Here in our ultimate guide to the 2019 Epcot Food & Wine Festival, we’ll give you as much information as we can on all the things you can do at this annual event. The Epcot Food & Wine Festival is Disney World’s celebration of culinary delights from around the world. Some might say that sounds ambitious, but I think it undersells what this festival actually does. We’ll update this page each year as we get new information on the upcoming year’s festival. As we laid out in the beginning, currently this page is geared around the 2019 Epcot Food & Wine Festival.
This year’s festival has the dubious task of starting on August 29th, which also happens to be the same day this little other Disney World park expansion opens. Maybe you’ve heard of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? The festival runs through November 23rd. That’s the Saturday before Thanksgiving if you’re keeping tabs at home. That means the Epcot Food & Wine Festival will run for a whopping 87 days, the longest run in its history.
If you’re looking for the official Disney World page about the 2019 Epcot Food & Wine Festival, you can find it in the link we just posted. While it has lots of links to different facts and events, it’s a bit harder to navigate to us. So, of course, we recommend just using this web page.
We’ll be attending the festival opening weekend this year. Following our visit, we’ll post our reviews of the event and the food that you will find at the festival. We may not get to every booth, but we’ll hit as many as we can.
2019 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Overview
The Epcot Food & Wine Festival started back in 1995 and has evolved into one of the most significant culinary events in the United States. While some might find it odd to have this take place at a theme park, we think Epcot is the perfect showcase for this. Epcot is a park designed to celebrate the world and bring us closer together. What’s more common around the world than food? We all love to eat, more specifically, eat well. If you don’t, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.
The festival features a variety of live events, demonstrations, and foods that celebrate culinary delights from around the world. You’ll even find some world-renowned celebrity chefs at some of these events. We’ll delve into them in more detail below, but let’s say that the number of activities or dining experiences you can partake in is significant. Some of these events are free; however, we’d say most of them require some incremental form of payment. That will primarily be buying food and drinks or paying admission to an event of some sort. We’ll try to clearly delineate what each event is here in our ultimate guide to the 2019 Epcot Food & Wine Festival. Oh, and speaking of admission, you do have to pay your regular park admission to Epcot to be able to enter the Food & Wine Festival.
If you’re wondering what it might cost to enjoy the festival, you’ll find something that will fit a range of budgets. You can keep it modestly inexpensive (at least by Disney standards) and just hit a few food booths and be done. Or you can book some of the high-end events that will run you $350 per person. It really just depends on what experience you are going for. If you’ve read our article on trip goals and the three-legged stool analogy, this is precisely what I’m talking about.
For the rest of our ultimate guide to the 2019 Epcot Food & Wine Festival, we’ll get into specifics on what all you can do. After that, we’ll give you some of our thoughts on tips and recommendations for your time at the festival.
2019 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Global Marketplaces
When people think of the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, I think it is safe to say the first thing that comes to mind is the global marketplaces. These global marketplaces are food and drink booths that are primarily situated around World Showcase in Epcot. There are some located within Future World, but that’s less than a quarter of the 32 total global marketplace booths.
The global marketplaces feature a sampling of food and drinks that focus on a specific theme or area of the world. The dishes found in the marketplaces represent some of the more interesting cuisine associated with the particular country or theme the booth represents.
Before you start trekking to the different booths, you may want to pick up the festival passport pictured above. It is free with your park admission. The passport contains a list of all the booths in the park and what they are serving. You can use it to help keep track of what you sampled and what you thought about it.
One thing you may say to yourself about the booths is that the portion size is small and prices are large, and you wouldn’t be wrong. The food is more like tapas so that you can taste more items around the park. And let’s be real, pretty much any food item served in a small size is a higher margin product, so it helps Disney’s bottom line. While we do think the prices are pretty high for what you get, we do find the food to be of a higher quality than many of your typical counter service restaurants at Disney World. Most booths will also have an alcoholic drink or three for you to enjoy with your food. Many of them are meant to be paired with one of the food dishes.
When you get to a marketplace, you’ll generally find a standing menu out front of the booth that looks something like the picture above. It will tell you what is served at the booth and give you information on what items are gluten-friendly, vegan, eligible for the dining plan (as a snack credit), and kid-approved. The legend at the bottom of the menu picture above shows you how to tell if items fit into these groupings.
