Modern Caribbean Rum

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.

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Minimalist Tiki

Disney raises the bar for cocktails, decadent dishes and desserts at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

The entrance to Epcot beckons you to "Taste your way around the world."
The entrance to Epcot beckons you to “Taste your way around the world.”

Last year, The Atomic Grog spent one whirlwind day at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, sampling food and drinks from 16 different marketplace kiosks. For 2012, Mrs. Hurricane and I vowed to take a more leisurely approach, so we dedicated parts of three days to the same task. The result: We tasted 38 items from 25 of the 29 booths surrounding Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon. With our indulgences finally fully digested, we’re ready to share a recap and reviews below.
See below: Photos of the food and drinks

2012 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival: Through Nov. 12 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.
* Official site | Facebook page | Epcot | Walt Disney World | Disney Parks Blog
Atomic Grog preview: 17 reasons to sink your teeth into Epcot’s Food and Wine Fest
Related: 30 great ways to celebrate 30 years of Epcot magic

Freddy Diaz of AlambiQ Mixology in Miami shakes up a craft cocktail during a seminar presented by the Peter F. Heering Company.
Freddy Diaz of AlambiQ Mixology in Miami shakes up a craft cocktail during a seminar presented by the Peter F. Heering Company.

The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival teases you with the enticing admonition to “taste your way around the world.” For the past 17 years, guests have circled the globe more times than the nearby space shuttle astronauts. The futuristic Disney World park is the logical setting for such an adventure, its World Showcase already the site of 11 pavilions representing countries as disparate as Norway and Morocco.

While we barely made a dent in the nearly 200 food and drink items offered up at the booths, we managed to sample most of those on our hit list. It’s highly recommended you plan ahead. Browse online reviews and photos before you go. And if you have a chance, be sure to check out a few of the many low-cost beverage seminars. We attended an informative wine seminar, plus an excellent cocktail seminar. Click here for the review:
* Miami mixologist shows how to jazz up your tired old cocktails with exotic liqueurs

The sun is setting on the 2012 festival, but many of the following reviews should still be relevant in 2013. The most popular items remain from year to year.

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30 great ways to celebrate 30 years of Epcot magic

“The most exciting, by far the most important part of our Florida project – in fact, the heart of everything we’ll be doing in Disney World — will be our experimental prototype city of tomorrow. We call it EPCOT.” – Walt Disney, Oct. 27, 1966

Hurricane Hayward discovers a familiar symbol at Innoventions in Epcot.
Hurricane Hayward discovers a familiar symbol at Innoventions in Epcot. (Atomic Grog photo, May 2011)

The second-oldest of Disney World’s four theme parks opened to the public on Oct. 1, 1982. The massive project, originally called EPCOT Center, took three years and $1.2 billion to build. And while it didn’t fulfill Walt Disney’s grand vision of a utopian city, Epcot was something nobody had ever seen before, and it remains one of the world’s most distinctive tourist destinations. Its mixture of attractions and shows with culture and dining – all with a heavy emphasis on education — is unique and most likely something Walt would be proud of.

With more than 10 million visitors a year, Epcot is the third most popular theme park in the United States, trailing only Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Disneyland in California. In honor of Epcot’s 30th anniversary, here are 30 of The Atomic Grog’s favorite ways to enjoy this eclectic combination of futuristic playground and food and beverage smorgasbord.

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Cocktails come of age at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Previous coverage: A taste of paradise comes to Epcot Food and Wine Festival
Related: Artists shine amid copious crowds at Disney World’s birthday party

2011 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival: Through Nov. 13 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. [Official site]

Review by Jim “Hurricane” Hayward

“Please overindulge!” This very succinct advice came from the artist and Tiki/cocktail enthusiast Shag when he signed an event poster for me at the 2010 Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale. Words to live by, to be sure, but not until this year’s Epcot International Food and Wine Festival was I able to experience that mantra on such a grand and eclectic scale.

The new Hawaii booth. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
The new Hawaii booth. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

For 16 years, the six-week festival has served up tastes from six continents at dozens of themed booths offering tapas-sized portions of delicious regional specialties paired with an impressive selection of wines and beers. Now, finally, cocktails have truly joined the party as the art of mixology gets its due respect. The result: An opportunity to eat and drink your way around the world with a Mai Tai and Singapore Sling to compliment an amazing array of foods.

So overindulge, we did, on the opening weekend of the 2011 festival. After attending the maddeningly crowded Walt Disney World 40th anniversary party on Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Magic Kingdom, my wife and I were looking forward to a leisurely food-and-drink adventure Sunday at Epcot. We were not disappointed. And in honor of Shag, whose commemorative merchandise I picked up the day before, we were on a mission to overindulge (albeit in small portions).

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