EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival is one of the most popular time of year for EPCOT. Vacationers and Orlando locals, alike, flock to the theme park to enjoy the international cuisine offered by the festival. This year’s festival is the longest on record starting on August 31 and ending on November 13. The festival is filled with special demonstrations, concerts, along with more than 50 booths scattered through the World Showcase and now into Future World. All of these events bring lots of people. What are some good ways to avoid the crowds and get the most out of the festival?
Tip 1: GO DURING THE MIDDLE OF THE WEEK (IF POSSIBLE)
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 more time waiting in line and less time sampling the food and potentially visiting less booths. 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.
If you must go during the weekend, try to split up into two days. Spend one day sampling food from one side of the World Showcase and the other day sample food from the other side. It will make things seem less overwhelming.
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 for the 2015 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 first booth. In 2015, that first booth was Farm Fresh. Guests will start at Farm Fresh 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.
With the addition of booths in the Future World part of EPCOT, there is now a second alternative to entering the World Showcase part of the Festival. These are the walking shortcuts from The Land Pavilion or Odyssey into the World Showcase. These areas now have booths lining the walkways. This makes these paths an easy way to knock out of couple of booths before hitting the main attraction…The World Showcase.
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.
For more ways to manage the crowds at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!