This year, there are three new marketplaces. The Appleseed Orchard “celebrates autumn with sweet and savory apple dishes paired with ciders, beers, and wines,” at least according to Disney’s website. The other new marketplace is known as The Alps. As you might guess from the name, this marketplace celebrates Swiss-inspired dishes. Last is a newly announced addition call The Donut Box. Right now, Disney’s website says the booth will feature donut holes and a corn fritter, but others are reporting there will actually be a true donut based dish. Let’s hope so, otherwise this name is very misleading. We’ll see if they add more booths.
The full list of the 32 global marketplaces at the 2019 Epcot Food & Wine Festival is below:
- Active Eats
- The Alps
- Appleseed Orchard
- Brewer’s Collection
- The Cheese Studio
- The Chocolate Studio
- Coastal Eats
- The Donut Box (Doesn’t open until October 1)
- Earth Eats
- Flavors from Fire
- Hops & Barley
- Islands of the Caribbean
- Shimmering Sips Mimosa Bar
- Wine & Dine Studio
We’ll be posting the menus of each booth in the coming weeks, but for now, you can find the menus by going to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival Global Marketplaces web page.
2019 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Special Events
While the global marketplaces are what the vast majority of people will partake in at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, there are many special events to enjoy. In the sections below, we’ll lay out the unique experiences that allow you to add some depth to your culinary experience. Do note that some of the Food and Wine Festival special events are free, while others will cost you some of your own dough. And yes, that is an attempt at a food pun, as terrible as it might be.
Celebrity Chefs Events
If you’re a serious foodie, you may want a chance to see or interact with a celebrity chef. Each year dozens of chefs descend upon the Epcot Food and Wine Festival to put on demonstrations, sign books, and more. The list of chefs is extensive, so we won’t paste it in here, but you can find it on the Disney World website.
To give you a sense of the range of chefs you could see here are some of the names listed for this year’s festival. You will instantly recognize some chefs, while others may be only known to you if you watch cooking competitions like Top Chef. Some you may ask yourself, “Who is that?”. Headliners include Masaharu Morimoto (whose Morimoto Asia is located in Disney Springs), Robert Irvine, Richard Blais, Rick Bayless, and Cat Cora to name a few. Part of the chef rotation also includes Disney chefs from around the world, but primarily Disney World itself. You can find them listed at the Food and Wine Celebrity Chefs webpage linked above.
Sunday Brunch with the Chef
One of the Celebrity Chef activities is called Sunday Brunch with the Chef. It sounds exciting to us, although we have not actually been to this event yet. For $139 per person, plus tax, you can enjoy brunch while a celebrity chef cooks, dishes out tips and tricks for cooking, and more. Do note that the celebrity chef is not cooking your meal though. You’ll end your meal with a meet and greet photo opportunity for the chef that day. You can find the list of chefs for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival at the link above. Brunch goes from 11:30 – 1:30. The chefs for this year are as follows:
- September 1: Jamie Deen (co-owner of The Lady and Sons restaurant in Savannah, Georgia)
- September 8: Carla Hall (Celebrity Chef & author of Carla Hall’s Soul Food)
- September 15: Fabio Viviani (Fabio Viviani Hospitality Group, Celebrity Chef & Restauranteur)
- September 22: Richard Blais (Chef & Entrepreneur)
- September 29: Robert Irvine (Food Network’s Restaurant: Impossible)
- October 6: Buddy Valastro (Celebrity Chef)
- October 13: David Burtka (Celebrity Chef & author of Life is a Party)
- October 20: Andrew Zimmern (Chef, Writer & TV Personality)
- October 27: Cat Cora (Corlich Enterprises & Cat Cora, INC.)
- November 10: Graham Elliot (Coast restaurant at MGM Cotai in Macau)
- November 17: Aarti Sequeria (Cookbook Author & Food Network Personality)
Food and Beverage Pairing
There is also a Food and Beverage pairing discussion. For $29 per person, plus tax, a chef and beverage expert will talk to you for about 45 minutes about a food and beverage pairing that they collaborated on together. You’ll even get to taste the collaboration for yourself.
This event takes places on select Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 2:30 PM. The event is held at the World ShowPlace Events Pavilion – between the United Kingdom and Canada. You can find the complete guide to this year’s presenters in the official Disney downloadable document. You can book this event via the Food and Beverage webpage on Disney’s website or by calling Disney directly at (407) 939-3378.
Chef Culinary Demonstration
Another event with celebrity chefs is an actual culinary demonstration. Held on select Fridays and Saturdays at 12:30, these demonstrations will cost you $19 per guest, plus tax. For 45 minutes, you’ll have a chef cook a special delicious dish while imparting some of their knowledge and wisdom. You’ll even get to sample the food the chef makes. This event is also held at the World ShowPlace Events Pavilion – between United Kingdom and Canada.
