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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn

Review of Epcot Food & Wine Festival in the Rain

Updated: Oct 18, 2023




For those of you who have not picked up on the fact yet, we are avid Disney fans who have been to the parks many many times. So many times that we felt inclined to put together a web-site full of our Disney know-how for others to find and enjoy. One of our biggest Disney gaps has been our failing to attend the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, until now that is. That’s right, we finally made it to Disney in the fall and attended the OG festival and now we are going to tell you all about our experience and share our thoughts and tips coming out of it.


Epcot hosts a series of festivals throughout the year which have become ingrained in the park experience so much so that many of the food booth locations are now permanent and Disney is in the process of opening up a new area that will be dedicated to enhancing these festivals. During the holidays there is the International Festival of the Holidays, where guests can listen to holiday storytellers, go on a cookie stroll, and attend the Candlelight Processional. Then in the early part of the year the park is saturated with artistic fun as the International Festival of the Arts fills Epcot with all kinds of art to see, experience, and purchase. Once spring hits the International Flower and Garden Festival brings the park to life with delightful character topiaries and fun nature themed activities. Finally, there is the Epcot Food and Wine (F&W) Festival which runs from late July to mid November and features, you guessed it, food and wine…well food and lots of varying types of drinks, but wine is one of those types. We had the chance to attend the food and wine festival on the first day of October this year. It was the first day of our trip, so our feet were fresh and we were ready to do some serious eating and drinking.



The park day dawned overcast and a bit dreary, but with the philosophy of a rainy day at Disney is better than a sunny day at work ingrained into our souls we packed our rain jackets in our park bags, grabbed a virtual queue spot and individual lightning lane reservation for Guardians of the Galaxy (this is currently the only way to ride GoG twice in one day), and headed to the park. We were staying at Pop Century Resort, a favorite of ours, so we hopped on the Skyliner and entered Epcot through the International Gateway entrance, located between the UK and France Pavilions. This makes joining the queue for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure first thing in the morning very easy, which is what we did.


Right after we went to purchase the scavenger hunts available for this year’s F&W festival.


***Pro Tip - At each of Epcot’s festivals there is a scavenger hunt available for guests. Remy’s Hide and Squeak scavenger hunt involves searching for Remy around the World Showcase and identifying what food he is with in each location. Also available when we went was Pluto’s Pumpkin Pursuit. This activity is more seasonal than tied to the festival, where you hunt for pumpkins painted like different characters all through Epcot. The scavenger hunts cost about $10 each and have a small prize for finding all the items.


From there we meandered around the World Showcase toward World Discovery, getting caffeination at the Joffrey's near the American Adventure. Along the way it started raining…and continued to rain for most of the day. As a result, the crowd levels we had expected for being there on a weekend day, with a popular band (Boyz II Men!) playing at the Eat to the Beat concert, were noticeably lacking. But we also had to navigate touring in that rain, so instead of eating while walking we did a lot more huddling around a table and hiding inside to dry off. On the flip side, we could actually find tables every time we wanted to stop, which was a nice upside, plus there were little to no waits at most of the food booths.



Due to the rain we ended up skipping Test Track, which was closed pretty much the entire day, and made our way to Guardians of the Galaxy for our ILL. By the time we finished up GoG, the F&W booths were opening up. ***Pro tip:The festival booths do not open until 11am, the same time that most of the World Showcase - with the exceptions of Remy, Frozen and a few food locations - opens. Our first stop for F&W was the Brew-Wing Lab at the Odyssey Pavilion. This was our first hint that the rain would make booth hopping easy. The Brew-Wing Lab is one of the most popular locations at this year’s festival. That coupled with being indoors meant that we expected the place to be packed. Spoiler alert, it was not. In fact when we walked in there was no line and plenty of open tables to choose from.


