Last year I attended a professional conference held at a Disney resort. Because I’m a Disney fanatic, Kevin flew down and we extended the trip into a full-blown Disney vacation. I had been extremely excited to visit EPCOT, as I hadn’t seen it since the early 80′s. It turned out that we were there during the 10th Annual EPCOT Wine & Food Festival.
The Festival was more than we imagined. Free (er … included with admission) seminars were hosted all day in the information center. We attended several seminars, but the one that stuck with us the most was given by Doug Frost (Master Sommelier, Master of Wine) on Greek wines.
We tasted several
Greek wines while Doug talked about the under-appreciated wines of the region. Doug was not at all what we expected. He was like someone we would hang out with on a regular basis, and quite young. He was also extremely passionate about his subject. As a trainer, I know that the more passion you display for your subject, the more enjoyable the class and the more information your students take away. Doug Frost succeeded in that – so much so that I couldn’t tell you anything about the other seminars beyond, "We tasted wine." (We might have been at a South African session in there somewhere.) Disney also offered other free seminars on food and cooking.
There is a book store and a wine store set up in the Information center
so that you may buy the wines you try in the seminars and pick up the
I’m sure everyone is familiar with the EPCOT World Showcase – the
Disneyfied version of many countries around the globe. More countries
are added for the Festival and every country has a special booth
featuring one or two wines or beers, a small tapas-sized food item, and
a small dessert item. We had dinner and lunch by visiting all these
booths, although I was undeniably hooked on the quiche and chocolate
from France. Each booth tasting costs between $1.50 and $4.50.
Another "included in your admission" item was the beer seminar. We
stood in line for an hour at the Rose and Crown Pub in "England," but
secured our table. Each table has a bucket of 5 different beers from
Europe. Your hosts then walk you through how each beer is made and what
differentiates the beers. There is a similar session on tea, hosted by
Twinings, also in "England."
In addition to the booths and "free" sessions, the Food and Wine
Festival includes a lot more. We were late to the whole idea, but had
we known, we would have booked places in one of the various wine
schools that are offered or attended the Party of the Senses. The
"Schools" are 6 hour sessions, plus lunch, with an expert in a certain
area – be it cooking or wine. They are limited in size and cost around
$140/per person. The Party of the Senses is hosted every Saturday
night. Chefs from around the globe offer samples of their food,
wineries are offering pours, and entertainment is provided by the La
Noube Cirque du Soleil troupe. It is an over-the-top Disney cocktail
party for adults. The EPCOT Food and Wine Festival offers several
extremely expensive dinners, more sessions on everything from cooking,
to cheeses, to pairing food and wine. It’s up to your time, and your
budget, as to what you might attend.
As you might expect, we were so taken by the Food & Wine Festival
in 2005 that we’re returning for 2006. I’m attending the same
professional conference. This year, we’ve already purchased tickets for
the Party of the Senses as well as a Wine School. We’ll be spending our
6 hours with Doug Frost, learning about Spanish wines. Everything else
we’ll discover as we go.
Want to learn more? The Festival runs at EPCOT Center (and at restaurants throughout Disney property) September 29 – November 12, 2006.
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