Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2013: the First Weekend… Part One

October 17, 2013

Food & Wine Festival display at the main Epcot entrance with Spaceship Earth in the background

Food & Wine Festival display at the main Epcot entrance with Spaceship Earth in the background

The Best Time of the Year is here! The 2013 version of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is now open and in full swing! I (along with the usual suspects) was there for the opening weekend (including the soft opening/preview day), and of course Dear Dedicated Readers I have pics and comments to share with you! In Part One here I’m going to basically give you a “trip report” type post of some of the events of the first weekend, and in Part Two to come I’ll look closer at more of the food items and have some thoughts and comments on this years festival so far…  So without any further delay let’s dig in!

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Starting at the front of the park, I really like this year’s display with the Fantasia-inspired utensils…

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and the “cookbook” behind Mickey….

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even though you have to get at an angle to read all of it…

The Cranberry Bog

The Cranberry Bog

As you head towards World Showcase you once again encounter the popular cranberry bog, making it’s third consecutive appearance at the festival… more on the bog later…

Craft Beer Booth Menu

Craft Beer Booth Menu

And (thankfully) the first booth you encounter at the World Showcase is once again Craft Beers… sometimes you just need a beer to get you to that next booth all of 20 or so steps away! Where’s there’s…

A couple of the adult beverages available at the Hawaii booth

A couple of the adult beverages available at the Hawaii booth

more beer! Yea, beer!

Gift shops open early on the Thursday before the "official" opening of the Festival

Gift shops open early on the Thursday before the “official” opening of the Festival

All the cool kids know that even though the Festival officially opens on a Friday, most of the food booths will go through a test-run on the Thursday prior, so this year I made my way there for the preview day and met up with with Mama Ginny and Papa Harry to get an early start on the feasting.

Staff in Hawaii booth prepping for beer service... we offered to test for quality control but they were having none of our foolishness...

Staff in Hawaii booth prepping for beer service… we offered to test for quality control but they were having none of our foolishness…

In years past it seems a few booths would start to open up about 1 PM or so and then most of the rest (but not always all) would trickle open throughout the afternoon (and usually they shut down a bit early, about 8 PM), but this year was a bit different… we headed around World Showcase about 11 AM, planning on taking some pictures and just enjoying the day until we eventually came across some booths opening.

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As we passed the Refreshment Port (which is serving as one of the F & W booths this year, featuring the spiked Dole Whip and other pineapple goodies) we noticed activity inside…

Refreshment Port menu during the Food & Wine Festival

Refreshment Port menu during the Food & Wine Festival

I asked one of the ladies inside if they were ready to serve, and she answered in the affirmative! I asked if I would be the first one to be served, and when she again said yes, I ordered up the first boozy Dole Whip served at the festival! Papa Harry quickly came up and asked for the second spiked Dole Whip, and we all quickly dove into the icy, orangey, delights…

The very firat Ornge Dole Whip with Creme de Cacau served at the 2013 festival! Whoo-hoo! You can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning!

The very first Orange Dole Whip with Creme de Cacao served at the 2013 festival! You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning! Whoo-hoo!

At the Flower & Garden Festival this past spring the first version of an alcohol-laced Dole Whip made it’s appearance to much happiness & joy (see the post: Flower & Garden… and Food & Wine!), and this version with Orange Dole Whip spiked with Creme de Cacao is a very tasty treat! As it’s still fairly toasty in Florida, this is a great boozy treat for festival-goers!

Canada Kiosk as yet un-opened..

Some activity at yet to open Canada Kiosk…

We made our way around the lagoon going past several booths that were still to open…

All's quiet on the Ireland front...

All’s quiet on the Ireland front…

with our past history at the Thursday soft-openings, we weren’t expecting too much activity or actual openings until early afternoon…

Setting up the queue in France...

Setting up the queue in France…

but as we passed by France and made it to the Belgium booth, lo and behold the queue was opened up just as we neared and we were welcomed to place our orders!

Belgium open for business!

Belgium open for business!

Here it was not even 11:30 and booths were opening to serve the early attendees (for contrast you can check out another preview-day escapade in the post Mission Impossible???).

