6 Ways To Make The Most Of EPCOT's International Food & Wine Festival

It’s the most delicious time of year at Walt Disney World—if you play your cards right.

It's no secret that of all the theme parks at Walt Disney World, EPCOT is the most delicious. You can sample your way through 11 different country pavilions representing the food, drink, and culture of each country, staffed by people who are actually from those countries. Even if you think you're a Disney expert, you haven't done it all until a French woman corrects your pronunciation of Chateau Miraval Rosé while you're wearing Minnie ears. Trust me.


Even on its slowest days, EPCOT is an all-day eating and drinking affair. The park has some of the best restaurants and bars anywhere on Disney property. But the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival takes what is already great about the park and elevates it, adding more than 25 walk-up food booths with unique offerings ready for the tasting. The event has become so popular that Disney has extended it longer than ever this year: It started in July, its earliest kickoff ever, and runs through November 19.

Can you taste something from every booth at the festival in one day? Maybe, but I wouldn't recommend it. Instead, go in with a strategy, and be sure to time your treats in between rides (such as the excellent new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind roller coaster). I've been going to Food & Wine for many years, and this is what I do to get the most out of the experience.


Choose your park entrance wisely

EPCOT is composed of two halves: Future World and World Showcase. Because I'm more interested in the latter than the former, I usually go through the International Gateway, which is the entrance at the back of the park between the France and United Kingdom pavilions. Then, I can head straight to France for the glass of champagne I always get to start my EPCOT day, and make my way around the showcase from there.


If you're planning on eating your way through the festival, I'd recommend picking this entrance. Skyliner and water taxi go there, or you can take bus transportation to Hollywood Studios and grab the boat from there to EPCOT. That way, you can sample a couple of booths early, then make your way down to Future World for some rides.

Pick your must-eat foods

EPCOT hands out Festival Passports around the park, which have the rundown of booth locations and their menus. Do yourself a favor and read through it early in the day—that way you can identify the booths that you'd be most sorry to miss, and you can loosely plan your day around making it to those and spacing out rides and breaks in between.


This year, I had a few things I really wanted to make sure I ate:

  • The Beignet aux Trois Fromages (a savory doughnut with three cheeses) from France 
  • The Impossible Burger Slider with wasabi cream and spicy slaw from Earth Eats 
  • The Lamington (yellow cake with raspberry filling dipped in chocolate and coconut) from Australia 
  • Why did I pick those in particular? Well, I love French food, and I always try to go sample what's new in that pavilion; the festival is making increasingly excellent plant-based options and I like to see what they've come up with; and I was pretty sure I'd never eaten anything Australian, and that cake sounded delicious. (It was.)

Consider the weather

This year, I went on a really hot day at the beginning of September, when the temperature was in the mid-90s and humidity was high. It meant some of the foods I wanted to try wouldn't have sat right with me in that temperature, like the Schinkennudeln from Germany (pasta gratin with ham, onions, and cheese) and the Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese from The Alps (with Alpine ham, baby potatoes, cornichons, and baguette). I've had similar dishes in years past and I've loved them, but this time around, I decided to skip them in favor of lighter bites.


One thing I tried for the first time this year was the Dandan Noodles from China (spicy pork with sichuan sauce, peanut butter, sesame, and green onion). The rice noodles were light and the spice was a nice pick-me-up. Eventually, the heat gave way to a massive rainstorm and derailed some of my plans; I took refuge in the walk-in lounge of the Space 220 Restaurant instead of hitting more outdoor booths. One thing I would have loved to try, but missed because of the weather, was the Takoyaki from Japan (octopus, green onion, and cabbage bites topped with tonkatsu sauce, bonito flakes, and nori).

Get out of your comfort zone

With booths from places as spread out as Hawaii, Greece, Brazil, and Morocco, the Food & Wine Festival is guaranteed to present you with some foods you haven't tried before. I can't stress enough what a good idea it is to challenge your palate and try something you think you might not like. Worst case scenario, you don't like it and you're losing $5 or $6. Best case scenario, you love it and you've broadened your horizons.


I'm a pretty adventurous eater, so I'm not intimidated by much. The way I forced myself out of my comfort zone this year was to branch away from the location-based booths and try one of the weird concept-y ones that just serve trendy food piled atop other trendy foods. I usually avoid those. But this time I walked up to the Flavors From Fire booth and immediately saw something I had to have: Smoked Corn Beef with crispy potatoes, cheese curds, pickled onions, and beer cheese fondue. It was incredible. I stood in the pouring rain eating this dish because I couldn't get enough of it.

Sample the sit-down restaurants, too

It can be difficult to snag a table at any of EPCOT's sit-down restaurants, either by reservation or walk-in. Food & Wine is a good opportunity to try some foods from those restaurants. The Canada booth, for example, is offering some of the greatest hits from Le Cellier, the Canada pavilion's fine dining steakhouse. You can try the Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with truffle-butter sauce and the Canadian Cheddar and Bacon Soup. If you haven't eaten at Le Cellier, be sure to hit that booth and you'll 100% make it a priority to reserve a table next time you're in the park.


Do more than eat

There's more to this festival than just food and wine. There's the Eat to the Beat concert series featuring acts like Boyz II Men, Taylor Dayne, 38 Special, and Postmodern Jukebox. There are also scavenger hunts built into the park to make it more fun for kids. Okay, not just kids. I got pretty excited when I spotted a hidden Remy.