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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tip Tuesday: Enjoying the Food & Wine Festival

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

This week, we're heading over to Epcot for the 16th Food and Wine Festival (yum!).

This year's Festival features more 25 international marketplaces offering tapas-sized portions paired with beer, wine and inventive new cocktails.

Marketplace tasting menus offer variety and adventure for guests on a mission to tantalize their taste buds during a scenic stroll around the 40-acre World Showcase Lagoon. The adventure can take them to the festival’s first Hawaii marketplace, which will cook up Kalua pork sliders and tuna poke with seaweed salad and lotus root chips to team with a refreshing Seven Tiki Mai Tai or a Kona Longboard or Pipeline beer. A new Caribbean Islands marketplace will serve ropa vieja with rice and jerk-spiced chicken with mango salsa. A beverage menu featuring a frozen Dragon Berry Colada and frozen Rock Coconut Mojito is sure to conjure steel-drum fantasies.

With a swing across the Atlantic, guests will be transported to the new Portugal marketplace, where guests can pair a red, white or port wine with calamari salad with olives and smoked paprika or Linguica sausage with onions, peppers and olives. The Scandinavia marketplace will return after a hiatus with a fresh new Xante Sunshine cocktail made from Xante pear and cognac liquer. And the Canada marketplace will introduce a sweet treat: apple ice wine.

With all these opportunities, it can be a bit overwhelming, so I've put together a few tips to help you best experience the Food and Wine Festival (or F&W for short):

Take your time and take more than just one day
F&W is simple huge. Don't believe me? Take a look at the guidemap to see just how many kiosks are available this year. With so many options, it's simply not possible to sample everything in a single day. Also, if you try to rush it, all you'll end up doing is making yourself sick and not enjoying the different cuisines. So if you have the time, I strongly suggest devoting two afternoons/evenings to enjoying the Festival. If you only have one day, then you'd better....

Make a plan
Given that there are so many kiosks and given that F&W is VERY popular, especially on the weekends (more on that in a moment), it's a good idea to download the guidemap and make a note of which marketplaces are high on your priority list. Plan your touring based on these key locations and don't try to cram in as much as possible. Visit your key locations, and enjoy those. You can always come back another year.

Go mid-week and start early
Like I mentioned earlier, F&W is very popular, especially Fridays through Sundays. If your schedule allows, try to visit the F&W during early to mid week (Mondays through Thursdays) to avoid the worst of the crowds, though even on those off-days, there still will be crowds in the evenings. The best way to avoid the crowds (in addition to visiting on a weekday) is to start your F&W touring right at 11am when World Showcase opens. Have an early lunch and stay for an early dinner! Like I said earlier, it's important to take your time. Yes you're there to eat, but you're also doing some walking, and while it's now Fall, Florida still can get pretty warm in the afternoons, so you don't want to overeat and make yourself sick - that's no fun.

Get the gift card
In the past few years, Disney has offered a special F&W gift card attached to a plastic bracelet. This is a gift card you and preload with a certain amount of money and then use wherever you want. This is a great way to avoid pulling out your wallet (or purse) again and again as you go from kiosk to kiosk. Just pull the bracelet card off your wrist, give a quick swipe, and you're good to go! (My thanks to our friends at the DisneyFoodBlog for the card photo!).

So there you are... a few tips to help you on your next trip to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. For more information, be sure to check out the Food & Wine Festival page on the Disney Web site.

Until next time Bon Appetit!

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