The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is back for its 21st year! Adding 9 more days to this year’s 2016 run, the festival begins on September 14 and ends November 14. New musical acts, new culinary experiences, and some returning favorites make this special event a “must-do” if you are planning a Walt Disney World vacation this fall. While it may not seem like a “family friendly” event, my family experienced the festival together last year and found out just how wrong we were. With a bit of planning and preparation, you too can make this event a fun family memory that will last a lifetime.

Mickey topiary at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. Photo Credit: Sarah Gilliland, Twins TravelingMom

Mickey topiary at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. Photo Credit: Sarah Gilliland, Twins TravelingMom

How to Enjoy Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival with Family

When you hear “Epcot International Food & Wine Festival,” you may think about the food or the wine. You may think fun and excitement. You may also wonder if it would be possible to take your family to an event like this and have a good experience. My family was fortunate enough to attend the 2015 edition of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, and we were pleasantly surprised at how much we all enjoyed it. Yes, even my twins, who were 4 at the time, had a great time experiencing all that is offered at the Food & Wine Festival. I believe taking my children to this event shows you that no matter your age, with a little thought and preparation, your family can also enjoy this event.

We approached the festival like we would any other special event. We exercised our common sense as parents and chose to go during the day, and during a weekday for that matter, to avoid the more rambunctious night and weekend crowds. Read on to find out my top 4 ways to enjoy this special food & wine event with your own family.

Play Games

Playing "hide and squeak" with Remy during Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival. Photo Credit: Sarah Gilliland, Twins TravelingMom

Playing “hide and squeak” with Remy during Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival. Photo Credit: Sarah Gilliland, Twins TravelingMom

In 2015, Walt Disney World introduced “Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak.” Guests were invited to seek out Remy, the main character from the Disney/Pixar film “Ratatouille,” and his various recipe ingredients hidden all over the World Showcase. Some of the hiding spots were very easy to find while others proved to be difficult, even for the adults in our group! This fun game will return this year, and, I hope, it will keep coming back for many more years (or at least some variations of it). One aspect of this game that was not difficult was the fun we had together as a family. Laughing and making memories together only serve to enhance an already wonderful experience.

Enjoy the Food

Great food and great fun can be had by all at Epcot Food & Wine Festival.

Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Nueske’s® Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers and Green Onions from Farm Fresh. Photo Credit: Sarah Gilliland, Twins TravelingMom

This point may seem a little redundant, but if your children are anything like mine, they don’t often branch out when it comes to eating. They know what they like, and they like what they know. The Food & Wine Festival is the perfect time to try to encourage some culinary risks.  Why? Because, no matter what you ask your child to try, if they don’t like it, you can finish it off (parenting win, right?)!

My family’s favorites are back this year including the Loaded Mac n’ Cheese with Nueske’s Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers, and Green Onions from Farm Fresh and the Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel . The latter was at last year’s The CHEW Lab marketplace and will be at the brand new Chocolate Studio marketplace for 2016 (yum!).

Talk to Cast Members

Grand Entrance at the 2015 Epcot Food & Wine Festival. Photo Credit: Sarah Gilliland, Twins TravelingMom

Grand Entrance at the 2015 Epcot Food & Wine Festival. Photo Credit: Sarah Gilliland, Twins TravelingMom

Talking to Cast Members is one of my favorite things to do on a Disney vacation, especially in Epcot. Most of the Cast Members in each country in the World Showcase are actually from the country they are working in. This is an incredible opportunity to teach your children about another culture directly from someone who actually lives there.

Yes, Walt Disney World is amazing family fun, but there are also plenty of ways to sneak in some education while you’re there. Learning about the foods at the festival marketplaces will also give children, and maybe even adults, a better understand of a country as well.

Enjoy the Special Events

Food & Wine Festival signage from the 20th anniversary year.

Festive signage announcing the 2015 festival. Photo Credit: Sarah Gilliland, Twins TravelingMom

Whether you’re into cooking demonstrations, music, or other culinary arts, let your kids in on the fun. The Eat to the Beat concert series is back again in 2016, and with some new acts to boot! You and your family can enjoy these new acts this year:

  • Wang Chung, September 14-15 “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”
  • BoDeans, September 21-23 “Closer to Free”
  • Plain White T’s, October 7-9 “Hey There Delilah”
  • Jeffrey Osborne, October 11-13 “On the Wings of Love”
  • Toad the Wet Sprocket, October 22-23 “Walk on the Ocean”
  • Living Colour, October 28-29 “Cult of Personality”
  • Soul Asylum, November 2-3 “Runaway Train”
  • Delta Rae, November 4-6 “Bottom of the River”

Some culinary demonstrations are included with the price of Epcot admission, and some are an extra fee. Be sure to check the Festival Website for more information about each day’s offerings.

TravelingMom Tip: If you are a Disney Chase Visa Credit Card holder, take advantage of the member’s only lounge atop the American Pavilion. Your Disney Chase Visa will grant you admission for yourself and up to 6 guests to enjoy the air conditioning, free non-alcoholic beverages, and a truly unique view of the concert venue.

Epcot Food & Wine Festival is not just for adults. With a little planning and preparation, it can be a fun family event too. Read on to find 4 ways to make this special event enjoyable for your family.

This list is by no means a comprehensive one, but hopefully I encouraged you with my tips on how to make this even a family affair. Don’t forget to pack your appetite on the day of your visit! We ate a very light breakfast and spent the rest of our day’s calories savoring the specialties that can only be tasted during this time of year in Epcot.

Have you ever visited Walt Disney World during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival? I’d love to hear your best tips for making the most out of your visit!