The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort has become a family staple; as my boys have grown, they have come to love the chic vibe and bountiful amenities. And those restaurants! Whether dining before a runDisney event, or finding that coveted reservation when all else on property seems to have been scooped up, the eateries here are the best you can find. However it wasn’t until last year that I finally had the opportunity to set a course to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic. I often wondered how it would fare against the beloved Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Now I can “dish” the details with you!
** I was the fortunate guest of my pal at An Open Suitcase and received entry to the event. As you well know, my palate (and opinions) are my own!
Comparing Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic and Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
This one is almost unfair; the Epcot event has been a must-do for my family for over a decade. BUT, the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resorts also feel like home away from home. So… bring on the competition!!
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic
Annually held evenings during just one weekend in the fall (November 8 and 9 in 2019), this event gives ticketed guests access to international tastes, wine and beer, spirits, and chefs. For $145, you may eat and drink to your stomach’s content on the Crescent Lake causeway, Carnival Corner, Chinatown, The Bubble Lounge, and The Beer Garden. A la carte ticket booklets are available for $65. A variety of special seminars- ranging from Wine Blending to Pasta making- are offered for a seperate ticket price (ranging from $52 to $290).
- For a flat rate you can easily budget your “all you can eat” attack.
- The premier restaurants that call this resort home (Il Mulino, Shula’s Steakhouse, Kimonos, and celebrity chef Todd English’s BlueZoo) are well represented. Think filet mignon from Shula’s- talk about “best of!”
- Casual establishments (but sentimental favorites) such as Fountain and Picabu, are also present.
- The food and wine offerings are extensive and diverse. Menu choices include everything from poutine to fried Oreo cookies, and from sake to Argentinian wines- 24 in all. Wines from 8 countries and 4 U.S. states are available for tastings.
- Live music serenades your grazing.
- The popular and charming Beer Garden is now included in the basic Causeway Ticket price.
- This event is held outdoors. The evening we attended was being threatened by rain. Perhaps this is why booths were still not stocked and fully-operational until after 6:00 pm. Since the event is only 3 and 1/2 hours long, this was notable.
- Some of the best offerings, such as The Bubble Lounge (champagne, don’t ya know!) were off the beaten path. I would have appreciated a map upon check-in.
- Weekend seminars, such as Pasta Making, Base to Bubbles, and The Fine Art of Sushi and Sake, all come with a supplemental price ticket and price tag.
Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
Ushering in its 24th year, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is a proven hit. Running daily (11:00 am until closing) from August 29th until November 23rd, there are multiple opportunities to visit. One might think, then, that crowds would be comfortably dispersed throughput that three-month period. Think again! This event is as popular as they come. From old favorites, such as the Hawai’i Global Marketplace’s famous Kalua Pork Slider, to the brand-new Appleseed Orchard, you can graze and sip your way around scenic World Showcase and beyond.
- Pay as you go allows for more flexibility in the pocketbook. Most dishes cost between $4 and $7, with wine, beer, and champagne generally more costly.
- Because this Festival is “international,” there is a much wider range of flavors and cultures represented. truly something for every palate!
- Thirty Global Marketplace “booths” offer tastes you wouldn’t typically encounter. Case in point? The Kenyan Coffee Barbecue Beef Tenderloin with Sweet Potato and Corn Mealie Pap and Kachumbari Slaw from Africa. Another win!!
- Each Marketplace showcases wine/beverage pairings with their most popular items. So handy for budding sommeliers.
- The free Epcot International Food and Wine Festival “Passport” is a handy way to plot your attack. If you attend the Festival multiple times, you can keep track of your prior choices and favorites with provided stickers.
- The Eat to the Beat Concert Series is an added, no additional cost, bonus.
- Global Marketplace booths are very spread out. This is potentially an issue for Guests with mobility issues.
- There are times when the food dishes sit under the heat lamps, becoming dried-out and flavorless.
- This Festival is also weather-dependent.
- The Party for the Senses, Sunday Brunch with the Chef, Beverage Seminars, Mixology, and Culinary Demonstrations are MANY, but also come with an extra price tag.
It is almost impossible to make a call on favorites here- both are divine! And yes, I will be returning time and time again. While I prefer the internationally-diverse food at Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, the wine varietals at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic win hands-down. Maybe it was the champagne Bubble Room that captured my fancy, but have a wide selection of wines from each of the major wine producing countries and U.S. states was impressive. Many times, I find the wine choices at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival- limited to two or three at each booth- can be a letdown. Both festivals feature very enticing seminars for additional cost. Personally, I could make trying each my new hobby!
For both events, doing your homework prior to the grazing will save time, frustration, and that most-valuable stomach space. My go-to for this research is always The Disney Food Blog. Secondly, pace yourself. This applies to eating and drinking. The Orlando heat and humidity can wreak havoc on both.
If you’re not fazed about the cost, the Classic is absolutely worth a visit. With those bubbles and carnival touches it is a FUN vibe! Otherwise, the Festival sampling around the world can’t be beat.