The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival has been a part of Walt Disney World for over 25 years (according to some light internet research). In the early years, the festival lasted about a month. Today, it spans from July to November (or five months) — that’s almost half of the year!
Epcot has also held new, seasonal Food & Wine-style festivals — Flower & Garden, Festival of the Arts, Festival of the Holidays — so now there’s pretty much some kind of food and drink event happening at Epcot, year round.
Epcot Events: Learnings & Tips
For the past ten years, I’ve attended these food and drink festivals multiple times each and I’ve learned a few valuable lessons along the way.
 Pace Yourself
Don’t attempt to eat and sip all of the food and drink in one day. It’s better to visit a festival more than once — if you’re able to — this way you can focus on a few items each trip. Make sure to take breaks throughout the day. If you plan to be in the park until close, it’s a good strategy to break up your eating into a day and night session. If you enter through the back entrance of the park (near France) you can even visit Spaceship Earth for a mid-voyage nap.
 Weekdays over Weekends
If you can swing it, visit Epcot on a weekday over the weekend. In fact, that should be a general Disney park rule. On most weekends the Food & Wine festival becomes the Food and Line festival. The lines can get long pretty much any day, but you can always save a busy stop for later. It will become less busy later on. If you have to go on a weekend, I find that Sundays to be a little less crowded than a Saturday.
 Too Hot to Handle
The Epcot Food & Wine Festival just began in mid-July — or mid-summer. I find the perfect Disney park days (weatherwise) always lie somewhere between October and April — you just have to get lucky and choose the right day. Instead of hitting up the Food & Wine Festival early on, it may be preferable to wait for the final months, or even the following festivals — Festival of the Holidays.
 No Sit Down Meals
I’ve attended Epcot Food & Wine with large groups in the past. The biggest mistake I’ve seen is when we spend the whole day eating and drinking, only to make our way to a restaurant for a 9pm reservation. Who wants to go to a restaurant after all of that? Plus, I don’t want to miss Harmonious (Epcot’s new firework and water projection show).
 Buddy System
Speaking of big groups, a great way to save some money (and room in your belly) is by developing a buddy system. Find someone with similar taste to share certain items with. If a country has two snacks you want to try, you can each purchase one and share.
It’s A’Bao Time
So, what did I eat during my first visit to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival? This trip, I focused on the Steamed Buns and Baos of Japan, China, and Flavors of Fire. There were some other bonus snacks, but I definitely did not overeat this trip. Let’s talk a’bao(t) the three steamed buns first.
Item #1 – JAPAN Teriyaki Chicken Bun
The first steamed bun I ate was the Teriyaki Chicken Bun from the Japan market. This bun was soft and pillowy, and fully closed as opposed to the open-style, bao buns at my other stops. The bun was filled with a blend of chicken and vegetables in Teriyaki sauce. The filling was thick and saucy, instead of soupy (like a soup dumpling). I would have liked to see a second option for a steamed bun.
ITEM #2 – CHINA Mongolian Beef Bao Bun
The Mongolian Beef at Epcot Food & Wine Festival has been one of my favorite flavors over the years. I remember it being a closed bun at some point, like the Japanese one, but I may be wrong. Either way, I would love to have these delicious flavors inside of a closed steamed bun.
The open bao was also perfectly fluffy and doughy. I could have used some extra veggies or maybe some sort of spicy thin-sliced spicy peppers or crunchy topping. Still, that Mongolian Beef flavor is great with the onions.
ITEM #3 – FLAVORS FROM FIRE Bahn Mi Bao & Smoked Corned Beef with Crispy Potatoes
At this stop, we tried two items, the bao bun and the crispy, cheesy potato chip nachos. Of all three buns, this was the most complicated flavor-wise. The bao featured skirt steak, chicken liver aioli, pickled vegetables, and cilantro. The Asian skirt steak had a fire-roasted quality, which came from the fire grill. In fact, the whole area smelled amazing, like smoke and fire.
My buddy picked up the cheesy corned beef potato chips, which were like a smokey, cheesy potato nacho plate with smoked corned beef, cheese curds, pickled onions, and beer-cheese fondue. Flavors from Fire’s bun may have been my favorite due to the extra toppings and smoked flavor.
BONUS #1 – GERMANY Roasted Bratwurst & Schinkennudeln
The Roasted Bratwurst is a great treat because although it comes in a smaller, slider-sized pretzel bun the bratwurst itself is still the size of a regular hot dog. So, it ends up being a pretty filling snacky. You also get some german mustard for dipping.
There are a bunch of hot cheese treats featured throughout the Food & Wine Festival. These are usually not something you want to eat while walking around in the hot sun. Most of them are delicious and the one that we did try was the Schinkennudeln, which is a cheesy pasta gratin with ham and onions. Other stations have hot cheese soup type snacks (like Canada’s Cheddar and Bacon soup), which would be better suited for the Winter.
BONUS #2 – HOPS & BARLEY Hot Beef Sandwich
I took a break from Food & Wine due to rain, and went over to check out Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios. When I returned to Epcot it was almost time for the 9PM show, Harmonious, which also happens to be when everything closes.
At 8:55 PM I was able to visit my final station in America (Hops & Barley) to grab a Hot Beef Sandwich with horseradish cream, and topped with extra veggies and crunchies. I’m not sure if I got extra, extra crunchies for being the final order of the night or if that’s just how they do it.
I also picked up my first drink, a small Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale which paired well with the hot beef sandwich. I’m sure each beer option pairs well with that hot beef sandwich, it’s just nice to have any beer with a spicy sandwich.
My Food & Wine Misses
There were two things I did wrong, one that was my fault and the other I blame on the festival. (1) I did not have the chance to visit Brazil for their Feijoda (Black Beans and Crispy Pork Belly) and Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread). This one was my fault. I wasn’t ready for it earlier in the day, and due to the rain and visiting a second park, I returned too late to make it to Brazil before Harmonious began. I do remember that crispy pork belly being my favorite thing when I first tried it.
The second disappointment, and this one is Epcot’s fault, is that the Hawai’i station is not opening until August for some reason. The Kalua Pork Slider has been one of the top favorites at Food & Wine for a couple of years now. I was also excited to finally try the SPAM Musubi Nigiri, which is like a Spicy Tuna Roll with SPAM instead of Tuna. So, I guess I have to go back.
I plan to return to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival some time before it ends in November, but if I don’t make it out there I will definitely return to cover some of the other festivals that follow.
Do you have a favorite Epcot (or Disney Parks) snack? Share it in the comments, messages, email me, text me or any other way you’d like to tell me about it.
Stay tuned for more Ferdi’s Learnings coming soon.