LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It will be a feast for the eyes as well as the palate during the 12th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sept. 28 through Nov. 11 at Walt Disney World Resort.
Epcot guests can explore the nuances of great wines from around the world and sample blissful bites from dozens of countries against the backdrop paintings inspired by food and wine. The paintings are served up from the palettes of artists in China, Italy, France and beyond as a fitting accompaniment to first-rate food, wine and beer that spotlight regional experiences from Chile to Scandinavia during the six-week-long festival.
More than 25 international marketplaces serve tapas-sized portions of regional specialties (including vegetarian and sweet bites) from $1.50-$4.50. Recommended wines and beers available at each international kiosk make for picture-perfect pairings.
Meanwhile, daily seminars offer complimentary tastes of wine, beer and food from around the world. In addition, 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.
"Our festival theme, 'Tastefully Inspired,' is an opportunity to emphasize the relationship between two expressions of art -- the canvas and the table," says Nora Carey, festival manager. "We're showcasing great artwork from around the world that celebrates food and wine in many scenes. And while the theme is an inspirational springboard for our culinary talent, it also lets us tell stories to our guests that will surprise, enlighten and embolden them to think about food in a new way."
The Epcot festival has grown dramatically, attracting a diverse audience of more than one million each fall -- from wine connoisseurs and epicures to neophytes primed to boost their wine IQs. Beer aficionados can raise their steins at several tasting locations, including Germany's Biergarten, that specialize in brews from light to dark.
"There's no other festival environment in the world like ours," Carey says. "From the picturesque World Showcase Lagoon to the authentic architecture that showcases many cultures, it's an ideal backdrop for the exceptional culinary and wine-related talent of Walt Disney World Resort and for the great celebrity chefs and wine connoisseurs who join us each year."
Top musical entertainment pairs well with culinary fun during the nightly Eat to the Beat! concert series featuring a varied lineup of classic rock, oldies, jazz and funk hit-makers. Concerts are performed three times each evening at America Gardens Theatre on the edge of the World Showcase Lagoon.
Other festival highlights include:
The Festival Welcome Center, with a Champagne and Sparkling Wine Bar and festival keepsakes including commemorative posters and the official festival cookbook.
Some 250 Disney chefs and guest chefs conducting culinary demonstrations and hosting elegant dinners and tasting events. Guest chefs slated to appear this year include Cat Cora, Roy Yamaguchi, Suvir Saran, Keegan Gerhard, Colette Peters, Warren Brown, Gerry Garvin, Tracy Griffith, and many others.
Mireille Guiliano, author of bestsellers French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure and French Women for All Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes and Pleasure, will sign books and participate in special culinary programs during opening weekend.
Up to 1,200 wine and beer seminars providing complimentary samplings by more than 120 wineries.
International exhibits on the promenade, featuring authentic cuisine, entertainment and traditional crafts.
Music, dance, acrobatics and "improve" acts featured at Epcot pavilions.
The weekly Party for the Senses grand tasting, featuring entertainment by Cirque du Soleil.
Included with Epcot Admission:
Wine and beer seminars, cooking demonstrations, Eat to the Beat! concerts, culinary 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 Epcot restaurants, Exquisite Evenings at Epcot dinners, Epcot Wine Schools, Regional Feasts, and other specialty events 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/foodandwine.