Food and Wine Festival Week concludes with tips to maximize the guest’s enjoyment while at the festival. If you have been reading, this week, you’ve read that this is quite an expansive festival with all the of booths, special events, and concerts. It is a very popular, if not EPCOT’s most popular, event during the year. How can the guest best enjoy the festival and spend all of their time waiting in line, not having food spills, and keeping the kids happy?
Tip 1: GO DURING THE MIDDLE OF THE WEEK
If a guest is able to attend this event during the middle of the week as opposed to the weekend, this is a great time to go to the festival. During the middle of the week, crowds, at the event, will be lower because attendees will be mainly resort guests. Starting Friday night and during the weekend, more or more Orlando locals come to EPCOT for day or evening trips solely for the Food and Wine Festivals. They add to the wait time at the booths and take up spots at the special events. Longer lines mean the ability to sample more booths would be reduced since guests will be spending more time in line and less time eating. The time it will take to eat the food will remain the same whether or not a guest has waited five minutes or fifteen minutes to get that food.
TIP 2: GO AS SOON AS WORLD SHOWCASE OPENS OR GO FOR AN “EARLY DINNER”
EPCOT staggers the opening of their two main worlds. Future World opens, most days, at 9 am. World Showcase opens at 11 am. This DOES NOT change during the Food and Wine Festival. The World Showcase and the Food and Wine Festival booths will still open at 11 am. Getting there right at 11 am should be a priority. Again, this is solely to reduce the amount of time that guests could be waiting in line. More and more guests, regardless of the day of the week, will come to the festival as it gets closer to traditional lunch time and stay through early afternoon.
If guests can’t make at 11 am, the next best option, in my opinion, is to arrive for an “early dinner” around 4 or 5 pm. By this time, a lot of the guests who arrived at 11 am are starting to get tired and will be leaving the festival. The wait times for the booths should be starting to drop and guests arriving should be able to knock out a lot of booths in short period time. Lines for booths, usually, pick back up later in the evening as guests arrive to sample some wine and have some post-dinner light snacks while strolling through the World Showcase.
This strategy also keeps guests out of the park and sun, while drinking, during the middle of the day.
Best times: Right at 11 am or around 4 or 5 pm
Worst times: Lunch time and just after (12 noon to 3 pm) and after 7 pm
TIP 3: GO COUNTER-CLOCKWISE
Let’s take a look at the World Showcase Map again for the 2013 Food and Wine Festival:
Looking at the map, as a clock, guests enter the festival at 12 o’clock. The natural tendency for people is go toward their left and toward the #1 booth. In 2013, the #1 booth was Terra. Guests will start at #1 and walk their way around the park in a clockwise fashion. This will result in those booths having longer wait times, especially when the park opens, compared to the booths going counter-clockwise. This is a good method if the guest wants to sample as many different food and wine booths as possible.
Another alternative method to avoid crowds is to enter the World Showcase at the International Gateway at the rear of the showcase. This entrance will have guests enter the park between the United Kingdom and France. Again, the guest, if their goal is to sample as many different foods as possible, should choose to walk counter-clockwise and walk toward France as opposed to walking clockwise toward the United Kingdom.
TIP 4: IF POSSIBLE MAKE MULTIPLE TRIPS
If a guest’s vacation plans allow, they should attempt to make multiple trips to the Festival. The lines for the booths can be long and not allow a guest to sample everything they want in one visit. The ideal solution, if possible, is to make multiple trips to the festival. A strategy could be go to all the booths on the left side in one visit and then all the booths on the right side in another visit. This strategy/tip should only be used if the guest has the ability to make multiple visits during their vacation.
TIP 5: PURCHASE A FOOD AND WINE DINING TRAY
Disney has a small, portable, and washable dining tray available for purchase. This $5.95 tray has a place to put food samples and has a place for your drink. If a guest doesn’t purchase this tray, they will receive their food in a cardboard carry tray and have to carry their drink. This tray allows guests to put the cardboard carry tray directly into the food section and a place for their drink. It consolidates everything into one hand instead of juggling food in one hand and drink in the other.
TIP 6: PURCHASE A FOOD AND WINE GIFT CARD
Going through the Food and Wine Festival can do some serious damage on a guest’s Disney Dining Plan snack credits even if the guest pools all of his snack credits together to use strictly for the Food and Wine Festival and guests still need to pay out-of-pocket for any alcohol selections. A good way to handle all of these purchases is with a gift card that can only be used at the Food and Wine Festival. These gift cards are available for purchase only in the World Showcase and the lowest amount that a guest can purchase is $50.
My wife used one of these gift cards for our 2013 trip and it did a good job of preserving our snack credits for snacks that we had on days where we were not at the Food and Wine Festival.
Last night, Disney released some information about booths either returning, changing, and leaving the Food and Wine Festival for 2014.
First, Brazil will return for 2014 with an all-new menu. So far, they have announced only one menu item: Mocequa de Pescado which is a fresh tilapia in a coconut sauce with steamed rice.
The Florida Fresh, one of my favorites last year, will not be returning for 2014. It will be replaced with the Farm Fresh Marketplace. Again, they have only one menu item: a bacon and eggs dish with corn, potatoes and jalapenos. Sounds like a breakfest omelette.
Also coming for 2014 will be a Patagonia booth incorporating foods from Argentina and Chile. One menu items has been announced as well: a sustainable roasted salmon with quinoa salad and arugula chimichurri. It has not been made clear as to whether is a brand new booth in addition to the Argentina booth or if this Patagonia booth will replace the Argentina booth.
That wraps up Food and Wine Festival Week. As it closer to the event and more information is announced, you can find it here.
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