EPCOT may seem like more of an adult park from the outside, but it’s really so much fun for the whole family. In addition to the Epcot rides and attractions for the whole family and the countries of the World Showcase, EPCOT is also home to several annual events and festivals during the year. We love visiting EPCOT during all of these festivals – there’s so much to enjoy.
If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World this year, you may be interested in learning about the various EPCOT events. With a little advance planning, you can experience one of these festivals during your family vacation.
I am a former member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel and have been on some complimentary press trips at Walt Disney World, but all opinions are my own. I’ve also paid my own way many times. This post contains affiliate links and a purchase/click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us.
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Fun EPCOT Events To Enjoy Throughout the Year
EPCOT International Festival of the Arts
Typically held at the beginning of the year (in past years it was mid-January to the end of February), the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts is the newest EPCOT event. It includes a number of activities, kiosks, workshops, food tastings, and more.
If you’d like to do some advanced planning for your experience at the Festival, you’ll want to look at the various workshops offered. These are available at an additional fee and need to be reserved in advance (call 407-WDW-TOUR). Be sure to book as soon as you can, because they can fill up.
There are also a variety of entertainment options that occur throughout the festival. These include living statues, artists that paint in front of you, a performing arts showcase for local school bands, and a community arts showcase.
There’s also the Disney on Broadway Concert Series at the America Gardens Theatre, which is located right in the center of the World Showcase in the America pavilion. It features different Disney on Broadway stars who perform popular songs from Broadway shows.
Shows are held on a regular schedule, and you can either sit in the open-air theater or listen to the music as you are walking by.
There’s also the option to book a Disney on Broadway Concert Series Dining Package. With this package, you’ll dine at one of the participating restaurants and then receive a voucher for priority seating at the theater.
In the past, there were four or five participating restaurants. Keep in mind that you will need to book this package specifically when getting your dining reservation. These packages have set prices that are typically more expensive than the regular dining options.
One of my favorite parts of the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts is the collection of food booths located throughout the World Showcase. These food booths offer things like alcoholic beverages, appetizers, and desserts. Choose a few of your favorites and make a meal out of them!
You’ll also find other experiences at the Festival of the Arts including an art walk, “artful photo ops”, kiosks, and shops selling artwork (with some of the artists on site to autograph or meet with fans).
EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival
The EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival takes place in the spring, typically from early March to early June. If you are a flower or plant lover, you’ll definitely want to check this festival out. Mid-May is my favorite time to visit because school is still in session so the parks aren’t too crowded (or too hot).
Special events and tours are available to guests at the festival. These require advance booking, and some are offered for an additional fee. Some have age restrictions and may be more appropriate for adults or older kids.
There are also, as you’d expect, garden and topiary exhibits located throughout EPCOT, in both Future World and the World Showcase. These can be visited at your own pace. When we visit during the festival, we usually stop at the different exhibits as we walk around the park riding the attractions.
Like the other festivals, there are food booths, referred to as “outdoor kitchens”. These outdoor kitchens offer different food options as well as drinks. A festival passport is available free of charge that can serve as your guide and map to the food options.
The EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival also offers live music with the Garden Rocks Concert Series. This music series features throwback music artists every day of the week during the festival at the America Gardens Theatre in front of the American Adventure pavilion.
Dining packages are also offered for the Garden Rocks Concert series. With these dining packages, you’ll dine at one of the participating restaurants and then be able to see the show in a reserved seating area.
These packages have to be specifically reserved in advance, and you’ll pay a prix fixe rate. Participating restaurants vary. You won’t need to dine right before the show, because you’ll receive a voucher to go to the theater for a specific show.
EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival
Want to sample food and wine from around the world? The EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival is my favorite of the EPCOT events because it offers so many delicious food options. It’s similar to the California Adventure Food and Wine Festival at Disneyland Resort and Le Rendez-vous Gourmand de Disneyland® Paris (the Disneyland Paris Food and Wine Festival)
Before walking around the festival, you’ll want to pick up a complimentary festival passport. It includes a listing of booths and food options, as well as a map and a schedule of events. With the passport, you’ll be able to look at the various options so you can make a game plan. The festival also offers kid-friendly food options.
