For me, fall is the most magical time of the year at Walt Disney World thanks to my favorite event: The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival!
You probably know all about the Marketplace Booths and Eat to The Beat Concerts at the festival. But how familiar are you with all the ways to “plus” your experience at Food & Wine?
In this post, I’ll highlight three different types of special experiences you can have at the Festival: Low-Cost Seminars, Special Events, and Dining Packages. All of these require advance reservations, so I’ll show you how to make reservations and even how to get discounts and priority booking if you are a DVC Member!
The festival runs a record 75 days this year, from August 31st to November 13th, so you’ll have lots of opportunities to try something new.
The easiest way to get beyond the booths at Food & Wine is to attend a low-cost seminar. These 45-minute seminars take place in the Festival Center every day during the festival and cost $17 each. If you are a DVC Member who qualifies for Membership Extras (i.e. bought directly from Disney or resale prior to April 4, 2016) you’ll get a $2 discount on seminars held Mondays through Thursdays. You also qualify for this discount if you are a Annual Passholder, Table in Wonderland member, or Golden Oak Resident (no discounts for Chase Visa Cardholders this year, though).
You can learn some kitchen wisdom straight from a chef and get treated to a special dish at a Culinary Demonstration. These take place at 2:30 pm every day of the festival, with an additional seminar at 12:15 on Fridays through Sunday. Get the full schedule here once it is live.
Or you can enjoy samples of your favorite adult beverage while you learn from an expert at a Beverage Seminar. Topics include wine, beer, and spirits, and the seminars take place at 1:30 and 3:30 pm daily, with an additional seminar at 5:00 pm Fridays through Sundays. Get the full schedule of Beverage Seminars here once it is live.
DVC Members, along with Annual Passholders and Table in Wonderland members, have access to a special early booking window for these seminars. Some fill up VERY quickly so I suggest making your reservation as soon as possible!
Early booking starts Tuesday, July 18th at 9:00 am. Call DVC Member Services at 800-800-9800 if you want to get your DVC discount. If you are an Annual Passholder, you can call 800-WDW-FEST to book. General booking starts Thursday, July 20th at 7:00 am and you can book both online (on the Disney Dining Reservations page and in the My Disney Experience App) and over the phone – but if you want your $2 per seminar discount, you’ll have to call.
Looking for something a little more involved than a Culinary Demonstration? There are MANY Special Events offered as part of Food & Wine Festival, both in Epcot and around Disney property. These events are costly but will likely be the highlight of your Food & Wine Festival experience!
And, in years past DVC Members (along with Annual Passholders, Tables in Wonderland members, and Golden Oak residents) only got the early booking window for Low-Cost Seminars and Party For The Senses. But this year, early booking is available for ALL of the events listed below! Thanks for the heads up, Disney Food Blog! This means you can book any of these events starting at 9:00 am on July 18th with a call to Member Services.
I’ve summarized all of the Special Events below, ranked in order from least to most expensive. They run from $40 all the way up to $650, with most event $99 and under. Click the event title to get all of the details.
- Epcot Specialty Dining & Pairings: $40 – $160; in France, Japan, Morocco, Italy, and Mexico Pavilions at various times
- Mix It! Make It! Celebrate It! Hands-On Workshops: $49 per person, Festival Center every Monday through Thursday from 12:15 to 1:30 pm
- Wine & Cheese Pairing Seminars: $89 per person, Festival Center on select Saturdays from 9:45 am to 11:15 am
- What’s Cooking With… $129 per person, Festival Center on select Fridays and Saturdays
- Party For The Senses: $179 – $329 per person, World ShowPlace Event Pavilion (between Canada and UK pavilions) on select Saturdays from 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm
- Resort Signature Dining Experiences: $75 – $650 per person, at Disney Deluxe Resorts and Disney Springs at various times
- Ultimate VIP Tour Experience: $399 per person ($339 if you are a DVC Member, Annual Passholder, or Disney Visa Cardholder), from 9:00 am on select Fridays
This year there is a special block of 50 seats reserved just for DVC Members at the September 23rd and October 21st Party for the Senses! DVC Members who book from the reserved seating block will also receive a complimentary wine glass specially designed for the event. Call DVC Member Service (800-800-9800) to book starting at 9:00 am on July 18th.
Eat to the Beat Dining Packages
I got to experience an Eat to the Beat Concert at last year’s festival and it was so much fun! You can view the full line-up of the Eat to the Beat Concerts over at the Disney Food Blog. There are three concerts every night of the festival at 5:30, 6:45, and 8:00 pm. Seating is first-come, first-served, and sometimes there are people lined up all the way to Italy waiting for a seat at these concerts!
One final way to plus your experience at Food & Wine is to purchase an Eat to the Beat Dining Package, which includes preferred seating for the concert. If there is an act that you really want to see (which would be The Pointer Sisters for me, by the way), I suggest booking a package to avoid potentially missing out on a seat after a long wait.
Eat to the beat Dining Packages are offered at 15 restaurants around Epcot and you can choose from lunch or dinner (and even breakfast at The Garden Grill). The cost for these packages ranges from $43 per adult for breakfast at The Garden Grill up to $80 per adult for dinner at La Hacienda de San Angel. Dining reservations must be at least 2.5 hours before the concert start time.
The cost of the package at some of these locations is only slightly more than the meal itself, so they can be a great deal if you want to check out the evening concert as well. You can book a Dining Package online, in the My Disney Experience app, or over the phone at 800-WDW-FEST. You can also use the Disney Dining Plan for these packages, all of which are two Table Service credits on the plan.
I hope this post helped summarize all of the ways you can go beyond the booths at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message on The Frugal South Facebook page and I’ll get back to you right away!