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Here are my top 9 Epcot Food And Wine Festival tips to help you have the best possible experience at this amazing event.
The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is likely the most popular annual event at Walt Disney World. It is also an enormous event – the size and scope of the festival can be overwhelming for sure!
To make the most of your day (or more) at the festival, it helps to have some insider tricks from someone who’s been many times before. I’ve been seven out of the last eight years and have lots of ideas for saving you time and money.
But first, I’m going to answer the most common questions I get asked about the festival – then on to the tips!
How Much Are Epcot Food & Wine Festival Tickets?
The most common question I get asked about the festival is how much admission costs. If you have a theme park ticket to get into Epcot, you are good to go – no additional ticket is required to attend the Food & Wine Festival.
That said, admission to the Disney World theme parks is not cheap (get my tips for saving money on Disney World park tickets in this post). You will also want to budget for purchasing sample-sized portions of food and drinks at the festival Marketplace Booths.
What Are The Epcot Food & Wine Festival Dates for 2020?
We don’t have exact dates for the 2020 Epcot Food & Wine Festival yet but in general it runs from the very end of August to mid-November.
Ok now that the basics are out of the way, on to my Epcot Food & Wine Festival tips!
Epcot Food and Wine Festival Tips #1: Avoid the Crowds & Lines
The festival draws a lot of locals, especially on Friday evenings and all day on Saturday. If you want to have the best experience, avoid these times!
This year I attended the festival on a Sunday and it was the least crowded I’ve ever seen it, so I think you are safe visiting on a Sunday.
If you find yourself at the festival on a crowded day, I suggest avoiding the busiest times at the booths. These times tend to be from noon to 2 pm and then again from 6 to 8 pm.
Your best bet is to visit some booths for an hour as soon as they open (11 am to noon) then visit more in the afternoon before the evening crowds hit around 6 pm.
Here are a few more tips to skip the lines:
First, divide and conquer. Find a place to meet and split up to get items from multiple booths at once. There is really no need for everyone in your party to wait in line at every booth.
Next, I suggest making your way to the back of World Showcase as soon as the festival booths open (11 am) and begin with those booths.
Though it will be VERY difficult to walk right past some of the popular booths, starting in the back and working your way towards Future World will help you dodge the crowds all day long! I tried this approach this year and I don’t think we waited for more than a few minutes at any booth.
Epcot Food and Wine Festival Tips #2: Stay Cool
Do not underestimate how hot it will be at Epcot in the “fall”! It is normal to experience highs in the 80’s into November in central Florida. Shade can also be hard to find at Epcot, so prepare for hot times even later in the festival.
To stay cool, I suggest taking lots of breaks in air conditioning.
You can even take your food from the festivals into nearby quick service restaurants and eat it there. There aren’t any rules at Disney World about buying food from a place to sit there – anyone can sit anywhere they want.
Here are a few more suggestions for staying cool:
- Cool off at the movie in the France pavilion (Impressions de France), the bakery in France, watching the American Adventure show, sitting inside the China pavilion, and at the Festival Welcome Center in Future World.
- Drink A LOT of water (free at any quick service dining location or bring a water bottle to refill at drinking fountains)
- Wear light-colored loose-fitting clothing
- Bring along a hat to keep the sun off of your face (I love the one in the picture above because it rolls up and is open on the top – get it on Amazon for only $7.99).
Getting overheated is guaranteed to ruin your day at Epcot so try to prevent that at all costs!
Tip #3: Pick Out Some “Can’t Miss” Items Before You Visit
Most people vacationing at Walt Disney World will only experience the main feature of the festival, the Marketplace Booths.
The Marketplace Booths are small themed buildings situated around Epcot where you can purchase sample-sized portions of food and beverages. Most samples cost between $3 – $7.
Doing some quick math, there are around 200 items you could possibly try at the booths. Clearly, you aren’t going to be able to try them all in one day (or even one week). It helps to make a short list of some items you really want to try before you visit.
