Last year at the annual EPCOT Food & Wine Festival Carol and I discovered a little hidden treat, a pictorial timeline of the Festival.
It was tucked away in a corner of Innoventions East, beside the merchandise area where they were distributing commemorative wine glasses for Annual Passholders.
Neither Carol nor I are wine drinkers, so we avoided the Food & Wine Festival for many years. We thought it was all about the wines, and pairings, and that there would be little there for us.
Our friends kept saying, “No, it’s about the food too, you would really enjoy the food.” After hearing that same message from several friends we decided to give it a try. Our first brief foray into the world of food and wine at EPCOT was on November 9th 2009. After stopping at no more than two kiosks we knew that our friends were right! We only made it to about half the food kiosks that first day but we enjoyed a wonderful lunch.
Although we’ve never hoisted a glass of wine there, we really enjoy the Food & Wine Festival. In fact, we haven’t missed a year since 2009.
We typically arrive at the park in late morning and sometimes circle the World ShowCase Lagoon in a clockwise direction, other years we’ll head counter-clockwise. We read the menu at each food station along the way and order whatever sounds appealing.
When we have quenched our appetites and start to feel full we end our culinary tour, then return to EPCOT a few days later and pick up our roving lunch where we left off. For many years it took us three days to circle the lagoon but the festival is growing; last year it took four days.
There are special Guide Maps and Times Guides available during the festival.
Carol always picks up a Festival Passport. Inside the passport is a description of all the dishes served at each kiosk.
She carefully checks off each selection we sample, then when we get home the Guide Map, Time Guide and Passport find a permanent home in Carol’s Tickle Trunk!
I was surprised and delighted last year when we found that pictorial history of the festival. I’m always fascinated by the little gems, like that timeline, that the Imagineers dream up and install in out-of-the-way corners. I’m not sure how long it has been around, since we just “discovered” it last year.
Let’s take a closer look; click on each of the images below to see a larger version.
It was 1996 when the Walt Disney World Village Wine Festival moved to EPCOT and transformed into the festival we enjoy today. In 1997 famed chef Julia Child was an honoured guest.
The plaques beneath the pictures describe the many exhibits and seminars that interested wine-lovers can enjoy.
The Party for the Senses and the Eat to the Beat Concert series made their debut in 2002.
In 2005 the Odyssey Cooking School offered interactive cooking experiences.
Is that Little Richard playing the piano in 2008? Cirque du Soleil hosted the Party for the Senses in 2010 and the 10K race was replaced with a half-marathon.
Do you remember the cranberry bog that first appeared in 2011?
In 2014 the festival was extended from 46 days to 53 days and in 2015 the popular ABC show The Chew established two new kiosks near the rose garden.
As you can see from following that pictorial history, the festival is continuing to evolve and grow. There’s always something new!
This year there are no wineglasses for Annual Passholders; they have been replaced by a special series of collectible buttons. If you have an Annual Pass you can pick up your button at the Festival Center, behind the former Universe of Energy building.
Carol and I won’t make it to the festival until November this year, so I don’t know if the timeline has been moved to the Festival Center or if it’s still over in Innoventions East . . . but if you happen to see it stop and take a look. There is some interesting history there!