Between the World Showcase pavilions that allow you to travel the globe one boozy beverage or tasty snack at a time, no passport necessary, to the edu-taining attractions and tasty restaurants, Epcot takes the title of favorite Disney World theme park for many adults, even more so when there’s a festival going on. That’s particularly true of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which is basically a formal excuse to take part in another Epcot tradition: drinking around the world.
But what if you plan on heading to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival with kids in tow? How can you tackle this alcohol-fueled gastronomic adventure in a way that’s fun for children and grown-ups alike? While you might be tempted to give the Food & Wine Festival a pass—especially since the park doesn’t exactly have the reputation of being as kid-friendly as places like Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom—this foodie fall festival is actually the perfect time to take your family to Epcot.
Read on as we break down all the ways you can make your family trip to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival a success, from kid-approved activities and attractions to the best Global Marketplaces for younger, pickier taste buds to which nearby Disney World hotels you should make your base of operations. We’ll also offer some helpful hints to ensure your visit goes off without a hitch. Let’s get started!
What to Expect at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival with Kids
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is a grand affair that takes over the park each year from late July through the middle of November, turning it into an internationally inspired culinary wonderland overflowing with adventurous eats and a whole bunch of alcohol. In 2023, this delicious transformation takes place from July 27 to November 18. But this seasonal soiree isn’t just for adults—it’s also jam-packed with kid-friendly fun. Not only are there plenty of activities that your little ones are sure to love but there is also a smorgasbord of dining options that are great for picky eaters.
A Family-Friendly Culinary Adventure
Ok, let’s get the big question out of the way first. Can kids go to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival? Absolutely! Although unfamiliar dishes with global flair and a veritable theme park-sized bar peddling beer, wine, cocktails, cider and even mead may sound like a recipe for an event geared only towards adults, that actually couldn’t be further from the truth. This is Walt Disney World we’re talking about, after all! The entire place is envisioned with families at the heart, and that goes for the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, too.
Sure, there are some things on the menu that your mini-me probably won’t want to (or can’t) try. Sushi? No, thank you. Escargot or caviar? Yuck! Guinness Baileys Coffee Shake? Sorry, kiddo, you’re gonna have to wait until you’re 21. (But mom, there’s ice cream in it!) However, with around 30 different Global Marketplaces to choose from offering a truly massive buffet of options, we guarantee you that your child will have more than enough to keep them fed and happy all day long.
Not to mention, all of the items on the menu here are fun-sized, just like your kiddo, meaning that the parents will get to sample an array of things, and the children won’t have to commit to an entire meal when trying something new. On top of that, sharing is highly recommended, as more stomach space means more opportunities to enjoy something else tasty. In other words, this is the perfect opportunity to push your little one’s palate into uncharted territory in a way that is fun and low-pressure.
Fun Activities Abound
Sure, the food and wine are obviously the stars of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, but there’s also a whole lot more to this event than just eating and drinking around the World Showcase. While adults will enjoy some of the big-name bands during the Eat to the Beat Concert Series, kids will get a kick out of the scavenger hunts that spring up right alongside all of the food booths, as well as regular Epcot attractions designed with younger guests in mind. So, while you might be munching your way to Mexico so you can reward yourself with a margarita, your child can be with you every step of the way, trying to track down Remy or a Disney character-inspired pumpkin. There’s no shortage of family-friendly fun to be had as long as you know where to look for it. (That’s where we come in!)
Crowds, Crowds and More Crowds
Ok, we won’t sugarcoat things here. The Epcot Food & Wine Festival is BUSY. Like, really busy. In fact, of the theme park’s four festivals—Festival of the Arts, Flower & Garden, Food & Wine and Festival of the Holidays—the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is the most popular (i.e., busiest) event of them all. Typically, we would recommend going on a weekday to help avoid some of the craziness. However, given the timing of Food and Wine, the vast majority of the festival happens when school is back in session.
So, unless you happen to be taking a fall vacation or you manage to go before the semester starts, you’ll need to be prepared for a very cramped day. That said, as long as you do some planning ahead of time and you set your expectations accordingly, there’s no reason that you can’t get a lot accomplished and have a great time. Still, consider this your warning!
