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Food and Wine Festival is upon us again! It is, my personal favorite festival. I love that it is in the fall, even though it is still 100 degrees in Disney and I love that each year there are just more and more amazing options added.
That being said, it can be incredibly overwhelming. What time should you get there? Where should you go? How much time should you dedicate to it? What about dining reservations?
So many questions and we, here at For Love of the Mouse, have the answers. Or at least the guidance for you to reach the answers for yourself.
First and foremost the 2018 Food and Wine Festival runs from August 30 through November 12. You do not need an additional ticket to partake in the kitchens of Food and Wine Festival which, for the most part, are all around the World Showcase, with a few exceptions spilling out of World Showcase toward Spaceship Earth.
You will want to grab a Festival Passport which will be your pocket guide to Food and Wine. Festival passports can be found upon entering the park prior to Spaceship Earth, in the gift shops, the festival center and also at each kitchen. Your festival passport will show you what is at every single booth for Food and Wine, where the extra ticketed events are and when those are held and it will include a stamp for each and every booth that, as you check off the booths, you can stamp your passport for that county’s kitchen.
We recommend taking some sort of writing utensil so that you can make notes on what you order. We are of course, taking photos of everything, but we also like to mark off things we try on our passport and if it is one of our favorite items, we will mark it with a start, so we remember how much we enjoyed it. That way you can get it if you return this year and can remember some of your favorite’s for next year as well.
The Festival Center is located in Future World East and is where you will find the Shimmering Sips Mimosa Bar, all the Food and Wine merchandise, where some special events and culinary shows will be held. Last year, Ghiradelli hosted a space in the center where you could sample chocolates and look at amazing chocolate sculptures depicting various Disney movies; those were amazing.
A must for us, at every festival is to purchase a festival gift card. These gift cards can be found at any of the merchandise shops and festival shop kiosks. They are small, cute gift cards, themed to match the festival and can be worn around your wrist. One of the main reasons we do this is to track how much we spend at the festival. It is easy to think you are just getting one thing here and a couple things here, but trust us, they add up and the next thing you know, you are $400 deep in Food and Wine.
Typically, we put a couple hundred dollars on our card. That may seem like a lot, and it is, but we try so many things so that we can review them and also because we like to eat. Also, important to remember, Food and Wine can easily fill up your meals for the day, so what you spend here, you won’t be spending at restaurants around the park.
Set a budget for yourself or for your group and put that amount on your gift card. At every kitchen, the castmember will tell you how much you have remaining the gift card so you will know what you have spent and how far you have left to go.
That leads us in to our next point. Dining reservations. One way your food can really add up during a festival is if you make the mistake of making dining reservations on the day(s) you are heading to the festival. This festival is food and drink, and there is a ton of it. There is no need to make a dining reservation at Epcot for the day(s) you are partaking in the festival, if you are planning on eating around the world. That is way too much food, and coming from us, that is saying something.
For us, we will grab a coffee at Starbucks when we first get to Epcot, ride a few rides while we wait for the kitchens to open and then hit it full force.
Since the kitchens don’t open until 11, maybe grab a pastry at Les Halles if you can’t wait until then to get food in your belly but we wouldn’t recommend getting a massive meal before the big event and always important to remember that you need to cancel a dining reservation 24 hours in advance in order to not be charged so if you have a big meal planned at any point in the day, you are not going to be able to fully enjoy Food and Wine.
There is a ton of festival specific merchandise available every year and this year is no different. Disney has given us a preview of the merchandise that will be available and it includes amazing ears that have a burgundy bow and wine cork inspired fabric, a festival inspired jersey, various clothing items, there is usually a food tray that some people find really handy for going from kitchen to kitchen and so many other items including pins, exclusive event specific wine, magic bands and more.
One tip for merchandise is if you see something you really want; get it. Disney doesn’t keep restocking for the entire festival and sometimes once an item is gone, it is gone for good. My mom and I visited Flower and Garden last spring and there was a coffee mug I really loved and walked by it probably a dozen times and was like, I’ll get it next time. Well next time came and they were sold out and it was gone so I missed out. So, not saying you should buy everything in sight but you do you; but if you really want something and it’s in stock, get it, because it won’t get cheaper (unless it shows up at character warehouse, but there is no guarantee of that) and it will likely sell out.
