Wear your stretchy pants, because one of the world's largest food and wine festivals just got bigger. This fall, Epcot at Walt Disney World in Orlando pulls out all the stops for its 20th anniversary, 53-day food and wine festival, with celebrity chefs, a new Napa wine studio and more marketplaces than ever before. Here is an itinerary for spending the day at the festival and pacing yourself so there's plenty of room for dessert.
The Festival Center opens at 9 am, so plan to get an early start. Here, you can visit the festival shop, participate in book and bottle signings and pick up a passport for your guide to 30 global marketplaces. The center is also the hub for many of the event's seminars, including Ghirardelli's chocolate experience, daily mixology seminars and cooking demonstrations. Celebrity chefs like Jamie Deen and Andrew Zimmern also lead demos, as well as the cast from ABC's The Chew. Some seminars are free with Epcot admission, while others start at $15.
Start dining! Epcot's World Showcase features 11 countries around a lake, most with special dining options for the festival. In addition, another two dozen marketplaces will be offered, including a new Napa Wine and Cheese Studio, A Farm Fresh station, dessert and champagne station and special cuisine and signature drinks from countries like Africa, Argentina, Ireland and Australia. If you want more than nibbling and noshing, you can sign up for special food and wine pairings for an upcharge, including a Mexican Tequila Lunch, a chef's lunch at Le Cellier in Canada or an Italian Food & Wine Pairing. (Better have an espresso, there's no time for a nap!)
After walking around the 1.2-mile World Showcase and visiting all the attractions, it's time to pick up your feet and enjoy the evening. The free Eat to the Beat Concert Series offered nightly brings in old musical favorites from Rick Springfield and Sister Hazel to Boys II Men, Wilson Phillips and Jo Dee Messina. If you're still hungry, vendors stay open until the fireworks show at 9 pm. Special dinner packages are also offered inside Epcot as well as Disney restaurants off property. The Illuminations Sparkling Dessert Party is a sweet way to end the evening as you enjoy the fireworks show over the lagoon.