Epcot was the last of the Walt Disney World theme parks that my daughter and I returned to. We decided to just enjoy the park in general that day. Epcot is running the Taste of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, but we skipped it on our first day back. We returned on July 22, with the intention of concentrating more on the festival.
It was a typical summer day in Florida, with early afternoon storms, so we decided to wait a while. We arrived at the park at around 4:00, which gave us plenty of time. We weren’t going to Epcot to hit the rides (even though we did ride a couple of them), we just wanted to see what was happening with Food & Wine.
The main focus of the Taste of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is the Global Marketplaces, hence the word “taste” in the name. There are currently around 20 booths, and many of them are based on the countries in World Showcase. There are several more booths in the World Showcase Events Pavilion building, which is located between and behind the UK and Canada pavilions. That building is worth a stop, because it’s air conditioned, and The Piano Lady was entertaining when we were there. That was a nice surprise.
It looks like there are more booths coming to Epcot later this year. We noticed several closed booths with “coming this fall” signs. The ones that we saw included the Alps and Spain. There’s no word on when “this fall” will come. Last year, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival began on August 29, but that means nothing.
Speaking of things that will be coming later this fall, now is not the time to look for Food & Wine merchandise. The Festival Booths instead are filled with Flower & Garden merchandise. (I didn’t find any Orange Bird ears, so I guess they weren’t meant to be mine.) Disney has promised that more Food & Wine merch will be available, but we don’t know when. The Orange Bird Sipper is available at The Citrus Blossom booth, and the Spike the Bee Sipper at Refreshment Outpost. Both were sold at the Flower & Garden Festival this year.
There are other nods to the Flower & Garden Festival. The Bambi topiary is still in the front of the park, and Remy is in the back in France. A few food items from Flower & Garden are being served at the Global Marketplaces. My favorite festival has not totally been forgotten.
We bought a couple of food items. Cashless payments are encouraged, although cash is still accepted. Since we’re vegetarian and my daughter can’t have dairy we looked for the plant-based symbol. We ordered the Macaroni & Cheese from the Mac & Cheese booth. I had heard that it was spicy, so we ordered the sausage on the side. (Yes, vegan sausage is a real thing, as is vegan cheese.) It turns out that it was the mac and cheese part that had the heat. I’m still glad that we had the sausage on the side. It’s house-made, and it was delicious. The other item that we ordered was Plant-based Banana Bread from Simmering Sips. This was incredible! We will definitely be ordering it again.
There are no Passports this time around. Instead, you need to use the My Disney Experience App to access the information. There are places where you can scan a code to access the Digital Festival Guidebook. It’s not the same as the physical passport, but it works.
Remy’s Ratatouille Hide and Squeak is taking place once again. I have a love/hate relationship with this scavenger hunt. We didn’t try it this time, but I might break down and buy a map at some point. There has been no end date announced for the festival, so I have plenty of time.
The only drawback when we visited was that not everyone was following the face coverings rule. You cannot walk and remove the mask to eat or drink. If you remove the mask to eat, you are supposed to be stationary and at least six feet away from others. People followed this for most of the day, but in the final half hour or so we saw several breaking the rules. My guess is that this is because Cast Members had started to work to get things ready for closing, so they weren’t watching the guests as closely. If people aren’t going to follow the rules, they need to stay home. Disney is doing a great job, but guests need to respect the rules and respect other people.
I give Disney a solid “A” for effort with the scaled back festival. It is not what we are used to, but they are trying. I’m sure that it is costing more to keep the booths open than they are making on them (the lines were that short), but Disney still wanted to give us something special. I look forward to the day when full festivals are possible once again, but we will enjoy this for the time being. Especially since we now know where to find the Banana Bread…