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Food & Wine Festival
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Immerse yourself in a Valencia, Spain, cultural experience. Sip to learn at a Napa Valley wine school. Take a culinary tour de France, and drop by a Specialty Beer Garden. World Showcase is your oyster, your Bordeaux, and even your lager during the first-ever six-week-long Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Oct. 1 through Nov. 14.
After eight years of serving up millions of delectable food, wine and beer samplings during a month-long festival, Epcot launches the fest two weeks earlier with new festival marketplaces and an expanded lineup of guest chefs and featured dinners, wine schools, tastings and pairings.
"Each year, we host the largest, longest wine fest in the world, and as demand for our food and wine events increased, we knew it was time to grow even more for our guests," said Epcot Vice President Brad Rex.
In recent years, the festival around World Showcase Lagoon has grown dramatically, attracting a diverse audience of more than one million each year -- from wine connoisseurs and gourmands to droves of wine neophytes eager to boost their wine IQs. In addition, the fest's nightly Eat to the Beat! concert series will feature an even more varied lineup this year, including classic rock, oldies and country performers.
"The festival is our opportunity to showcase not only all the culinary and wine-related talent at Walt Disney World Resort, but also to introduce great celebrity chefs and wine connoisseurs in the industry," said Nora Carey, festival manager. "We strive to provide various levels of experiences that reflect the diverse interests of our guests, from simple marketplace tastings and seminars to extravagant dinners."
More than 100 wineries offer tastings, and guests can sample the cuisine of more than 20 international marketplaces in tasting portions ranging from $1 to $4.50.
Other highlights include:
The Festival Welcome Center, with a new Champagne and Sparkling Wine Bar, commemorative posters and other festival keepsakes, the latest in KitchenAid accessories and programming updates.
Some 250 Disney chefs and guest chefs -- including Allen Susser, Eric Tanaka, Emily Luchetti and other notables -- conducting culinary demonstrations and hosting elegant dinners and tasting events.
Up to 1,200 wine and beer seminars providing complimentary samplings.
New cultural experiences including Valencia, Spain, and The New England Fair, and the return of favorites including Australia: Discover Down Under.
New festival marketplaces including Peru and India, and the return of favorites like Russia, Greece, New Zealand and Ireland.
A variety of grand-scale ticketed culinary events, including a festival kickoff dinner with Fess Parker Winery and the weekly Party for the Senses, a 20-chef, 20-winemaker extravaganza with special entertainment.
The prestigious Bordeaux Wine School U.S.A. returns, along with the Banfi Italian Wine School and the Australian Wine School. They are joined by the new Napa Valley Wine School presented by the elite Copia Food Arts Center.
The popular Food and Wine Pairings have expanded to a daily (and sometimes twice-daily) schedule at seven World Showcase and Future World locations -- Morocco, Canada, Japan, China, France, Italy and The Living Seas pavilions. The $35 ticketed event features VIP winemakers presenting three wines paired with delectable food samplings.
The alfresco setting of The Terrace, located between the Morocco and France pavilions, is ideal for Meet the Winemaker sessions and complimentary wine seminars.
Along with the music, dance, acrobatics and avant-garde entertainment showcased at Epcot pavilions, festival guests can enjoy Eat to the Beat! concerts performed three times each evening at the America Gardens Theatre. Headliners include Three Dog Night, Kool and the Gang, Beach Boys, Chubby Checker, Eddie Money and other pop favorites.
Kids and their parents won't want to miss the Pumpkins and Melons Mania! Display or the Epcot Junior Chef Program hosted by Nestlé at The Land showcase. Along the Rose Walkway, there's more family fun at Eat Your Colors Playland! Presented by Del Monte Fresh Produce, and The Beautiful Bounty interactive exhibits.
Entrance to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, plus wine and beer seminars and cooking demonstrations, is included with regular Epcot admission. Guests can call 407/WDW-FEST for information or reservations for special events and programs. Festival details will be posted on the Web site: disneyworld.com/foodandwine.