As larger crowds return to Epcot’s food and wine festival, Walt Disney World takes another step toward returning to normalcy

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Epcot’s annual food and wine festival, which began July 14, will span a whopping three months through Nov. 19, and will again feature exclusive foods, drinks and events at Walt Disney World.

The food and wine festival, in its 26th year, has come a long way from the first version, which ran Sept. 28-Oct. 27, 1996. Disney’s premise at the time was to have each pavilion in the park’s world showcase present and sell food and drinks from that particular country. And like so many other projects at the theme park, it has grown over time.

During the first few years, the festival’s timeline was in a monthlong format, but in 2004, its duration began to slowly expand. By 2018, the event spanned two months.

“There were so many snacks and drinks to try from all around the world, they were all so good,” said Adrianna Eldridge, a Disney fan who attended the festival in 2018. “I absolutely recommend it to anyone visiting during that time.”

The last two years, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival opened in the summer and ran till winter. Along with its lengthy operation, the festival has been through other modifications, beginning with its restricted return in 2020 amid various health and safety protocols.

While other events such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party were canceled that year, Disney rolled out the food and wine festival, albeit with some major changes. That festival, in fact, would become the longest ever, running from July 15-Nov. 22. To avoid overflow crowds, several of the pavilions were not open that year, and all concerts and musical acts — including the popular Eat to the Beat show — were removed.

But in 2021, the festival took small steps toward normalcy. There were less restrictions, and larger crowds attended. Eat to the Beat was still on hold, and up-close cooking demonstrations and classes did not return, but there was some live music as Disney continued to live within protocols.

This year’s festival is a different story. After its opening this month, the pictures and posts by Disney fans and influencers across social media show crowds are plentiful. Eat to the Beat is set to return, along with several food booths that have been missing.

This year’s festival will feature more than 25 different booths in its global marketplace, spanning six continents. These include old favorites like the Mexico and France booths as well as its newest booth, the Fry Basket, that offers French fries and yuca fries with various dipping sauces.

Along with the classic scavenger hunt activities like Emelie’s fromage montage, there will also be a new hunt available during the Halloween season. Pluto’s Pumpkin Pursuit will run from Sept. 29-Oc. 31, and will invite guests of all ages to locate character-inspired pumpkins hidden around Epcot.

There will be several merchandise collections this year including the classic festival logo collection, the chef Mickey and Minnie Mouse collection, and the chef Figment collection. Each one has its own set of souvenirs that include aprons, kitchenware and pins.

Earlier this month, Disney announced that Princess Tiana would have her own merchandise collection for the first time at the festival, including kitchenware and apparel with illustrations inspired. The announcement came just weeks after Disney announced the launch year for Splash Mountain’s Princess and the Frog re-theme, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Magic Kingdom.

Maria Ubeda is currently an undergraduate student at Florida International University who is currently studying to get her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, with a minor in English. She is perfecting her skills by writing and publishing her school articles on SFMN. She hopes to one day work in the news industry as a journalist and write stories that make an impact on the lives of the readers.