The EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival is a fan-favorite event that celebrates delicious cuisine from around the world, spanning several months, including special events and entertainment, as well as numerous food and drink booths. It’s a really fun festival to live in, but it can also be overwhelming if you’ve never been.
My husband and I visited Walt Disney World in early and mid-September this year and are very excited because it would be our first time attending the Food & Wine Festival. We looked at all the menus in advance, decided on some booths we wanted to prioritize, and thought we were ready. Unfortunately, it turned out that we just didn’t know what we didn’t know.
We still had a good day, but there were definitely some mistakes along the way. I hope this article helps you be more prepared and avoid some of the novelty mistakes we made during our first trip to the Food & Wine Festival, as well as some of the wrong steps we saw other attendees around us make. Here are some things to avoid at all costs:
Go on a Saturday
That was our biggest mistake by far. As devoted TouringPlans fans, we checked out the crowded calendar. We really did. The crowd level was predicted as 1.
Unfortunately, the calendar data is based mainly on attraction waiting times and, as a novice in food and wine, it has never occurred to me to consider all the venues and bachelorette parties (so many. Singles. Parties.) Who would visit EPCOT on the weekend just to enjoy the Festival.
So yes, the waiting times for the attractions were low. But the park was totally full of people from the festival. They left us completely unaware and it took me a while to adjust my mindset and go with the flow.
We still had fun and tried 4 of the stands we were interested in, but I can’t conscientiously encourage anyone else to visit them on a Saturday (or probably a Friday or Sunday), no matter what the crowded calendar says. If possible with your schedule, check out this festival on weekdays. You will thank me later.
Without looking at the menus in advance
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen obstructing the catwalks that tracked the Festival’s passport (a brochure showing all the stands and menu items) or going up to each stand individually to read their deals, clearly without having done so. no research ahead of time.
It will save you a lot of time and headaches to look at the menus before your trip, maybe read reviews from a trusted website and make a list of things you want to try. Then, when you arrive, you can have a little game plan and you won’t have to stress about figuring it all out right away.
Have eyes bigger than your stomach
With over two dozen booths and hundreds of delicious items to choose from, it’s easy to want to try everything you can, especially if it’s your first visit. But it is also important to know your limitations. There is only so much you can eat in one day!
Keep this in mind when researching and try to prioritize just a handful of items. If you’re still hungry, you can always get more. My husband and I shared five foods and three drinks throughout the morning and early afternoon and then we still had enough space for dinner later that night.
There will always be more things you wish you could have tried, but I guess that’s how they make people come back.
Waiting to get ice water in the cabins
We visited EPCOT over the weekend at WDW. It was still incredibly hot and tuna, so we had gotten used to ordering a few cups of ice water at the counter service locations throughout the day to help keep us hydrated.
Unfortunately, since the food and wine booths are not permanent dining places, they do not have the option of serving tap water for free. Keep in mind, then, that you will have to wait in line at another dining area just to get water, pay for bottled water that is expensive and harmful to the environment, or find sources of water to fill.
Put your whole group online
If you are part of a larger group of two adults and pay all together, there is no reason why your entire group should line up. I once saw a group of six older adults board the same ATM together; the space was so small and they took up so much space that no one could move them to the other cashier or to the food collection area. Because??
Give one person the entire order and the rest can look for a bench or table to claim. You can have an extra person near the food collection area to help the first person if there is a lot to bring.
For families with strollers, the queues and payment areas with strings are quite small with tight twists, so if you have several adults, wait for one with the stroller while the other asks. I saw several parents trying to get their double width strollers through the tails and it seemed very stressful. If you don’t have to, don’t.
Discouraged by a long line
The lines of most of the Festival booths are likely to look quite long. However, don’t let that discourage you from lining up if it’s something your heart has set. There were a few stands that we almost skipped because of the length of the line, but I’m glad we didn’t, because we noticed that the lines were moving pretty fast.
Disney has its payment and collection system in a science and they are quite efficient at moving crowds. Yes, you will have to wait and some of the most popular stands will have extremely long queues that you may want to skip, but for the most part, they won’t pass the time you believe.
Thinking you can’t visit the “regulars”
Many people have the mentality that if they go to Food & Wine, especially if it is their first time, they should focus only on the stands and special offers. However, EPCOT has so many amazing permanent dinner options that you shouldn’t feel like you won’t be able to enjoy them either.
Personally, I like to do table service dinners as often as possible at WDW because I feel like it’s a good opportunity to sit and rest (in the CA) after a long day. So after snacking in the cabins early in the day, my husband and I still had a nice, quiet dinner at the Tutto Italia Ristorante. It was the best of both worlds!
The EPCOT Food & Wine Festival is incredibly popular and with good reason. It’s something all Disney fans should experience. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and avoid these seven misconceptions to make an even more magical visit.
What mistakes did you make or witness at the Food & Wine Festival? Let us know in the comments.