Eating my way around the world

Advice on conquering Epcot's food and wine festival

Audrey Taylor, Staffer

If the idea of eating food from around the world until you are too full to move sounds like the perfect vacation, the Epcot food and wine festival is the ideal place to go. Even after attending the event for many years, I can’t manage to escape the inevitable food coma. At the festival, Epcot creates over 40 stands with food ranging from India to Norway and even a chocolate studio. 

For the past two years, I’ve been to the event the same weekend and noticed a drop in the amount of people attending. The crowds were smaller, and the lines were shorter. The sparsely populated streets were a surprising change from the typical sardine-packed Disney crowdsbut not an unwelcome one, as it made my trip more relaxed. Since the event is during the fall from Aug. 29 to Nov. 23, the weather is more pleasant for outdoor activities than the spring and summer.  

 Having gone to the festival for many years, my family has learned the foods that are worth having and which ones are worth missing. While we love Indian food of any kind, we learned last year that the red curry offered was bland and not worth the money. 

However, the other dish in India – Korma chicken – is one of our favorite meals. We’ve also learned to go with our instincts when deciding on food. The line for the Italy booth was twice the length of every other line, and the pictures of the menu weren’t as appealing as the description, so we skipped that booth this year. 

If you are planning to attend the event, there are some essential tips to remember. While it may seem obvious, don’t go to any of the restaurants. Despite the many food options, the restaurants were full. Attending the festival almost seems pointless if you don’t gorge yourself on as many different dishes as possible.  

Another tip is that countries like Ireland, France and Hawaii have more dessert than China and Africa, which tend to be all main courses. Knowing this is important while choosing what direction to walk around the lake. We typically start left and walk around the world, beginning with the main dishes and end with the dessert. Of course, if your dream is to please your inner child and have dessert first, right is the way you should go. 

An essential part of planning this trip is knowing who to take with you. Planning what to eat can be a challenge with six or more people. However, only having one other person means more food and fewer dishes you get to try. I go with my family, so there are four people total. Some dishes we split four ways or maybe just between two people. When the group is between three to five people, everyone can try everything without having to commit to finishing an entire dish.

It’s important to be adventurous when trying new dishes. There are many exciting options, and there’s something for everyone. Despite the food coming from different countries, it’s somewhat Americanized. They try to keep as much tradition as they can, but to please the masses, they keep it simple.  

This is why I advise even unadventurous eaters to try new dishes because there isn’t a concern of eating unfamiliar meat or extremely spicy dishes. When choosing what to eat, it’s also important to save room for all the options. If you try a sample that you don’t like, it’s not worth it to finish it because there are many more dishes to try. 

While the buildings and scenery at Epcot are beautiful, there is a shortage of tables for the number of people eating. Most tables are along the pathway in the sun and without chairs. This making seat planning and hunting important. My family always stops in Norway for their air-conditioned restrooms that make it seem like you’re actually in Norway and the shaded areas that are perfect for resting. Finding the ideal place to eat is vital to making the day as relaxed as possible. 

 The perfect strategy when dealing with lines is to divide and conquer. Most of the countries are pretty close together. A good idea is to find a table in between two, have one person go to each booth, and meet back in the middle to eat multiple dishes at once.  

This is especially helpful at our favorite resting point, America. It may seem pointless to have a booth dedicated to America, but the mouth-watering New Brunswick slider proved that idea wrong. Plus, there are ample restrooms and many picnic tables that are all shaded. Most of the time, there is a seat waiting for you. America is in a great area, in between Spain, Italy and Japan. Even if the idea of more American food bores you, it’s a cool place to split up and bring food back. 

 There are many things to love about the Epcot Food and Wine festival, but the price is not one of them. Despite it being much cheaper than flying to every country you eat at, it’s still expensive. Ticket prices alone are pricey, but you also have to factor in the food and drink prices.  

An eco-friendly way to help the price slightly is to bring a reusable water bottle since most restrooms have nearby water fountains. We didn’t realize this until recently and used to waste money by buying water from the booths. However, if the price is feasible, it’s definitely worth the trip and is a tasting experience like no other.