For a complete list of demonstrations, you can download Disney World’s Official culinary demonstrations guide. You can make reservations for by visiting the Disney culinary demonstrations website or by calling Disney directly at (407) 939-3378.
Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It!
If you’re looking for a more interactive Epcot Food and Wine Festival experience, then the Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It! experience may be just for you. This is a 75-minute interactive event where you work side-by-side with chefs, beverage experts, and other kitchen wizards. You’ll be on the front lines as you assemble a chef-inspired creation! It can run the gamut —from sweet treats and savory sensations to cocktails, spirits, and wines.
The event takes place on select Mondays and Thursdays at noon and will cost you $45 per person, plus tax. You can make reservations at the Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It! webpage we linked to above or by calling Disney directly. You can find a complete listing of chefs presenting for this event in their downloadable brochure.
Mexican Tequila Lunch
If you like tequila, this event may be a hit with you. At the Mexican Tequila Lunch you’ll find especially paired tequilas and food. As part of it, you’ll learn the history of agave spirits and how to understand the nuances of them. Per Disney’s website, “As you indulge in the authentic aromas and gourmet ingredients of a 4-course meal, a certified Tequila Ambassador will introduce you to a diverse range of tequila and mezcal selections. Each has been chosen to complement the flavors found in these unique, regionally themed dishes.”
This event takes place on select Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays during the Food & Wine Festival. It costs $85 per guest, plus taxes. Right now, it appears you can only book this event by calling Disney directly at (407) 939-3378.
Want to begin your day with a French breakfast? At the Parisian Breakfast event, you can do just that. This is a buffet-style meal, featuring “fresh-baked goodness—from baguettes and croissants to patisserie-perfect pain au chocolat.” You’ll find other foods like Croque Monsieur, along with assorted cheeses and meats to dine on.
The event occurs on select Saturday during the festival in the Chefs de France restaurant. You can find exact dates at the link we posted in the paragraph above. It runs from 9:15 AM – 10:45 AM. The cost is $45 per person, plus tax. You must call Disney directly to book this event.
Party for the Senses
The pièce de résistance of the celebrity chef events at the Food and Wine Festival is known as Party for the Senses. It’s a roughly 3-hour long party celebrating around 20 different chefs and their culinary creations. You can wander among tempting tasting stations amid imaginative décor and live entertainment.
There are two seating options available for Party for the Senses. Both come with a price that will probably make your eyes pop out of your head. That price is one of the reasons we probably won’t do this for a while, given we’d have to take Anna and Elsa with us. Shelling out $229-359 per person just doesn’t make sense at their age. We’re not sure it makes sense at our age, but we’ll probably try it once at some point.
The first and more extravagant dining category is called the Wine View Lounge. It will cost you a whopping $359 per person, plus tax. You get into the event 30 minutes earlier than the other dining category, which allows you to hear a chef’s briefing and gives you a photo op with the chefs. You also get complementary Minnie Van transportation to and from the park (in case you enjoy the all-you-can-drink alcohol too much). You also get a private reserved table and access to the Wine View Lounge’s exclusive premium bar service and artisanal cheeses.
If that’s a bit rich for your blood, but you’d still like to attend the event, you can book the regular reserved seating option. It will “only” run you $229 per person, plus tax. You do get a private reserved table, just like the Wine View Lounge option. You just miss out on the chef’s briefing, photo op, transportation via Minnie Van, and the premium bar service. I’m not sure that’s all worth another $130, but we all have different means and things we want to do.
There are only a handful of Party for the Senses events each year at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. If this is a priority event for you, make sure you book early. You can make reservations via the Party for the Senses webpage we linked to earlier. To see the list of celebrity chefs featured at each party, you can download the official Party for the Senses event calendar PDF.
On select Saturday’s during the 2019 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, you’ll find some of the worlds top fromagers talking all things cheese. During a 90-minute seminar, they will explain the major aromas, textures, and flavor levels of popular cheeses—from Asiago to Zamorano. You can sample artisanal selections paired with complementary wines or craft beers while learning about the distinct nature of each featured region during the seminar.
