This past weekend marked my 4th consecutive year attending the Epcot Food and Wine Festival in Orlando, Florida so naturally that makes me a stone-cold expert. If you don’t know anything about this, do yourself a favor and check out my thorough guide to the Festival and visiting 20+ countries in 1 day and mark it on your calendar for next fall. Seriously, you’ll thank me; we all know Disney kicks ass at everything.
You get to sample food and beverage from 23 different countries and 13 other miscellaneous booths dedicated to things like craft beer, all vegetarian and vegan items, and dessert and champagne. Bubbles for everyone! So now in preparation for your trip next year I’d like to share with you a list of dos and don’ts for attending. So please, sit back, relax, and don’t eat my cookie.
DO MAKE MATCHING SHIRTS.
However, you might need to experience the fest at least once before you can decide on an accurate representation for your shirt. The best one from last year was “Keep Calm and Make it to Mexico”… because apparently they never could. Tequila flights, an active volcano, gargantuan sombreros? ¡Lo siento muchachos! This year we chose “Best. Day. Ever.” because that is what we have officially taken to calling it. It also helps to identify members of your group through the Hoegaarden haze.
Find out where I get my shirts made on my travel gear + resources page.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO LOOK LIKE A LOSER.
Trust me, you will be cooler than everyone else. It’s like that time you teased your bangs for school picture day. Or that time you dressed like a cowgirl and sign-languaged Billy Ray Cyrus’s “Achy Breaky Heart” in the school talent show. Or that time you had a Free Willy themed birthday party.
DO GET THESE SHOES!
You’re looking at the Adidas NEO Women’s Lite Racer Casual Sneaker and it’s the most excited I’ve been about a shoe since that time that prince came to my house with the one I’d been missing. These sneakers are PERFECT for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival — they’re made with “cloudfoam” which I assume is the let’s-try-to-rebrand-memory-foam way of saying “memory foam” so they’re ridiculously comfortable and seemingly made for theme parks. Plus, THEY ARE SPACESHIP EARTH.
But hurry because they are going FAST.
DO GET A PASSPORT UPON ARRIVAL.
You can pick one up at any of the food kiosks and get it stamped at all of them. Each country you visit has an accompanying page with their menu items listed that you can check off. This comes in handy later after you’ve had one too many Xingus and can’t remember “that awesome thing I had at New Zealand!” Sometimes they even let you stamp them yourself. It’s pretty much the most fun thing ever in the history of time.
DON’T GO ON A WEEKEND.
We did this year because we planned our dates around the Eat to the Beat series. However, I would advise against it. There were billions of people and Miss Thang don’t take too kindly to waitin’ in lines. Or tripping over toddlers. Or showing up in the background of too many people’s photos shoveling a chocolate and whipped cream covered Belgian waffle into her mouth. I mean SHOVELING. I have witnesses.
DO WATCH THE EAT TO THE BEAT CONCERT.
Whether or not you plan your trip around it, you should definitely check it out. One year the Saved By the Bell gods smiled down on me and I got to see The Pointers Sisters. And if you must know, yes, I was so excited, and not at all scared. The next year I rocked out hardcore to Boyz II Men. Ya know, because I am so Motown Philly. After that was an incredible bonding experience at Starship. But is there really any other kind of experience at a Starship concert? Last year was an incredibly hilarious time at the Spin Doctors show; that is a story for another day. Which brings us to 2014, the year of 38 Special. Those guys nailed it, even in the face of utter loserdom. Which brings me to…
DON’T GIVE A SHIT THAT EVERYONE IS SITTING DOWN BUT YOU WANT TO DANCE.
Please, by all means, get up and shake dat ass. There are a number of things that seemingly occur year after year:
- The old geezers in the crowd get confused and think they are attending a wine tasting with a loud introduction to Chiantis?
- Everyone is so tired (ahem, inebriated) at this point that they just want to take advantage of the overabundance of seating?
- The marketing department accidently prints Michael Bolton’s name on the advertisements?
- They’ve fallen and they can’t get up?
- You find yourself in the middle of some serious peaceful protesting? RIP Maelstrom.
