Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

(59 Reviews)
100% Recommended

Laurie Zeller

Apple Valley, MN
Walt Disney World, Florida ~ A Dreamer's Paradise

I don't specialize in Disney Destinations because I took classes or studied books. It’s because I truly have a passion for Disney. I take my own personal vacations to Disney Destinations and have been to them 50+ times.

Walt Disney World. A...

Dale DeGroff at a Mixology Seminar

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2015. It's been a major hit for foodies (and quasi-foodies!) everywhere! It starts in late September and runs through early November each year. I personally make a special "adults only" trip to Walt Disney World specifically for the Festival. Maybe not every year, but I try! And I can promise you that I dearly miss it when I can't make the trip happen that year.

The Global Marketplace booths around World Showcase are the most visible and most popular aspect of the Festival for most Epcot guests. I spent most of my past visits only moving from booth to booth to sample the international cuisine they offered. Which still remains today as my favorite part of the Festival. But last year I tried something new by signing up for both a Mixology Seminar and a Culinary Demonstration. Both of these special dining events take place in the Festival Center located in the Future World section of the park.

The Culinary Demonstration is essentially like seeing a television cooking show happening live in front of you. Chefs from all across the country come to Epcot for this event. They each create a dish before your very eyes on the kitchen stage. An event calendar for these special dining events will appear online in advance of the Festival dates. The schedule will list the featured chef, their home restaurant and its location, and also a notation of the basic dish they will be preparing such as beef, pork, scallops, etc. Guests are walked through the entire process of making the dish as well as being given a copy of the recipe to take home. Usually a vintner is a part of the demonstration and has paired a wine that will work beautifully with the chef's prepared dish. As the dish is being created, each guest is given the selected glass of wine as well as the finished dish to taste for themselves.

Mixology has become an art form in the last few years. The makers of various spirits have joined the Festival to help guests learn how to create new and exciting cocktails as well as making old cocktails new again. As with the Culinary Demonstrations, an event calendar is released with the name of the mixologist and type of spirit such as whiskey, gin, or rum they will be featuring. Guests watch a demonstration of how to mix the featured cocktails and are given a copy of the recipes to bring home. And of course, the best part was being able to taste each one.

In 2015 I was fortunate enough to attend the Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey mixology seminar where Master Distiller, Jeff Arnett, spoke to us about the history of the Jack Daniels brand and the very prestigious and rare position he holds. In 2014, Dale DeGroff, the mixologist from the famous Rainbow Room and original creator of the Cosmopolitan, spoke to us about his history and the celebrities he met through the years as he mixed their signature cocktails for them.

Once you’ve looked at the schedule and chosen which demonstration you'd like to see, you can make your reservations through My Disney Experience for the corresponding date and time. Upon your arrival at the Festival Center, you'll need to stop by the ticket desk to pick up your event tickets. So be sure to allow some extra time before your demonstration begins. Lines start to form 10-20 minutes before the seminar begins. So if you want to make sure you're front and center, then be sure to arrive early.

It's important to note that the Dining Reservation system will not list any details such as which chef and dish is being prepared at what time. It will only say "Culinary Demonstration" and a list of available times. So it's important to consult the online schedule to make sure you know the date and time of the experience you're most interested in before moving into the dining reservation system to actually make your event reservations. These special dining events are a very affordable $15 per person (as of 2015) for each 50-60 minute session.

The Festival Center also offers two shopping areas. In the first, you'll find wines and spirits featured in the demonstrations, seminars, and out in the World Showcase Global Marketplace booths. The second shopping area features Epcot International Food & Wine Festival merchandise. From wine glasses to Festival cookbooks, you'll find everything you'll need to bring the flavors and memories home with you.

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