The cheese seminar will run you $95 per person, plus tax. You can make a reservation for any of the seminars at the Disney World Cheese Seminare webpage. There are only 7 of these seminars during this year’s festival. This year’s themes and presenters are as follows:
- September 14: New World Cheeses and Old World Wines – Max McCalman
- September 28: Mediterranean Cheeses and Wines – Tonda Corrente
- October 5: Great British Cheeses and Ales – Max McCalman
- October 12: Italian Cheeses and Wines – Erin Hedley
- October 19: French Cheeses and Wines – Max McCalman
- October 26: The Great Cheeses and Wines of the Western United States – David Gremmels
- November 9: Season’s Best Cheeses and Wines – Max McCalman
In these 45-minute-long seminars, you will sample select adult beverages. Each day, sommeliers, cicerones, and other beverage experts share their extensive knowledge at these seminars. Given the alcohol-intense nature of this event, we haven’t actually been because it’s twice as expensive when you take the kids.
Speaking of the cost, the beverage seminar is $19 per guest, plus tax. The seminars are held on select Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 4:30 PM. The seminars are held in the World ShowPlace Events Pavilion – between United Kingdom and Canada. For the complete list of seminars, you can download the event calendar from Disney’s website. You can make reservations at Disney World’s website page dedicated to the beverage seminars.
Tailgate Tasting hosted by ESPN’s Monday Night Football
The Tailgate Tasting event is new to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival this year. As the Disney website for this event says “During this 45-minute program, you’ll enjoy a flight of 3 sample-sized food items, served with a complementary beverage tasting, inspired by the cities playing in the Monday night game each week. The best part—you’ll get a chance to learn from culinary experts how to make these dishes at home!”
This event happens every Sunday night during the festival when the NFL regular season is going on. That translates into the first event happening on September 8th. It costs $19 per person, plus tax. The tasting is held in the World ShowPlace Events Pavilion – between United Kingdom and Canada. You can make reservations online at the event website we linked to above, or you can call Disney World directly.
Eat to the Beat Concert Series
If you want to take in a concert while munching on some of your favorite festival food, you’re in luck! The Eat to the Beat Concert Series is a free concert that is held daily during the Food & Wine Festival. There are multiple concerts each day. The concert lineup features a wide array of acts for all generations. Don’t expect to find top name bands on this list. Sorry, no Taylor Swift or Meghan Trainor, much to the disappointment of Anna and Elsa. Each show runs about 30 minutes.
You can find concert times at the link above. Below are this year’s announced Eat to the Beat acts:
- August 29 to 31: Plain White T’s
- September 1 to 2: Sawyer Brown
- September 3 to 4: MercyMe
- September 5 to 6: Grace Kelly
- September 7 to 8: Zach Williams
- September 9 to 10: Lauren Daigle
- September 11 to 12: Jimmie Allen
- September 13 to 15: Tiffany
- September 16 to 17: Smash Mouth
- September 18 to 19: Everclear
- September 20 to 22: STARSHIP featuring Mickey Thomas
- September 23 to 24: Post Modern Jukebox
- September 25 to 26: Blue October
- September 27 to 29: Mark Wills
- September 30 to October 2: Sugar Ray
- October 3 to 4: Taylor Dayne
- October 5 to 6: India
- October 7 to 9: 98°
- October 10 to 11: Boyce Avenue
- October 12 to 13: Southern Avenue
- October 14 to 15: Kenny G
- October 16 to 17: 38 Special
- October 18 to 20: Baha Men
- October 21 to 22: Billy Ocean
- October 23 to 25: Sheila E
- October 26 to 27: High Valley
- October 28 to 30: Hanson
- October 31 to November 1: Sheena Easton
- November 2 to 3: Kris Allen
- November 4 to 6: Boyz II Men
- November 7 to 8: The Hooters
- November 9 to 11: Big Bad Voo Doo Daddy
- November 12 to 14: Joey Fatone and Friends, featuring Chris Kirkpatrick and Ryan Cabrera
- November 15 to 16: BBMak
- November 17 to 18: Spanish Harlem Orchestra
- November 19: D’Capella
The Eat to the Beat Concert Series is held at the America Gardens Theatre across from the American Adventure Pavilion. Admission to the show is included as part of your Epcot park admission. Seating is mostly on a first-come, first-serve basis with one exception. That exception is the Eat to the Beat Dining Package. This package combines a dining reservation with preferred entry into the concert.
If you have a band you just have to see with great seats, then this package may make sense for you. Otherwise, we’d say skip it and wait in line, but get there early. You should be able to get a seat; it just may not be front and center.