The best way to do this is to check out the full booth menus and photos over at the Disney Food Blog’s Festival pages. AJ and her team try and photograph every item so you can have some idea of what’s there before you go.
This year I had a short list of items I knew I wanted to try with me when I went. It helped me pass up some stuff that I’m sure would have been ok and let me focus on what I really wanted to try. This led to me having the best time yet at the festival!
I’ll be sharing a live report from the 2020 festival on my podcast – click here to subscribe so you can listen as soon as it is live!
Tip #4: Budget Accordingly (The Festival is Not Cheap)
It is shocking how fast $4 here and $5 there adds up. When I plan to make a meal of snacking my way around the festival, I allocate $20-$30 per person just for food.
This is consistent with what you would pay for a meal at a table service restaurant at Disney World, so in that regard, it isn’t too crazy.
But where you can really go over-budget is with drinks.
Beer and wine samples are usually half-sized portions, so about 3 ounces of wine and 6 ounces of beer/mixed drinks. Wine and beer samples usually cost between $4-$8 but mixed drinks are close to $10.
To make the most of your budget, I suggest sticking with beer and wine as those fancy mixed drinks are horribly overpriced!
Also, to get the most bang for your buck, share a beer or wine flight with a friend. The flights contain 3 or 4 smaller sized samples. You’ll get to try the most for the least amount of money.
Tip #5: Use Those Snack Credits!
Here is another tip to stretch your budget: If you happen to have snack credits from the Disney Dining Plan, definitely save them and use them at the festival.
You can use a snack credit on almost any food sample, even those that are upwards of $8! I value a snack credit at $5, so using them at the festival on any items over that amount. You can get my Disney Dining Plan book on Amazon for only $0.99 if you’d like more tips for maximizing the plans.
Tip #6: Get a Festival Passport
Festival Passports are free and available all over Epcot. Inside you will find a detailed menu for every booth and stickers that you can use to keep track of what booths you’ve visited, among other things.
This is the best guide for the festival out there, and also makes a great free souvenir!
Tip #7: Check For Cheap Seminars Before Your Visit
Last year I attended a free Candy Sushi seminar as part of Food & Wine Festival with my dad and friend (this year is costs $10). It was SO much fun and how cute are these candy sushi rolls?
This is just one example of the many low-cost seminars that take place during Food & Wine fest.
Beverage Seminars cost $19 and are a great way to “plus” you festival experience. I attended a South African wine seminar this year and it was outstanding – such a great value for the cost.
There are also cheese seminars and chef demonstrations during the festival – check out all of the offerings here.
Tip #8: Don’t Miss the Eat to the Beat Concerts
Another element of the festival that is included with park admission is the nightly Eat to the Beat Concerts. They take place three times each night (at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00 pm) in the American Gardens Theater.
They feature rock and pop stars from the ’80s and ’90s (think Starship, Billy Ocean, Wilson Phillips) and the concerts are SO MUCH FUN. Lots of folks would pay a pretty penny just to go to some of these concerts!
The most popular concert is the 8:00 show, so get in line early for a seat.
I would not suggest booking an Eat to the Beat Dining Package (which includes a meal and seating to a show) unless you are there on a very busy day and really want great seats.
They are overpriced and I’d rather spend the money on trying more food at the festival. But that’s just my opinion.
Epcot Food and Wine Festival Tips #9: Be Adventurous & Try New Things
Finally, the festival is an amazing opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and try new flavors. I love that I can try something different without having to commit to an entree-sized portion.
My friend suggested these Hummus Fries and they ended up being one of my favorite items from the festival this year! I’d bet you will be pleasantly surprised if you try something you think you don’t like.
That’s it for my tops 9 Epcot Food & Wine Festival tips. Any questions? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion in the free private Facebook group for my Disney-only site, The Budget Mouse!
Check out my other Epcot Food & Wine Festival posts as well:
- 2019 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Favorites (and What To Skip)
- 3 Ways To “Plus” Your Epcot Food & Wine Festival Experience
- 5 Things You Didn’t Know About The Epcot Food & Wine Festival