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Around the World in 80 Minutes

PASSPORT READY From Mexico to Morocco, Epcot’s annual Food and Wine Festival offers cultural cuisine and beverages from over 20 countries.

For many Rollins students, trips to Walt Disney World are not so much a tradition as they are a necessity. For those of us with magical green Annual Pass cards, it can even be an addiction. Whether you’re a regular visitor looking for something to spice up your weekly visit or a first-timer wanting to make it to the “Happiest Place on Earth” before you graduate, Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival is a perfect way to experience Disney eats and services at their finest.

Established in 1996, Food and Wine is the sister to Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival held in the spring. Guests are invited to explore the World Showcase and sample food from 30 booths representing countries such as Australia, South Korea, Greece, and Belgium. If you’re over 21, you can also check out fine wines and brews from all over the globe. The festival center hosts various cooking seminars taught by celebrity chefs throughout the season, and several Epcot-area resorts present extremely popular dinners in a five-star setting. While the atmosphere can seem fancy at times, most in-park activities are comfortably casual. While festival entry is included with your park ticket, each booth’s offerings cost anywhere from $3-$8. One of the easiest ways to “eat around the world” is to purchase the special Food and Wine Disney gift card that has a wristband attached for easy access.

Of course, the most important part of Food and Wine is the food, and Epcot never disappoints in this arean. Yearly favorites include China’s chicken potstickers, South Korea’s lettuce wrap with pork and kimchi slaw, and Canada’s cheddar cheese soup. For those looking to eat a little healthier in the parks, Disney has designated several booths as “Try-It” stations for healthy eating: Terra (vegetarian and vegan options), Singapore, Poland, New Zealand, Greece, and Scotland all include better-for-you noshes to enjoy while exploring the World Showcase.

Food, however, is not the only draw of the festival. Returning for another year of musical entertainment is the Eat to the Beat concert series, featuring bands such as Hanson, Boyz II Men, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Each weekend brings a new concert and another reason to head back over to Disney (the shows are free). One of the more interesting exhibits is the miniature cranberry bog located near the entrance of World Showcase, where real “waders” explain the process of cranberry growing and harvesting. Finally, a trip to the Festival Center for exclusive merchandise and other festival presentations is a must, the limited-edition merch includes pins and t-shirts that are some of the most desirable Disney collectibles.

All in all, Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival is the perfect way to spend a day touring the World Showcase, an area often overlooked in favor for the park’s various thrill rides. It’s also a great way to stay in the area before seeing the park’s nightly fireworks spectacular, IllumiNations, which is a groundbreaking and beautiful show to watch. The festival runs through November 11 and tickets to Disney can be purchased through OSIL.

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