Special Preview: 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

by Alan S. Dalinka, contributing writer
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This past Sunday, June 26, Epcot held its first preview of the 21st annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival for Tables in Wonderland cardholders and members of the local media. The preview showcased some of the planned tastes and highlights from this year's festival, scheduled to start on Wednesday, September 14 and running through Monday, November 14.


Epcot's World Showplace hosted the June 26 preview of the 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival for local media and Tables in Wonderland members. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The well-air-conditioned interior of the World Showplace provided a comfortable setting for the June 26 preview of the 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Colorfully decorated tables surrounded by tasting stations around the perimeter of the World Showplace featured some of the highlighted bites, desserts and sips planned for the 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Thirty "Global Marketplaces" located throughout Epcot will offer more than 200 menu items for this year's festival. Five new Marketplaces are planned this year (though, based on their names, at least a couple of them may be only slightly different than ones offered in 2015 or before), including one which remained unnamed as of the preview. In addition to the usual opportunity to purchase menu items as you "Taste Your Way Around the World," you can also purchase a "Festival Tasting Sampler" entitlement credential at select Epcot merchandise locations for $59 per person plus tax (Epcot admission required), which includes eight entitlement tabs for Marketplace food or beverages (subject to the possibility of some listed exclusions), and which comes with a limited-release Food & Wine Festival pin.


More than 30 Food & Wine Festival Global Marketplaces, including five "new" ones, will offer over 200 menu items this year. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The preview offered tastes of 10 Marketplace Bites (including eight that are new for 2016), four Marketplace Desserts (including two new items), and 15 Marketplace Sips (including seven new items).

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Preview Menu

Marketplace Bites

South Korea

  • Korean-style BBQ Beef with Steamed Rice & Cucumber Kimchi


Korean-style BBQ Beef is among the bites expected at the South Korea Marketplace. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Hops & Barley

  • New England Lobster Roll
  • Smoked Beef Brisket & Pimento Cheese served on Griddled Garlic Toast (new)


The Hops & Barley Marketplace is expected to offer New England Lobster Roll which has been available at prior Festivals. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Smoked Beef Brisket is a planned new bite at the Hops & Barley Marketplace. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Wine & Dine Studio

  • Pork Tenderloin with Cannellini Bean Ragoût & Zinfandel Reduction (new)


Pork Tenderloin is one of the new bites expected to be offered at the new Wine & Dine Studio Marketplace. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Chew Collective

  • Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots, & Feta Cheese (new)
  • Scared Scallop, Truffled Celery Root Purée, Brussel Sprouts, & Wild Mushrooms (new)


Grilled Beef Skewer is a planned new bite at The Chew Collective Marketplace (which is also "new" this year). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Seared Scallop is a planned new bite at the new Wine & Dine Studio Marketplace. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Islands of the Caribbean

  • Mojo Pork with Black Beans, Cilantro Rice, & Pickled Red Onions (new)


Mojo Pork is a planned new bite at the new Islands of the Caribbean Marketplace. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Farm Fresh

  • Chicken and Dumplings: Stewed Chicken with Mushrooms & Spinach (new)


Chicken and Dumplings is a planned new bite at the Farm Fresh Marketplace. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Greece

  • Loaded Greek "Nachos": Pita Chips, Meatless Sausage Crumbles, and Vegan Tzatziki (new)


Loaded Greek "Nachos" is a new vegan bite planned for the Greece Marketplace. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Marketplace Name to be Announced

  • Duck Confit with Creamy Polenta and Fine-roasted Salsa (new)


Duck Confit a planned new bite at the as-yet-unnamed Marketplace. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Marketplace Desserts

Greece

  • Oikos Greek Yogurt Vanilla Cake Soaked in Ouzo with Yogurt Whipped Cream and Pistachios (new)


Greek Yogurt Vanilla Cake is a planned new dessert at the Greece Marketplace. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Islands of the Caribbean

  • Quesito: Puff Pastry with Sweetened Cream Cheese and Guava Sauce (new)


Quesito is a planned new dessert at the new Islands of the Caribbean Marketplace. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Chocolate Studio

  • Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey-Caramel


Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle is expected to return to the Festival this year at the new Chocolate Studio Marketplace. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Culinary Cast prepared tastes of the Chocolate-Almond Truffle at a Nitro Station, super-cooling the desserts before serving them. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Chew Collective

  • Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle (new)


The new Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse planned for The Chew Collective was my favorite "Taste" at the Preview. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

I tasted the following four Bites and two Desserts, and enjoyed them all, and thought the highlight was the new mousse:

  • Korean-style BBQ Beef with Steamed Rice & Cucumber Kimchi
  • Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots, & Feta Cheese
  • Smoked Beef Brisket & Pimento Cheese served on Griddled Garlic Toast
  • Chicken and Dumplings: Stewed Chicken with Mushrooms & Spinach
  • Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey-Caramel
  • Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle

Marketplace Sips


Wines, Sparkling Wines and Beers from around the world will be available for the 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival's Marketplaces. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Ample sample sips were available at the Preview. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Desserts & Champagne

  • Moët Ice Impérial

Wine & Dine Studio

  • Robert Mondavi Winery Maestro Rod Blend (new)
  • Conundrum White Blend 25th Anniversary (new)

Germany

  • J&H Selbach Bernkastler Kurfürstlay Riesling Kabinett
  • J&H Selbach Bernkastler Kurfürstlay Riesling Auslese


Wines from California and Germany are expected to be available at this year's Festival. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Chocolate Studio

  • Justin Cabernet Sauvignon (new)
  • Rosa Regale Sweet Red Sparkling Wine

Brewers Collection

  • Hacker-Pschorr Hefe Weisse (new)

Hawaii

  • Florida Orange Groves Sparkling Pineapple Wine (new)

Farm Fresh

  • Florida Orange Groves Mango Mama Wine (new)


Mango and Pineapple wines are expected to be available this year. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Craft Beers

  • 3 Daughters Bimini Twist IPA (new)

New Zealand

  • Mohua Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

Australia

  • Bulletin Place Unoaked Chardonnay

Hops & Barley

  • Cambria Estate Winery Benchbreak Pinot Noir
  • La Crema Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast


New alcoholic (and non-alcoholic) ice cream creations and beverages will be available. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Food & Wine Festival private label wines will be available for sale. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The culinary and creative team for the 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival were on hand to meet Preview attendees at World Showplace. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

As is often the case for me on a hot day (even in an air-conditioned space like World Showplace), my beverage of choice was water, so I cannot opine on the Sips.

Special events, appearances, parties, demonstrations and presentations

For many, the special events, dining experiences, appearances, parties, demonstrations and presentations are the highlights of visiting Walt Disney World during the annual Food & Wine Festival. Most of these experiences require additional ticket expenses (above the price of Epcot admission), and because many experiences may sell out, advance reservations typically are recommended. In addition, this year, Resort Premium Dining Experiences are being offered at some of Disney's resort hotels, at Disney Springs, and one event at The Brown Derby at Disney's Hollywood Studios, rather than inside Epcot.


Numerous special events, dining experiences, parties and presentations have been announced for the 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Festival Center

The Festival Center, the past home of the Wonders of Life pavilion, will again host numerous Experiences. Some of the ticketed Festival Center Experiences scheduled this year are:

  • Culinary demonstrations, daily at 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. ($15 per person, tax included). 45-minute session offering culinary tips and then food and beverage sampling.
  • Beverage seminars, daily at 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. ($15 per person, tax included). A seminar featuring beverage specialists and wine professionals, plus sampling.
  • Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It! daily at 4:00 p.m. ($49 per person, tax included). A hands-on workshop, learning from pros: cake decorating, garnishing, cocktail mixing or a variety of other topics.

Passholders, DVC members, Tables in Wonderland cardholders and Golden Oak residents may begin booking those Festival Center Experiences two days early, starting on July 19, and will receive a $2 discount off Culinary Demonstrations and Beverage Seminars offered Mondays through Thursdays.

In addition, the Festival Center will also host several events and experiences that are included with admission to Epcot. Scheduled ones include "Back to Basics" (Fridays through Sundays at 1:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.), "The Chocolate Experience: From Bean to the Bar" (hosted once again this year by Ghiardelli Chocolate Company, daily from 9:00 a.m. until Park Close), Book Signings and Meet & Greets, and Bottle Signings.

The bigger-ticketed dining experiences with celebrity guests (among those scheduled to appear: Elizabeth Falkner, Graham Elliot, Cat Cora, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Alex Guarnaschelli) are again being offered on select Fridays and Sunday mornings in the Festival Center ($129 per person, plus tax, gratuity included). Cheese Seminars with Fromagers, featuring cheese samplings with paired wines, will also be offered on select Saturday mornings at the Festival Center ($89 per person, plus tax, gratuity included).

World Showplace

The Beverage Boot Camp Series events will be held at the World Showplace on Sunday, September 18, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ("Exploring Wines the Mondavi Way"), and on Sunday, October 30, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ("Demystifying Bourbon the Jim Beam Way"). Each of these events are $129 per person, plus tax, gratuity included.

The World Showplace is also hosting the Rockin' Burger Block Party on the following Fridays: September 30, October 14 and November 11, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. As its name suggests, the party will feature specialty sliders and accompaniments, paired with specialty cocktails, wine and beer. A special celebrity chef is scheduled to appear at each party. The Party has three price categories:

  • A VIP premium package with limited availability ($199 plus tax, gratuity included)
  • Reserved seating with limited availability ($119 plus tax, gratuity included)
  • General admission ($99 plus tax, gratuity included).

The Party for the Senses will also be held at the World Showplace on October 1, 8, 15, 22, 28 and 29, 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. It is billed as an opportunity for attendees to "eat, drink and revel in true Disney style," which includes over 50 tasting stations and entertainment specially created for that night (music, dance or magic). This party also has three price categories:

  • VIP ($329 plus tax, gratuity included)
  • Reserved seating ($199 plus tax, gratuity included)
  • General admission ($169 plus tax, gratuity included).

