Preparing for any Epcot festival is no easy feat. There’s a lot to research, sort through, and plan, especially if you want to see, do, and most importantly, eat it all.
(Just for reference, this year’s festival kicked off on July 15 and runs through Nov. 20.)
*high-fives and pats each other on the backs*
But, getting to that goal was not exactly a simple task. We did a lot of planning and organizing.
From multiple Zoom meetings, to several spreadsheets, to figuring out how we would carry everything, to creating 34 individual booth pages, to waiting “patiently” for the menus to drop, we put in a massive amount of effort and work to ensure, in the end, that we delivered the best information possible.
As much as we each individually did our own part, it was completely a team effort!
Now, while you may not be setting out to eat and drink everything like us, we thought it would be helpful (and also interesting) to share some behind the scenes stuff from our first-ever attempt at testing everything at an Epcot festival.
What did we do before the trip? What did we pack? What was our process? Did we learn any lessons?
Keep reading to find out how everything panned out for us at this year’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival.
Epcot Food and Wine Pre-Trip Planning
Where to start? This was the question we had during the beginning stages of our pre-trip planning for Epcot Food and Wine.
When you’re dealing with a festival this large, how do you even begin figuring out a schedule, organizing all the information, designating tasks, and so on?
Before 2021 Epcot Food and Wine, we had never primarily focused on information about outdoor marketplaces.
Instead, we only had an “overall” guide to the festival. We provided general information, but never reviews of individual menu items.
But, this year, we decided it was time to go all-in on Food & Wine by making a “complete” festival guide.
What did this mean?
We would eat and drink all of the food and beverages available at the Food & Wine Festival, along with rating each one and writing a short review.
We meant business!
It was definitely daunting, but once we found our groove, we were good to go!
Before arriving at the festival, we knew we had to be extremely organized. We had a tight schedule when the Festival started, so we planned things out over several weeks via evening Zoom meetings and too many Slack messages to count.
Here’s a brief overview of our planning:
- First, we created spreadsheets for data (check out in more detail) and for each booth (organized by location, tasks lists, overall booth info). This was the backbone for all the other planning.
- After we had all the booths in a spreadsheet, we split up the booths into 2 rounds over the course of 2 days (plus an extra overflow day just in case): Round 1 = lunch/afternoon and Round 2 = dinner/evening. We also planned certain booths during the day, aka for Round 1, where we could eat inside to avoid the hottest parts of the day.
- Once things were divided, we figured out our eating hubs and grouped booths in each Round according to those. That made it easier since we could bring food and drinks back to a central spot rather than try to find a table every time. For example, Epcot Experience was used for booths within the closest proximity (Brew-Wing, Swanky Saucy Swine, Hawaii, The Donut Box, Flavors From Fire).
- Once we knew where we were headed with the food, we planned how we would transport everything from booth to table. Although we “jokingly” thought about using a stroller, we opted instead for some handy carriers. We thought those would be easier to navigate through the crowds, plus we thought we might get funny looks pushing a stroller full of flights of beer. More specifics on the carriers we used below.
- Then, we took a look at the menus and discussed diets (Heather has a shellfish allergy and Allyson is vegetarian).
- Once we had a handle on all of that, we put together content we needed. In our case, that meant creating individual booth pages and reusable blocks for each menu item, plus putting together topics for potential future articles. All that had to be done before the Festival started, and honestly was the most time consuming and tedious out of everything we did.
- Finally, we purchased two $500 Disney Gift Cards. Because we all had iPhones, we could easily share them between the 4 of us, and we each added them to our Apple Wallets to make it easier to pay. If you have a budget, this is a good way to stay on track.
As you can see, there was a lot that went into planning before we even left for Food and Wine.
Where to stay for Food & Wine Festival
The final piece of planning our trip was figuring out where to stay.
We wanted it to be convenient to Epcot, but since we needed 4 beds, it needed to be affordable, too.
We had 2 adjoining rooms, which was perfect, and having the option to fold up one bed in each room so that we could use the table as a desk made working easy.