Epcot Food & Wine Festival with Kids
We’d consider many of the Epcot Food & Wine Festival events we listed out above very adult-centric. Between the alcohol and required attention span, kids will likely struggle to stay engaged. At least younger kids will. Older kids may enjoy some of these events. We’re going to put that to the test over time, so we’ll report back and update this as we go.
Since we’re already over 3,000 words, we’ll do a separate post on the Epcot Food and Wine Festival with kids. For now, we’ll list out the different events and things that are specifically targeted at younger park goers. They are:
- Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt
- Candy Sushi
- Disney du Jour Dance Party
- Family Play Zone
Epcot Food and Wine Festival Merchandise
What festival at Epcot would be complete without its own exclusive merch? You’ll find an assortment of shirts, coffee mugs, ears, cups and more that you can buy to remember this event.
Epcot Food & Wine Festival Tips and Planning
Okay, so now you know the basics, and you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. We get it; there’s a lot going on. The good thing for you is that you’re not in the park yet…at least we hope you aren’t. That means you have time to plan your time at the Food and Wine Festival. Below we summarize out tips and general strategy for the festival. Use it as a guide and then customize as needed.
Plan What Food to Get Before Heading to the Park
If you want to make sure you get the most enjoyment out of the global market places at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, make sure you plan what booths you want to eat at and what food you want to sample. The booth menus are online currently. Showing up and just wandering around is a sure-fire way to miss out on some dishes that you may love. It’s a lot of ground to cover, and unless you are at the festival for multiple days, you aren’t going to do everything.
Stop by the World ShowPlace Events Pavilion
Like we said in the beginning, the majority of guests at the festival will only hit the food booths. Make sure you allow some time to stop by the World ShowPlace Events Pavilion and check out a demonstration or see some of the wine and other merchandise they have.
The other plus of hitting up the festival center is that you can get a break from the Florida heat. All of the food booths are outside, and given the festival starts in August now heat is a genuine concern. Try to get out of it every once in a while.
Set A Budget
If you want to blow a sizeable chunk of cash, don’t listen to this tip. It is entirely possible for one person to spend an afternoon or whole day just snacking around the food booths and realize at the end of the day they spent $100-200 on food. That’s especially true if you’re having drinks. Portion sizes are small, and there’s tons of eye candy out there to tempt you. Make sure you know how much you want to spend at the Food and Wine Festival and then stick to it.
One way to achieve this is to purchase a Food and Wine gift card, which are attached to a bracelet for convenient use. This will allow you to track your spending and limit your purchases to your budgeted amount.
Make it an Experience for the Kids Too!
While there isn’t a ton of stuff for kids to do at the Food & Wine Festival, there is still plenty to keep them entertained. Don’t go full bore on the things that appeal to only to you as an adult. Make sure you give them chances to do stuff they are interested in. Most importantly, let them try the food. You’d be surprised what a kid will eat, especially while on vacation. Sure, there will be plenty of items that they don’t like, but there are several dishes on the menu that are targeted at kids. These items go above and beyond just plain mac and cheese or chicken nuggets and may help expand your child’s tastes.
Book an Advance Reservation for Special Events
While reservations aren’t required, you should make them to ensure you get a spot. These special events regularly sell out. Make your reservation as early as possible.
Go During the Week and Earlier in the Day
If you want to avoid crowds, drunk college kids and the like then go during the week, preferably during the daytime hours. You’ll find weekends and evenings busier times with larger crowds. Also, keep in mind when holidays occur. Generally, you should be mindful of Labor Day and Columbus Day. These days will also mean more people in attendance.
Experience More Than the Food and Wine Festival
The Epcot Food and Wine Festival is an extraordinary event, but make sure you take in some of the other fun parts of Disney World. That can be just visiting the other parks or taking in some of the other special activities happening at Disney World. The fall is prime time for things like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which happens August – October. If you’re going in November, you can catch Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Wrapping up our Ultimate Guide to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival
You don’t need to be a serious foodie to enjoy the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. All you have to do is like to eat food. Sure, there are some excellent premium events that you can partake in, but they aren’t essential to having a good time. In our opinion, the only thing that is required is an empty stomach and a healthy dose of cash. We do wish the event was more affordable, but that’s probably a platitude that is true of all things Disney World.
If you stick with some of the Food & Wine Festival tips we laid out above and have a little patience; you should have an excellent time. But do make sure you find ways to get an indoor break. August and September can be flat out hot in Florida. With all the food booths staged outside, you must pace yourself and keep hydrated. Having a touring plan is of utmost importance, though.
We found the festival to be one of our favorite Disney World events. We hope that you will enjoy your experience there too.
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