Every year, the Walt Disney World Resort hosts the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival where guests can go on a culinary journey through food and drink. Tastes from around the world are available to sample and while a leisurely stroll is ideal, it’s not always possible. Having just a one hour stopover for this crave-worthy event, I knew I had to make the most of my time.
Armed with a plan, good running shoes and an empty stomach, I was able to try a variety of delectable dishes and still feel satisfied and accomplished. Here are my five tips for mastering the best of Epcot Food & Wine in under an hour. On your mark, get set, eat!
Have a Plan
With limited time, the first thing you should do is pick up a free Marketplace Discovery Passport. It features pages with all 30 festival marketplaces and what they will be serving. Choose 4 “must eat” dishes and take note of where they are on the map. It’s a one mile walk around Epcot World Showcase and if you want ravioli in Italy and tacos in Mexico, know that you’re going to have to run for it to get from one place to the other to maximize your time.
Carry Utensils on You
Keeping plastic forks, knives, spoons and napkins on your person will cut down on the time you’ll spend waiting in line to pick one up at a utensils station. This way you can just grab your food and move on to the next area. Note: ditch the chopsticks and shove the sushi right into your mouth-hole. No time to waste here. Even when I’m not doing Food & Wine Fest, I always have a fork in my purse, because you never know when you’re going to happen upon a rogue donut that you just can’t resist. This happens to me more times than I can tell you.
Find a Comparable Eating Partner
This is the most important tip. If you’re not going it alone, make sure you find a friend to go with you who has the same likes and same drive to eat all the things. Will this eating partner have your back if you do a trust fall into Cheddar Cheese Soup? Will they pass you a roasted duck bun, baton-style like you’re running track and field as you zip through the World Pavilions? Most importantly, will they not judge as you shove a croissant donut in your mouth as you head to the France Pavilion for even more desserts? If you answered yes to all of these things, you’ve not only found your Food & Wine Fest partner but you’ve found a friend for life.
Divide and Conquer
Now that you’ve chosen your dining/running partner, it’s time to divvy things up. As you make your purchases at the Global Marketplaces, buy a variety of dishes and then share, share, share. Most samples are generous and easily offer up more than a taste. Here’s where those utensils come in handy: split the dish, eat on the go, and then exchange dishes for a taste of both. Yes, all of this should be done while running.
Pass on Local-to-You Dishes
To put it simply, if your hometown is known for having the world’s best tacos or their cannolis are renouned, then you should pass on those items and focus on things you wouldn’t normally have access to. Case in point, LA has some of the best Korean food outside of Seoul and since I eat it regularly, placing the Korean Pavilion low on my eating timeline would be a better bet for being able to try new things. Instead, I might put the roasted pork from the Dominican Republic or Moraccan Kefta a little higher on the priority list.
Save the Desserts for Later
As someone who often eats desserts as a main course, I’m going to give you some controversial advice here: skip the sweets. While the offerings are certainly stop-worthy, time is of the essence and incredible Disney desserts are available elsewhere after the festival has long gone. Dole Whip, French pastries at Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in the France Pavilion, and mochi ice cream in the Japan Pavilion are all excellent confections worthy of picking up later on. So when you’re doing Epcot Food & Wine, save that extra stomach space and go for the savory.
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival goes until November 16th. For more information on tickets, maps and all the eats, go to the Walt Disney World website.
Disclosure: Disney provided travel and items for review with no compensation. All opinions are my own.
Images: Jenn Fujikawa