Let’s face it – I wanted to do the Wine and Dine Half Marathon so I could experience the International Food and Wine Festival at Epcot.
Included with my registration to the race was admission to an After Hours Party at Epcot which included access to the park starting at 8pm. The party itself was from 10pm-1am.
After a shower, nap and lunch, I made my way to Epcot. Sunday was the only day I was going to hit the park and I didn’t want to miss any of the festival if I could help it.
My first stop was the Festival Center. I was hoping to a ticket to the Back to Basics seminar at 3:15. I couldn’t reserve admission ahead of time since it was a first come, first serve event. Let me tell you, it was worth forcing myself from my nap to get to Epcot. I was so excited to be handed a ticket and even more excited when I learned the seminar was about tea!
I had some time before the start of the seminar so I explored some of what the Festival Center had to offer. I checked out the Bean to Bar area which talked about how chocolate is made and had some of the drinking chocolate Ghirardelli was serving. Sipping my chocolate, I viewed the “Seasons of the Vine” which went through how wine is made. I also pursued the Festival merchandise.
By then it was time to go into the Back to Basics seminar. I got into line and then filed into the area for the seminar. At each seat there was a note pad, pencil, water, and samples of tea (swoons).
The seminar lasted about 35 minutes leaving time for a question and answer session, door prizes and time to look at the wonderful tea display.
Mr. Daniel Wasilick from Twinings was very informative. He talked about how tea is made, where it comes from and which country drinks the most tea per capita (and it is not England!).
I had no idea what to expect during this seminar but I am so happy I got myself there. I was really bummed I missed seminars at Flower and Garden in the spring so I glad I got to experience this during Food and Wine!
Next on my Epcot agenda was a quick trip to the World Showcase for a ride on Frozen Ever After. Since this is a new ride since my April trip, I had to go on it. It was super cute – even for someone who is over the whole Frozen thing!
I then headed back to the Festival Center to attend a seminar I did reserve in advance – a Beverage Seminar. This 45 minute seminar talked about wine – from Tasca in Italy! This is an ennobled family in Italy but they are farmers and have made wine for generations.
For $15, we got to sample 3 wines – 1 white and 2 reds. From left to right – Grillo (which means cricket; horse of the fairies), Lamuri (love) and Rosso del Conte (Count’s Wine).I’m not a huge red fan but the middle sample was definitely more my speed. The third one was definitely a bolder palate and not for me. The white Grillo is definitely a wine I would purchase for myself.
It was still too early to check in for the party so I decided to begin eating my way the world (mmmmmm). First stop was Canada for my favorite – “Le Cellier” Filet Mignon. Then it was off to Brazil for some Brazilian Cheese Bread. I took both plates with me to the Chase Lounge so I could sit and enjoy a tasty Diet Coke. On my way to the lounge, I passed the Eat to the Beat Concert going on across the way. Delta Rae was performing and I was able to snap a quick pic (I was hungry so I was more excited to eat than dance at the moment).
After relaxing for a bit and savoring some of the deliciousness, I realized it was time to head back to the front of the park to pick up my wristband for the After Party. There was a line but luckily, I had stopped by Hawaii and picked up a glass of tasty Sparkling Pineapple Wine…and the line moved quickly 🙂
After picking up my wristband and party guide, it was time to use my last fast pass of the evening. I chose to use the pass to get pictures with 2 of my favorite mice – Mickey and Minnie of course! I was joined in line by a bunch of fellow runners who wanted medal pics with the pair as well.
Then it was time to sit!! After a lot of bouncing around for my first few hours at Epcot, it was time to find a place to get comfortable to watch Illuminations. This isn’t my favorite night show at the parks but I do love the fireworks. This also marked the end of the park day for all non-party goers. I luckily found a place to sit and watch the fireworks.
Now the good part – what else did I eat?!?!?! Once the park cleared, the carts restocked, and it was time to continue my eating around the world!
I didn’t stop at too many stands – mostly because I am a very picky eater. But where I did stop and what I did eat made me (and my stomach) very happy.
I had an Ice Imperial from the Desserts and Champagne cart; chocolate waffle from Belgium; kefta pocket from Mococco; chicken pot stickers from China; and my favorite – a beef empanada from Patagonia.
Oh and I forgot my desserts —
Top left – from the Chew Collective: peanut butter and white chocolate mousse and the bottom – from the Chocolate Studio: a chocolate raspberry torte.
I bought 2 souvenirs from the Festival. Both of them I would highly recommend to anyone going to the Festival in the coming years. The first one is called a Tasting Sampler. It contained 8 coupons to use at any cart (beer flights and champagne were not included). I spent $60 on this and after adding up what I wanted to order, it made sense to get this. The package also included a Festival pin. My second purchase can kind of be seen in the above picture. It was an appetizer plate with a cup holder. This was perfect for the event because I could carry my food on the plate part and drink in the cup holder instead of trying to juggle everything. I believe this was $8 and I will be taking it with me to Festivals in the future.
The After Party also featured bands as well as a DJ who was hosting a dance party. The DJ’s music was played throughout the park and I definitely enjoyed dancing from cart to cart as my muscles loosened up. We were also visited by characters you don’t normally see in the parks. Of all the characters scattered throughout the world, I wanted to meet Remy in France. He was the character I associated most with the race weekend (besides Chef Mickey).
I absolutely loved the Food and Wine Festival. I am so glad I got to experience seminars, food, drink, characters and the excitement of the after party. I definitely think I will be making a visit to this Festival again – with or without the race.