2018 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Review Part 1
On Labor Day weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the opening weekend of the 2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which takes place throughout Epcot,August 30th- November 12th. Featuring exclusive merchandise, special food and beverage selections, and more, the Food & Wine Festival has easily become one of the most popular times at Epcot year in and year out. Last year, I experienced the festival after a 4 year hiatus. This year, I encountered a festival very similar to last year, with only a few changes. That is not saying that I did not have a good time, but I wasn’t left feeling as “wowed” as I was last year.
For Part 1, I am going to take a look at some of the special things for the event, as well as some of the food and drink booths. Later this week, Part 2 will finish up the booths, as well as highlight a few other fun things exclusive to the festival.
As with the other Epcot festivals, a handy, pocket-sized Festival Passport is available. Guests can preview the different menus being offered around the park, as well as various special events, experiences, and merchandise available. The passports also come with stickers that guests can “check off” which stops they visit and activities and events they participate in.
Passholder Exclusive Gifts
For 2018, Epcot is rewarding Walt Disney World Passholders for repeat visitations with a couple of exclusive gifts. For their first visit, Passholders can check in at the Festival Center and receive a Passholder magnet, featuring Mickey Mouse in a chef hat. On their fourth visit, Passholders can check in and receive a Passholder monogrammed cutting board.
While some Passholders have complained that the cutting board isn’t “large enough” for them to utilize… why would you want to? They are meant to be decorative, and they are a gift. You aren’t paying anything extra for it. Personally, I appreciate the gift and that I could easily bring it home in my luggage.
Limited Release Festival Gift Card/ Lanyard
This year, guests have the opportunity to purchase a special gift card for $250, which features Chef Mickey. Along with the gift card, guests receive a special lanyard with a medal also featuring Chef Mickey.
Additionally, if guests don’t want to spend the $250 for the special gift card with lanyard, they can get one of three Remy inspired wristlet gift cards, which are also reloadable.
NOTE: Part 2 will feature more festival items, including the Disney Trading Pins released for the event.
For Part 1 of my review, I will take a look at the offerings from around Future World and Showcase Plaza. Part 2 will look at what’s around World Showcase. And, as with previous festivals, a couple of my Funko Pop! Vinyls joined in on the fun… Figment and Chef Remy this time around.
NOTE: Aside from a couple of locations, my friends and I did not have as many drinks as we did last year. I am not an avid drinker, so personally I focused more on the food offerings.
Festival Center is home to three destinations for food and drink. Two are new for this year, and one has been relocated from the old Odyssey Restaurant location.
Shimmering Sips Mimosa Bar
(New for 2018)
I ended up getting the cheese danish at this location. It was tasty for a cheese danish.
Did not visit, as I wasn’t inspired to try any of their drinks.
The Festival Center Wine Shop
(New for 2018)
While I did not try any of the wines at this location (most of them from the Disney Family of Wines), I did try the La Bottega di BelGioioso Cheese Plate. I mean, I love cheese, and this plate did not disappoint.
Nine locations are interspersed throughout Future World for guests to visit.
Located near Test Track, this stop features a variety of croissant doughnuts and a pancake milkshake. My friend Steph and I shared the Chocolate and Marshmallow “cronut” and one of the milkshakes. They were both messy (especially in the heat of the day), but very tasty.
Flavors From Fire
This was a location where throughout the weekend my friends and I tried each of the dishes, some more than once. My favorite was the corned beef dish, and it probably was one of my favorites from the entire festival.
Here a bunch of us got the Phosphorescent Phreeze non-alcoholic drink, which featured slushies flavored to green apple, mango, and cotton candy, mixed in a collectible beaker. It was very sugary, but tasty.
Sadly, from the reports we got, the beaker became sold out for the entire festival by the end of the holiday weekend, and has been replaced by the Phosphorescent Phlight, which showcases the three slushies in different glasses, each with a glow cube. No word on if it is a permanent replacement, or only temporary.
Within Future World West
Here we tried the Steakhouse Blended Burger, which was a tasty slider. I also got to try the patty from the IMPOSSIBLE Burger Slider, which is a vegetarian patty. It wasn’t that bad, though the burger itself would have been too spicy for me.
One of my favorite dishes is here, that being the Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese. It is a little spicy with the pepper bacon, but overall one of the best mac ‘n’ cheese dishes I have ever had. I got it twice this trip, and would have gotten it more if I was there more days.
At this location we tried the Lump Crab Cake and the Baked Shrimp Scampi Dip. Both were good, but neither were ones that I felt I needed to go back for.
The Art of Pairing
Located in Future World West
The Chocolate Studio
Here I got the Sweet Dark Chocolate Raspberry Torte. The combination of raspberry and chocolate in this dish was spot on. Very good, and probably one of the top desserts I had at the festival.
The Cheese Studio
All three food dishes were tried here. For me, the Cheese Trio was a let down, and the beef dish could have been cheesier (especially since it was being featured as a cheese dish). The cheesecake, however, was really good.
The Wine & Dine Studio
The Trio of Artisan Cheese dish was great…. but is was virtually the same as the cheese plate from Festival Center. That was a big let down, even though I love cheese.
For the last of the part of the review, here is a rundown of the eight destinations located within Showcase Plaza.
The Almond Orchard
After the disastrous showing last year, I was happily surprised in the revamping of the menu at this location. Both the Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Dip and Fire-roasted Tomato Hummus were tasty, even though they really only featured almonds as a garnish.
Once again, this permanent location within Epcot was serving special festival dishes, including my favorite snack within Walt Disney World… Pineapple Soft-serve ice cream (aka Dole Whip). Also here, I tried one of the poutines on the menu, which is, as always, delicious.
Another one of my favorite locations at the festival, all of the food options were tried here. Though the Lamb Meatball dish was a bit spicy, all three dishes were very good, the mussels especially.
At this location we tried the Grilled Lamb Chop (same as last year) and the Lamington cake. Tasty stop.
Another favorite stop for me, both the Kalua Pork Slider and the SPAM Hash were good. I am a big fan of SPAM, so that dish (which returned from last year) was a no brainer for me.
Islands of the Caribbean
Here I tried the Ropa Vieja Empanada. It was good, but not too memorable.
At this destination I tried the Loaded Greek “Nachos” and the Spanakopita. Both were really good. My plan was to visit this location again and try the rest of the menu, but I simply ran out of time.
At this location we tried the Marinated Chicken dish. It was good… but SO MUCH peanut flavor. The dish felt doused in thick peanut butter, even though it was labeled as a sauce. Don’t get me wrong, I love peanuts and peanut butter, but this was a bit much.
Well, that about does it for Part 1 of my Epcot Food & Wine Festival Review. Later this week I will finish up my festival experiences in Part 2.