- Something to do with Frozen.
Whatever the reason, the rowdy crowd you’ve been powering through all day suddenly gets super boring when the band plays. These are folks who have actually been waiting in line to get a seat near the stage. After eight hours of tossing back Dragon Berry Refreshers and devouring waffles, I couldn’t sit still if my life depended on it.
So if you find yourself in the same situation, embrace the dancing bug! There may be staring. There may be eye rolling. There may be some a-hole shouting things like, “Have some class, people!” Just ignore them; this is Disney! The happiest, most magical place on Earth! And by “magical” I mean your moves look more Beyoncé and less white-girl-rendition of “The Carlton”.
DO ENTER THROUGH THE BACK.
Don’t enter through the main entrance just because that is what everyone else is doing; your mother wouldn’t like that. There is a back entrance that puts you at Ireland upon entering. But don’t worry, there aren’t any shady fellas selling stereo parts out of their trunks or hobos making fires in trash cans. Oh, did I mention there is never a line to get in? Or that since everyone enters through the front a serious bottleneck situation occurs full of up-too-early, espresso-deprived, hangry individuals? You don’t want to be anywhere near that (trust me, I’m the hangriest). Start at the back, enjoy your breakfast Guinness in peace and by the time you make it around to the front, the crazies have moved on and everything flows perfectly.
DON’T RELY ON THE WEBSITE PHOTOS FOR AN ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT.
Sure you may encounter the few of these sorts who have mistakenly wandered into the rock-n-roll show, understandably, but this is not the majority. Clearly the powers-that-be at EPCOT originally intended the Food & Wine Festival to be somewhat of a sophisticated event? This is not real life. Real life is way better. The chicken dance, grown-ups atop other grown-ups shoulders (guiltyyyy), aforementioned dancing, wearing comically large hats, Bärenjäger shots, pretending to speak 25 languages, eating so much you thank the gods for elastic waistbands… see how sophisticated we are? You are going to see a lot of color, a lot of the I’m-on-vacation! kind of fun being had, some “woo girls”, and many, many fanny packs.
UPDATE: I would like to add that there is one spot-on representation on the website. See below…
See how everyone is sitting down during the show except for these two crazy fools? Yeah, that’s accurate. Photoshopped, but accurate all the same.
DO GET YOUR PHOTO TAKEN WITH MEXICAN DONALD.
No reason in particular. This is just something I always end up doing. Every time. He’s pretty funny and appreciates a good sombrero.
DON’T LEAVE YOUR FOOD UNATTENDED. AN IBIS WILL TAKE IT.
This is standard Florida rule. I saw one carry away 50% of a fish and chips platter while the owner was most likely instagramming a picture of it. They have seriously long beaks y’all.
DO STAY AT AN EPCOT RESORT.
Let’s see… 12 hours of continuous drinking and merriment…yeah… Staying at a resort you can walk to is the only thing that makes sense. Not like the time you drove across Italy without a map or a cell phone. Or that time you dissed Channing Tatum to his face. D’oh! Personally, I prefer the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. Some years I stay at the Swan, others the Dolphin… it’s whatev.
Here, lemme help you…
DON’T RELY ON A BUDGET.
I recently read an article about the top tips for attending the festival and one of them addressed sticking to a budget. Poppycock! Rubbish! Balderdash! Here’s what you need to know: you are going to spend a lot of money here. OK, not LeBron James money, but maybe Kalin Lucas, the 399th highest paid player in the NBA, money. Just be prepared, save more than you think you will need, and order what you want without limiting yourself. There are too many delicious things to consume! This is the happiest place on Earth and there is no room for anxiety, regret, or panic. There is only room for excitement, giggles, and the occasional public mocking.
I hope this list will help you in your preparations for next year (or for the next few days if you have procrastinated that harshly). I have plenty more tips if you would like them as my expertise knows no bounds!
Check out Foodie and the Feast // 20 Countries in 1 Day at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, the 2015 followup to this article!
Have you ever been to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival? What dos and don’ts would you recommend?
FOR YOUR PINNING PLEASURE!
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