Our family loves vacationing at Walt Disney World in the fall. The weather’s perfect, the crowds aren’t as bad as in the summer, and Disney creates some unique experiences this time of year. Last week, I wrote about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party – more specifically, about the crazy adult costumes you see there. While the Halloween Party takes place at the Magic Kingdom, another event at Epcot provides a different kind of delight for a more grown up crowd. The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival offers guests a worldwide experience of unusual flavors and native dishes.
This year’s festival, which runs from September 27-November 11, includes 30 pavilions featuring carefully chosen dishes from across the globe as well as booths for local specialties and items for those with special dietary needs. Each week the festival hosts celebrity chefs and winemakers in addition to once-in-a-lifetime culinary experiences. Many of the dishes in the pavilions are tapas-sized portions at reasonable prices.
This event has made its home at Epcot for 18 years now, and this year Scotland became the newest addition to the festival. Some of the booths offered tantalizing choices, including:
Australia, Introduced: 1997
- Garlic Shrimp with Roasted Tomatoes, Lemon Myrtle and Rapini – $4.50
- Pavlova (Crispy Meringue Shell with Fresh Driscoll’s® Berries and Vanilla Custard) – $3.25
Brazil, Introduced: 1996
- Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Onions, Avocado and Cilantro – $5.25
Florida Local, Introduced: 2012
- Florida Grass Fed Beef Slider with Monterey Jack and Sweet & Hot Pickles – $3.75
- Florida Orange Groves, Key Lime Wine – $2.75
Hawai’i, Introduced: 2011
- Kālua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole® Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise – $3.50
Mexico, Introduced: 1996
- Shrimp Taco with Purple Cabbage – $5.50
- Taco de Ribeye with Salsa de Chipotle – $5.50
Singapore, Introduced: 2005
- Lemongrass Chicken Curry with Coconut and Jasmine Rice – $4.25
The booths are scattered throughout World Showcase, while other events take place in the former Wonders of Life pavilion at Future World. This space hosts events featuring celebrity chefs like Jamie Deen and Buddy Valastro and mixologist Bridget Albert. Guests can also enjoy other, higher priced seminars like a $75 cheese lecture and an $80 exploration of chocolate. However, “Discover the Cranberry,” located in a makeshift cranberry bog between Future World and World Showcase, is free for obvious reasons.
I looked forward to sampling several of the dishes as soon as I heard about this year’s menu. I had my eyes on at least three or four menu items that I wanted to try. Unfortunately, thanks to my newfound commitment to weight loss (totally worth doing without) and the fastest-walking family in the history of Epcot, I was only able to eat Brazil’s Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Onions, Avocado, and Cilantro. The dish was everything I imagined it would be – except crispy. Hopefully by next year I’ll have reached my 50 pound goal and can afford to try more great food.
The Food & Wine Festival is yet another reason why Fall is a wonderful time to visit Walt Disney World. I can’t think of a better time and place for guests to spread their wings and give some new dishes a try.