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INSIDE LOOK: Taste of Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

“If you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff.” – Remy in Disney’s Ratatouille (2007)

Remy is onto something, ya’ll…

If you only want to the good stuff, then make the trip down I-4 to EPCOT at Walt Disney World to experience the 25th annual Taste of EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival!

If you’ve tasted your way around this foodie event in years past, you might notice the name tweak. Just like all of us, Disney is making the pandemic pivot. The park debuted a scaled down event for this year on July 15, 2020. Whoayeah, July 15. That’s the earliest Disney has ever launched this festival making it the resort’s longest running festival in its history.

If you ask us for our honest opinion, we actually liked this year’s festival better than any other Food & Wine Festival in the past…and we’ve been going every year for 10+ years.

First, it’s a much more enjoyable experience because it’s not as crowded due to Disney limiting capacity to ensure proper social distancing. There’s more space to sit and enjoy your food and the lines are MUCH shorter.

While you have to wear a face mask, you can obviously remove it to actively eat and drink as long as you are stationary–sitting, standing, leaning, borrowing your kids stroller...It was actually a moment to sit and savor what you are sipping and tasting rather than attempting at grabbing nibbles between steps to the next place.

When we say scaled down, it’s probably an unfair statement since there are still more than 20 global marketplaces featuring countries from six continents.

There are still more than 20 global marketplaces to experience with the added sprinkling of the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival sprinkled throughout. Our favorite topiary is Remy from the movie Ratatouille in France.

Taste of Epcot Remy topiary

Say, CHEESE! Be sure to strike a pose with Remy at the France Pavilion in the World Showcase.

Disney recently invited us to experience Taste of EPCOT so we can share with you what to expect if you go, but we’re also sharing our thoughts from a trip we made separately with the kids in July, too!

What to know before you go to Taste of EPCOT

First, let’s go over HOW to get into the park. This is probably the most important step. You will not only need your ticket or annual pass, but you also need to make an online reservation for the day and park you want to attend. This allows Disney to keep capacity low while guaranteeing you entry into the park.

You can also make this reservation via the My Disney Experience app which we highly recommend adding to your app collection if you haven’t already. The app is also where you’ll find the digital Festival Guidebook and soooo much more! You can even use it to check into your resort hotel room so you can skip the check-in desk!

FYI: There are some great Florida resident deals right now! You can pick up a Florida Resident Disney Magic Flex ticket for $130 for two days. Learn more here about additional offers for Florida residents.

 

Epcot face maskNow that you’ve got your ticket and your reservation, make sure to bring a face mask. There isn’t a lot of budging with this rule, so leave the neck gaiter or face masks with holes of any kind at home…you won’t get in wearing them. Keep in mind that everyone in your party ages 2 and older will need to wear a face mask. You can read more about Disney’s Face Mask Policy here.

If you’re wondering what it’s like to wear a face mask all day in the Florida heat and humidity, it’s not as bad as you would think. We’ve been doing it all summer with the kids. We prefer wearing the disposable masks to theme parks so we can frequently change them out so they don’t get sticky and wet all day.

When you arrive at the park, you will have your temperature taken with a no-touch thermometer, but that’s pretty much everywhere these days and shouldn’t come as a big surprise.

Let’s get to the good part…the FOOD and DRINKS at Taste of EPCOT!

As we mentioned above, this year’s festival is a bit scaled down from previous years, but you will still get to explore more than 20 signature global marketplaces with food and drink pairings you won’t find during the rest of the year.

One area we really enjoyed is the World Showplace nestled between the United Kingdom and Canada where there are four INDOOR marketplaces to love: Desserts & Champagne, Mac & Cheese Hosted by Boursin Cheese, Wine & Dine Festival Favorites, and Appleseed Orchard.

This is the spot to cool off while safely social distancing from others. Here’s a look at what it looks like inside:

taste of Epcot world showplace

This is where you’ll find some of our festival favorites: the Liquid Nitro Chocolate Cake Pops at Desserts & Champagne, Seafood Fisherman’s Pie at Wine & Dine Festival Favorites and gourmet Mac and cheese at…Mac & Cheese Boursin Cheese.

The caramel apple popcorn was a huge with the kids at Appleseed Orchard. This is also where you’ll find 3 Daughters Raspberry Lemonade Dry Hard Cider from St. Petersburg along with other small brewery selections of IPA, Hard Cider and more!

taste of Epcot liquid nitro chocolate cake pops

Liquid Nitro Chocolate Cake Pops from Desserts & Champagne in World Showplace. Who knew cake pops could be so cool…literally!!! They’re freshly dipped in chocolate and liquid nitrogen, so your cake pop is served piping COLD!

Taste of EPCOT Mac and Cheese

Mac & Cheese Hosted by Boursin Cheese at World Showplace. Steven Diaz, photographer

Caramel apple popcorn at appleseed orchard

Caramel Apple Popcorn from Appleseed Orchard at World Showplace. Steven Diaz, photographer

If you’re into champagne, we also highly recommend picking up a glass of the liquid gold to go along with your Liquid Nitro Chocolate Cake Pops! The bubbles selection is on point: MOET & Chandon Imperiel, Dom Perignon, and Veuve Clicquot. For the kids, they’ve got a non-alcoholic Frozen S’mores drink–for the big kids ages 21 and older, there’s an option to add Whipped Cream Vodka.

Moving on to the World Showcase, we made a few stops along the way including Japan global marketplace where we tried the Frothy Ramen, a cold ramen dish that was surprisingly delicious! We definitely recommend giving it a try!

frothy ramen at Epcot food and wine

The Frothy Ramen from the Japan global marketplace.

