Eat and drink your way around the World at Epcot’s food and wine fest … at whatever pace your prefer

2013 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival: Through Nov. 11 at Disney World, Buena Vista, Fla. Access to the festival marketplace is free with theme park admission; food, seminars, and special events are priced individually. More at EpcotFoodFestival.com.

Crowds walk the World Showcase promenade near the Norway pavilion at last year's Food and Wine Festival

Crowds walk the World Showcase promenade near the Norway pavilion at last year’s Food and Wine Festival. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward).

It’s one thing to overindulge and partake in all that the annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival has to offer. One Florida couple has immersed themselves in all 18 years of the event, typically staying at a nearby hotel for all 40 days and attending most of the special events. The cost of their annual excursion likely tops five figures.

But it’s another challenge entirely to squeeze an entire festival’s worth of eating (or drinking) into one day. A hearty group of individuals is gathering today for an event called Drink Around the World (official site / Facebook) to accomplish this on a grand scale. They modestly call it a “specialized pub crawl with some cultural flare,” but it’s much more than that.

Taking place all day today (Saturday, Oct. 12), this eighth annual event is designed to test participants’ endurance and provide ample opportunities to savor a wide range of items at the 18th annual International Food and Wine Festival. The goal is to imbibe in all 11 countries in Epcot’s World Showcase, all in one day. The timing of the event with the festival ensures many more choices for cocktails, beer and wine along the way, in addition to the dozens and dozens of affordable food choices.

The Germany pavilion is one of the best places to grab a beer in World Showcase

The Germany pavilion is one of the best places to grab a beer in World Showcase. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward, October 2012).

There are other “drink around the World” events held throughout the year, but coinciding with the festival certainly makes this the most ambitious. The organizers wrote on their website: “Attempting this feat is easy. Completing it, however, is somewhat of a challenge, as most of our seasoned veterans will attest. The fun however lies in the journey.” We wish the participants the best of luck. If you’re in Epcot today, you may want to hook up with this merry crew, or steer clear, depending on your point of view.

If you’re looking for a more modest sampling of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, you’ll have plenty of opportunities. Open since Sept. 27, it runs through Nov. 11 and features dozens of kiosks serving small bites and drink samples, low-cost food and beverage seminars, special events and lavish parties, plus much more. Among the highlights:

* More than 25 marketplaces serving up affordable tapas-style portions of exotic food, fine wine and craft beers from around the world, from Africa to South Korea. New this year: Brazil and Scotland. Returning after a one-year hiatus, Brazil offers seared scallop and crispy pork belly dishes along with Xingu Black Beer, Carnaval Moscato white wine, and a frozen Caipirinha with LeBlon Cachaça. Scotland’s adventurous offerings include seared salmon, vegetarian haggis, and banoffee tart. Pair that with Innis & Gunn beer, a Loch Lomond Cocktail (featuring Glenfiddich 12-year-old Scotch), or a flight of Glenfiddich’s 12-, 15- and 18-year Scotches.

Many items are in the $3-$8 range. Also look for larger portions and sharable flights of your favorite adult beverages. We’ve noticed a growing trend toward more and better beer and cocktails. Check out our reviews of the selections during the 2012 and 2011 festivals.

Freddy Diaz of AlambiQ Mixology in Miami shakes up a craft cocktail during a seminar at the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Freddy Diaz of AlambiQ Mixology in Miami shakes up a craft cocktail during a seminar at the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

* Demonstrations and seminars that appeal to all levels of cooks, mixologists and wine enthusiasts. [See our review of one of last year’s seminars] Many of these are moderately priced, but the good ones sell out in advance, so make your reservations ASAP. The Disney Food blog has a complete rundown on all the seminars and demos.

* Special experiences such food and beverage pairings, celebrity chef appearances, and lavish signature dining events. Note that most of the special events can be pricey, and tickets must be reserved in advance. The Mexican Tequila Lunch, Spirits Confidential, and “Mixology Series: Taste, Shake and Indulge Like the French” look particularly interesting. The Disney Food blog has a preview of all the special events.

* Don’t forget all the normal daily activities at Epcot, Walt Disney’s vision of a utopian city of the future that became Disney World’s second theme park when it opened in 1982. From thrilling attractions (Test Track, Soarin’) to educational adventures in the Future World pavilions, to the rich culture of all the World Showcase countries, Epcot comes closer than any other park to offering something for everyone. [Check out our guide]

There are also free daily concerts at the amphitheater in the America pavilion featuring blasts from the past including Smash Mouth, Spin Doctors, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. And don’t overindulge to the point where you aren’t able to enjoy the grandeur of the nightly fireworks spectacular, “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth,” which lights up the entire World Showcase Lagoon at the end of the evening.

Official sites
* EpcotFoodFestival.com | Facebook page | Epcot
Walt Disney World | Disney Parks Blog

Fan sites, reviews
* Food and Wine Fest Fans | Yelp | Eating (and Drinking) around the World | Eating WDW
* Disney Food Blog: Comprehensive guide | Marketplace menus, photos
Special events | Seminars and demos
* Beers and Ears: Food and Wine Festival Beer Survival Guide | Beers Around the World
The Beer of Epcot International Food and Wine Festival 2013
* Inside the Magic: New flavors for 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Past Atomic Grog coverage
* 2012: Mixologist shows how to jazz up your tired old cocktails at Food and Wine Festival
* 2012: Disney raises the bar for cocktails, decadent dishes at Food and Wine Festival
* 2012: 30 great ways to celebrate 30 years of Epcot magic
* 2011: Cocktails come of age at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

About Hurricane Hayward

A professional journalist and Florida resident for more than 30 years, Jim "Hurricane" Hayward shares his obsession with Polynesian Pop and other retro styles on his blog, The Atomic Grog. Jim's roots in mid-century and reto culture go back to his childhood in the 1960s, when he tagged along with his parents to Tiki restaurants and his father's custom car shows. His experience in journalism, mixology, and more than 20 years as an independent concert promoter make him a jack-of-all-trades in the South Florida scene. A graduate of the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications, Jim is a longtime web producer for The Palm Beach Post. In his spare time, he has promoted hundreds of rock, punk, and indie concerts under the Slammie Productions name since the early 1990s. In 2011, he launched The Atomic Grog to extensively cover events, music, art, cocktails, and culture with a retro slant. Jim earned his nickname by virtue of both his dangerous exotic drinks and his longtime position producing The Post's tropical weather website.
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