Every year Walt Disney World presents the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival – but if you only attend that, you are missing out. The Epcot Food and Wine Festival doesn’t have an “all you can eat and drink” option around World Showcase. But the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic fills that gap nicely.
For two nights, the causeway between the Swan and the Dolphin hotels on Walt Disney World property are set up with more than 40 food and wine stations where you can eat and drink as much as your stomach can handle for a single ticket price. The Swan and Dolphin Classic doesn’t just offer that but also live music, food and wine seminars and a chance to meet some of the famous chefs from their restaurants.
Last night was the first night and a great success. The Classic is held on 10/31 and 11/1 (tonight). Its $95 ticket includes a wristband that gives you access to unlimited food and drinks such as beer, wine and sake between 5:30-9pm. And talking about the food, these aren’t just simple dishes but culinary masterpieces from restaurant chefs like of Todd English and restaurants like Shula’s Steakhouse and Kimonos.
At each night of the Food and Wine Classic they serve a different type of menu so attending both days could be a good idea to make sure you don’t miss any of the delicious food.
When the event started the sun was slowly making its way down and it was looking to be a gorgeous evening. I arrived around 5:40 and to my delight not a lot of guests had showed up so far. Even though there are over 40 booths, the lines can get quite long during the night so arriving early is definitely recommended.
My first stop for the night was the new for this year Terrace Beer Garden, which you can enjoy if you upgrade your ticket. The Beer Garden was a nice enclosed area with many different beers to try and some fantastic food too, like Warm Soft Pretzels with Mustard and German Style Sausage with Potato Salad.
One interesting beer was Game of Thrones themed from the Brewery Ommegang. It was definitely a favorable ale.
My next stop was Kimonos for some Dragon Roll Sushi – a nice sample size portion of really fresh tasting sushi. When I went back for more later in the evening the portion sizes had grown even larger, as they were trying to not have food left over.
Right next to the sushi you could also try some sake from Ty Ku. Sake is really not my cup of tea, but a nice option if you want to try something other than wine and beer during the evening.
Next I tried one of my favorites of the night, Handcrafted Bacon with sweet potato puree from Cib’s Smokehouse. How can you not love bacon? This particular bacon was in a class by itself, a big chunk that was quite juicy and full of flavor. This was a booth I definitely needed to visit more than once.
Another fantastic food booth was the Cabot Cheese Food Truck, serving up nice cheese bites plus mac and cheese made with a combination of their most popular cheeses.
Chef Todd English is one of the famous chefs on hand to greet guests and serve food at the event. He is very hands-on with the preparation of his food but still makes time to pose for pictures and sign autographs for excited guests.
He was serving 4 different types of seafood: Fluke, Tuna Tataki, Pine Island Shrimp and a Lobster Shot, food that will surely please all seafood lovers.
At the beginning of the event you can pick up your complimentary wine glass and plate that makes walking around sampling all the food and drinks much easier.
After the seafood I decided to try another protein, Chicken Yakitori with Mushroom Tsunomono and Miso Crackling from Cabana’s. It features interesting flavor combinations and a unique presentation with the skewer.
As the night went on the event became more and more crowded, but not so much that it wasn’t still enjoyable, as I never waited longer in line than 5 minutes. I expect the lines to be much longer tonight, as it is Saturday and not Halloween anymore.
My remaining favorite of the night was Roasted Beef Tenderloin from Shula’s Steakhouse. The meat was so tender you didn’t even need a knife and the garlic mashed potatoes were the perfect companion to the meat. I immediately jumped back in line for another sample.
Compared to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, the Swan and Dolphin Classic has made sure to have plenty of seating and standing tables available for guests. No need to balance your plate and glass on a trashcan at this event.
With colored mood lighting everywhere, the Swan and Dolphin makes for a great location to hold this event.
During the evening I tried way more food than I probably should but it was all so good I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to eat it all. The event is 3 and 1/2 hours long – more than adequate time to try all the food and a large portion of the wine and beer.
I couldn’t end the night without some dessert and if you are attending this event you shouldn’t either. First I had a trio of mini desserts consisting of Chocolate Crunch Napoleon, Lemon Peel Mousse and Blueberry Cream Dome and Tres Leche Sponge with Exotic Cremeu, Vanilla Bavaroise, Exotic Gelee and Coconut Marshmallow. But the clear dessert star of the night was the Banana Foster Panini. Heaven in a pastry bun!
Last but not least, I decided to enjoy the live band for a while. There were different bands all throughout the night playing both new favorites and old goodies to mix it up. The crowd enjoyed it immensely and I saw many people shaking it in front of the stage.
The Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic is highly recommended for those of us who have attended the Epcot Food and Wine Festival in the past and are looking for something new. It is also a great fit for anyone who simply wants to be able to try different types of food and drinks without the feeling of fear of not liking something. With the wristband you never have to worry about trying something that you may not be sure about because if it wasn’t your favorite you can just move on to the next without it costing any extra. There is the option of buying individual tickets for the event but that can quickly add up, so I recommend going with the wristband option.
If you are looking for a one of a kind experience in a beautiful setting, with good food and drinks and some rocking live entertainment, you’ll find it all at the annual Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic.
To see more information on the event, click here.