The party on October 8 features chefs and entertainment from Disney Springs. The party on October 15 features Disney chefs from around the world. The parties on October 28 and 29 are the "Yelloween Masquerade" celebrating Halloween with a dress code described as: "Stylish and charming! Be creative! Dress up in chic yellow & black."

Around Epcot's World Showcase Lagoon

Restaurants at the France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and Morocco pavilions will be hosting a number of special dining events. Prices and dates vary by location.

The Eat to the Beat Concert Series also returns to the America Gardens Theatre, daily at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. The returning acts expected to return this year include Hanson, Boyz II Men and STARSHIP featuring Mickey Thomas. New acts scheduled include Wang Chung, The BoDeans, Toad The Wet Sprocket, Living Colour, and Delta Rael. The full list of scheduled performances will be available on the Festival's website.

Seating is limited, though the concerts often can be enjoyed from the plaza around the American Adventure pavilion and the nearby World Showcase Promenade. Reserved seating is available by purchasing an Eat to the Beat dinner package at any of 16 participating Epcot restaurants with a reservation start time at least 2.5 hours before showtime. A breakfast package is offered at the Garden Grill Restaurant at The Land pavilion and at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at Norway; 15 locations also offer a lunch package. Prices vary by location and meal and do not include tax or gratuity. All reservations must be guaranteed by credit card. These Magic Your Way Dining plans will be accepted: Dine or Deluxe Dine (2 Table Service entitlements required), Premium and Platinum.

Around Walt Disney World Resort

Signature restaurants around Walt Disney World are also offering special dining experiences during the 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Locations, prices and dates vary and will be available on the Festival's website. Some of the featured Resort Premium Dining Experiences highlighted this year are:

  • Brunch with a Twist at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa at Citricos on Thursday, October 6, noon to 2 p.m., $169 plus tax, gratuity included, and complimentary valet parking provided. The experience boasts "a 5-star, 5-course meal prepared by the award-winning chefs" from Victoria & Albert's, Citricos, Narcoossee's, the Grand Floridian Café, and the Grand Floridian Bakery. Attendees will also "receive a surprise takeaway commemorating the event—all the secret ingredients to make gustatory dreams come true!"
  • Culinary Adventures with a Master Chef at Convention Center & Chef's Table at Disney's Contemporary Resort on October 7 & 21, November 3 & 9, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., $259 plus tax, gratuity included. Attendees will spend 60 minutes in a professional working kitchen under the direction of Disney Chefs and then will dine on a 5-course gourmet meal at the Chef's Table with paired wines selected by the chefs. Attendees will receive a complimentary cookbook and apron.
  • Behind the Scenes at Trader Sam's Grog Grotto at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort on September 21, 28 and October 5, 12, 12 p.m. - 2 p.m., $99 plus tax, gratuity included. The experience includes a tour of Trader Sam's, including a discussion of its mystical history and how its drinks and menu are created. This lunch event includes learning how to mix dark and light spirits into island drinks paired with unique spirits selections.
  • The Secret of Flavor at Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney's Yacht Club Resort on September 22, October 20 and November 3, 12 p.m. - 2 p.m., $129 plus tax, gratuity included. This 3-course lunch teaches how our 5 senses — sight, sound, smell, taste and touch — impacts "our fondness for specific foods."

Merchandise

An assortment of 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival merchandise has been designed for sale during the festival's run.


Figment and Food & Wine Logo featured merchandise will be available during the 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

ABC-TV's The Chew Returns to Epcot

In light of the announced new "The Chew Collective Marketplace" at this year's Festival, it is not surprising that ABC-TV's The Chew will return this fall to tape a week of episodes at Epcot. The episodes are scheduled to be recorded October 5 to 7 and are scheduled to be broadcast on ABC October 10 to 14 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, noon Pacific (check local listings). Ticket information has yet been announced. For last year's shows, free tickets (not including admission to Epcot), were distributed by one of the major television show ticket distribution websites and were all gone rather quickly.


ABC-TV's "The Chew" will be live at Epcot recording five episodes October 5 to 7, 2016. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Scheduled for record run of 62 days, the festival starts on Wednesday, September 14 and runs through Monday, November 14, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. everyday (plus, until 10 p.m. on select Fridays and Saturdays). A complete list of scheduled appearances, events and presentations is expected to be available the festival's website starting on Monday, July 11. As always, all events, appearances, presentations, and even the planned food selections and wines (discussed in this Article and otherwise) are subject to change and cancelation without notice; Festival organizers suggested checking the website for the latest changes. Reservations for all of the Festival's special events may be made beginning Thursday, July 21, 2016, by calling (407) WDW-FEST (407-939-3378). annual passholders, Tables in Wonderland cardholders, Golden Oak residents and DVC members can book some events two days earlier, starting on July 19.

Lots of additional details are expected at the festival website starting on July 11, and telephone lines for reservations for hard-ticketed events and packages open on Thursday, July 21. Passholders, Tables in Wonderland cardholders, Golden Oak residents and DVC members can book some events two days earlier, starting on July 19. Of course, we also strive to keep you updated in MousePlanet's weekly Walt Disney World Resort Updates.