Kid-Friendly Activities at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival and World Showcase
So, along with all of the drinking and eating around the world, what else is there to do for families at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival? Surprisingly, quite a bit! In anticipation of the hordes of unhappy kiddos threatening to cut the party short out of boredom, Disney has built in a couple of different fun activities especially for the festival. Of course, those are supplemented by the already existing family-friendly attractions that are sprinkled around World Showcase like boredom-killing pixie dust. Hurray! Bless those Disney Imagineers and their foresight. Alright, let’s take a peek at all of the fun that awaits you and your crew.
Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt
Looking for something to keep your kiddo entertained while you make your way around World Showcase? Scavenger hunts are the perfect solution. These hands-on activities will have your child just as excited to make it to the next pavilion as you are. Best of all, the Epcot Food & Wine Festival brings not one but two of these interactive adventures to the park—technically three if you count the event’s snack stroll (more on that in a bit). Most notable is Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak, which sets guests out in search of Remy, everyone’s favorite Little Chef from Ratatouille, who is out tasting the bounty of the various World Showcase countries.
To get in on the gastronomic fun, you’ll first need to buy some stickers and the matching map from select Epcot merchandise locations (Port of Entry, Disney Traders, Creations Shop, World Traveler at International Gateway and or festival merchandise kiosks). Then head out on your around-the-world journey, matching the stickers to their appropriate locations on the map. Once your little one has found all of Remy’s hiding spots, return to one of the shops to show the completed map to a cast member and claim their reward.
Pluto’s Pumpkin Pursuit Scavenger Hunt
If you happen to be visiting during spooky season, specifically between September 29 to October 31, 2023, your child can also participate in Pluto’s Pumpkin Pursuit, a character-inspired treasure hunt with a Halloween twist. For this spook-tacular scavenger hunt, your kiddo will hunt high and low for boo-tiful pumpkins decorated like various Disney characters. It’s one heckuva gourd time that your little one is bound to love.
Similar to Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak, before you start your search, you will first need to purchase a game board and stickers from one of the participating gift shops around Epcot (Port of Entry, Disney Traders, Creations Shop, World Traveler at International Gateway and or festival merchandise kiosks). Finally, after your child has tracked all those painted pumpkins down, take the completed map to either World Traveler or Disney Traders for a frighteningly fun surprise.
Disney’s DuckTales World Showcase Adventure
But wait, there’s more! Epcot is actually home to another character-themed scavenger hunt all year round: Disney’s DuckTales World Showcase Adventure. And better yet, unlike those Food and Wine Festival activities, this Epcot scavenger hunt is already included in the price of your admission. All you need to get going is the Play Disney Parks app.
Using your mobile device and location, your child will bring different parts of seven different World Showcase pavilions to life, all while helping Scrooge McDuck, Huey, Duey, Louie and Webby find the 7 Lost Magic Treasures. During this quacky quest, your kiddo will follow clues to unearth the priceless missing artifacts and keep them from falling into the wrong hands. Don’t be surprised if this exciting interactive activity gets your little ones excited to learn more about the cultures of World Showcase.
Kidcot Fun Stops
Epcot is easily one of Walt Disney World’s most educational theme parks. But with Kidcot Fun Stops, learning can also be fun, too. On top of that, your kids can also come away with some free souvenirs! When visiting each World Showcase pavilion, be sure to stop by its Kidcot Fun Stop. Each one offers a unique activity card filled with fascinating facts and fun activities inspired by the country’s cultural traditions. By the end of their global adventure, they’ll come away with a handful of memorable mementos and some newfound knowledge. (You can also fire up the Play Disney Parks mobile app for even more World Showcase fun with the Disney Kidcot Puzzle Hunt.)
Kidcot Fun Stop locations include:
Mexico Pavilion – Near Mexico Folk Art Gallery
Norway Pavilion – At The Puffin’s Roost
China Pavilion – Near the exit of Reflections of China
Germany Pavilion – At Volkunst
Italy Pavilion – Outside, near La Bottega Italiana
American Adventure Pavilion – Outside, near Art of Disney
Japan Pavilion – In the Bijutsu-kan Gallery
Morocco Pavilion – At the Marketplace in the Medina
France Pavilion – At Souvenirs de France
United Kingdom Pavilion – At The Toy Soldier
Canada Pavilion – At the exit of Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360
Best World Showcase Countries for Families
Although the World Showcase countries are largely known for their delicious restaurants and boozy beverages, as well as gift shops selling international wares and educational exhibits, some pavilions also have a lot to offer kids, like character meet-and-greets and even a few rides. Not only are these just a lot of fun, but depending on the activity, they can also be a great way to take a little bit of a break, rest your feet for a bit and soak up some A/C.