Making a Plan:
There are certain booths at Food and Wine that will always have long lines. These include, Canada, Ireland (people want that Guiness shake), Italy, France (Slushies duh) and a couple of others. If those are on your list, try to hit them up first thing.
Disney Food Blog made an amazing map, shown here, that shows you where each of the kitchens for this year’s festival will be located. When you get to the event, your passport will have a map as well that will show you where everything is too but this map is really handy and will really help you to get a game plan in motion.
Side note, if you are not a big planner like we are and you just want to go and have a good time, you do you. This is your vacation and if planning your kitchens stresses you out, don’t do it. This is more for those of us who like to have a game plan in place and more tips on how to get the most of your festival day.
We like to schedule all of our Fast Passes for as early in the day as possible. Spaceship Earth, Soarin’, Test Track, Frozen, Living with the Land; get your three fast passes out of the way if you can. If you can’t, get two out of the way and then schedule a third for mid-day when you may want a break from the food and wine festivities. More on that in a bit.
If you are going to be coming from the rides in the Land or in that area or from the Festival Center, you might want to make your first stops at Earth Eats, Coastal Eats, Flavors From Fire, Active Eats, Wine and Dine Studio and the kitchens in that area.
From that area, you will walk straight into the entrance of World Showcase which will put you at Islands of the Caribbean, Hawai’i and the Almond Orchard. I would grab what you want from those and then head towards Canada and the UK. Be sure to get in line at Canada for the cheddar cheese soup and filet, and also the Guiness Bailey’s shake is rumored to be one of the top choices from the festival this year and that is at the Ireland kitchen.
From there, you are just going to keep heading around. One thing we like to do is once we get about halfway, we like to schedule a fast pass. We do this for a couple reasons. We have just eaten a whole heck of a lot of food, it is usually really hot and we could use a break. If we don’t have a fast pass scheduled we might head out through International Gateway and take a little break with some resort hopping at Yacht Club, Beach Club and Boardwalk, maybe sit on the beach for a little bit and just relax.
Once you have taken your break, you will be ready to hit up the second half of the booths. Germany, Italy, Hops and Barley, India, China, Spain and more. Then, I will stop back at Hawai’i for that Passion Fruit Cheesecake again. Maybe next year we will have a passionfruit sparkling wine to look forward to as well? Hint hint Disney.
Another great tip for not only saving a bit of money but also saving more room for more tasty treats is to get a couple dishes and share. Hubby and I do that a lot. We will each get a dish at a kitchen and then will share them. That way, we each get to try but will also save room for trying new things and things from other places.
Scope a Table:
Hubby and I will sometimes, if it is really busy, send one of us to the kitchen to get the food and the other person will scope out a table or trash can (yes trash can) so that we have a place to film and enjoy our food. There is often not a ton of cabaret tables for the amount of people so you may have to hover. As for the trash cans, castmembers are constantly cleaning off the top of the trash can, so if you think about it, they are probably just as clean, if not cleaner than the tables that are constantly gunked up.
If you and your party are wanting different items from different kitchens in a similar area, don’t wait in line with your friend or family member who is wanting something from a different kitchen. Go get in line at the kitchen you want to try and meet up at a table with your goodies. This also works for sharing because then you can each get stuff from both place with only waiting in line at one. Win win.
Food and Wine is awesome and yes, wine is in the title and there is a lot of wine to be had. The truth of the matter is, the lines are long, the weather is hot and it takes a lot of work to get drunk at Food and Wine on a busy day. But it isn’t impossible and Disney is watching for overly intoxicated and obnoxious people. If you get caught overly intoxicated or get pulled over for a DUI on Disney property, you are banned from Disney. Additionally, who wants to be hammered in Disney? Have a good time, drink away but keep those water bottles full and continuously drink water. Every kitchen will have water bottles for sale but if you take your own bottle like we do, there are water fountains all over the park. Or go to a quick service location and ask for a cup of water, they will give you one free of charge. Stay hydrated out there so you can keep the good times rolling.
Another good tip for Food and Wine is to spread it out. If you are able to and have either an annual pass or a park hopper, hit up Food and Wine on multiple days. That way you can try a number of different things but maybe not all at once. That’s a good suggestion if you don’t want to dedicate just one day to eating and drinking around the world.
That’s the for this post. What are some of your tips and tricks for Food and Wine? We’d love to hear from you! Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.