Eating Around the World at the 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Hey all! Today I want to take a break from writing about my recent trip to Paris and Rome, and share a peek of what I’ve been up to since returning stateside. Blog-wise, it looks like I’ll be in Europe through the end of the year, and I’m in no hurry to stop writing about my favorite place in the world!

That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped adventuring around my adopted hometown of Orlando, however! September was a very busy, very exciting month, both in my blogging and in my personal life. It started off with the wedding of a good friend, quickly followed by Dan’s birthday weekend, and finally a visit from my younger brother Jared. September also marked the beginning of two of my favorite seasonal theme park events: Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando, and the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival at Walt Disney World! Because these events have a limited run, I wanted to jump right in and share them while they are still going strong. First up is the 2016 Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

If you’ve never heard of the festival, check out my post on the 2015 Food and Wine Fest. In that post, I cover the when and where of the festival, share some mouthwatering food pics, and offer some advice for seasoned and first-time festival-goers alike.

This is my tenth year attending the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival (what!?) and it’s an event I never tire of. Simply put, it’s a collection of themed booths scattered around Epcot’s World Showcase, each serving up a selection of food and wine that best represents the unique styles of various countries. In one afternoon, you can sample roasted duck from China, escargots from France, spanakopita from Greece, and so much more!

Croissant aux Escargots Epcot French Pavilion
Escargots in a croissant at last year’s Food & Wine Festival!

In addition to booths representing 22 countries, this year’s festival features specialty booths dedicated to wine and cheese, chocolate, local beers, champagne and desserts, and the flavors of Florida. There are even a couple of booths hosted by the television show The Chew! In total, there are 30 festival booths. (For those counting their festival stamps in confusion, I do not include stops at Refreshment Ports, Joffrey’s coffee stands, etc. They may have food and wine options, but I hardly think grapes and Mickey pretzels qualify as international food offerings.) Many of the food and drink offerings remain consistent throughout the years, while new booths and food options encourage visitors to return year after year.

I’ve been to this year’s Food and Wine Fest four times since it opened a little over two weeks ago, and I’ve had the chance to sample items from half the booths so far. I make it a goal to visit each booth at least once, and I’ll be updating this post as I add stamps to my festival passport.

Even better than an event map is the official festival passport!
Inside you’ll find listings of every country represented, its location within Epcot, and every food and drink item on offer. “Stamp” your passport and mark items off as you go!
In a change from recent years, the 2016 passport features sticker stamps. In the past, an employee at each festival booth would literally stamp the passport with ink. I like this change because it makes ordering more efficient, and I can still get “stamps” even if I accidentally leave my passport in the car.

Of course, a trip around the world can get very expensive. These sample menus, seen around World Showcase, are a good indicator of what you can expect to pay for all these tasty little morsels.

Festival menus for Australia and Mexico

My number one money saving tip here is simply to skip the drinks, which can cost upward of $10 per (sample-sized!) glass. Another good way to control festival spending is to load up a Disney gift card, available at most gift stores around the resort, and stick to the amount on that card. Of course, one of the perks of being a Walt Disney World passholder is that I can visit the festival as often as I like, and spread my spending over several trips. Money-saving tip number three is to split dishes with your friends! Between Dan and I, we usually manage to try most of the more expensive cocktails at least once, something I would not attempt on my own.

This jalapeno margarita, for example, cost $9.00! Pro tip: skip the margarita and get that chocolate flan instead. So good!

With that said, let’s quit talking and take a peek at some of this year’s festival dishes! Remember to check back for more photos as the event progresses, and comment below with your favorite festival dish!

These colorful banners around World Showcase Lagoon make for some pretty photo ops!
From Farm Fresh: Farm Fresh Chicken and Dumplings, Loaded Mac’n’Cheese, Elderberry Cider and Mango Mama Wine
New Zealand festival booth and menu
From New Zealand: Lamb Meatball with Spicy Tomato Chutney, and Steamed Green Lip Mussels with Garlic Butter and Toasted Breadcrumbs
The Islands of the Caribbean booth is technically a new addition, adopting favorite flavors from past booths, such as the Dominican Republic.
Speak of the devil! I love these little postcard details in the Islands of the Caribbean section.
From Islands of the Caribbean: Caribbean Sangria and Mojo Pork with Black Beans, Cilantro Rice, and Pickled Red Onions
The Monorail passing over Future World
From Greenhouse Guru: Duck Confit with Creamy Polenta and Fire-Roasted Salsa
Festival menus at The Chew Collective and Greenhouse Guru, just outside of Innoventions
From The Chew Collective: Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots and Feta Cheese. It might look like dog food, but this was really good!
Pretty views from the entrance to World Showcase
From Canada: Le Cellier  Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce, Cheddar Cheese Soup with Pretzel Roll, Moosehead Lager, and Neige Premiere Apple Ice Wine
These little festival trays are a handy way to carry all your festival treats, and they make for some pretty cute photos! Pictured here: Sparkling Pineapple Wine and Spicy Tuna Poke with Seaweed Salad and Nori Rice
From The Wine & Dine Studio: Seared Scallop, Truffled Celery Roof Puree, Brussels Sprouts and Wild Mushroom
Festival menus for Desserts & Champagne (hellooo pricey) and The Wine & Dine Studio
Pretty views over World Showcase Lagoon.
From Greece: Greek Nachos and Chicken Gyro. These nachos are probably my favorite new addition to the 2016 festival!
Festival merchandise inside the Mouse Gears store. I’ve already picked up a Figment mug (not pictured here) and have my eye on one of those Festival t-shirts!
Don’t waste your time on these hummus fries from Morocco. They were essentially giant croutons with diced cucumber. The Moroccan Sangria and Casa Pale Lager, on the other hand, were fantastic!
The view over World Showcase, seen from a snacking table by the Greece and Canada booths

And while you might not guess it from the name, there’s more to the Food and Wine Festival than…well, food and wine. There are concerts, drink seminars, cooking classes, meet and greets, and even entire wine bottles for sale. Not to mention, all the everyday attractions of Epcot remain open, such as the newly revamped Soarin. I recommend a ride on Living With the Land for a firsthand look at where a lot of the Festival food is grown. I won’t talk too much on those topics here, but if you are curious about all the extra features of the annual International Food & Wine Festival, make sure to check out my 2015 Festival Roundup!

Additional photos will be posted below as I make my way around the world, so make sure to check back often for more! This year’s festival runs through November 14, 2016, so there’s still plenty of time to get out there and taste the world for yourself. I’ll see you there!

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