WDW Vacation – Getting Psyched for Food & Wine

RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-LandscapeMy countdown calendar finally feels like it’s moving.  The days are ticking by ahead of our long-awaited return to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.  I couldn’t be more excited!  This may only be my second visit during Food & Wine, but I feel like a seasoned veteran after our weeklong 25th Anniversary celebration at F&W in 2014.  This year we’ll be a party of seven and our plans are really shaping up.  With only two-and-a-half months to go, it feels right around the corner.  It’s Friday today and that means a Friday Five is in order.  Dear Readers, I give to you…

WDW Vacation – Getting Psyched for Food & Wine

  1. Pick a week and book it! – This is the first phase of excitement.  Thinking about going changes after you know exactly when you’ll be there and where you’ll be staying – makes it real and you can set your countdown calendar!  Because I’m a planner I’m also, in this very early stage of vacation prep, starting to think about where we’d like to eat when we’re not enjoying the Food & Wine offerings.  Which brings us to…Citricos-Vince
  2. Make some ADRs (Advance Dining Reservations) 180 days out – “Some” being the important key here.  I think you can over-book dining reservations which may detract from the joy of strolling around World Showcase sampling all the excellent flavors that Food & Wine has to offer.  I like to ensure plenty of festival time, so I book just few carefully chosen reservations that will leave us a plenty of free afternoons and evenings for hopping from country to country on an international culinary tour.  Once those ADRs are booked, I feel more like I know what our touring plans will be each day and that makes me even more exited!RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Menu-Brazil
  3. Wait impatiently for the booths and menus to be announced – I’ve searched everyday for weeks and finally the kiosk and menu info is available – This is a major factor in getting psyched for the trip!  Sure, it’s fun to see what musical groups will be playing during our visit, but that’s not (for us) the primary draw.  You can print out those menus and narrow down all the food and beverage choices to the all important Top-Ten-Must-Try list (yours could be whatever number you like).  I’m not too picky, so I’m leaving room to be flexible and spontaneous in food selection.  It’s not imperative to have a list, but it sure is fun to strategize a festival food plan.  Yes, more excitement!  Check out this year’s lineup here.Disney's Hollywood Studios Tower of Terror
  4. Book those FastPasses ASAP – If you’re staying on property, this means there are only 60 days left before your vacation!  My strategy for Epcot is all about making sure we don’t have to come and go repeatedly from World Showcase once we start our feasting.  On this trip, we’ve got one whole day reserved for Animal Kingdom and I’m excited about having breakfast at Tusker House and dinner at Tiffins…while maximizing attraction enjoyment in between.  On most of the other days, we’ll be park-hopping to keep Epcot part of the action as often as possible.     RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Passport
  5. Reminisce or surf the web (or both) –  I like looking back at pictures and blog posts from our last trip to Food & Wine.  I also like reading about other people’s trips as well as food reviews, booth rankings, and touring tips.  This will keep me entertained and build excitement right up until the day we leave for vacation.RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Pepper-Bacon-Hash

Are you headed to Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival this year?  What are you doing to get psyched for the trip?

Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival Turns 21

Ugh!  I think my countdown calendar is broken.  I’m so excited about our upcoming trip to Walt Disney World in October for Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, the days are passing unbelievably slowly and vacation seems much too far away.  We’ve been looking forward to this particular trip since we started planning it in 2014.  Remember when Raymond and I went to Disney World during Food & Wine to celebrate our 25th anniversary?  That was our first experience visiting during the festival and we not only had an amazing time, we knew it was something Joseph would absolutely love…once he turned 21.  Well this is the year – Joseph and the Food & Wine Festival both celebrate the same milestone in 2016.Epcot-International-Food-and-Wine-Festival

Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival Turns 21

62 days long this year, Food & Wine is a great place to sample new flavors and enjoy World Showcase in a different way.  The fall weather in Orlando is incredible with less humidity and rain than during the summer months.  We’ll be visiting for 7 days and as is my habit, I’ve been obsessed with planning just the right amount of activities, time in each park, free time, special meals…you get the idea.  I may have gone overboard with the ADRs (advance dining reservations), but I have plenty of time to tweak the plan when we make our FastPass selections 60 days from our trip.  I’m anxiously awaiting more festival details so I can better plan our time in Epcot.  In 2014 Raymond and I found that scattering our Epcot visits liberally throughout our vacation allowed us to sample plenty of flavors and take in a couple of special events.RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Landscape

I’ll tell you what I’ve got planned now.  I know you’re going to be shocked that we’re passing on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but four of the seven in our travel party have attended the party fairly recently and the other three are not all that excited about going.  Best to use that time and money elsewhere on this visit, I think.  Here are the plans – if you’d be so kind, please leave me a comment and let me know what you’d change (add, delete, move, etc.).RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Landscape2