Overall we really enjoyed the Brew-Wing Lab, in addition to being a food booth it was a bit of an experience in and of itself. The theming of the area was really fun, with delightful appearances by Dr. Bunsen and Beaker up on a large screen while they made and tested ridiculous concoctions, and whimsical details all around on the walls. At the Brew-Wing Lab we sampled a couple different wings: the Peanut-Butter and Jelly Sticky Wings and the Orange-Cardamom Wings, and got a Frozen Fusion and the infamous Pickle Milkshake. The wings were both good, but not necessarily mind blowing. The Peanut-Butter and Jelly ones tasted, oddly enough, like a Peanut-Butter and Jelly sandwich. The Orange-Cardamom reminded us of Orange Chicken from a chinese restaurant. The Frozen Fusion was decent, an interesting flavor that might have been more desirable on a hot day as opposed to our rainy day. Then there was the Pickle Milkshake. This is the hot button item at this year’s festival, attracting lots of social media attention and plenty of controversy over whether or not it is good. For the three of us, the main controversy was whether or not there was a pickle taste. One thought not, another couldn’t decide, and one said there was a slight dill aftertaste. We did all agree it was more of a fresh cucumber-y taste, rather than a pickled one.



Brew-wing Lab:

Orange-Cardamom Wings $7.50

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sticky Wings $7.50

Frozen Fusion $4.75

Pickle Milkshake $5.75



After enjoying our wings, and being dry for a bit, we ventured back out into the wet for more food. Since we were already in the World Showcase Plaza area, and our next ride reservation was for Soarin’, we stuck to that area and went to the Wine & Wedge and Hawai’i booths. At Wine & Wedge we got the assorted cheese plate, and at Hawai’i the Kālua Pork Slider and Passion Fruit Cheesecake. We are big cheese people so it’s no surprise we really enjoyed the cheese plate. There were four different cheeses: parmesan, brie, bleu, and an espresso rubbed cheese, along with a bit of honey comb, some fig jam and a candied almond thing, plus bread. Our only complaint was that it did not come with enough bread, ours only had three slices. Our selections from Hawai’i were decent, edible but nothing to write home about. The cheesecake was just regular cheesecake with a passion fruit topping, but we like cheesecake so no complaints from us. The pork slider was a small portion, just a little roll with a bit of pulled pork and topping on it, and was probably the least memorable thing we ate. We also started collecting stamps for Emile’s Fromage Montage with the cheese board and cheesecake.



***Pro-tip: At each festival there is a sort of food crawl where if you purchase a certain number of selected festival items you get a bonus food prize. For F&W this year it is a cheese crawl called Emile’s Fromage Montage, with a handful of cheese themed items to choose from. By purchasing five of these items, and getting corresponding stamps, you can get a Strawberry Cheesecake Soft Serve in a Souvenir Cup from Shimmering Sips.


Wine & Wedge:

Assorted Artisanal Cheeses and Accompaniments - $7.00


Hawai’i:

Kālua Pork Slider with Sweet-and-Sour DOLE® Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise - $5.75

Passion Fruit Cheesecake with Toasted Macadamia Nuts - $4.75


With reasonably full stomachs for the moment we ventured into World Nature to ride Soarin’ Over California (yay for the orange tree smell!) and then over to ride The Seas with Nemo & Friends. At this point our Guardians of the Galaxy virtual queue was called, so we circled over to World Discovery again. After that we took another break from the rain in the Connections Cafe, getting a Starbucks pick-me-up and a Remy Liege Waffle to share. We each got an Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte, which is a seasonal Starbucks drink and pretty much tasted like we were drinking a pumpkin pie (a delightful thing for us). The waffle was okay, an okay sugary pick-me-up but kinda tough to eat and a little too sweet for us.




Connections Cafe & Eatery: Remy Liege Waffle - $4.19


Once again dry and ready to tackle the park we ventured back around to the Imagination Pavilion and joined the queue for the Figment Meet & Greet. In the short(ish) walk from Connections Cafe to the Imagination Pavilion we got quite wet again, so the wait to see Figment was another chance to dry off. In general we are not big character people, we almost always plan a character meal, so we can get some fun character interaction without the corresponding waits, but rarely stand in line to meet characters. We don’t know that we will wait to see Figment again, but it was a bunch of fun getting to interact with him briefly when our time came.