Although attractions are always available (barring any technical difficulties, of course), keep in mind that character appearance times and locations can vary. So, refer to the My Disney Experience app for the current schedule. The best World Showcase pavilions for children include:
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros – A slow-moving boat ride through Mexico starring Donald Duck
Frozen Ever After – A leisurely boat ride through Arendelle and the story of Frozen
Character Meet-and-Greet – Meet Anna and Elsa in Royal Sommerhus
Character Meet-and-Greet – Meet Mulan in the Great Hall of China
Character Meet-and-Greet – Meet Snow White near the Wishing Well
Character Meet-and-Greet – Meet Princess Jasmine in the Medina
Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along – A 15-minute film narrated by Mrs. Potts (AKA Angela Lansbury) featuring songs from the movie
Character Meet-and-Greet – Meet Belle and sometimes The Beast near World Showcase Lagoon
Character Meet-and-Greet – Meet Princess Aurora in the Fragrance Gardens Gazebo
United Kingdom Pavilion
Character Meet-and-Greet – Meet Alice in the gardens
Character Meet-and-Greet – Meet Princess Mary Poppins in the courtyard
Kid-Friendly Festival Food and Drink Offerings
While some of the items on offer at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival aren’t exactly kid-friendly, many of them are perfect for young palates. From approachable eats that are great for picky eaters to slightly more adventurous offerings that are both small and shareable to make it easy to test the culinary waters, you’ll find an impressive spread of dishes that the whole family will love.
Emile’s Fromage Montage
If there’s one thing that everyone loves, whether kids or adults, it’s cheese. During Emile’s Fromage Montage (fromage is French for “cheese”), you and your little one can sample a veritable cheese plate of ooey-gooey dishes with global flair. For this succulent scavenger hunt, you’ll need to buy and try at least five cheese-forward items. To participate, simply get a stamp in your Festival Passport when ordering each of your cheesy chosen bites. Once you’ve checked five off of the list, show your stamp collection to the cast member at Shimmering Sips to receive a surprise.
Featured cheese dishes in Emile’s Fromage Montage include:
Brazil – Pão de Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread
Canada – Canadian Cheddar and Bacon Soup served with a Pretzel Roll
Flavors from Fire – Smoked Corned Beef with House-made Potato Chips, Cheese Curds, Pickled Onions and Beer-Cheese Fondue
Germany – Schinkennudeln: Pasta Gratin with Ham, Onions and Cheese
Greece – Griddled Cheese with Pistachios and Honey
Hawaii Marketplace – Passion Fruit Cheesecake with Toasted Macadamia Nuts
India – Curry-Spiced Crispy Cheese with Mango-Curry Ketchup
Spain – Charcuterie in Cup with a selection of imported Spanish Meats, Cheeses, Olives and an Herbed Vinaigrette
The Alps – Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese with Shaved Ham, Baby Potatoes, Cornichons and Baguette or Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese with Baby Potatoes, Cornichons and Baguette
Wine & Wedge (New!) – Assorted Artisanal Cheeses and Accoutrements or Boursin Fig and Balsamic Soufflé with Fig Tapenade or Southern Pimento Cheese with Bread and Butter Pickled Vegetables and Grilled Bread
Best Global Marketplaces for Kids
Overwhelmed by all of the options? We get it! With almost 30 Global Marketplaces available in 2023, it can be hard to know where to start or which food booths have something that your picky kiddos will enjoy. Not to worry! We’re here to help you narrow things down.