If you’re thinking about planning an Epcot-focused trip, here are the ones that are either within walking distance or a short Skyliner trip away:
- Beach Club & Beach Club Villas (walking distance)
- Yacht Club (walking distance)
- Boardwalk Inn and the Boardwalk Villas (walking distance)
- Swan, Dolphin, and the new Swan Reserve (walking distance)
- Pop Century (Disney Skyliner access)
- Art of Animation (Disney Skyliner access)
- Caribbean Beach (Disney Skyliner access)
- Riviera Resort (Disney Skyliner access)
What We Bought & Packed
Packing is key for any trip to Disney (check out our ultimate packing list), including when deciding what to bring for Epcot Food and Wine.
Silverware and napkins are available next to each festival booth, but we wanted to make the process as easy as possible, and we wanted to avoid having to run back to grab a forgotten fork or napkin.
Plus, if our hands were full, this meant we wouldn’t need to stop for cutlery and napkins.
Below is everything we purchased and used. You can find the following on Amazon.
Note: although it looks like a lot, we only took in what was needed for each day, and it all easily fit into 1 backpack.
Pros: Reusable; has adjustable straps; folds; washable
Cons: Adjustable straps didn’t fit around all of the glasses at each booth, because they’re not all the same shape
Product Link (affiliate)
Price: $14.69 for 20 boxes
Pros: Folds (fits in a backpack); a life-saver in carrying food; depending on size of bowl or plate can fit 3-4 dishes at once (you can also stack if you want); can use the same box more than once
Cons: Not super sturdy and need two hands to carry
Product Link (affiliate)
Price: $21.39 for 125 pack
Pros: Compostable; perfect size for smaller portions; easy to fit in a backpack; great for sharing between multiple people
Cons: Not always necessary, especially since festival dishes are smaller
Product Link (affiliate)
Price: $6.82 for 120 hand towels
Pros: You get a lot for the price; thick and absorbent
Cons: Spending money on something that’s free inside the park
Product Link (affiliate)
Price: $8.99 for 200-pack
Pros: Better than paper straws; get your bang for your buck; biodegradable and plant-based; flexible
Cons: Unless you’re sharing drinks (and are worried about germs), a straw isn’t always needed
Product Link (affiliate)
Full disclosure: we used a different type of compostable cutlery, but it wasn’t sturdy and quite breakable (or maybe we just all have super-strength). We went through a lot of knives and forks! Next time, we’re going to try the following.
Price: $15.97 for set of 150 (50 forks, 50 knives, 50 spoons)
Pros: Better for the environment compared to what Disney provides; good to always have a set in case a silverware dispenser runs out, which happens from time to time
Cons: May break easy
Product Link (affiliate)
Of course, we also brought hand wipes and baggies to hold the napkins, straws, plates, and whatever else we needed. By putting these items in baggies, it helped keep each item organized in the backpack.
Tip: Order or bring your own case of water! This way, you’ll have some with you and won’t have to waste a good chunk of change on the expensive bottled water at Disney.
You can also get free cups of ice water at select locations that have fountain drinks (majority of the booths don’t).
Our Process At The Festival
We had a set process when it came to making sure we accomplished what we needed to — and in the amount of time we had.
Before we perfected the following routine, we originally had a select number of booths assigned to each of us.
In that plan, for our assigned booths we were each responsible for taking photos of the booth, the menu, and each food and drink item, making sure the ratings and reviews were completed, and inputting all of the information for said booth into the pages we created for the website.
We quickly learned this process consumed too much time and that we needed to make it a group effort. Rather than everyone having a specific job, we all pitched in and worked together on everything.
It went much faster and made our lives much, much easier!
Here’s how it went.
Grabbed A Table
While some of us waited in line for the food and drinks, one or two of us (mainly Shannon, because she’s a superstar at snagging tables), would scope out an area for a table and chairs.
Ordered Food & Drinks
Two or three of us would order everything from the menu and help carry it back to the table courtesy of our food carriers and drink caddy (or our hands, depending on the glass shape and if there were flights).
Tip: You can only order two alcoholic drinks per person, so if there’s a big list of cocktails, wine, or beer, you can’t order it all by yourself.
