Like a fine wine that improves with age, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival celebrates 15 years Oct. 1-Nov. 14 with an unrivaled global tasting experience.
Where on the planet can foodies sample the cuisine, culture and entertainment of more than two dozen countries during a 1.3-mile stroll around a picturesque 40-acre lagoon? Only at Walt Disney World Resort, where more than 25 international marketplaces around the World Showcase promenade at Epcot invite guests to taste tapas-sized portions and sip wines, beers and spirits from six continents.
This year, Disney and celebrity chefs are teaming with winemakers and brew masters from around the world to commemorate 15 years of Delicious Discoveries. During the six-week festival, guests will discover:
- Two new tasting marketplaces – Belgium and South Korea –plus new menu offerings at popular returning marketplaces including Singapore, Argentina, Chile, Poland, South Africa, Australia, U.S.A., Spain and others.
- Celebrity chef appearances starring top culinarians like Warren Brown, Cat Cora, Todd English, Gale Gand, Robert Irvine, Art Smith, Andrew Zimmern and more.
- A complimentary Marketplace Discovery Passport to be stamped at each international marketplace visited for the perfect scrapbook souvenir.
- Daily wine seminars, bottle signings, author events and culinary demonstrations at the Festival Welcome Center.
- Eat to the Beat! concerts three times nightly at America Gardens Theatre.
- Two Epcot restaurants grand opening just in time for the festival: Via Napoli at the Italy pavilion and La Hacienda de San Angel at the Mexico pavilion.
Whether sampling steamed mussels with roasted garlic cream at the new Belgium marketplace or sipping the trendiest wines from South Africa and Chile, festival guests can make a day of grazing their way around the World Showcase promenade. Tapas-sized portions of regional specialties run $3-to-$8 each, and recommended wines and beers make perfect pairings at each marketplace. To make grazing simpler and more fun, guests can purchase a festival-themed mini-Disney Gift Card that can be loaded and reloaded at several park locations. The card comes attached to a band that can be worn conveniently on the wrist and used for purchases at park marketplaces, restaurants and shops.
Live regional entertainment includes music, acrobatics and improv performances along the promenade. Evening Eat to the Beat! concerts at America Gardens Theatre feature acts from many musical genres. Appearing for the first time on the Eat to the Beat! stage are: Sugar Ray, Air Supply, Howard Jones, 38 Special, Roger Hodgson (formerly of Supertramp,) Hanson and Rick Springfield. Kicking off the festival Oct. 1-3 is fan-favorite Taylor Dayne, and wrapping the event Nov. 12-14 is crowd-pleaser Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.
Each fall, the festival attracts a diverse audience of more than 1 million guests ranging from wine connoisseurs and epicures to novices wishing to boost their culinary IQs. Special culinary programs showcase a lineup of renowned winemakers, guest chefs and speakers participating in elegant dinners, luncheons, seminars and wine schools.
Festival highlights include:
- The Festival Welcome Center, with a Wine Bar, Authentic Taste Seminars, Authors Without Borders weekend conversations and more.
- Some 250 chefs including Disney chefs and guest chefs from across the country conducting culinary demonstrations and hosting dinners and tasting events. Guest chefs on tap include Debbie Gold, Rock Harper, Jeff Henderson, Robin Miller, Jamie Deen and many other culinary stars.
- New events that include 3-D Disney’s Dessert Discovery and a festival preview night, First Bites Opening Reception, on Sept. 30.
- Popular returning events that include Celebrating Family and Friends in the Kitchen, Epcot Wine Schools, Mexico Tequila Tastings and Food and Wine Pairings.
- The weekly Party for the Senses grand tasting event with tempting bites from eminent chefs, more than 50 wines and beers and live entertainment.
The Party for the Senses grand tasting events and other special wine and culinary programs require reservations and separate event admission. Guests can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) for information and to make reservations for special events and programs. Festival details should be available at www.disneyworld.com/foodandwine by mid-July.