Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2009 Part 1

I’m back from my gastronomical adventure around the world!  Around the World Showcase at Epcot, that is.

From September 25th through November 8th, Epcot is transformed into a paradise for food and wine fans for the International Food & Wine Festival.  Besides going on the rides you can explore countries on six continents through their food and drinks.  It’s not just the countries in the World Showcase — this year more than 25 booths feature the cuisine of more than 20 countries.

I had been looking forward to this year’s festival for quite some time and mapped out my plan of action weeks earlier.  First I’d get a glass of Champagne at the festival welcome center.  Then I’d start my eating tour in France, which has always been my favorite Epcot country.  I studied the menus in the festival guide so I wouldn’t miss any food or drinks.  Lamb chops in Australia were a must, as was the warm chocolate lava cake in Ireland.

What I love about the International Food & Wine Festival is that it is set at such a fun place.  Epcot has always been my favorite Disney theme park and I still get that giddy feeling when I pass through the gates.  Even though I’ve visited several of the countries featured in the World Showcase I still get a kick out of visiting Epcot’s versions.  And with newer rides like Soarin’ and Test Track, Epcot has some of the best rides of all the Disney theme parks.

At the festival I’m reminded of the excitement I felt when I was a child, while being able to enjoy grown-up treats.  It may not have the sophistication or selection of other food and wine festivals, but it’s the one I look forward to most all year.

From the friendly cast members to the attention to detail, there’s a certain charm about Walt Disney World that you just don’t get at other theme parks.

Of course like all good things, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is expensive.  With food and drinks ranging between $3 and $7 a pop on average, eating your way around the world adds up quickly.  I recommend purchasing a Disney gift card that you can wear on your wrist and use for charging all your purchases.  It’s less annoying than taking out your wallet all the time, and it helps you keep track of how much you’re spending.  The gift cards can be purchased and refilled all over Epcot.

One thing I missed were the wine walkabouts from previous festivals.  At these walkabouts you would purchase a wine passport and then sample a variety of wines from a single country.  This year’s Beer Hop follows a similar format with a variety of international brews, but to me it wasn’t as interesting a selection.

I also would have liked to see more wines from the United States.  I enjoyed the New York Wine Adventure because it showcased some of the state’s delicious wines, but it would have been nice to see other states.  And not just California or Oregon — an up-and-coming winemaking state like Virginia would be perfect for the American Adventure pavilion.

But enough about the festival itself, it’s time to move on to the food and drinks!

Next: Part 2 of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival