Photo Remy from Ratatouille at the Entrance to Epcot
Remy from Ratatouille welcomes you to the 2007 edition of the festival.
 
It Keeps Getting Better —
The 2007 Epcot Food & Wine Festival
WW GOES TO WDW at Yesterland.com
 
Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, visits the
12th Annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

 
October 12, 2007

It’s that time of year again. Northerners are getting ready to rake leaves. Baseball fans are counting the days until the World Series. And Food and Wine aficionados are heading to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. My wife and I have gone every year since 1999.

The Festival opened Friday, September 28, and runs through Sunday, November 11, 2007. So there are still more than four weeks left to enjoy the Festival.

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The Wonders of Life Food & Wine
Photo of the Wonders of Life as the Festival Center
The double helix sculpture and the Wonders of Life sign are gone.

In 2006, I wrote Not Just Food Booths: The Other Side of the Epcot Food & Wine Festival about free and paid events that many guests don’t even know about. While commenting about the insufficient capacity of the wine tastings due to their increasing popularity, I wrote:

Epcot management needs to evaluate other space in Epcot. For example, the seasonal Wonders of Life pavilion is closed during the Food and Wine Festival. Perhaps there’s an opportunity to turn this large pavilion into the Wonders of Wine for 45 days each year.

I really can’t claim credit for such an obvious idea—but for 2007, the Food & Wine Festival has, in fact, taken over the Wonders of Life pavilion. The Wonders of Life pavilion is the Festival Hall during the festival.

That’s the biggest (and best) news this year!

Photo of the Vineyard wine tasting venue
The Vineyard is one of two wine tasting venues in the Festival Center.

Last year, there were two wine tasting venues—one with 100 seats and one with 88 seats. This year, both venues have 100 seats. That’s an improvement. But the improvements go beyond the small improvement in capacity.

Guests now wait in air-conditioned queues for scheduled wine tastings. That’s a big improvement over the outdoor queues last year in the Florida sun, humid heat, and fall rainstorms. It’s easier to hear what the speakers are saying because the venues are further apart and there’s no longer the nearby noisy music stage that could be awful last year. Also, the shape of the venues is better than the long, narrow spaces in Innoventions West last year.

There are eight (sometimes nine) wine tastings each day. There’s no charge, except for Epcot admission. Still, I wouldn’t recommend the tastings to someone who is just looking for free wine—it takes a long time for a modest amount of wine. But if you’re interested in discovering wineries that are new to you and learning about the wine regions of the world, this is a great place to do so.

Photo of the Inspired Vines wine shop
Inspired Vines sells wines from the Festival Marketplaces and from some wine tastings.

The Festival Center isn’t just the facility for wine tastings. There’s also a wine shop, a book shop (with book signings), a festival store, a large Disney Vacation Club information center, a wine bar, a “meet the winemaker” counter, rest rooms, and plenty of space to sit and visit with old and new friends. The theater that used to show The Making of Me now shows a variety of videos, including cooking shows and Disney Vacation Club advertising. (Unfortunately, there’s no schedule posted for the videos.)

As in 2006, the wine bottle prices are reasonable and you’ll find wines that you won’t see at your local supermarket.

Photo of The Stockpot, the main Festival shop
The Stockpot is the main Festival shop.

This year’s Festival Center in the Wonders of Life pavilion is so nice that I really want to see it again next year. However, because of its somewhat hidden location, fewer guests seem just to wonder in and discover what’s there than at Innoventions West last year. I hope the Disney is seeing the “numbers” for attendance, wine sales by the bottle, wine sales by the glass, book sales, and gift sales that they expected. I don’s want anyone at Disney to think that the tents of some earlier years were a better idea.

So, please do me a favor. Buy some wine at Inspired Vines. Do your holiday shopping at The Stockpot. Perhaps buy a few hundred DVC points. Then we can enjoy this great Festival Center again next year.

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Celebrate Oklahoma
Photo of the Celebrate Oklahoma area
Oklahoma has the most elaborate temporary presence at the 2007 Festival.

Oklahoma is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its statehood. That celebration includes a presence at the Food & Wine Festival.

If you look at 19th century maps of the United States, you’ll see “Indian Territory” instead of Oklahoma. Reflecting that heritage, the Oklahoma exhibit with Native American cooking demonstrations, Native American dancers and storytellers, and an authentic tipi (formerly spelled teepee).

Then there’s the Western cowboy side of Oklahoma’s heritage. So the exhibit also features Chuck Wagon cooking demonstrations, Western artists, and traditional musicians. There’s even a historic Chuck Wagon on display.

I could write a whole article just about the terrific Oklahoma exhibit.

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The Pearville Fair
Photo of the Pearville Fair
USA Pears presents the Pearville Fair adjacent to the American Adventure.

Learn about pear varieties. Meet pear growers. Watch pear culinary demos. Play games about pears. Buy a ripe pear for $1.50.

If you take a closer look at the Pearville Fair you’ll see that it’s visually blocking the complimentary Samuel Adams beer tastings by The Boston Beer Company. Now, aren’s you glad you visited the Pearville Fair?

Seriously, exhibits like the Pearville Fair are a welcome addition to the Food & Wine Festival.

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Turkey, Dominican Republic, and Peru
Photo of the Turkey area
Turkey presents entertainment, culinary demonstrations, and the Grand Bazaar.

This year, three countries have large exhibits that go well beyond simple food booths—Turkey, Dominican Republic, and Peru. Each is sponsored by their government’s tourism promotion agencies.

Each country has food and wine samples for purchase, culinary demonstrations, cultural representatives, and shopping. Turkey and the Dominican Republic have dancers, while Peru has artists producing crafts. All three are worth visiting.

Photo of the Dominican Republic area
Dancers entertain guests at the Dominican Republic area.
 
Photo of the Peru area
The Peruvean Village has cooking demos and sells Peruvean crafts.

In addition to these three countries, Australia’s popular Aussie Wine Walkabout is back (although in a different location than past years).

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“Eat to the Beat” Concert Series
Photo of The Beach Boys in concert at Epcot
The Beach Boys performed October 2-3, with three shows each evening.

The Eat to the Beat concert series at the America Gardens Theatre is back. This year, there are fifteen different acts, each performing three shows nightly for an average of three nights—Al Stewart, Otis Day and the Knights, The Beach Boys, The Original Family Stone, Sheena Easton, Starship starring Mickey Thomas, David Cassidy, Little Richard, Juice Newton, The Four Tops, The Village People, The Outlaws, Jon Secada, Chubby Checker and the Wildcats, The Contours featuring Sylvester Potts, and David Sanborn.

Long lines of guests stretch toward Epcot’s Germany before each concert, but the America Gardens Theatre has a huge capacity. Unfortunately, only about a quarter of the seats are under the roof. So I saw The Beach Boys while getting soaked by the rain.

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There’s More...

This article is by no means a complete description of everything there is to see and do at the 2007 Epcot Food & Wine Festival. In fact, I haven’t even mentioned the best known feature of the Food & Wine Festival—the 25-or-so International Marketplaces that sell samples of international food and wine around World Showcase Lagoon. Nor have I mentioned the wonderful complimentary culinary demos at the Odyssey. And there are all sorts of paid wine and culinary events, ranging from $45-per-person food and wine pairings at various Epcot restaurants to the $350-per-person A Portrait of Elegance dinner event at Victoria & Albert’s.

I’m already making plans for 2008. But those plans again won’t include any $350-per-person dinners.


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Updated December 19, 2008.

All photos on this page: Werner Weiss, 2007