Throughout the park, you’ll find various kiosks featuring different cuisines. In the World Showcase, the kiosks are associated with various countries, many of which aren’t typically represented in the World Showcase.
In the other lands, you’ll also find kiosks that aren’t specific to a country. In the past, there have been seafood and cheese kiosks in Future World. With the ongoing construction, things may vary in this area of the park.
Food and wine tastings are offered for an additional fee, and it can be easiest to pay with either a gift card or a MagicBand.
Those looking to make a full meal of it may be interested in getting a tasting sampler. These include vouchers for food and drink, so you don’t have to buy everything separately. You’ll want to be strategic using these because you can save money if you use the vouchers for higher-priced items.
For me, these tastings are the highlight of the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival.
When I visit the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival, I limit myself to just the food tastings, rather than all of the other offerings. But if you are a real foodie or Oenophiles, you may want to look at some of the other events.
The Party for the Senses is a popular, separate ticketed event that you need to book and purchase separately. It’s usually offered only a few times during the festival and can be reserved in advance. See details here.
During the festival, you may also be able to see celebrity chef demonstrations. Check the Disney website for specific details.
Like the other EPCOT events, the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival includes a concert series. The Eat to the Beat Concert series features all sorts of music genres on the America Gardens Theatre stage. Shows are held seven days a week during the festival. Seating is available but limited, and you can also hear the music as you are passing by the open-air theater.
Dining packages are available and are a great idea if you have a specific artist that you really want to see. You’ll need to book the dining package in advance, and it includes a meal at a participating EPCOT restaurant, as well as a voucher for preferred seating in the theater. As with the other festival dining packages, these have to be booked specifically for the dining package and are a fixed price.
Tips for Attending the EPCOT Events
You’ll need valid park passes, as well as a park reservation to attend any of these EPCOT events. There’s no additional charge for many of the events, including the concerts, but you’ll need to pay for special events, tours, seminars, and food and wine tastings.
If you have the park hopper option on your tickets, you can visit multiple parks per day, after 2pm (always subject to change, and depending on park capacity limits).
Make advance reservations for the events that do require them, including the special dinner packages for VIP seating at the America Gardens Theatre. Some events, like the Party for the Senses, can be very popular. If there’s a concert you really want to see, it’s worth reserving a dinner package if it’s available.
I recommend skipping a more traditional lunch or dinner during your day at EPCOT, so you can sample the variety of food and drink samples at the kiosks. Just keep in mind that there really isn’t much seating.
If you don’t have a MagicBand, it’s a good idea to purchase one of the special event gift cards so you can easily pay for your purchases.
The food and beverage sampler lanyards can be a great option if you’d like to try a lot of different things, or if you are traveling with several other people. Just remember to look at the prices and do the math to make sure you are getting good value for your money.
Grab a festival passport before you get started, so you can develop a plan before making any purchases. I like to look at the book and choose a few things that I definitely want to have. If you just start at the beginning and buy as you see things, you’ll probably be full before you even get a third of the way through the options.
Avoid crowds by visiting midweek and early in the day wherever possible. I’ve found that the Food and Wine Festival is especially busy on the weekends, and evenings are the busiest.
Unless you specifically have seminars you want to attend during the festival, one day is probably enough to visit. However, if you have a park hopper and are staying near EPCOT, it might be fun to get to the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival
Wondering where to stay? There are several convenient EPCOT-area resorts, including Disney’s Beach Club, Disney’s Yacht Club, and the Boardwalk Inn. If you stay at one of these resorts, you can walk right to the back of the park, at the International Gateway Entrance. There is also a Skyliner station right outside the International Gateway.
You can see more places to stay near EPCOT on this interactive map (affiliate links)
Which is your favorite of the EPCOT events?