LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Fine cuisine and wines from some of the best "foodie" cities in the world will take a bow at the 13th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sept. 26 through Nov. 9 at Walt Disney World Resort.
Epcot guests can explore these "Cities in Wonderland" -- from trendy Cork, Ireland, to the melting pot of Cape Town, South Africa -- around the World Showcase promenade while also discovering blissful bites at international and regional marketplaces brimming with exotic flavors and comfort foods. The six-week festival will showcase tastes from countries on six continents.
More than 25 international marketplaces will serve tapas-sized portions of regional specialties at $2-to-$5 each, and recommended wines and beers make perfect pairings at each kiosk. New festival flavors explore the culinary wonders of Lyon, France; Marrakesh, Morocco; Shanghai, China; Bologna, Italy; Tokyo and Mexico City. Exhibits along the promenade also will showcase entertainment and traditional crafts of several countries.
Daily complimentary wine and beer tastings serve up sips from around the world, and culinary demonstrations dish up featured taste treats. A series of special culinary programs features a lineup of renowned winemakers, guest chefs and speakers participating in elegant dinners, luncheons, seminars and wine schools.
"We wanted to take our guests on a grand gustatory expedition," says Nora Carey, festival manager. "The cities that we'll feature are known for great dining experiences, and the 'Cities in Wonderland' theme will inspire our guests to enjoy great food and wine in a fresh new way."
The Epcot festival continues to grow dramatically, attracting a diverse audience of more than one million guests each fall -- from wine connoisseurs and epicures to neophytes wishing to boost their wine IQs. Beer aficionados can raise their steins at several tasting locations, including Germany's Biergarten, which specialize in brews from light to dark.
Musical entertainment pairs perfectly with culinary fun during the nightly Eat to the Beat! concert series featuring a varied lineup of classic rock, soul, R&B, oldies, jazz and funk hit-makers. Concerts are performed three times each evening at America Gardens Theatre along the World Showcase lagoon. New acts to appear include Kool & The Gang, Spyro Gyra, En Vogue and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. David Sanborn, Jon Secada and Otis Day and the Knights are among returning crowd-pleasing acts.
Other festival highlights include:
The Festival Welcome Center, with a Champagne and Wine Bar, complimentary wine seminars and book signings, and festival keepsakes including exclusive festival pins and an official festival cookbook.
Some 250 Disney chefs and guest chefs conducting culinary demonstrations and hosting elegant dinners and tasting events. Guest chefs are now being signed for the event; last year's lineup included Cat Cora, Alan Wong, Jeff Henderson, Roy Yamaguchi, Todd English, G. Garvin, Suvir Saran, Warren Brown and many others.
The weekly Party for the Senses grand tasting event featuring tempting tastes from eminent chefs, more than 70 wines and beers and live entertainment.
Festival guests also can enjoy new Epcot experiences including the re-launched Spaceship Earth attraction in Future World, with narration by Oscar winner Dame Judi Dench, new scenes, sets and costumes, updated Audio-Animatronics figures, plus a touch-screen interactive ride sequence. In the World Showcase, there's a new restaurant at the Italy pavilion, Tutto Italia, with cuisine from different regions of Italy. And the Japan pavilion just introduced its new Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo restaurants. Mexico's new tequila bar is perfect for cool sips on a warm autumn evening.
Included with Epcot Admission:
Wine and beer seminars, cooking demonstrations, special book signings at the Festival Center, Eat to the Beat! concerts, culinary and cultural exhibits, and all attractions and park entertainment are included with regular Epcot admission.
Special Programming by Reservation:
The weekly Party for the Senses grand tasting, Food and Wine Pairings at select Epcot restaurants, Regional Feasts, Epcot Wine Schools, Cheese Tastings, Sweet Sundays, and other special wine and culinary programs require reservations and separate admission.
Guests can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) for information and to make reservations for special events and programs. Festival details are available at the Web site: disneyworld.com/food.