The blooms of Disney’s recent Flower & Garden Festival had barely faded when the 2022 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival kicked off on July 14. And while the peak of summer may seem a bit soon for fans who remember the event as a tradition of the fall season, we found at least five good reasons why you’ll want to make plans to attend the #TasteEPCOT festivities before they wrap up on November 19.
EPCOT’s longest-running seasonal event brings foodies and Disney fans together for an annual celebration of “eatertainment,” and this year’s International Food & Wine Festival features the welcome return of some old favorites, and well as the first-ever opportunity for guests to take a ride with the Guardians of the Galaxy during their walk around the World.
Before we dive into the highlights of the 2022 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival, we should address the elephant in the room: Despite ditching the ”Taste of” designation applied during the pandemic to EPCOT’s pared-back Festivals, this Food & Wine event is missing some features that longtime attendees may remember.
For starters, the new decorative displays at the park’s front entrance and at the gateway to World Showcase could charitably be described as minimalist at best. The flat designs somewhat resemble Rolly Crump’s Towers of the Four Winds from the 1964 World’s Fair, if Walt had budget-cut that iconic sculpture into aesthetic impotence.
In addition, the educational seminars and demonstrations from culinary experts have still not returned to EPCOT, despite being offered (as limited-capacity ticketed events) during Disney California Adventure’s similar festival. Seminars with sommeliers and chefs are what separated Food & Wine from just being an expensive sampling session, and they are sorely missed.
Finally, ”shrinkflation” is affecting every aspect of our economy, and while most menu and merchandise costs around Walt Disney World have increased somewhat slower than the overall inflation rate, pricing seems to be up sharply at many Festival marketplace booths, while portions have been reduced.
The traditional escargot in France now consists of merely three tiny, tough mollusks on an inedibly tough brioche bread, drowning in herb butter.
Another prime example is the spicy salmon donburi from the Japan pavilion, which features a miniscule portion of fish (especially in comparison to the salmon flower pot previously offered during the Flower & Garden festivals) for more money than the larger sushi rolls sold year-round at nearby Kabuki Cafe.
But if you set all those issues aside, there’s still plenty to savor at the 2022 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival. Here are our top five reasons to return to this year’s event. Just remember to stay hydrated because eating and drinking your way around the World in the summer heat can be hard work!
Appleseed Orchard and Odyssey Reopened
Speaking of summer heat, the climate-controlled Festival Center (originally known as the Millennium Pavilion) between the UK and Canada is unfortunately not being used this year, but there are two other options for escaping from the sun while you sip and snack. Appleseed Orchard has again taken over Canada’s CircleVision 360 theater, and the decorated space looks more welcoming than ever.
Better yet, Odyssey has reopened, after being closed for the removal of Imagineering’s preview center. It’s somewhat sad to see the large central space, which has been used for demonstrations and dispays in the past, simply filled with cocktail tables. But Odyssey does provide a welcome respite from the humidity in which to enjoy Brew-Wing’s craft beers and ciders.
Plentiful Plant-Based Options
Brew-Wing at Odyssey is also home to the crispy Brussels sprouts, a favorite returning dish among vegan visitors to EPCOT’s Food & Wine Festival. (Pro tip: Ask the kitchen to go light on the spicy buffalo sauce, lest your crispy sprouts come out soggy).
The sprouts are joined by several new and updated plant-based and vegetarian items found around the park. Our friends at TouringPlans tapped Earth Eats’s Impossible Burger slider as one of their favorite picks (meat-free or otherwise) at this year’s festival.
Our favorite plant-based item that we’ve tried so far is India’s pea-and-potato samosas, which pack a ton of flavor (but not too much heat) into a generous portion.
Emile’s Cheese Walk Widens
On the other hand, if you do eat animal products, you’ll want to take another look at the stamp page inside the back cover of your free Food & Wine passport. Food strolls, where guests can purchase five items from a themed menu and receive a free reward, have become a popular fixture at all EPCOT festivals, but this year Emile’s Fromage Montage has refreshed the format with some smart changes.
First, instead of only 5 participating options around the park, this time there are 10 eligible dishes, and some of those (like the Alpine Raclette) come in several variations. That means you could complete the Montage twice and try different items each time. When finished, simply show your fully stamped passport at Shimmering Sips to secure your surprise.
In addition, the instructions now make explicit the previously unwritten rule that guests can order the same dish multiple times and have it count towards their completion. We tried the smoked corned beef and cheese curds on housemade potato chips at Flavors from Fire, and we could certainly see ordering it two or four more times (especially with a potent Swine Brine cocktail to wash it down).
It wouldn’t be a Disney theme park event without new merchandise to collect, and this year’s Food & Wine Festival is no exception.
If sampling all this food puts you in the mood to do some cooking yourself, an attractive line of kitchen accessories emblazoned with Princess Tiana is now available.
Perhaps the most cost-effective souvenir you can pick up is a game map for Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak scavenger hunt, which will have your kids seeing secret rat sculptures aroud the park in exchange for a small prize. (If you love Remy’s hunt, look out for Pluto’s Pumpkin Pursuit when Halloween approaches.)
More Music and Munchies To Come
Even with all this to enjoy, the 2022 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival is only just getting started. For one, the American Gardens Theater is just getting warmed up with its Eat to the Beat concert series, which presents three shows every evening. On the night of our visit, audiences were already staking out seats for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy an hour before their first performance.
Concerts continue through November with many new-to-EPCOT acts on the agenda, including Jeremy Camp in July, Blanco Brown in August, Hoobastank in September, and Ray Parker Jr. in October.
Better yet, there are still more Festival Marketplace food booths opening at EPCOT later this summer. Starting in August, look for favorites like Hawai’i, the Noodle Exchange, and Mac & Eats to join the lineup.
What are you most looking forward to at the 2022 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival? Let us know in the comments below!
For all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, or to plan your family’s trip to Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.