Yestercot at Yesterland.com

Well-Aged Festival

Epcot International
Food & Wine Festival:
The Early Years

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2003

The 19th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival opens today. My first visit to the festival was in 1999, when it was in its fourth year. I then went every year through 2013.

This year, I’m not going. So instead of offering photos of the 2014 festival, this article takes you back to 2000 through 2005.

After all, this is Yesterland.

Werner Weiss, Curator of Yesterland, September 19, 2013


Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2002

One of the International Marketplaces in 2002

In the early years, International Marketplaces (food and wine kiosks) were smaller and simpler; crowds had not yet discovered the festival. Each Marketplace provided free recipe cards for the items being served. More events were free of charge (or, more accurately, included in the price of Epcot admission). The Festival Center, which we now take for granted, was still the Wonders of Life pavilion.

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2001

The Terrace between Morocco and France in 2001

The International Marketplaces are only one aspect of the festival. Scheduled sessions are another. The unused World Showcase pad between Morocco and France served as The Terrace, essentially a forerunner of the Festival Center.

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2002

Wine Tent in 2002

The wine seminars were in tents and then in various spots in Innoventions East before settling in the Festival Center in 2007. In the early years, you could usually walk in shortly before the starting time. Lines became common as repeat park guests discovered the opportunity to drink free wine.

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2003

Free Champagne tasting in 2003, with empty seats in back

The wine tent might look pleasant in the photo, but when the outside air was 90 degrees and Florida sun was baking the canvas, it could be very hot inside. That wasn’t good for the pre-poured wine samples either. Oh well—at least the seminars were free.

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2002

Wine Store in 2002

The wine store was in a hot tent for several years, with big temperature swings between daytime and nighttime—not ideal conditions for fine wine.

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2002

Plastic Chairs in 2002

The culinary demonstrations bounced between Odyssey Center and an outdoor spot at The Terrace before settling down in the Festival Center in 2008.

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2003

Culinary samples outdoors—without tables—in 2003

Even back when the culinary demonstrations were free, they included a sample of what the chef was preparing on stage.

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2002

Morocco

The Terrace did not have its own restrooms, but the restrooms of Morocco were right next door. “Going to Morocco” became a euphemism for something else.

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2004

Odyssey Center in 2004

Odyssey Center might be the best home that the culinary demonstrations ever had. It was quiet and private. The aroma from what the chef was preparing on stage would waft through the audience—unlike at the outdoor setting of The Terrace or the huge dome of the Festival Center, where the good smells would usually rise up and float away.

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2002

Andalucia, Spain exhibit in 2002

Over the years, some of the highlights of the festival have been the temporary countries added to World Showcase. Although not as elaborate as the permanent pavilions, these usually feature food, wine, entertainment, and merchandise in a themed setting. Andalucia, Spain offered sherry and olive oil tasting, along with flamenco dancers.

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2004

The Valencia region of Spain in 2004

Two years after Andalucia, a different region of Spain came to the festival—Valencia. Rumors at the time said that a permanent Epcot presence for Spain would be next—but that never happened.

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2005

Dancers from Botswana in 2005

Featured countries have included Botswana, Turkey, Dominican Republic, Peru, and Oklahoma. Okay, Oklahoma is not a country, but the state had a terrific display in 2007 marking the 100th anniversary of its statehood.

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2003

Australian wine tasting in 2003

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2005

Australian Wine Walkabout in 2005

For a number of years, Australia had an expanded presence at the festival. That could mean having its own small wine seminars, Aboriginal dancers, or a Wine Walkabout, depending on the year. Unfortunately, Australia is now just another International Marketplace kiosk.

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2004

“The History of Beer in America” seminar and tasting in 2004

It’s called the Food & Wine Festival, but beer has always played a significant role too. The Boston Beer Company, brewers of Sam Adams Boston Lager, used to present a complimentary tasting of some of their brews.

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2005

World Beers in 2005

The best beer tasting used to be International Beers of the World, presented by InBev, at the UK pavilion. Two or three guests would share five complimentary bottles of beer, each from a different country, while a beer educator would talk about each beer.

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2000

Cookin’ on the America Gardens Stage in 2000

The Eat to the Beat concert series has been a fixture of the Food & Wine Festival since 2002. Every night, oldies acts present three concerts at the America Gardens Theater. But there was a time before Eat to the Beat. In 1999 and 2000, Cookin’—a Korean percussion group that used knives, cutting boards, cabbages, and cookware—performed nightly. In 2001, it was the European company of Barrage, a fiddle group.

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival has evolved considerably. To see how the festival has looked in more recent years, take a look at these Yesterland articles:


Now, let’s fast-forward to a reason I wish I were going to the Food & Wine Festival this year—MiceChat’s Sip & Nibble day, a day of sharing food, beverages, and good conversation with MiceChatters.

Well-Aged Festival: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Dusty Sage launching the 2013 MiceChat Sip & Nibble at Epcot

Sip & Nibble is part of MiceChat’s annual Walt Disney World Invasion. There’s more:

  • Thu., Oct. 23, 2014 — Harry Potter and Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando
  • Fri., Oct. 24, 2014 — Sip and Nibble through the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
  • Sat., Oct. 25, 2014 — Magic Kingdom and La Nouba day
  • Sun., Oct. 26, 2014 — Gumball Rally (race through Magic Kingdom and Epcot to see who can ride the most attractions in a single day!)
  • Mon., Oct. 27, 2014 — Disney’s Animal Kingdom adventure day
  • Tue., Oct. 28, 2014 — Disney’s Hollywood Studios by day and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party by night

It’s going to be an amazing week. You can participate in as many or few of the events as you wish. Here are details about the whole Invasion, including links to sign up for the various events: MiceChat Walt Disney World Invasion and WDW Gumball Rally.


Click here to post comments at MiceChat about this article.


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Updated September 19, 2014.