Saturday – Arrival Day at Epcot – All veteran Food & Wine visitors will tell you to keep away from the festival on the weekend, but I’m bucking common sense here because I want everyone to see what a crazy Saturday night looks like in Epcot during this most unusual time of the year.  The only time that surpasses a Saturday night in Epcot during Food & Wine is World Showcase on New Year’s Eve (and we’ve seen that too!).  So basically, we’ll hit Epcot by early afternoon with whatever FastPasses I can score 60 days out, make our way slowly through the masses in World Showcase and arrive at 8:00 pm for our Via Napoli ADR.  I took suggestions from my friends on Twitter and Via Napoli was highly recommended as a crowd pleaser that won’t cost too much.  We plan to share appetizers and pizzas and call it a day.RM-Spaceship-Earth

Sunday – Magic Kingdom all day.  We’ll want to get an early start and fit in as many attractions as possible.  We do have a late lunch reservation at the Skipper Canteen, but depending on FastPass availability, it’s probably the most likely ADR to be cancelled.  Since the park closes early for Mickey’s Not So Scary, I thought this would be a great day to visit the Polynesian for drinks and dinner.  Hopefully, Trader Sam’s won’t be too crowded.  We have a dinner reservation for ‘Ohana and I’m looking forward to a relaxing evening where we can turn in early and get a jump start on Monday!Tower-of-Terror

Monday – Disney’s Hollywood Studios through lunch, Epcot in the afternoon.  Megan and Grant had a great experience at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater on their honeymoon last year, so we thought we’d give it whirl!  I can’t believe we’ve never tried it before and am excited about the experience.  After lunch, it’s on to Epcot with absolutely no other plans for the day.  The rationale here is that Epcot will be uncrowded and we can take it easy and soak up all that the Food & Wine Festival has to offer.Animal Kingdom-Entrance

Tuesday – Animal Kingdom all day.  I’m disappointed that Animal Kingdom’s posted park hours show a closing time of 5:00 pm and sincerely hope this changes!  We have an early breakfast at Tusker House (a first for us) and another reservation for very early dinner at the brand new Tiffins (4:30 pm).  If the park hours change and evening activities are a go, I plan to try to call and change our breakfast to a dining package for whatever show (Jungle Book or Rivers of Light) might be showing.  If you’ve heard anything about fall hours or evening events, please let me know.Disney's-Hollywood-Studios

Wednesday – Disney’s Hollywood Studios early and briefly then Epcot for lunch before Disney Springs for the late afternoon/evening.  This sounds like a lot of hopping, but I’m thinking that if we rope-drop the Studios and hit four attractions (Tower of Terror, Rock’n’ Roller Coaster, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Star Tours), we’ll be finished in two hours or less.  The food booths in Epcot will make a great lunch activity and we can take our time getting to Disney Springs by around 4:00 pm.  We have a reservation at Raglan Road for 7:00 and would like to shop a little and visit Jock Lindsey’s before dinner.  After dinner, we may even have time to hit Magic Kingdom for a couple of hours.Jock-Lindsey's-Sign

Thursday – Magic Kingdom until lunch then to Epcot for the afternoon.  I’m excited about our lunch reservation at Whispering Canyon Café!  That nice little boat ride from Magic Kingdom to Wilderness Lodge for some great food is a wonderful break from park touring.  Dinner will be at Shula’s Steak House (at the Dolphin) that evening and we can easily walk there from Epcot.RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Menu-Boeuf-Bourguignon

Friday – Animal Kingdom in the morning before hopping to Epcot for more food booth action.  If I can, I’ll book Epcot fastpasses for late afternoon.  We can walk from Epcot to our farewell dinner at Il Mulino in the Swan.  I’m exhausted already and all I’ve done is type these plans!

Okay – I need you!  What would you change?  Have I allowed enough time at Epcot?  What about the other parks?  If I need to cancel some ADRs, which should be the first to go?Megan (5) and Joseph (4 months)

On a side note:  Today is actually Joseph’s 21st birthday.  I’d like to say…Happy Birthday to my favorite son – I admire your thirst for knowledge and your love of puns.  I am amazed every single day at the incredible man you’ve become and I adore the way you’re true to yourself always.  I love your gentlemanly manners and your love of everything old…especially your parents.  I love you, Sonny Boy.  Don’t ever change.Joe-Formal-Night-Dinner

Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival Merchandise – 2014 Edition

Yay for the weekend!  The weather is slightly cooler, the promise of fall is in the air and the 2015 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival will soon begin (September 25th – November 16th)!  One of the most anticipated aspects of the Festival is the specialty merchandise.  If you’ve not yet visited Walt Disney World during this most excellent time of the year, Nick’s recap of last year’s Festival merch will give you a great idea about what visitors can expect to see.  Happy Saturday, y’all!

Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival Merchandise – 2014 Edition

By Nick

There are several locations around Epcot selling a wide assortment of Epcot’s 2014 International Food and Wine Festival merchandise.
Let’s take a look at a few items offered for sale in the Festival Center, located inside the old Wonders of Life pavilion in Future World.

