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October 6, 2013

Epcot International Wine and Food Festival

Viva, Mexico! Its station at the Epcot International Wine and Food Festival was one of the many highlights at the food bonanza. The station serves a delicious Mango-Habanero Margarita ($8.50; it's a little spicy!) and a Taco de Ribeye with Salsa de Chipotle ($5.50).

Mickey really knows how to party. That’s how I felt when visiting Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. The 18th annual event started on Sept. 27 and lasts until Nov. 11.

I went for the first time last week, and to put it succinctly, I was impressed. Here’s a snapshot of what makes this 46-day festival so grand:

  • There are more than 300 national and international wines
  • More than 220 food-and-beverage menu items are served, each tapas-sized portion or drink priced $3 to $8.50
  • 100-plus celebrity chefs and 160 Walt Disney World chefs work the multi-day event
  • There are more than 300 wine and beer seminars take place during the 46-day festival
  • More than 1,200 fireworks explode each night over World Showcase Lagoon in “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth”
  • 138 Eat to the Beat concerts performed at the Epcot amphitheater
  • 300,000 wine servings; If laid end-to-end the number of wine glasses used would reach from Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista to the Disney Cruise Line terminal at Port Canaveral, Fla.
  • There will be approximately 360,000 beer servings, enough to fill the aquariums five times over at Rainforest Café at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

What to expect:

  • The wine and food fest is immersed in Epcot’s everyday activities. Food stations are located throughout the World of Nations.
  • Once you pay for getting into the park, bring cash or preload a festival gift card with money to enjoy the food and drinks.
  • If you are a Disney Premier VisaCard member, there are several perks just for you, including a private lounge where you can relax away from the heat, and enjoy a complimentary fountain drink.
  • Be sure to catch the Eat to the Beat Concert Series, where national acts like Sugar Ray, Edwin McCain and Wilson Philips will perform.
  • The aromas wafting through Epcot just hit you as you pass by the various food stations: “We cook in every food station fresh to order,” says Chef Jens Dalhmann, the festival’s five-time director.
With a map of the park, layout of the food stations, and my food passport in hand, I am all ready to for the wine and food fest!

With a map of the park, layout of the food stations, and my food passport in hand, I am all ready to for the wine and food fest!

A quick tip: Buy a mini gift card and load it up with money to make it more convenient to purchase your food and wine. The convenient strap can be worn around your wrist, so there's no need to fumble around your purse to find cash for the purchase.

A quick tip: Buy a mini gift card and load it up with money to make it more convenient to purchase your food and wine. The  strap can be worn around your wrist, so there’s no need to search around your purse to find cash for a purchase.

Catch a wine lecture at the festival center and learn about new wines and pairings.

Catch a wine lecture at the festival center and learn about new wines and pairings.

Sorry, vegetarians. The Brazil station has arguably one of the best dishes of the entire festival. Its crispy pork belly ($5.25) is served with black beans, avocados, onions and cilantro.

Sorry, vegetarians. The Brazil station has arguably one of the best dishes of the entire festival. Its crispy pork belly ($5.25) is served with black beans, avocados, onions and cilantro.

Who doesn't love Belgium? That country's station serves Belgian Waffle with Berry Compote featuring Driscoll’s® Berries and Whipped Cream ($3.25).

Who doesn’t love Belgium? That country’s station serves Belgian Waffle with Berry Compote featuring Driscoll’s® Berries and Whipped Cream ($3.25).

A cheese station serves an Artisan Cheese Selection: Flagship Reserve Cheddar, La Bonne Vie Triple Crème Brie, Wijngaard Goats Gouda ($4.75).

A cheese station serves an Artisan Cheese Selection: Flagship Reserve Cheddar, La Bonne Vie Triple Crème Brie, Wijngaard Goats Gouda ($4.75).

Bottles of wines can be purchased at the festival. The fun part? Some wines are only sold at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, so be sure to get these exclusive bottles!

Bottles of wines can be purchased at the festival. The fun part? Some wines are only sold at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, so be sure to get these exclusive bottles!

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