After seeing Figment it was time to dive back into F&W food booths. We went back to the World Showcase Plaza area and grabbed items from Bubbles & Brine and Canada. At Bubbles & Brine we got the Jonah Crab Claw Cocktail. This was the most expensive item we purchased, but worth it. There were four crab claws, each with a sizable amount of meat attached, and the flavor was delicious. We adore crab and aren’t so keen on mustard so we skipped dipping them in the sauce in favor of just enjoying the crab meat. Then at the Canada food booth, we got the Cheddar and Bacon Soup, the Filet Mignon, and the token wine purchase. After the Frozen Fusion and Pickle Milkshake back at the Brew-Wing Lab, drinks ended up not being a priority for us. However, wine seemed like a good pairing with the filet mignon and we were at the Food & WINE festival, so it seemed only right to at least get one little glass. Sadly it was just okay, a nice pairing with the filet but not worth revisiting in our opinion. The food there though was a different story. The cheddar and bacon soup was very yummy. We thought it tasted like extra cheesy potato soup, but since we like potato soup we weren’t complaining. The best item was the filet mignon. It was juicy, flavorful, and perfectly cooked. Paired with the mushrooms and mashed potatoes it was amazing. We have never been to Le Cellier, but after eating that it is definitely high on our to do list for a future visit.


Bubbles & Brine:

Jonah Crab Claw Cocktail with stone-ground mustard sauce - $12.00


Canada:

Canadian Cheddar and Bacon Soup served with pretzel roll - $6.00

Canadian Filet Mignon served with mushrooms, Boursin Black Truffle & Sea Salt mashed potatoes and a Boursin Black Truffle & Sea Salt whipped butter - $9.75

Château des Charmes Cabernet Sauvignon - $7.50



From there we officially entered the World Showcase again, stopping in Mexico for some shopping and then continuing on to Norway to ride Frozen Ever After. In Norway we also visited Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe for our customary School Bread, which is a must for us. This is a sweet bread filled with a vanilla pudding custard and topped with icing and coconut. Plus, as an added bonus it is a great size to share.



Done with our required school bread snackage it was time to focus back on F&W food. The three of us split up to hit China, Kenya, the Alps, and Germany before finding a table in the Outpost area to enjoy our spoils. From China we got the Pan-Fried Chicken Dumplings. These were spot on but only came with two so we ended up going back to purchase two more (so we ate six dumplings in total). This was the only dish we re-visited so that is a pretty good indicator of our feelings about it (i.e. it was super good!). The Kenya booth ended up being added due to its proximity to the others. We grabbed the shrimp skewer because we like shrimp and couscous…normally. This dish was not our favorite. The couscous didn’t taste like anything and the shrimp was on the rubbery side, though the flavor was okay. From the Germany booth we got Schinkennudeln, which was akin to a mac’n’cheese casserole. Then from The Alps we purchased a Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese and the Chocolate Fonu dishes. The Raclette Swiss Cheese was kind of a let down. The bread was a bit stale and the cheese was already starting to harden. Maybe if we had gotten the dish when it was actually hot it might have been better, but as it was we didn’t finish it. The chocolate fondue on the other hand was perfect, minus the fact that the sides to chocolate ratio was skewed toward the chocolate. It was absolutely delicious chocolate, but not enough things to dip meant we were forced to use our fingers to finish said chocolate (this is a no judgment zone).



China:

Pan-Fried Chicken Dumplings - $5.25


Germany:

Schinkennudeln - $5.00


The Alps:

Dark Chocolate Fondue with Berries, Pound Cake and Meringues - $5.75

Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese with Alpine Ham, Baby Potatoes, Cornichons and Baguette - $5.25


Kenya:

Peri-Peri Skewered Shrimp with Citrus-Flavoured Couscous - $7.00


That ended up being the end of the festival booths for us, filled to bursting there was no way we could eat any more food. We did manage to take in some of the Boyz II Men concert standing along the promenade at the back of the American Gardens Theatre. [


*** Pro-Tip - During each festival there is an accompanying concert series held at the American Garden Theatre most evenings. For F&W it is the Eat to the Beat Concert. A range of well known bands and some lesser known local talent are invited to play throughout the festival. Generally more famous groups will perform on weekends, drawing in a large crowd. This is a short 30 minute concert that is held 3 times, at 5:30pm, 6:45pm, and 8:00pm, on show nights. Admission is open to anyone at the park, but the front area is often reserved either for special guests or those with dining packages.


Boyz II Men definitely drew a decent crowd, but we didn’t want to invest the time to wait in line to actually get into the theater this trip. It was fun watching them for a few minutes from the back though. After that, we snuck in one more ride on Remy and then did a little shopping before calling it a day.





Overall it was a great day, if not exactly the Food & Wine Festival experience we had anticipated. Rain at Disney always puts an interesting spin on the day, but the lower crowd levels were definitely a nice side effect. We expect without the rain we would have been more willing to skip out on food if there had been long lines or if the booth was located in a particularly crowded area, possibly missing out on some of our favorite food items of the day. However, the rain did cause us to end up abandoning the scavenger hunts. We managed to find Remy a couple times and spotted a few pumpkins but we weren’t keen to hang outside and scan the surroundings for pumpkins or rats.



Between three people we ate fourteen different F&W food items and had three F&W drinks. While we feel we really dedicated ourselves to the cause, there are many additional food booths we had intended to check out that we simply ran out of steam before hitting. We didn’t even make it to the Brazil booth for the much lauded Brazilian cheese bread…a definite reason to go back. Our limited stomach capacity also resulted in us skipping the prize for finishing Emile’s Fromage Montage. We purchased and ate the required five cheese items (because we love cheese) but to get the prize it would have involved backtracking to Shimmering Sips in the World Showcase Plaza. If we had been exiting out of the front of the park this would have been an easy stop on the way out, but since we were leaving via the International Gateway for the Skyliner and didn’t have room for more food anyways, it was more walking than we were willing to do.


Even with the increased threat of rain in the month when F&W falls we will definitely be returning in the future. It was a day filled with delectable food (looking at you dumplings), funny concoctions (pickle milkshake anyone?), and fun food tastings with family. The highlights for us were the Pan-Fried Chicken Dumplings from China, the Crab Claws from Bubbles & Brine, and the Filet Mignon from Canada. Items we will be skipping in the future include the Shrimp Skewer from Kenya and the Raclette Swiss Cheese dish from The Alps.



Our Tips:

Do a little homework before going to see what all the offerings are and select some must go to booths. We only managed to hit about half of the places we had on our to try list, because the realities of the time it takes to actually walk around the park, and fit in some rides around all the food, not to mention actually having room in our stomachs for the food, limited our intake. However, if we had not done that prior research the number of booth places and options at each location would have been overwhelming. There is also a festival guide that you can pick up in the park that has all of the booths listed along with the offerings at each. If you don’t want to do too much work beforehand, it is useful to grab one of these little books when you see it and flip through to see what you might like.


Don’t forget about the other fun things to do at the festival. While the food and drinks at this festival are definitely the stars of the show there are plenty of other festival activities to participate in. From scavenger hunts, the concert series, food classes, and more there is so much to see and do and eat, which is what makes the Food & Wine Festival so popular.


Be prepared for a crowd. We got lucky with the rain, the crowd levels were considerably lower than we expected and we were able to find actual tables every time we stopped to eat. This is not the norm however. The “official” table of the Food and Wine Festival is a trash can, with the nice flat top and plenty located all around the park, you will often see groups of people crowded around these convenient impromptu tables.


Try not to go on Friday night or over the weekend. We blundered this one, though with the rain it didn’t matter so much. Normally the crowd levels will spike Friday through Sunday as the locals flock to the festival. This is made even worse when a popular band, like Boyz II Men, are playing at the concert.


Be willing to try something new. You know what you like, but it can be fun to branch out and take a gamble on something new and unknown. One member of our party is a very picky eater and she was willing to try not only the Pickle Milkshake, but the Schinkennudeln at the Germany booth. While the milkshake was a miss for her, she really enjoyed the German dish.



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