young children will be delighted by the free sample of Ghirardelli chocolate, tweens and teens truly appreciate the artistry of the chocolate sculptures on display.
V and GF: Have a health-conscious or special-diet teen in your party? Watch for the V (Vegetarian) or GF (Gluten-free) designations on various market menus.
Adult Orientated Add-Ons
Delicious Duo: Maybe you know the adage, “white with fish, red with meat” but after that you’re lost when it comes to pairing wine with food. Or, maybe you’re past that stage but always looking for tips to expand your repertoire. Attend this 45-minute seminar ($29pp) and come away from it ready to host your next dinner party.
“Glass” in Session: A 45-minute delve into beer, wine and spirit tasting ($19pp). You may find a new favourite or two!
Culinary Demonstrationswith Celebrity Chefs are another popular feature of the Festival, as is the chance to experience a 45-minute Tailgate Tasting hosted by ESPN’s Monday Night (American) Football tailgate-inspired party, offered on Sundays from 8 September-17 November, with 3 food and beverage tastings themed to the NFL teams playing that week.
Each year’s Festival features new merchandisewith a distinctly Disney and International Food & Wine flair, so be sure to browse the shops set up around World Showcase and bring home something special for yourself or for the Disney fans on your Christmas list!
Want to know more about the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival or any other aspects of an Orlando holiday? Come and ask your questions – or tell us your experiences – on the ATD forums!
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