One place that you definitely won’t want to miss is the Brew-Wing Lab at the Odyssey, which has been taken over by the Muppets this year. Dr. Bunsen and his faithful assistant Beaker have been hard at work putting together the wackiest, tastiest flavor combinations that you have to try to believe. Talk about a fun foodie experience for the whole family! Our picks for the most kid-friendly Global Marketplaces at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival include:
The Alps – Gooey Swiss cheese melted over bites like baby potatoes and ham, as well as dark chocolate fondue with sweets like berries and pound cake for dipping
Belgium – Belgian waffles topped with chocolate ganache or berry compote and whipped cream
Brazil – Addictively delicious Brazilian cheese bread balls and black beans served with pork belly and rice
Brew-Wing Lab at the Odyssey – Chicken wings in unique flavor combinations like peanut butter & jelly, garlic-parmesan and orange-cardamom, as well as a pickle milkshake
Canada – Cozy cheese and bacon soup with a pretzel roll for dipping
China – Bao buns filled with crispy duck and sweet hoisin sauce, noodles with a spicy peanut butter sauce and bubble tea
The Fry Basket – All sorts of French fries, like bacon with smoked aioli and sweet potato casserole with toasted marshmallow cream, as well as adobo yuca fries and pickle fries with dill ranch
Funnel Cake – Candied bacon funnel cake with ice cream and maple syrup
Germany – Bratwurst, cheesy pasta gratin with ham and onions, and apple strudel with vanilla sauce
Greece – Griddled cheese with honey and pistachios, crispy spanakopita, and plant-based moussaka with spiced IMPOSSIBLE meat, eggplant, tomatoes and creamy bechamel
Hawaii – Kālua pork slider with pineapple and spicy mayo, SPAM sushi and passion fruit cheesecake
India – Curry-spiced crispy cheese with mango-curry ketchup for dipping and mango lassi
Ireland – Irish sausage with mashed potatoes and gravy
Italy – Focaccia with meatballs, burrata cheese and tomato sauce, pasta with sweet sausage and bacon and lemon ricotta cheesecake with strawberry compote
Refreshment Port – Fried beaver tail pastry covered with cinnamon sugar and braised beef poutine with cheese curds and cheese sauce
Swirled Showcase – Ice cream in a waffle cone or as a float and Mickey-shaped liquid nitro cake
Tips for Making Your Family Trip to the Festival a Success
Ready to make sure your day at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is fun for the whole family? Here are some easy tips and tricks to get you going.
Go With a Game Plan
The Food & Wine Festival is the most popular of all of Epcot’s festivals. As a result, it can be really busy. On top of that, it can also be overwhelming if you don’t go in with a plan. To set yourselves up for success, we recommend that you look at all of the food booth menus so that you have a good idea of what you and your kiddos would like to try. This will keep you focused and save you time in the long run. Also, have an idea of what other activities and entertainment options you’d like to do while you’re there so that you can think about how to work them into your day.
Don’t Forget a Map and Festival Passport
In the same vein, be sure to grab a map and a Festival Passport when you enter the park. Not only do you want to know where you’re going, but the passport also makes it easy to keep track of dishes and drinks that you’ve already tried and keeps all of your options close at hand. You’ll also need this if you want to do Emile’s Fromage Montage.
Pace Yourselves and Take Breaks
Balance is key on any day at the Disney Parks, but especially when you’re trying to eat and drink a whole bunch of festival offerings. So, you’ll want to add in break times to escape the Central Florida sun, enjoy some air-conditioning and let your stomachs settle for a while. A great (and fun!) way to do this is by doing one of the nearby attractions. Alternatively, if you are staying in a hotel in the Hollywood Studios and Epcot Resort Area, you may even want to head back to your room for a bit for a nap or to cool off in the pool.
Be Sure to Share
As your little one knows, sharing is caring. That’s especially true at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival. Part of the fun of any Epcot festival is trying all of the delicious bites and beverages on offer. Naturally, you’ll be able to sample even more if you share them with the entire family. For more adventurous options, you can even make it a fun activity and an opportunity to encourage your kiddo to try something new.
Consider Using Disney Genie+
Want to spend less time in line for rides and more time trying something tasty? You may want to upgrade your day with Disney Genie+. Although it can get a little pricey, especially when buying it for everyone in the family, it can help to save you from having to wait it out in ridiculously long lines. This can be particularly helpful during busy festival weekends.
Top Epcot Hotels for Families
Alright, you’re headed to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival with kids in tow. So, where should you stay while you’re there? Well, you’re in luck because there are several Disney World hotels for families with kids that are only a short walk or Disney Skyliner ride away from World Showcase and International Gateway.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – The newest Disney World value resort, with family suites and guestrooms with immersive theming inspired by The Little Mermaid, Cars, The Lion King and Finding Nemo and a location at the end of the Disney Skyliner
Disney’s Pop Century Resort – A value resort with some of the cheapest rooms at Disney World, larger-than-life theming inspired by the decades of the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s and a Disney Skyliner station
Well, parents, that wraps up our guide to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival for families. We hope that we’ve helped make this fun foodie event feel a little more achievable with kids in tow. Have you ever taken your kiddos to the Food & Wine Festival? Let us know in the comments! Then, find out how you can make more space in your travel budget with our discount Disney tickets.