The 2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival begins today! Hooray!
My family and I first visited Walt Disney World in October 1999. Between the Millennium Celebration and all of the international food booths, I quickly fell in love with the Epcot festival atmosphere. Things certainly looked different back then!
Every year I am in awe of how Disney manages to make the festival bigger, better, the options tastier and more diverse, and they’re able to feed that many people for so many weeks! How do they do it!?
Even though I have attended F&W many times, it can be an incredibly overwhelming experience. And you cannot possibly do it all in one day, let alone one season! To make the most of your time at the F&W Festival, here are some tips to help keep you organized, on-budget, and relatively stress-free:
Time & Money Saving Tips for the 2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
- Make a Plan: sites like Disney Food Blog and WDW News Today provide in-depth photos, reviews, and descriptions of each of the items at the booths. If you can, do your research ahead of time to determine the dishes and drinks that seem most interesting to you. They’re also pretty candid about the dishes and drinks to maybe skip.
- Get a Disney Gift Card. Attention: This is the best tip I could ever give you. It has saved me time, money, and keeps me from swiping my credit card to oblivion. Determine a budget ahead of time. How much are you comfortable spending at the festival on any given day? Rather than charge everything to your room bill or credit card, put money on a Disney Gift Card, which you can purchase in any gift shop in Epcot during the festival. It’s quick, convenient, and each booth will give you a receipt that indicates how much is left on the card after each transaction. Good for food AND souvenirs! It’s refillable and can be used around the ‘World, ‘Land, Resorts and shopDisney online.
- Avoid weekends. Especially if you have young children. The crowd tends to get a bit, er, rowdier particularly on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons just before dinner. We had a reservation at Via Napoli on a Saturday evening a few years ago and we had to push through a sea of inebriated adults. It was actually quite scary! If you can, avoid these crowded times and go during the week. Otherwise, if you’re like me and will inevitably end up at F&W during the weekend, ye be warned.
- Eat and stroll. Because this is a popular event, seating is often very limited. There isn’t much beyond the benches already around World Showcase and high top tables line the waterfront for eating while standing up. Keep your eyes peeled for an open table (or top of a trash can if you’re like us), otherwise you may end up walking and eating as you approach your next destination. They sell really cute plastic trays that hold a drink and a snack for your enjoyment to avoid spills!
- Skip the dinner reservation and save money. While Epcot is my favorite place to book a dinner reservation, you may not need to during the F&W festival. I would suggest ordering 3-4 small plates per person to start and see where your appetite takes you. You can end up saving a few hundred dollars just by skipping 1-2 dinners!
- And finally, relax. Enjoy yourself. It’s your vacation after all! Go to an Eat to the Beat Concert Series show, check out a chef demo, or simply explore the countries and cultures around World Showcase!
To recap: Budget ahead of time, USE A DISNEY GIFT CARD, keep a good attitude, duck the crowds, go with the Disney flow, and you’ll be sure to have a great time! I’ll be heading down in early November for the tail-end of the festival and to run in the runDisney Wine & Dine Two Course Challenge (half marathon plus 10K). See you there!
Until next time,
Gina / Will Run for Disney