The 24th International Epcot Food & Wine Festival is in full swing. This year, visitors are able to enjoy the festival for a total of 87 days, the longest run since its start in 1995! Liliane Opsomer, coauthor of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids, shares with us her impressions when visiting the festival on opening day.
Booths set up all around World Showcase, in Future World, offer mouthwatering delicacies dished out by celebrity chefs. Brand-new marketplaces this year are the Appleseed Orchard Marketplace inside the entrance to the O Canada! theater next to the Le Cellier Steakhouse, and the Alps Marketplace near the Norway pavilion.
The Appleseed Orchard Marketplace features a cider bar with a selection of ciders and apple-infused beers, as well as a wine bar. A charcuterie plate nicely compliments the beer and apple cider flights.
Kids will love the non-alcoholic frozen apple pie drink and the caramel popcorn served in a keepsake apple. Everybody will love the fact that this location is indoors and offers a welcome respite from the Florida heat and daily downpours.
Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese with Baby Potatoes, Cornichons, and Baguette and a Venison Stew with Crushed Potatoes are served at The Alps booth. Here I recommend you stick with the Venison Stew.
Some of my favorite dishes were the Lump Crab Cake with Napa Cabbage Slaw and Avocado-Lemongrass Cream and the Baked Shrimp and Scallop Scampi Dip served at Coastal East. Also delicious and perfectly cooked, which is no easy task at a festival, was the Spice-crusted Verlasso Salmon with a Quinoa & Ancient Grains Medley, Crushed Avocado, and Sherry Vinegar from Active Eats.
I also enjoyed the Kenyan Coffee Barbecue Beef Tenderloin with Sweet Potato and Corn Mealie Pap and Kachumbari Slaw, and the Piri Piri Skewered Shrimp, both from the African booth.
Refreshing and tasty was the Shrimp and Cold Noodle Salad from the Thailand booth, which, paired with a Singha Lager, was the perfect dish on hot summer day.
There are plenty of food items that kids will like, and the outdoor kitchens are the best places to introduce children to the cuisines of other nations without paying for a full meal. The festival passport marks kids-approved dishes with a smiling strawberry.
If nothing else, kids will not say no to Belgian Waffles with Berry Compote and Whipped Cream. I would have tried the Beer-braised Beef dish, but the addition of smoked Gouda to the mashed potatoes did not sit right with yours truly, a Belgian American! I love Gouda, but I would never put it in a dish paired with a beer-braised beef stew. I can also attest that the proper Belgian way to serve this Brussels waffle is with a simple dusting of powdered sugar, or with a little whipped cream and a few sliced fresh strawberries. Did you know that the Belgian waffle made its first American appearance at the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle?
A great family activity is the Candy Sushi class ($10 for guests of all ages), held twice daily at Sunshine Seasons inside the Land Pavilion.
The Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt ($6.99 plus tax) is also very popular with the younger crowd. The Ratatouille-inspired adventure lets kids hunt for statuettes of Remy hidden throughout World Showcase and the Global Marketplaces. Armed with stickers and a map, kids have to match the ingredient stickers to the map. Upon completion of the task, they present the map at Port of Entry for a choice of one of four drinking cups. Check out all kid-friendly activities here.
Admission to the festival and the Eat to the Beat concerts is included in your park ticket. Eat to the Beat Concerts are held daily through November 19th. Showtimes are 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays, and 6:30 p.m., 7:45 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Here is the lineup of upcoming concerts.
Food at the booths ranges between $4 to $9. In addition to the food booths and the Eat to the Beat concerts, the festival offers many special programs such as signature dinners, culinary demonstrations, and much more. These are an additional charge. For a complete list of events surrounding the festival and all menus, visit here. Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival runs now through November 23rd.