Our family loves everything Disney and we try to visit a couple of times each year. We timed our most recent visit to coincide with the 20th Anniversary of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. My husband and I remember eating and drinking our way through the 5th Anniversary of the Festival, well before our children were born. Even with our two little ones this time, we still all enjoyed a yummy family visit!
Food, Wine and Kids at Epcot
The autographed poster from our visit to the 5th Anniversary of Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival has been hanging in our dining room since our kids were born. They see it every day. So this year, we took the kids with us to the festival. We had to alter our plans to accommodate our 5- and 9-year-olds, but Walt Disney designed his parks so that “parents and children could have fun, together.” And that’s just what we did!
Here are some suggestions on how to enjoy the Festival as a family:
- Pick up a passport at the entrance to Epcot. Then take a few moments to plan your strategy. At least decide which country’s food and wine booths you’d like to sample first. Do you all enjoy a particular type of food, such as pork or chicken? Our children liked some of the delicious pork options, including the pork slider served by the Hawaii booth, and the pork, onion and avocado taco in the Dominican Republic – yum! They also both love salmon so the poached salmon at the “Sustainable Chew” booth was a big hit as well.
- Make it a learning experience. As we walked past booths from various countries, we told the children a little bit about each place and explained what types of food were offered, which made them interested in tasting the different cuisine. Even if they didn’t like something, we were happy they tried something new. If all else fails, and your little one just doesn’t want to try any more of the tasty though out-of-the-ordinary food samples, you can always stop by the Italy or France pavilions for some delicious gelato or ice cream! This serves as an incentive for them to eat and be patient, giving parents a little more time to enjoy their food and sip their wines (instead of listening to whines)!
Give the kids a break. We made sure to break up our tastings with activities for the little ones. One of their favorite rides in Epcot is the Grand Fiesta boat ride featuring the comedy of Donald Duck in the Mexico Pavilion. It’s one of the shortest lines in all four parks, so we were able to ride it a several times.
- Let the kids meet their favorite Disney characters in Epcot. They are grouped by country, with Belle and Princess Aurora in France, Snow White in Germany, Jasmine and Aladdin in Morocco, Donald Duck in Mexico, Mulan in China and Mary Poppins and Winnie the Pooh & Friends in the United Kingdom. Sometimes I would wait for a meet and greet with one of the Disney friends while my husband visited the nearby food booths. After several photos and autographs, he would bring us some new food to try…everyone was happy with this divide and regroup arrangement!
Stop at the Kidcot spots. Each of the 11 World Showcase country pavilions have Kidcot stops, where they get a complimentary cardboard Duffy the Disney Bear to color with washable markers. While the pavilions all have the same designs to color, they each have a unique stamp with an image representing the country, so our children enjoy collecting all 11 stamps. It’s another way to get children around the one mile walkway to visit the 40+ food and wine booths! I particularly like the Kidcot in Mexico. It’s located inside the main building, near the “Cava” bar which serves delicious blood orange margaritas.
Visit the Epcot Food and Wine Festival at different times. We ended up visiting the Festival three times during our WDW vacation, arriving at different times of the day. I would recommend coming at least once in the evening, and definitely bring or rent a stroller if your children still fit in one. While the Disney characters are no longer there, it was the dinner hour, so our little ones were more focused on eating. Afterwards, they were content to be pushed in the stroller. Our 5-year-old was soon asleep for the night. Our 9-year-old daughter liked spending time with us while trying different foods.
- Don’t miss the “Illuminations” laser and fireworks show in the World Showcase lagoon. It starts when the park closes at 9pm. We saw many other families with children of all ages enjoying the show – a great way to top off the end of your Festival visit!
While we really enjoyed our visit to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival 15 years ago without children, we still had a wonderful trip this year as a family! If you’re planning a visit, Traveling Mom recommends Undercover Tourist to help you save a few bucks on Disney World tickets.
Have you visited the Epcot Food and Wine Festival with kids? What are your secrets for ensuring the kids don’t whine while you wine?