Thrifty Thursday: Making the Most of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival

This year’s Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is in full swing once and it’s not too hard to see why this annual event is so popular. After all, what could be better than being able to eat and drink your way around the world? 🙂 If you are visiting for the first time this year, having a plan will help you make the most of your time, your money and your waistline!

My family and I made our first visit to Epcot’s celebration of food and wine several years ago and my goodness, did we have a blast! I will also say that, experienced Disney vacationers that we are, as Food and Wine newbies we found the Festival both awesome.….and just a little overwhelming. It definitely took some planning and research in advance to be prepared for this trip, so with that in mind, I thought I would share a few of our experiences for those of you who are doing your planning for your first Food and Wine Festival this year.

We were on the Disney Dining Plan, and I did make our ADRs for each night so our plan was to experience the Food and Wine Festival primarily for lunch on a couple of days. Wanting to do this affordably, and not stuff ourselves silly in the process, we developed a strategy that worked really well for us.

photo_5For our first luncheon excursion, my husband, college-age daughter, and yours truly decided to each visit a different kiosk. Our daughter was to use the snack credits from our Dining Plan, while my husband and I each used a Food and Wine card that we pre-loaded with $25 each. We figured that was plenty to start. We split up and hit 3 different food vendors, each of us choosing one item from the menu, and then we met up, sampled from each other, “rated” our favorites, and then moved on to do another 3. In about 30-40 minutes we were half way around World Showcase, full (but not too much), and pretty much done for that day, so went back to our resort to relax a bit before the evening.

On our second day of Festival lunches, we repeated the process going in the other direction, and within another 30 minutes we had succeeded in completing our circuit around the world, having truly sampled something from every food kiosk. It was so much fun, and we had a wonderful time sampling things we probably would have never tried otherwise.

Best of all, we completed day 2 with the remainder of our snack credits and 2 original Festival cards, without having added additional dollars to either card. So we did truly eat our way around the World and managed to not break the bank in the process.

What did we NOT do? We did not do any of the additional paid programs, and I have to say that it was just too overwhelming to have even considered anything beyond the basics for our first year. We did attend a great free program outside Italy, about making pasta and a simple Italian meal. It was fascinating, and we learned a lot.

We also truthfully did not do a lot of drinking. It was extremely hot for our visit (close to 100 each day…in October!!), and honestly, it was just too hot to even think about drinking during the day…we just wanted water! For the two evenings that we were there, the lines were very long, and we were frankly quite full from dinner, so again, not much drinking for us. I will say that the beer and wine tastings looked pretty awesome, and I would love to explore those more another time.

What would I do differently? Well our strategy actually worked well, and I am pleased that we did not eat ourselves sick, nor did we spend as much money as one probably could spend. I think the main thing I would do next time, would be to either not do the Dining Plan, or plan one evening where we did not have a table service dinner, and do some samplings in the evening as well. Oh, and definitely check out the beer and wine tastings. 🙂

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