Ah, the Epcot International Food and Wine festival. Where thousands of local Floridians and tourists alike come together on Saturday nights to pound margaritas while wearing “Hakuna Moscato” and “Finding Vino” shirts. Not really your scene? Me either.
Once my husband swore off alcohol a few years ago, our lifestyle changed. But as dutiful Disney nuts, we still attend Food and Wine each year — and soon learned that half of the name wasn’t necessarily half of the festival.
Without imbibing, we still party around the world, getting silly on desserts, savory food, and entertainment. One change has been our newfound experimentation with the non-alcoholic specialty drinks. While there aren’t as many offerings as their tipsy brethren, these are always weird, tasty and wonderful enough to enhance our gastronomic adventures.
When I took a closer look at the non-alcoholic drink offerings in the 2018 Food & Wine passport, I discovered that all but two were located in the Future World area: Only the China and India booths in World Showcase offered specialty non-alcoholic beverages.
Let’s take a trip (mostly to the Future) to explore the non-alcoholic drinks that the 2018 International Food & Wine Festival has to offer:
Pancake Milkshake at Taste Track
When I heard that there was a milkshake that tasted like a freshly griddled pancakes topped with all the iHop fixins, you can bet Taste Track soared to the top of my to-eat list. But what I experienced was a very Instagramable vanilla milkshake. With iridescent sprinkles and a swirl of whipped cream, it’s a sexy drink sure, but not one of the pancake variety.
Even in a cute 4-oz serving, this one was too sweet for me to handle on my own. Definitely a dessert-in-a-cup situation that is best split with a friend. Price: $5.00
Free Joffrey’s Coffee at the Festival Center
This year, Joffrey’s, the official specialty coffee of Walt Disney World, is giving an intimate look at the life of a coffee bean with live roasting demonstrations at the Festival Stage (check Festival Center for daily times).
In addition to having coffee experts on-hand to answer all of your caffeinated questions, they offer complimentary French Roast coffee. You can even grab a lid and take your joe to go. This is also the spot to grab the limited-edition Mickey’s 90th Birthday blend, which is only available at the Festival Center and online. Free
Frozen Apple Pie at the Simmering Sips Mimosa Bar
If you’re into slushies extruded from an undulating machine, this is your drink. Though it is pre-mixed, the Frozen Apple Pie is hand-topped with a helping of apple chunks, pie crumbs and cinnamon.
I was surprised that the actual slush wasn’t very sweet — a refreshing change from all the rich and sugary drinks on the Food & Wine booth menus. Once you get past your pie-laden bites, enjoy the faintly apple taste of the icy treat. In the Florida heat of August Food & Wine, I was thankful for the lack of sweetness. Price: $3.75
Health-Ade Kombucha at Earth Eats
In case you aren’t familiar, kombucha is a naturally fermented drink that offers probiotic gut health benefits. Okay, maybe that’s not the best way to sell it. With Pink Lady Apple, Pomegranate and Beet-Lime flavors, the Health-Ade kombucha has the taste of beer at less than 0.5% ABV, making it technically non-alcoholic.
Be advised that the Food & Wine Festival passport has incorrect information on the kombucha flights. I requested the flight and a cast member told me that they are not available for the entire 2018 festival season. Even though Health-Ade kombucha is classified as a non-alcoholic drink, since there are trace amounts of alcohol as a result of the fermentation process, each patron is limited to buying two at a time. Price: $2.50
Twinings Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea and Chocolate Shake at the Chocolate Studio
While the Chocolate Studio is best known for a liquid nitrogen truffle, I’d dare to say that this autumn chiller was equally novel. The spice blend of the Twinings chai tea was immediately apparent, then the malted chocolate shake finished out my sip with a gentle sweetness.
With the dynamic flavors and recipe cards right there at the booth, the Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea and Chocolate Shake could even replace your annual Starbucks PSL habit. Price: $5.00
Almond Breeze Strawberry Smoothie at the Almond Orchard
The strawberry flavor was smooth and creamy, without a lot of tart fruit taste. While I’m sure this one contained the whole of my daily sugar allowance, I ate the whole thing on my own and somehow felt healthier for it, even though the cast members at the booth couldn’t tell me what was in it.
When asked about the contents of the strawberry smoothie, the cast members were baffled as to why it was not marked “vegetarian” on the Food & Wine passport. This was immediately after telling me the hummus plate, which is also not marked vegetarian in the passport, is, in actuality, vegetarian. After much confusion and shrugging, I was dismissed. So maybe it’s the blended meat paste that makes this strawberry smoothie such a delight. Price: $4.50
Mango Bubble Tea with Assam Black Tea and Milk at the China Pavilion
Easily the heartiest of the non-alcoholic drinks, this milky tea creation was served up in a full-sized 12-oz cup. This one is mostly dairy: I watched as the cast member prepared my drink, filling perhaps the first two ounces of the cup with black tea before adding the milk.
To even further compete as a meal, this bubble tea had the real deal at the bottom: chewy tapioca “bubbles” that had the consistency and taste of soggy raisins. These are made from cassava root and brown sugar, so be advised that this bubble tea can really take over your carb count (if you are crazy enough to count carbs at Disney). Price: $6.75
Mango Lassi at the Indian Pavilion
Those who love mango are really into mango, and that includes me. Most of what Walt Disney World does with mango ends up tasting like the fourth dimension of flavor (I’m looking at you, Yak and Yeti) and this mango smoothie doesn’t disappoint.
With diced mango on top of a mixture of mango, milk and yogurt, it has the look of an upscale dessert, but like the strawberry smoothie at the Almond Orchard, the Mango Lassi isn’t too sweet, so don’t feel pressured to share. Price: $4.75
A Few Drinks to Skip:
Drinking Chocolate at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Experience
I’d adding this one to the list just to advise you not to head over to the Festival Center in search of a specialty hot chocolate. This is actually a few chocolate shavings melted into a small sipping cup. Like a warm, drinkable chocolate bar. Price: $3.00
Phosphorescent Phreeze, InfraRED and UltraVIOLET at the Light Lab
All of these, (including the overblown Phosphorescent Phreeze in a souvenir beaker) are colorful sugar water. If you’re looking for a fizzy fix, the Coke products in Club Cool next door are free and have the added potential of tricking newbies into drinking the Beverly. Price: Phosphorecent Phreeze, $7.00; InfraRED and UltraVIOLET, $3.75
After sampling even just a few of these non-alcoholic drinks at Epcot, you should be sugared up enough to attempt to climb the Mexico pavilion or spend way too much on Figment merch. But unlike your fellow Food & Wine revelers, you win: no hangovers. Cheers!
Rain Blanken is a Senior Editor at The Penny Hoarder by day, and a Disney Parks fanatic by every other hour available. She is the purveyor of RainLovesDisney.com. Rain can be frequently seen eating her way through the parks, and she would live inside Boma if they would just stop checking under the tables at night.