More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

Peek at Party for the Senses at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

With the weekend kickoff of the 15th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, we showed restraint as we wandered around World Showcase on a beautiful Saturday afternoon – saving room for sipping and noshing at Party for the Senses. We burned a few calories as we sang along with Taylor Dayne’s “Tell It to My Heart” at Eat to the Beat at America Gardens Theatre (you pick up your Party for the Senses wristband right there and get awesome reserved seats), then took our time strolling over to World Showplace. In upcoming weeks, look for Kool & the Gang, Taylor Hicks, Sister Hazel, Rick Springfield – you are a few feet from the stage, it’s really a fun way to start the evening.

Cirque du Soleil is back in a big way at this year’s Party for the Senses, their musicians on stage most of the evening with the gorgeous, haunting melodies from “La Nouba,” and occasional vignettes from the show. The evening ends with a spectacular performance by the talented cast. It’s fantastic entertainment that makes the party even more special.

We won’t share all the dishes we loved, as every party features new chefs and new tastes. Suffice it to say that our favorite was California Grill’s beautiful bowl with a rich broth, roasted mushrooms and a single ravioli with venison and the scent of truffles. Yum.

Top 5 tips for Party for the Senses:

  1. Take your time getting there. The gates open and the crowd packs in the East Hall about 6:15 p.m., so instead of standing in line, arrive about 6:30 p.m. (or even 6:45 p.m.) when the crowd has moved inside. If snagging a table is important to you, all bets are off. (We never, ever sit, so we’re all for late arrival.) You can reserve seats in the Wine View Lounge, and if you do, plan to arrive at 6:15 p.m. for a little something extra.
  2. They’ve added beautiful vessels of iced water with a squeeze of fresh grapefruit and oranges in the East Hall – stop and sip on your way in and out. A really nice touch. We also sipped a vodka cocktail, new this year. One sip was plenty, but it was worth trying, part of the beauty of the party – you don’t have to commit.
  3. Don’t stand in line for food or wine. Every party, there is always one chef who draws a big crowd (Saturday night it was for a scallop the size of an enormous marshmallow). The lines will dwindle – hit up the chefs where no one is waiting, then circle back. We tried everything from braised beef cheeks to squab breast, the diversity and trying new tastes is a big part of the fun. You’re allowed to take one bite and move on.
  4. Ask questions. Most of the chefs and winemakers love your questions – and your feedback. And if you don’t like a wine, it’s OK to pour it out, rinse your glass and try another. There’s plenty of time to try most everything that looks interesting.
  5. While the array of cuisine is center stage, sample the cheeses – they’re even better this year than last. They’ve also arranged them on smaller tables, so it’s easy to circle and sample. We couldn’t get enough of a triple-cream cow’s cheese from the UK that we paired with a chunk of sweet honeycomb. Divine.

Each Saturday is a different experience – new wines, new chefs. The party is 6:30-9 p.m. Cost is $135 per person (park admission required). For seating in the Wine View Lounge, it’s an additional $90 per person (worth it if you want a guaranteed seat for the 2 ½ hours). Call 407-WDW-FEST or visit the Festival Welcome Center for reservations.


  • Hi – do the Food and Wine Festival kiosks stay open past 9PM during Extra Magic Hours (like next Wednesday, Oct 12, for instance)? Just wondering whether there will still be gourmet goodies to much on late at night. Thanks!

  • I went to Party for the Senses this past week and had an incredible time! (Those giant scallops were delicious!)

    Just a quick question. When I got home I was washing my glass and just for fun I ran my finger around the rim and it made that hum/ring associated with crystal glasses. Is the party for the senses glass actual crystal?

    I have been to the event twice and it really is amazing. I now have two Party for the Senses glasses and hopefully eventually I will accumulate a large collection of them.

  • Hidden Mickey in the picture above.

  • We have been to the party for the senses many times. This event is spectacular – however, the cost keeps going up enough to discourage us from going as often. When we first went to this event, it was $85 per person and it just keeps going up every year.

    The food is always great and the atmosphere is also fantastic. The last year we went, there was a band playing instead of Cirque Du Soliel and that was a mistake as Cirque Du Soliel is much better entertainment. The cheese and food stations are just fantastic. There has been some beer there too – some bottles in the $75/pb area so you got a chance to taste exotic beer.

    The dessert table is also to die for.

    We have always wanted to get there in line first so we could catch a table where we want. The tables fill up fast and we usually have a group of 6-10 of us, so a table is very necessary. Or at least 2 tables together. We use the table as a home base and roam the floor gathering food and drink and then go back to the table and share with others who are also coming and going. You can find out what are the best places to visit from someone in your group who has already been there and you can compare notes. we usually stay there at least 2 hours so it is important to have a table to sit and rest or taste the stuff you have picked up and brought back to the table.

    This used to be a can’t miss thing to do at the Wine & food festival, but the cost has gotten out of hand so we have passed it by last year. This year we are going down the last week of the F&W festival but are not doing this event because of the cost. There are other things to do at the festival and we will just take advantage of those things that don’t cost so much.

    We are Disney vacation club members and are “forced” to go down at least twice a year (we live in Illinois) to use our points. The F&W event is a must along with the Spring Flower and garden Show which we like to do early before Spring Break hits the parks. There is a lot of food and wine to dive into at the F&W festival, but prices are getting way out of hand and we are tending to ‘walk and observe’ more than ‘eat and greet’ nowadays.

Comments are closed.