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|Epcot Food & Wine Festival|
Fall is a wonderful time to visit Walt Disney World. Crowds are moderate and the summer heat finally gives way to comfortable temperatures. Many locals and other repeat visitors also like this time of year because of the annual Epcot Food & Wine Festival, held October 20 through November 18th in its sixth year. As the name implies the main draw is the opportunity to indulge in food and wine, with sample-sized portions available from over 30 countries.
Mickey and Minnie topiaries greet guests at the entrance to Epcot, but the festival itself is contained within World Showcase. This year World Showcase does not open until noon, and on a recent Saturday the food kiosks were busy all day long. Each country has at least one kiosk featuring items from countries in that region of the world. Samples cost $1.00 to $4.50 each, and it is easy to create a meal by sampling food from different kiosks. Recipe cards for each item were available at each kiosk in previous years, but this year visitors must go to guest services to request the recipes via e-mail. Generally each kiosk has two to three food samples, and about the same number of wines or beer.
Food items available this year include:
There are marketplaces where people can purchase wine, festival-themed merchandise, and gourmet items. Beer lovers have a place to learn about how beer is made and test new beers that are not on the market yet - located in the United States pavilion. The beer tasting is free and is held every half-hour from 12:30 to 5:00 p.m.
Wine lovers can choose from a number of tastings, seminars and exhibitions. Robert Mondavi presents "From Vine to Wine," a 30-minute guided tour of the wine-making process, with complimentary tastings. This also runs every half-hour from 12:30 to 5:00. Mondavi also presents "Wine Essences" near the Germany pavilion, where visitors can learn about the different smell of various wines. Advanced wine seminars are held at various times throughout the day near the France pavilion, and at Innoventions West, and include complimentary tastings.
Culinary demonstrations are also offered in Japan, China and the Kids' Marketplace. There is also a "Lifestyles Demonstrations" at the Terrace where top chefs from around the country prepare a menu item under and overhead mirror.
From 4:00 to 5:30 on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons are Food & Wine Pairings held at the Coral Reef Restaurant for $25 per person. Four different wines are paired with four food samplings and people learn how to select wines for different meals.
There are also three levels of dining experiences during the Festival. The Grand Tastings cost $65 per person and take place from 6:30 to 9:00 each Saturday evening in the Odyssey Restaurant. Visitors graze from station to station trying many different items. Guest vintners provide wine to complement the food, and music provides a pleasant atmosphere. Afterwards, participants can view Illuminations from a private viewing area.
The Winemaker Dinners are held every Friday and Sunday night from 6:00 to 9:00, with each one being different. Each course is accompanied by wines specifically selected for that item, and the music and entertainment is themed to match the food. Although this meal costs $85 per person, friends who did this report that it was worth every penny! They had no idea what most of the food was, but said it was absolutely delicious and beautifully presented.
The fanciest dinners are the $135-per-person Reserve Dinners, which are already sold out for the entire Festival. Served on Friday and Sunday at 5:30 in the Wonders of Life VIP Lounge, guest celebrity chefs prepare courses complemented by certain wines in a more formal setting (jackets preferred).
The Food & Wine Festival grows in popularity, with longer lines than ever before, at least on the weekend. Each kiosk has a supply of free brochures that detail what is served in each location, so it is possible to split your party up between a couple of lines in order to minimize the total waiting time. Strolling World Showcase sampling new or familiar foods and enjoying the company of friends, perhaps pausing to enjoy the live entertainment in each country is a terrific way to spend a fall day! Contrary to reports, live entertainment was present all over World Showcase on the weekend of October 26 and 27.
Anyone wanting to reserve one of the Food & Wine Pairings, Grand Tastings, or Winemaker Dinners can call 407-WDW-DINE, or visit Guest Relations at Epcot. Admission to Epcot is required for participation in any of these events.
Photos on this page, unless otherwise noted, by Sue Holland
William J. Law wrote a guest column on the 2000 Food and Wine Festival that you can read about if you want to compare this year's event with previous ones.
Plus, MousePlanet's WDW Trip Planning Guide has several pages that can help you get the most out of your visit to Epcot! Epcot Details-at-a-Glance | Touring Epcot | Shopping at Epcot | Epcot Attractions | Tapestry of Dreams | IllumiNations 2000: Reflections of Earth
If you missed them, here is a list of all of Sue's trip Reports that are archived here on MousePlanet!
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