The Canada marketplace is always a must-stop. The Canadian Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Soup and the Le Cellier Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter Sauce are soooo good. You could share, but why? ?

wild mushroom filet Taste of Epcot

The Le Cellier Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter Sauce paired with the Collective Arts Brewing Blackberry Fruit Beer at the Canada marketplace. Steven Diaz, photographer

While there are plenty of returning favorites, EPCOT is offering some new additions (some we’ve already mentioned, but here’s the complete list.)

NEW for 2020 at the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival:

Shimmering Sips in Showcase Plaza:

  • Banana Bread with Mixed Berry Compote (plant-based)
  • *Shimmering Strawberry Soft-Serve in Waffle Cone (this isn’t new, but it’s a kid and crowd pleaser!)

Desserts and Champagne in World Showplace:

  • Liquid Nitro Chocolate Cake Pops with selection of toppings

Mac and Cheese Hosted by Boursin Cheese in World Showplace:

  • Gourmet macaroni and cheese with options for special toppings including lobster cream or plant-based Italian sausage and peppers

Wine & Dine Featuring Festival Favorites in World Showplace:

  • Kielbasa and Potato Pierogi with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream
  • Guinness Baileys Milkshake
  • *Seafood Fisherman’s Pie (This is a returning favorite you used to find in the Ireland marketplace. It’s soooo good!)

For a complete list of menu items available during Taste of EPCOT, click here so you can plan ahead or download the My Disney Experience app.

Let’s talk about the FUN and Entertainment at Taste of EPCOT!

If you have the kids with you, we recommend buying the Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak scavenger hunt for $7.99. While you sit and sip at each country, the kids can look for the “Little Chef”. He’s pretty good at hiding, so it’ll be a fun challenge. They don’t have to complete the map to redeem a prize, but why not try?

Taste of EPCOT Remy Hide and Squeak

Our little guy spotted Remy in Japan!

Remy's Ratatouille Hide and Squeak

Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak scavenger hunt map.

The Food & Wine Festival usually attracts big name acts each year, but this year is different since the shows usually draw huge crowds. You can still expect to see performances by Mariachi Cobre and the JAMMitors at the American Gardens Theatre.

While you’re over there, stop at the Hops & Barley marketplace where you’ll find the New England Lobster Roll and Southern Seafood Boil!

Steven Diaz, photographer. Hops & Barley marketplace.

One of the ways we’ve simplified the purchasing process over the years is by putting money on a gift card wristband so you’re not fumbling for your wallet when you stop at each marketplace. We’ve used the same one a couple of years in a row, so the money won’t expire. This year’s card is adorable though, featuring Remy from Ratatouille!

Epcot

What about the Ratatouille ride at EPCOT?

The Ratatouille ride in the France Pavilion was supposed to debut this summer, but the pandemic had other plans.

Disney hasn’t announced a new official debut date, but we can promise you it’s going to be good when you finally get to ride it! We got a behind the scenes look earlier this year, pre-pandemic. In a nutshell: You’ll be shrunk down to the size of Remy and friends and board a motorized rat mobile and scamper your way through Remy’s world. We can’t wait!

Disney has done a phenomenal job with its newest rides like Star Wars: Rise of Resistance and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Hollywood Studios. It’s an immersive experience like no other!

Now let’s talk merchandise.

If you’re a die hard Disney fan, you are going to love the new merchandise debuted for the festival. Figment, Mickey and Minnie, and Remy are all featured.

As always, there’s a collection for Annual Passholders as well. If there was any year to buy themed merchandise, 2020 is the year.

Here’s a peek at what’s available:

Disney Epcot merchandise

Wrapping it up.

Overall, it was a great experience for us when we went as a family and when I went solo as a guest of Disney. When we went at the end of July, we spent two days at Walt Disney World. We spent the first day at EPCOT to explore Taste of EPCOT and then spent the second day at Magic Kingdom.

We went on a weekday, so the crowds were much smaller than what you will find on a weekend. We were able to walk on to some rides like Dumbo which was a crazy cool experience. My kids and were the only riders, so they felt like VIPs! If there were lines, we didn’t wait long and the lines only appeared long because everyone is social distancing by 6 feet. If they forget, there are plenty of floor reminders.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me if it’s worth going and if we felt safe and I can say ABSOLUTELY, YES. While it is a different experience since some things are closed and you’re wearing a face mask all day, it was so nice to be back. Since it was our first overnight trip to Disney, we opted to stay in the Fort Wilderness cabins to avoid a hotel lobby and elevators. We checked in via our My Disney Experience app and drove right up to our cabin and used our Magic Bands to open the door. It was such an easy process.

If you’ve been thinking about planning a trip to Disney, do it if everyone in your party is healthy. We recommend weekdays if you can make it happen since crowds tend to be on the smaller side during the week, Pack extra water, hand sanitizing wipes, and face masks and enjoy your day.

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Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne is an award-winning former television news journalist who spent 15+ years in newsrooms across the state of Florida including Sarasota, Tallahassee, Fort Myers and right here in Tampa Bay where she still freelances on occasion. She covered the political beat, crime beat and every day breaking news during her time in Florida newsrooms, but is now focused on sharing positive news stories and events with families in Tampa Bay. She is a proud mommy of two little boys who keep her on her toes and laughing every day. Her goal is to inspire families just like yours to get out and play and experience all that Tampa Bay and our great state of Florida have to offer! She encourages you to share your stories and upcoming events so we can spread the good news.

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