Easily one of the most anticipated American food festivals of the year, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando is a food-lover’s dream. A celebration of food and drink from around the world, it offers festival-goers tapas-size dishes paired with cocktails, wine, or craft beer from more than 30 global marketplaces.
I visited the festival on what was an unusually cool but sunny day for Orlando, and my experience was nothing short of magical. With a group of friends in tow, I made my way past Spaceship Earth (the huge geodesic sphere of awesomeness Epcot is famously known for) to start our foodie journey around the World Showcase Lagoon. Our strategy was simple: Start at one end of the lagoon and visit every kiosk until we made it to the other end.
Around the lagoon were kiosks representing 19 different countries, along with additional kiosks serving wine and cheese, craft beers, and desserts. The scenery was breathtaking, as each country was represented by not only food and drink, but also by iconic landmarks associated with each. Views of the Eiffel Tower, Japanese temples, and Italy’s Doge’s Palace made it feel as if we had indeed traveled to each country, making the experience that much more rewarding.
We ate our way through the islands of the Caribbean with samplings of flavorful mojo pork and a very refreshing frozen mojito, then on to South Korea for their Korean-style barbecue beef with cucumber kimchi, which paired perfectly with a sweet and slightly boozy soju (Korean spirits) fruit slushy. Each dish was just enough to give you a taste of the region without giving you too much to eat.
Some of my other must-try items from the festival were the loaded mac and cheese from Farm Fresh Showcase Plaza and the spicy hummus fries from the Morocco kiosk. Both were incredibly flavorful, and they represented their regions well. My must-try booze recommendation was, hands down, the Le Passion martini slush from France: Grey Goose Le Citron Vodka, cranberry juice, and passion fruit juice — incredibly delicious!
In between stuffing our faces, there was ample opportunity to take breaks for shopping and enjoying some of the rides. My group and I checked out Soarin’, Test Track, and Mission Space, all really fun. It was nice to take a break from the food because after the rides our appetites were back and ready for more.
Ending the festival on a sweet note is something I recommend. For that we visited the Chocolate Studio where we indulged in a liquid nitro chocolate-almond truffle with warm whiskey caramel. It was the perfect way to end the day sampling foods from all over the world — sweet and satisfying.
When you’re not visiting the festival, the perfect hotel to stay in is the TownPlace Suites Orlando Marriott at Flamingo’s Crossings. Just a few minutes from the Western entrance of Magic Kingdom park, the hotel offers a shuttle that will take you to and from all the parks! Not only that, but the brand new hotel has no resort fee, complimentary parking, as well as complimentary hot breakfast! It’s the perfect place to stay with your family as the rooms are spacious and have full kitchens. There’s also an on property pool side bar and grill perfect for getting drinks and dinner without having to travel far; they make a great mojito! TownPlace Suites also has an answer for all your Disney Questions, and there’s a Disney info center located in the lobby where they can help you plan your trips to all the Disney parks!
The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which opened Sept. 14, runs through Nov. 16 this year.