The Taste of EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival was the most delicious and most normal experience I have had at the Walt Disney World Resort since they reopened their theme parks.
In the first month of EPCOT’s reopening, I have been able to experience the theme park’s 25th annual Food and Wine Festival three times. The first two times were with family and friends and the latest time, on August 25, was for a media event where I represented Inside the Magic. Each experience gave me a different perspective of EPCOT’s long-standing festival, and I can honestly say that not much has needed to be changed. Disney days are now far removed from their pre-pandemic normalcy. But Taste of EPCOT provided the closest experience to that normalcy that I have experienced since I have been back to Disney World.
Once you get used to the mask on your face, get past the temperature screening, and walk through the maze of construction walls, you will find nearly the same culinary experience as before.
“Taste of EPCOT” is such an appropriate name for this event because Guests are literally only getting a taste of what the festival can really offer. But I am telling you all that it is still a taste that will have you coming back for seconds, thirds, and even fourths.
There are some noticeable differences, though, and a few big things missing.
What is missing from EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival?
This event is very scaled back compared to past years.
The scale-back is also noticeable at the kiosks — not in the number of menu options or their quality, but in the Cast Members. We shared the unfortunate news that EPCOT had to reopen without its beloved cultural representatives, and with current travel restrictions in place, the only cultural representatives present are the ones who are already living in the United States.
For example, my cashier at the Canada booth was from Puerto Rico and I was served my chicken dumplings at the China booth by a girl from New Jersey. There is nothing wrong with that on a surface level. They still provided the level of service expected of Disney World Cast Members, and I highly recommend both dishes. But that situation eliminates a level of immersion that was present in the past where you only interacted with people from those nations.
What is Good and New at EPCOT’s 2020 Food and Wine Festival?
Even in its sample-sized state, the Taste of EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival still finds a way to give its hungry Guests something new and delicious. While each kiosk will have its own subtle changes to their menus, the most noticeably new food and drinks can be found in the World Showplace Events Pavilion situated between Canada and the United Kingdom Pavilions.
There, Guests will find a massive, air-conditioned space with four new tables. I highly recommend the following:
- The lobster mac and cheese from the Boursin Cheese booth dedicated almost exclusively to gourmet mac and cheese.
- The raspberry lemonade apple cider and charcuterie board from the Appleseed Orchard.
- The Nitro Chocolate Cake Pops from the Desserts and Champagne Table.
This pavilion also hosts a new booth called “Festival Favorites.” Making up for the lower number of kiosks, this booth features beloved food and drink options from nation kiosks that are not present this year. I personally recommend the Guinness Baileys Milk Shake from Ireland.
A “Taste” that will have you going back for seconds
Yes, EPCOT’s Food and Wine event is scaled back. But it still has plenty to offer. Personally, I am a simple man with simple desires from Food and Wine. As long as I get my filet mignon and ice wine from Canada, and my Limoncello Margarita from Italy, I am happy. So, the event experience has only gone up for me.
But each time I have gone, I have found something new to try or to do. My first visit this season had me completing Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and getting a piece of merchandise from EPCOT’s 2020 Flower and Garden Festival. My second visit had me taking greater advantage of the lower crowds to almost walk on rides like Soarin’, Frozen Ever After, Mission: SPACE, and Test Track. Now my third visit took me into the World ShowPlace Pavilion where I tasted some of the most amazing new additions to Food and Wine yet.
There are also some booths that are not open yet! Guests walking around the Showcase today will see booths for Spain and The Alps still closed, not opening until this fall. So even though I have gone around the world three times, EPCOT is still giving me reasons to come back for another taste later this year.
All About Expectations
At the end of the day, your Taste of EPCOT experience relies on your expectations.
If all you look forward to is EPCOT’s concert series or extra events like its cooking shows or tasting lessons, this event was canceled. But if you are looking for a fun, laid back afternoon around the World Showcase Lagoon enjoying delicious foods and beverages from all over the world, I can assure you, that event is not just ongoing but thriving.
Once I get through the temperature screening, navigate the maze of construction walls, and make it through a socially-distanced line, I have been able to take my food and drink, find a place in the shade, remove my mask, and look around. Everything is delicious and Disney ducks waddle up to me begging for scraps. I appreciate the smaller crowds. And, at that moment, things feel closest to normal as they possibly could.
I hope everybody reading this has the chance to go to EPCOT’s International Food and Wine Festival this year, experience that moment, and drink to the events 25-year-long legacy.
Please remember that August and September in Central Florida are the hottest months out of the year, World Showcase offers very little shade. Please remember to stay hydrated, pace yourselves, and stay cool whenever possible. You also cannot walk while you have your mask off eating and drinking. You must be stationary at all times.
If you are looking to plan a trip back to EPCOT or any other Walt Disney World theme park, our friends at Academy Travel are standing by to help you make this trip as magical as possible. Click here to learn more and receive your free, no-obligation quote today!
Other Honest Reviews
- Honest Review: How Disney World Can Feel More ‘Normal’
- Honest Review: Modified Character Interactions at Magic Kingdom
- Honest Review: Social Distancing on Magic Kingdom Attractions
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this review do not necessarily reflect those of Inside the Magic overall.