Potato and Leek Waffle with Braised Beef and my first Stella of the festivel

Potato and Leek Waffle with Braised Beef and my first Stella of the festival

We ordered one each of the three waffles being served this year (the berry-topped version as in prior years, a chocolate-topped one, and my choice, a savory Potato and Leek Waffle topped with Braised Beef).

We continued our circuit around the World Showcase and sampled at many of the now-opened booths.

Chef Jens going last-minute instructions to the cast in the New Zealand kiosk

Chef Jens giving last-minute instructions to the cast in the New Zealand kiosk

Florida open for business

Florida open for business

By 1 PM the majority of the kiosks were serving…

Mama Ginny thought that the Bratwurst in a Pretzel Roll in Germany was a real wiener!

Mama Ginny thought that the Bratwurst in a Pretzel Roll in Germany was a real wiener!

and by 2 PM it seemed all were open.

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We continued to rotate around the World Showcase a couple of times…

A United Kingdom cast remember crafting a chalk welcome to the festival...

A United Kingdom cast remember crafting a chalk welcome to the festival…

The empty rectangle would eventually be filled in with a colourful Union Jack

The empty rectangle would eventually be filled in with a colourful Union Jack

tasting and toasting as we went… Mama Ginny and Papa Harry bade me farewell mid-afternoon and I took a bit of a resort break and returned in the evening for some more sampling… we’ll look more in detail at the food in Part Two of this post…

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On Friday, the official opening day of the festival, I started by checking out the Festival Center (which wasn’t open on Thursday).

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As I went around the Festival Center, I ran into a friend waiting in line for an upcoming food demo – he had an extra ticket which he offered up to me and I gladly accepted his generous offer (this was just one of several Magical Moments on this day… thanks again Richard!).

The ubiquitous Pam Smith (left) with Master Sommier Andrea Robinson

The ubiquitous Pam Smith (left) with Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson

I got to see wine expert Andrea Robinson (nee Immer) demo a really nice and easy salmon entree accompanied by lots of great wine advice (of course, coming from one of only eighteen female Master Sommeliers in the world).

Wasabi Pea-Crusted Salmon

Wasabi Pea-Crusted Salmon

The dish was paired with the delicious Eroica Riesling from Chateau Ste Michelle.

As I said my goodbyes and made my way back to World Showcase, I discovered a new addition to the American Adventure pavilion that had sprung up overnight…

Block & Hans

The new purveyor of specialty beers, Block & Hans

the small gazebo-shaped gift shop that had been shuttered had re-opened as Block & Hans, Purveyors of Fine American Ale.

Block & Hans Menu

Block & Hans Menu

I was told by the cast members working the shop that this was a permanent addition (or I assume at least as “permanent” as anything in WDW is…), and not just for the duration of Food & Wine. Yippee!

I made a couple of more booth stops and headed back to the resort to await Miss Bonnie’s arrival…

Griddled Lobster Tail with Garlic Herb Butter  and a Chardonnay from the Hops & Barley Market

Griddled Lobster Tail with Garlic Herb Butter and a Chardonnay from the Hops & Barley Market

We soon returned together to the World Showcase and met up with Mama Ginny and Papa Harry for a bit of music and even more dining…

The Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog in the full glory of daylight

The Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog in the full glory of daylight

and we then made our way towards the Cranberry Bog to see some of our friends frolic inside it… little did I know that the Magic of the day would continue into the evening…

Now if you’ve been to the festival in the past few years you’ve no doubt seen the Cranberry Bog… it popped up three years ago on the walkway between Future World and the World Showcase and has been a surprisingly huge hit with guests ever since… it’s basically a big above-ground swimming pool filled with water and, what else, cranberries… during the first weekend actual real-live cranberry farmers are slogging around in the bog telling guests about the tart little fruit (Disney cast members perform that task thereafter).

Last year the bog hosted a media event on the first Friday of the festival with several well-known Disney bloggers, pod casters, Orlando-area food bloggers and members of the traditional media donning waders and getting their chance to play in the bog (you can see some pics, etc from the bog that year in the post Epcot Food & Wine 2012: First Tastes, First Thoughts… Part One).