Took Photos Of Every Menu Item
Before diving into any of the food and drinks, we took individual photos of each menu item, along with a group photo.
We also had a “Shared Album,” where we placed all of our images. It was later organized in Google Photos by individual booths.
Filled Out Our Ratings & Reviews
While eating and drinking, we opened up a Google spreadsheet on our phones for that booth and recorded our ratings and reviews.
This really was such a fun time, especially to see who liked what and if any of us were on the same page.
We always waited until we all tried everything before sharing our thoughts, so we didn’t influence one another.
Admittedly, keeping our facial expressions at a minimum wasn’t easy. And sometimes you just had to spit out food (*cough* Shannon *cough*). We laughed a lot!
Important: We always went back to the hotel for a break in the afternoon (when it’s the hottest during the summer days). It’s important to rest! Plus, we also used this time to start inputting our information and upload photos.
How much does it cost to eat and drink everything at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival?
Honestly, it wasn’t as much as we thought. Don’t get us wrong – it was expensive, but not a stay-at-the–Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser-resort expensive.
Not counting the supplies, we spent around $1050-$1080 to eat and drink everything that is currently available at Epcot Food & Wine.
And, we will be back at it again in early October after the last 9 booths open. We expect to spend another $400 or so for that round.
As you can see, there was a lot of preparation for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.
And even though we had a lot of stuff on our to-do list because we were doing this for research, even if you were just going for fun, some of our tips (like the collapsible cardboard carriers and planning where you can eat indoors) can still come in quite handy.
Want to plan your own Epcot International Food & Wine Festival trip?
We have some really great information for you (keep scrolling for our map, booth links, data, and everything we’ve put together so far).
Now that we successfully achieved what we set out to do, we can do it again in the future and possibly for other festivals. But, we’ll have to wait and see.
Let’s just say that we’re definitely prepared for next time!
Food & Wine Booth map
Check out all the booths from the 2021 Food and Wine Festival on the map below, including our favorite overall booths, favorite items at each booth, and locations for indoor seating.
We will update with the 2022 map in July.
Food & Wine Festival Booth links
Ready to explore more Food & Wine Festival booths? Take a look at the links below for menus and reviews from the 2021 Food & Wine Festival.
Looking for information on 2022? We will have an updated list and complete reviews in July after this year’s festival kicks off.
- Kenya – NEW!
- Lobster Landing – NEW!
- Mac & Eats – NEW!
- The Noodle Exchange – NEW!
- Refreshment Outpost
- Refreshment Port hosted by Boursin® Cheese
- Rotunda Bistro – NEW!
- Shimmering Sips hosted by CORKCICLE®
- The Swanky Saucy Swine – NEW!
- Tangierine Café: Flavors of the Medina – NEW!
Food and Wine Festival data
Want to see all our 2021 reviews in 1 spot?
Clicking on the link below will allow you to copy our data into a Google Sheet that you can then use for your Food & Wine planning purposes.
Read more about the Food & Wine Festival
Be sure to check out the following links to our Epcot Food and Wine Festival posts, where we provide all kinds of information, tips, and much more.
Here’s everything we put together for 2021! Stay tuned for 2022 content once this year’s festival begins.
- 2021 Food & Wine Festival Map (interactive & with all our favorites)
- Complete Guide to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival
- Our favorite Epcot Food & Wine booths
- Best seating areas at Food & Wine (with indoor and outdoor options)
- The best vegetarian options at this year’s Food & Wine Festival
- How we prepared for Epcot Food & Wine 2021
- Best values at Epcot Food and Wine 2021
- Best kid-friendly options at Epcot Food and Wine 2021
- 9 Epcot Food and Wine Tips to Help You Navigate the 2021 Festival
- PODCAST – Our favorite Food & Wine Festival Booths (with daily updates)
- 2022 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Dates Announced
- Tickets On Sale For 2022 Swan & Dolphin Food & Wine Classic
- Lunar New Year & Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival Return In 2022
- 2022 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Booths & Eat to the Beat Schedule Announced
- The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Returns March 2022