The 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival is officially underway!
We spent the better part of last week taking a look at all there is going on this year, and shared with you our Best of the Fest so far. And we aren’t finished yet!
And speaking of special events, many of them take place in Festival Center, which serves as the headquarters for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. But there’s more to the space than just stages for Culinary Demos and Mixology Seminars.
Let’s head into Festival Center as we show you some returning features from previous years — and introduce you to a couple of enhancements that are making their first appearances in 2015.
The 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Center
You’ll find Festival Center located to the left as you enter Epcot and pass beneath Spaceship Earth. Head toward the old Wonders of Life Pavilion in Future World East, and you’ll be going in the right direction.
Get your bearings as you walk in the door — you’ll find a handy diagram of the circular space just to the left of the Information Desk.
Speaking of the Information Desk, here it is. You’ll head here to ask questions, but it’s also the spot where you’ll pick up tickets for events taking place in Festival Center. These include Culinary Demos, Beverage and Mixology Seminars, and several other special events.
The Festival Shop is back again this year, and features Disney artwork as well as cookbooks by several of the chefs appearing at this year’s Festival.
It’s also the location for book signings. Check in with the Information Desk to receive a wristband if you’d like to participate in these free meet and greets.
Just beyond the Festival Shop, you’ll find Intermissions Cafe, which offers light bites and a variety of beverages.
Across from the Cafe is Spotlight Stage, home to free Back to Basics Seminars.
Daily schedules are posted outside of each stage area, so you’ll always know on the spot what events are taking place.
The Stockpot Shop, a fixture of the Festival Center, offers lots of merch. You’ll find all kinds of stuff here, including Festival collections. But you’ll also find items themed to the various countries of World Showcase and the Marketplace Booths.
One of the most popular souvenirs each year is the Festival Cookbook. In 2015, it’s a hardback edition that not only includes new recipes, but also offers a look back at the history of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.
Passholder exclusive merchandise is also on display. During opening weekend, the lines were pretty long for these items.
In addition, you can catch a glimpse of the Dooney & Bourke Food and Wine Festival Collection.
Here’s a look at the 20th Anniversary Food and Wine Festival poster, another popular collector’s item.
Continue past the Stockpot Shop, and you’ll happen upon the Chef’s Showcase. Here you’ll find daily culinary demonstrations in addition to special events. There was a Cheese Seminar taking place as I was making the rounds. (Check out AJ’s review of a previous Cheese Seminar.)
I soooo wanted to jump the wall. Look at this gorgeous table.
The schedule will let you know what’s taking place during the day in case you’d like to try and snag walk-up tickets — or just listen in and watch from behind the seating area.
The “From Bean to Bar” exhibit, hosted by Ghirardelli, returns this year. It’s a great way to learn everything you ever wanted to know about chocolate production. In addition, there are elaborate scenes made from chocolate at the back of the exhibit, showcasing the enormous talent of Disney’s pastry teams.
Running low on chocolate? You can get a fix here, since there is a small retail outlet as well. And you know what that means: free samples!
You’ll also find The Chocolate Bar, home to delicious Drinking Chocolate.
Or, if you prefer, enjoy a couple of different wines that pair especially well with the dark stuff.
But I promised you some new finds, right? Well, here’s the first one! In the past, the Festival Center has featured the film Seasons of the Vine, which played in a continuous loop at the theater located in the center of the space. But this year, we welcome a brand new option — The Making of the Festival!
Have you ever wondered how this enormous event is brought to life each year? Check out the movie to see how it all comes together!
Exit the movie, and you’ll spy the Vineyard Stage, home to Beverage and Mixology Seminars throughout the Festival.
If you have small fry in tow, they can take advantage of some fun coloring sheets while Mom and Dad enjoy their interactive learning experience.
Chase, the Festival’s sponsor, also has an information table set up in Festival Center, should you like to apply for a credit card or learn more about their offerings.
The Wine Shop is back as well, and offers guests the opportunity to purchase bottles that they’ve sampled throughout events.
But here’s another returning-after-a-hiatus offering: Wine Samples!
Well…don’t get too excited. Because they will cost you this time around.
Pay at the Wine Shop register for either a $5 sample or an $8 sample, and you’re given a glass. Take it to the Cast Member and he or she will assist you with the self-serve machines.
But…I’m not really feelin’ this for the price, Guys. What do you think?
Finally, the last venue is the Festival Stage. While I was touring, there were clips of the ABC show The Chew playing on a loop.
So — if you haven’t had a chance to enjoy the show, it’s a great way to learn about it before stopping by the Chew Marketplace Booths or attending the Rockin’ Burger Block Party this weekend, where the cast will be the special guests for the evening!
And there you have it. Festival Center is a must-stop spot for me at least once during every Festival, even if I don’t plan to attend any of the events that are held there. It’s a great place to cool off a bit and shop in comfort. And with plenty of seating and a few quick food options, it offers a nice place to rest for a bit in the middle of a busy Festival day.
Start Your Planning Today! The DFB Guide to the 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival e-Book is now available!
Want even more great tips? This 240+-page guide to the Festival offers insider tips and advice as well as all of the details you need to know to plan your best Festival visit ever. Order your 2015 edition today!
Your purchase includes several bonus items as well — including a full daily schedule of events at the Festival and a printable World Showcase Booth Menu Checklist to carry with you as you Eat around the World!
Use code Chefs at check-out for a $3 discount!
Want More Epcot Food and Wine Festival Info?
We have all the coverage and information you need right here on Disney Food Blog! Here’s what we know so far…
But now I’d love to hear from all of you. Is the Festival Center a must-do experience for you during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival? Leave a comment and tell us what you think below!