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Fall is my favorite time of year at Walt Disney World thanks to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival! This is the 22nd year for the festival and it gets bigger and better every year. Here are five things you might not know about this year’s festival.
1) So Much is New At the Booths
In celebration of Epcot’s 35th anniversary, there will be a record 35 Marketplace Booths at the 2017 festival. There are lots of new booths this year, including India, Spain, Active Eats, The Almond Orchard, Coastal Eats, Flavors From Fire, and The Light Lab.
Disney boasts that nearly 50% of items at the festival this year are new or reimagined! So even if you’ve been to the festival in years past there will be so many new items to check out this year.
2) How To Get Into Free Back To Basics Seminars
One of the free offerings at the festival is the Back to Basics Seminars held at the Festival Center (the old Wonders of Life pavilion in Future World). These take place at 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm Friday through Sunday at the Spotlight Stage.
The key to getting into one of these popular sessions is to arrive early. Cast Members typically begin handing out the tickets at the entrance to the Spotlight Stage 45-60 minutes before the event and once they have handed out the tickets they are gone. Most folks don’t know this so as long as you get there early you should be able to get in!
Here’s the schedule of Back to Basics seminars this year:
- Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company® – September 1, 2 and 3
- The Olive Pantry – September 8, 9 and 10
- Pam Smith, P.S. Flavor!™ – September 15, 16 and 17
- Melissa’s Produce – September 22, 23 and 24
- National Watermelon Promotion Board – September 29 and 20; October 1
- AMERICAN HERITAGE® Chocolate – October 6, 7 and 8
- Minus 8 Vinegar – October 13, 14 and 15
- Kumquat Growers, Inc. – October 20, 21 and 22
- Blue Diamond Almond Breeze – October 27, 28 and 29; November 3, 4 and 5
- Twinings™ of London– November 10, 11 and 12
3) There Are Plenty of Opportunities to Eat to the Beat
As opposed to other festivals when concerts are only held on weekend nights, Eat to the Beat Concerts are happen every single night of Food & Wine Festival. In fact, there are three concerts every night at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00 pm for 186 concerts total during the festival!
Here’s the lineup this year:
- Delta Rae — August 31-September 1
- The Hooters – September 2-3
- Baha Men — September 4-5
- Fuel — September 6-7
- Starship featuring Mickey Thomas – September 8-10
- Lauren Alaina – September 11-12
- Plain White T’s — September 13-15
- Sister Hazel – September 16-17
- Air Supply — September 18-20
- David Cook — September 21-22
- Everclear — September 23-24
- Sugar Ray — September 25-27
- 38 Special – September 28-29
- Mark Wills – September 30-October 1
- American Authors – October 2-3
- Christopher Cross – October 4-5
- Devon Allman – October 6-8
- Dennis DeYoung: The Music of STYX — October 9-11
- Taylor Dayne — October 12-13
- Jeffrey Osbourne – October 14-15
- Postmodern Jukebox — October 16-17
- 10,000 Maniacs — October 18-20
- Toad the Wet Sprocket — October 21-22
- Kenny G — October 23-24
- Billy Ocean – October 25-26
- Tiffany – October 27-October 29
- Hanson — October 30-November 1
- Blue October — November 2-3
- Living Colour — November 4-5
- Boyz II Men — November 6-8
- Big Bad Voodoo Daddy — November 9-11
- Squeeze — November 12-13
In the past, I’ve been able to score free reserved seating for the festival at the Chase Member Lounge. Right now it looks like there won’t be a Chase Lounge since Chase is no longer sponsoring the festival. But I am holding out hope that there will still be some way to get free advanced seating!
If you are willing to pay you can book an Eat to the Beat Dining Package to get reserved seating, though I’m always hesitant to give up chances to eat at the Marketplace Booths.
4) You Can Plus Your Experience For As Little As $17
If you are looking to attend a special event at the festival, it doesn’t have to break the bank. While some of the special events are upwards of $500, there are also low-cost seminars and demonstrations offered every day at the Festival Center.
You can learn some kitchen wisdom straight from a chef and get treated to a special dish at a Culinary Demonstration. These happen every day at 2:30 pm with additional demos on the weekends.
Or you can sample and learn more about your favorite wine, beer, or spirit at a Beverage Seminar. These take place every day at 1:30 and 3:30 with an additional seminar on weekends at 5:00 pm.
These seminars cost $17 per person, but you can get a $2 discount if you are an Annual Passholder, DVC Member, or Tables in Wonderland member. To book these events with a discount you’ll have to call 800-WDW-FEST. You can book online at the regular Disney Dining Reservation or in the My Disney Experience app if you are booking without the discount.
5) You Can Potentially Save Money With A Tasting Sampler Package
This year you can purchase a “Tasting Sampler” package that included eight coupons for Marketplace Booth items for $65. You also get a limited-edition festival pin with the package, which can be purchased at the Festival Center, Bridge Kiosks, and several other places.
This package would be a great deal if you plan on purchasing lots of the higher-priced items at the festival such as mixed drinks! Mixed drinks are some of the more creative items at the festival but run $10-$12 per drink. The eight coupon package brings the price per items down to about $7.40 per item and $6.80 per item for the 16 coupon package. If you are
The eight coupon package brings the price per item down to a little over $8 per item, potentially saving you up to $4 per drink. You don’t have to use the vouchers all in one visit, so they would be great for spreading out over several visits or sharing with a group!
You can get even more tips for making the most of the Epcot Food & Wine Festival in this post! Questions about the festival? Please leave a comment below or send me a message on The Frugal South’s Facebook page!