As we looked on, my Eating (and Drinking) Around the World press agent (aka Miss Bonnie) decided to take charge and see about getting yours truly into the Bog… after all I’ve been blogging about the bog haven’t I?

Craisin Glazed pork Belly with White Cheddar Maple Grits... a-freaking-amazing...

Craisin Glazed pork Belly with White Cheddar Maple Grits… a-freaking-mazing…

Well, yes Dear Dedicated Readers, we were soon escorted into a private reception area filled with food stations (all featuring cranberries of course) and beverages. After hobnobbing with the other guests and sampling the food there we were taken to don our waders and have our turn inside the Bog! We did have to delay our start for a bit as we downed our third portion of pork belly… don’t judge…

Inside the Bog having our photo taken by a real-live cranberry farmer (photo courtesy Papa Harry)

Inside the Bog having our photo taken by a real-live cranberry farmer (photo courtesy Papa Harry)

Once inside the Bog we were served cranberry cocktails and snacked upon several cranberry-laced edibles.

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Seared Free-Range Chicken with Craisin Moonshine Pearls

Seared Free-Range Chicken with Craisin Moonshine Pearls

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All in all it was a very magical end to a magical day….

Cheers!  Photo courtesy Papa Harry

Cheers!
Photo courtesy Papa Harry

For a couple of other looks at the Bog Experience check out these posts by a couple of Orlando-based buddies of mine: Ricky at Tasty Chomps and Julius at Droolius.

Saturday we returned to Epcot (big shock) and continued to sample some of the goodies…

Pineapple Fritters from the Refreshment Port

Pineapple Fritters from the Refreshment Port

and we eventually headed to the Festival Center so that Miss Bonnie could check out this years merchandise…

One of the new tee-shirts this year

One of the new tee-shirts this year

and also so we could take part in one of our favorite activities: stalking Celebrity Chefs.

Chef Carla Hall

Chef Carla Hall

On this day there was a meet-and-greet with the adorable, effervescent and very tall Chef Carla Hall of Top Chef and more recently the ABC show The Chew.

The backside of Carla...

The backside of Carla…

We were the very last people in line… Carla was spending plenty of time with her fans and stayed well past the prescribed cut-off time… when we got to meet her she jumped up out of her chair and gave us both a huge hug. She thanked us for waiting so long, and of course we thanked her for staying! We chatted for quite a while, and she (nor any of the attending cast members) didn’t rush us through to finish up – she seemed truly glad to be there and to meet us.

I mentioned to her that they should bring The Chew to the World to film some episodes during Food & Wine (it is an ABC property, owned by Disney, after all) and she heartily agreed.

As fun and nice as she appears on TV, in person Carla is all that times 10! It was well worth spending some time in line to have a few minutes with her.

Somebody said something funny...

Somebody said something funny…

The only thing I regret is not asking her about those freaky big-head commercials with her and Rocco Dispirito… I just don’t get them…

So Dedicated Readers, let’s call this an end to Part One… in Part Two we’ll look at more food! And more drink!

Back to the kitchen, see you soon!

6 Responses to “Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2013: the First Weekend… Part One”


  1. It was a fantastic start to the F&W of 2013. Glad we spent it with you.

  2. David Johnson Says:

    I have read of some unique wines at the Intermission Cafe at the festival center…..haven’t found out anything about specifics anywhere….did you notice?

    • fishyrocketboy Says:

      David – I don’t recall anything particularly unusual there – I usually grab a picture or two of the menu there, but can’t locate one right off…


  3. […] Part One of our look at the opening of the 2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival I gave you a […]


  4. […] We started the next morning with a couple of hours in Future World before heading to World Showcase for round 2 with the food booths!  By eleven in the morning we were already quite hot, so we were looking for something cold and refreshing and I knew that the Refreshment Port had just what we wanted.  DOLE WHIPS! […]


  5. […] were presented as a highlight of America’s culinary offerings.) That recently changed, when Block & Hans: Purveyors of Fine American Ale opened. Granted, they only have a handful of beers right now, but it’s a good start. Our […]


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