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Have you ever been to Disney World during the International Food and Wine Festival that pops up in Epcot every Fall? You might hear the words “wine festival” and automatically that this is an adult-only affair. But no – quite the opposite! Pack up the entire family and head on down because there are so many great activities for kids to enjoy!
The 23rd annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is 75 days of gluttonous joy. This year between August 30th and November 12th you can indulge your every culinary desire, from escargots to poutine and beyond. For anyone who likes to eat, this is basically Disney World for your mouth.
Is Epcot Food and Wine Festival Family Friendly?
Food? Great! Wine? GREATER! Those of us with kids, however, have a dilemma. How do we get a chance to pursue our eating endeavors without our kids getting bored and cranky? I’ve got some suggestions to help keep everyone entertained, full and wanting to return again next year for more fun!
Tips and Activities for Kids at Disney’s Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
10. Hit the Food & Wine Festival when it opens at 11 am. Sure, you won’t relive your college days of heading out to the party at 11 pm, but you’ll thank me later. If you start exploring the food booths early, you’ll not only have a very tasty lunch but also avoid the guests who indulge too much in the evening. My family follows this plan every year. We finish with the Festival around the time the people who try a beverage at every food booth get started. Also, the crowds grow as the day goes on. You’ll definitely encounter the lowest crowds when the food booths open.
9. Your kids can become chefs! Visit the Festival Center in the morning (or the day before) to sign up your little one to make his own pancake creation. Offered on most Sundays, the class takes place at 11 am and registration is first-come, first-served. Junior chefs receive a hat, apron and a certificate. This class is a great way to introduce kids to all the Festival has to offer!
8. Never underestimate the power of a playground. When the kids need a break take them to the playground near Test Track. The soft artificial grass and playful structures will let them burn some energy and allow you to get some rest. Grab a decadent cronut (a croissant/doughnut) or even a beer at the nearby Taste Track food cart while you watch the kids monkey around.
7. Catch a concert. If your child is into music, check out one of the Eat to the Beat concerts. Performances start at 5:30 pm, 6:45 pm and 8 pm. This is a great opportunity to introduce kids to the concert experience. If you are concerned about getting a seat for a particular artist, you have some options. You can purchase an Eat to the Beat dining package for one of the 15 restaurants in World Showcase. Each package offers guaranteed seating for the show. Alternatively, you can book a counter-service package the day of the performance you want to see. This option is cheaper, but is first-come, first-served. After you eat, sit back, relax and enjoy the show!
6. Make candy sushi. Yep, you read that correctly. If your kid doesn’t like sushi, then you’ve never served candy sushi! This experience is free, but you do have preregister at www.tasteepcot.com. Disney chefs will teach your young’n how turn candy into a sushi treat at Sunshine Seasons in the Land Pavilion. It’s the perfect way to introduce kids to adventurous eating.
5. Drink glowing mocktails in the Light Lab. Disney keeps changing the offerings at Light Lab, which makes it a place you and your kids will want to return to again and again. Enter a dark room and line up for your Phosphorescent Phlight, three slushies with glow cubes and instructions for tasting. Watch “scientists” mix your drink with test tubes and beakers right before your eyes. Think of it as a science lesson and a sugar rush all in one! The kids love using test tubes to mix their drinks, and you’ll love that there are “adult” drinks too. This is also a great place to escape the heat and sit in the dark for a break. Light Lab is located in Future World near Club Cool.
4. Go on a scavenger hunt around World Showcase. Remy’s Hide and Squeak Scavenger hunt saved our Epcot day a few years ago. Some kids get very bored going from food booth to food booth waiting in line. Enter the scavenger hunt! Just stop by the Festival Center, Disney Traders, Pin Central or World Traveler (at the International Gateway) to purchase your map and stickers. As you visit each country in World Showcase, search for the hidden Remy and his ingredients. After you find it, put the corresponding sticker on the map. If your child has trouble finding Remy, any cast member is happy to give hints. When your map is complete, return to any of the above-mentioned stores to receive a commemorative pin.
3. Try new kid-friendly drinks. Who says fun drinks are just for adults? Some Food & Wine booths offer non-alcoholic drinks for the kids to try. Just look for drinks with a strawberry next to them on the menu. Try a pancake milkshake at Taste Track, a frozen apple pie at Simmering Sips Mimosa Bar or drinking chocolate at Ghiardelli’s Chocolate Experience.
2. Try kid-approved foods. Let’s face it, not all kids are adventurous eaters. That’s why Disney includes “safer” food choices at some Food & Wine Festival booths. Everyone is happier when bellies are full and kids are satisfied. Similar to the drinks, these foods are marked with a strawberry on the food booth menus. Loaded mac ’n cheese, chicken dumplings, roast bratwurst on a pretzel roll and mezzi rigatoni are some of the mild choices that young guests might enjoy.
1. Try new unique foods! THIS is the reason you are at the Food & Wine Festival in the first place! If you are lucky enough to have kids in your household who are willing to try new foods, this is the place to do it. We have had a ton of fun with our kids trying foods from various countries such as Africa, Thailand, and New Zealand. Pick up a passport as you enter the park and kids will have fun putting a sticker on each country when they taste something new. You could also make shirts listing all of the countries at the Festival and let kids put a check mark next to the countries where they have eaten. For some reason our kids are up for trying anything at the Food & Wine Festival. If only Disney could come up with a way to make that happen at home…
There you have it! The Top Ten things to do with kids at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival! Disney knows what it’s doing and making the Festival kid-friendly is a top priority for the mouse. Even the pickiest of eaters will find something new to try (nugget girl, I’m talking to you). Put your eatin’ pants on and conquer the World!
Huge huge amazing thanks to my wonderful friend Jen for sharing these expert tips with us! Jen, mom to 2, is a DVC member and frequents WDW multiple times a year, including an annual trip to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. We were lucky enough to learn how to “do Food & Wine” at Epcot last year from Jen and her family. It’s an awesome time to visit Disney and enjoy so many new culinary delights!