When summer starts winding down, I start getting excited about all the great fall events coming to Walt Disney World. My favorite, and it isn’t even a close contest, is the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. My husband and I have been to the Festival nearly every year since it kicked off back in 1995. When we had our son in 2010, we had a decision to make – should we take our kid to Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, or would we have to skip the event for a while?
My love for Disney, for Epcot, and for Food & Wine won out. We took our little guy to the Festival when he was all of seven months old, and we’ve been taking him ever since.
Keeping it Family Friendly
Real talk time. There are some things you should be aware of before you take the little ones to the Festival.
- First…there is drinking. A lot of it. With 35 booths, plus various other pubs, bars and restaurants in the park, the alcohol definitely flows – and some adults forget the advice to “drink responsibly.” In my experience, the best way to avoid the most egregious offenders is to plan your visit around them. For us, that means getting to the park early and starting our tour of the food booths as soon as they open. Most of the booths in the World Showcase open at 11 a.m., but you may find some of the newer offerings in Future World opening sooner. Start early, hit several booths right off the bat, and you can enjoy some of your favorite dishes before the crazy begins. If you can go on a weekday, so much the better. We have to work around our school schedule, so weekends are a must for us. The “get there early” strategy has been our best bet.
- Another thing to keep in mind is that while this is technically a “fall” event, um…Florida. It’s still hot, and it will be from the time the Festival kicks off on August 31, right through at least mid-October. Hot, hungry, cranky little ones do not make for a good time. Dress for the weather, keep everyone well hydrated, and seek out some inside activities here and there. (Good reason to get that Frozen Ever After FastPass+ selection!)
Festival Fun for Kids
Now that we’ve covered that, on to the Festival fun! So, what exactly is there for kids at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival? From food, to activities, to stuff to see and do, here are some suggestions from your very own “Disney Mom”:
- Isn’t this thing full of exotic delicacies geared to an adult palate? Well, sure – there’s some of that. But there’s also a fabulous mac ‘n’ cheese. And chicken potstickers. And ravioli. And fried chicken. And I haven’t even mentioned the sweets yet! Like Belgian waffles, a banana almond sundae, a gingerbread cookie…and a whole booth dedicated to chocolate!
- Check out the menus in advance and let your kids choose a few things they want to try. It makes them feel like part of the planning process and gives them something to look forward to.
Things to Do
- Every time we visit any Walt Disney World park, my son picks up a guide map. We have dozens of them (side note: I need a way to repurpose all those maps. Any ideas?). During Epcot Food & Wine, the maps include the food booth locations, so my son checks his map and tells us which booth is next on our tour. Fun and free!
- Another fun activity involving a map is Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak, a scavenger hunt in which you look for figures of the Little Chef himself around World Showcase and place corresponding stickers on a map. This one has a minimal cost, but you do get a prize at the end.
- Plus, be sure to pick up a free Festival Passport and let the kids fill it with stickers from each booth you visit.
More Kid-Approved Stuff
- You can always visit the Kidcot Fun Stop stations around the park to take a breather and let the littles create some cute artwork. This is also a good chance for them to meet Cast Members from the countries represented in World Showcase and learn about different cultures.
- Don’t forget to go on some rides. It’s a theme park, after all! So plan to take it slow on The Seas with Nemo & Friends, or amp it up on Test Track. There are plenty of things to make the kids happy if they get a little restless.
- Meet some characters at the Epcot Character Spot, or other locations scattered around the park (check the Times Guide for a schedule). If you’ve followed my advice and started early, you may find you’ve had your fill by late afternoon. If you’re an Annual Passholder or have the Park Hopper option on your tickets, you can catch the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. Hop on some rides there, or stay late and see the new Happily Ever After fireworks show. Sounds like a perfect way to cap off a fun family day.
The 2017 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival runs from August 31 through November 13. The Festival is included in your park admission, but food and beverages cost extra. Have questions about the event? Leave a comment below and I’d be happy to help!