Thanks to a little help from my friends, I finally made it to the very LAST day of Epcot's Food & Wine Festival yesterday! Chiquita Banana and I both aprove!
What I expected to find, and was probably even avoiding, was an excuse to overindulge in gluttonous behavior that would cost me my own arm and leg. Although I still can't fairly argue against that being the case, what did take me by surprise was what a wonderfully enchanting educational experience it was! ..Have kids? Want to inspire them to explore other languages, cultures, and world history? Take them to Epcot!
Everything about Epcot tells a story. Replicas of town centers and international landmarks line the waterside paths that wind through Epcot, taking one on a journey around the world. Each region houses artifacts, historical content, and stories surrounding it all. One might feel as if they were in a world history museum. That is, if it weren't for the also educational live performances, park rides, festive foods and drinks from every culture, and a gorgeous display of fireworks to conclude each night.
Want an even more authentic story than those written on every gallery wall along the way? Stop and ask any employee to tell you theirs. From the teller at the kiosk to the restaurant server, every single employee that works at Epcot is from the country that they represent. Every accepted applicant is given a visa by Disney to live in Orlando, FL and work at Epcot for just one year. This type of educational opportunity is an experience that is usually only offered to students through semester abroad exchange programs at Universities. The opportunity that Disney provides to its employees internationally is something special. Want to know what makes Osaka or Tokyo unique? Stop by Epcot's Little Japan and just ask an employee.
As for the food and wine, well.. perhaps it does inspire gluttony for a day. But it also introduces people to foods and drinks they may have never encountered before. What makes the Food and Wine Festival so special is the number of additional kiosks featuring bite sized tastes from around the world that allows a broader culinary experience than one would get otherwise. One can stop and nibble along the way, stopping in Brazil for meats, Mexico for margaritas, Germany for pretzel brats, Japan for sake, and walk it off on the way to France for a tarte at the boulangerie.
The Food and Wine Festival takes place annually, generally between the months of September to November. If you find yourself in Orlando during those Fall months, put Epcot on your list of adventures. It is well worth the price of admission. Bring the kids along with you. They'll love it too!