You can find some nice merchandise exclusive to this years festival. There is a green Annual Pass version of the tee pictured directly below, but unfortunately there were only large, medium and small sizes left, and I’m an XL. The white tee is $29.95.

The tee shirt below is $27.95.

This print comes unframed for $24.95, or framed for $219.95.

There is also a wide range of merchandise featuring favorite Disney characters as well as items that can be found at other locations on property.

There is also an assortment of items from the Rose and Crown Pub, located in the United Kingdom pavilion in World Showcase.

 I bought 2 things. The tee-shirt pictured up in the first photo up at the top, for $27.95.

I also bought this Limited Release pin for my wife. This was $14.95.

There were a couple of Annual Pass pins, but they have already sold out!

For tons more Disney fun, follow Nick on all his social media sites!  Disney Musings Blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, On Instagram, On Pinterest.

Ten Reasons to Try Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival

I’m no expert, having been only once, but I can tell you –  Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival is a great big bunch of fun!  Raymond and I went last year and are planning another trip to the festival with our (adult) children in 2016…We can’t wait to show them the sights, sounds, smells and tastes that make up one of the very best special events Walt Disney World has to offer.  53 Days of awesomeness!  We’ve tried Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival, we’ve completely enjoyed Star Wars Weekends, but now that the kids will both be over 21 – it’ll be time to eat and drink (responsibly) and enjoy this experience together.  We can’t WAIT!

Ten Reasons to Try Epcot’s Food & Wine FestivalRM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Passport

1.  The Food & Wine Festival invites a more relaxed, laid back touring style.  Nobody’s in a hurry.  Folks are friendly, they share tables, strike up conversations.  Mosey, meander, sample scrumptious, international flavors, and do NOT rush from attraction to attraction in full commando-mode.  It’ll be fine to resume the hard-core touring tomorrow.RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Griddled-Cheese

2.  Plan or Don’t Plan – Free-styling is okay!  Roam around World Showcase for hours on end – it’s a great reason to give yourself permission to go un-planned, un-FastPass+-ed, footloose and fancy free.  There are some amazing resources online that will allow you to preview all the food booth offerings before you go and select your Top Ten must-tries (or more).  A strategy is good!  So is a festival-on-the-fly attitude.  Plan some, un-plan some – no matter what, you’ll find something to love.Epcot-International-Food-and-Wine-Festival

3.  Weekdays are the BEST!  Most valuable advice we got pre-festival was to avoid weekends and it proved to be most excellent info!  The crowds were low when we hit the festival about 11:00 am with our special passport booklets and a loose plan for booths we didn’t want to miss.

4. Chillax with Music!  The “Eat to the Beat” concert series means you can pause to digest and ruminate to the tunes of well-know musical artists.  If I were going this year, I would totally want to see and hear Rick Springfield!  When I was 17, he was the man of my dreams!  (Hush, I know I’m old.)  *Sigh*  But Jessie’s Girl!  Live!  Squee!!!RM-French-Regional-Lunch-Table

5.  Splurge!!!  There are all kinds of special events within this special event.  Food & wine pairings, food & beer pairings, mixology seminars, culinary demonstrations, cheese seminars – whatever your taste, there’s something for you.  And merch!  Food & Wine has some really fantastic festival merchandise.  Posters and tee-shirts are just the beginning.RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Landscape2

6. The Weather is Fine!  From late September to mid-November, the weather is some of the best you’ll ever find.  October average rainfall is about 3.3 inches compared to June’s of 7.6 inches.  With average temperature lows in the 60’s and highs in the 80’s, it’s an absolutely delightful time to be outdoors strolling among the Food & Wine booths.RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Menu-Scotland

7. A Party in Your Mouth!  So many choices!  Exotic and familiar, meat, cheese, seafood, veggies – whatever you crave, sweet or savory, you’ll find something to your liking along the way.RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Pepper-Bacon-Hash

8. Sample Awesome Adult Beverages – Yes, the servings are small and pricey, but fun.  Every booth has pairings of wine or beer to enjoy with different food items offered.  Be brave and reap the rewards!RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Menu-Boeuf-Bourguignon

9. Add a Touch of Romance – The World Showcase is a great place to experience as a couple.  Even more so during the Food & Wine Festival.  Pre-purchase a Memory Maker photo package for your trip and take advantage of the abundant Disney photographers stationed throughout the World Showcase to capture a romantic moment.EPCOT_BACKSIDE 4_7072200359

10.  Share! (and know when not to) – There’s so much to sample, getting a small bite here and there will allow you do try more flavors, but a few of the festival’s booths offer seriously amazing culinary delights (like Crispy Pork Belly) – you might need to savor an entire serving all on your own.RM-Epcot-Food&Wine-Crispy-Pork-Belly