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5 tips from a local to help you enjoy Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

An Epcot International Food and Wine Festival cooking demonstration.
An Epcot International Food and Wine Festival cooking demonstration.
Barb Nefer

The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival starts on September 19 and runs through November 10 this year. It's a busy time at the park, since many foodies plan their trips around the festival and locals flock to enjoy the good food and drink. I'm in the latter category, so here are my tips to help you enjoy it if you're planning to come out too:

Go on a weekday. The locals come out of the woodwork on the weekend, since many are at work on weekdays. If you're on vacation or have a flexible work schedule, a weekday is typically much less crowded at the festival.
Go early. The whole idea behind the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is to taste as many dishes as you can and top them off with plenty of libations. Your stomach only has a limited capapcity, but if you arrive early you can graze around the world for lunch, walk off some of the calories enjoying the park for a few hours, then hit the food kiosks again in the evening for dinner.

Get a pre-paid wrist card. Disney sells a variety of cute pre-paid cards that you can use to buy food at the festival. If you get the wristband card, you don't have to keep pulling it out of your pocket, purse, or wallet every time you want to make a purchase. Better yet, it's a great way to budget. Load it with your pre-determined amount of spending money for the day. It's easy to go over budget with so many taste bud tempting options, not to mention all the cute souvenirs. A pre-paid card helps you rein in the spending.
Get a passport. Speaking of souvenirs, there's a fun, free one that I love to get every year. Pick up your passport when you arrive at the park and have it stamped as you work your way through the food booths. I also like to circle what I ate and jot down a few comments about it. It makes for nice memories when you look it many months, or even years, later.

Visit the Festival Center. Did you know there are demonstrations, souvenirs, a wine shop, and a host of other goings-on inside the old Wonders of Life pavilion during the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival? Sign up for a tasting, check out a demo, browse through the keepsakes in air conditioned comfort, and enjoy a little downtime from the hustle and bustle outside. Because it's nice and cool, as well as relatively quiet, the Festival Center is a good place to stop early on with your passport. Find a seat, go through the passport, and make your place of attack. That way, you'll be all ready to hit the kiosks with a sense of purpose when World Showcase opens at 11 a.m.

If you're on the fence about going, maybe a preview of some of the food and drinks will help you make up your mind. Go here to see some of the food or jump here for the drinks. For three of the best things about the festival, go here.