Living in South Florida my whole life, Orlando and Disney have always been a close family getaway. As a child, we were lucky enough to go at least 2-3 times a year. As an adult, I continue to enjoy visiting, especially EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival. This became an annual tradition with friends once I turned 21. Now, as we all have begun to have families, we continue to enjoy going as a group (this year close to 40 people) and have mastered the perfect balance of children’s and adult’s activities.
Each year, it seems the dates extend a little longer. This year the festival is running from August 29 – November 23, 2019 so there is still time to plan a quick trip! But how can you make sure the kids have a great time while you enjoy trying a variety of food and drinks around the world?
When Planning Your Trip
- Fast passes – If you are staying at a Disney resort, you can book fast passes 60 days in advance of your trip. If not, once you have a park ticket, you can book 30 days in advance. There’s a limit to 3 pre booked fast passes but this will help keep your wait times low and allow you to spend less time in line and more time on other activities. For EPCOT, the 3 rides which tend to have the longest wait times are Test Track, Soarin’ Around the World and Frozen Ever After. Unfortunately, you are only able to pick 1 of the 3. The other passes would have to be used for other activities.
- Check out the menu – I like to look at the menu prior to heading to the parks. This gives me an idea of spots I definitely want to check out. Also, if you have picky eaters, it will give you an idea if there are options for them. Remember you are allowed to bring your own food/drink into the park so if you don’t see anything on the menu that will work for your kids, bring your own. Check out the 2019 menu here.
Planning Your Day
- Don’t make the kids wait until the end to go on the rides. They’re in Disney! We always start the day with 2-3 rides before starting around the world (not many countries have rides). This is easy since most of the rides are at the front of the park.
- Keep it interesting. Once we start around the world, we don’t stop at every stand. We try to stop at every few so we can get around somewhat quickly – take another ride break in between – and then go back around the world. I’ve found that the food lines tend to slow down around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, so we tend to do less stops on our first loop and do more in less time on round 2. Only Mexico and Norway have rides (Norway is Frozen Ever After so it’s a long wait). But many countries have character meet and greets throughout the day. Try to time going around the world with these meet and greets for some great photo opportunities and a welcome break for the kids.
- Grab a passport. If your kids are fairly easy to please when it comes to food (like mine who will eat everything,) the passport gives you a list of all the countries and the menu for each. Menu items that are recommended as kid favorites are identified with a little strawberry icon. Also, there are stickers inside that can be “stamped” for each country you visit along the way, a fun little way to keep track of what food stands you’ve visited.
Must Try Food and Drinks
Now, the kids are taken care of, what should you eat and drink? Every year the menus change a little and there are new stands to try. This year’s additions are “The Alps” and “Appleseed Orchard”. I’m looking forward to trying the Frozen Rosè and Venison Stew from The Alps!
My favorite staples and must-trys are:
- Crispy Pork Belly – This never disappoints! The crispy pork belly is served over black beans with tomato and onions. Don’t plan to share this, you won’t regret it. Pair it with the M.I.A. Beer Company Barbossa Black Beer for a local Florida favorite or for something to help cool you down try the Frozen Caipirinha. Find this in Brazil (between Morocco and France.)
- Roasted Lamb Chop – the seasoning and toppings change each year but this is something I always enjoy!
- Le Passion Martini Slushy – Refreshing and cooling on a hot Florida day! This is always a favorite. If Passion Fruit and Cranberry are a little too fruity for you, there is a nearby stand that offers Grand Marnier Orange and Grey Goose Citron Slushies (available year round!)
Some other good things to try are:
- The Steakhouse Blended Burger from Flavors from Fire paired with the Edmeades Zinfandel.
- Kalua Pork Slider from Hawaii – I tried this with the Sparkling Pineapple wine but it wasn’t my favorite. I would skip this and try one of the other choices.
- Croissant aux Escargot and Crème Brûlée from France. If you like escargot, this is a great place to get it. If you have never tried it, the small portions and reasonable price make this a great place to try it! And crème brûlée is always a favorite.
I hope this article has motivated you to plan a trip! Have you been to the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival? Share some of your tips or experiences below! If not, what are you most excited to try?