- The Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic takes place every fall just steps from EPCOT.
- The festival has more than 25 different food offerings and more than 200 wine, beer, and spirits samples to try.
- It’s one of my favorite events of the year at Walt Disney World because the tickets include all food and drinks alongside live music and entertainment.
EPCOT at Walt Disney World in Orlando is known for its various festivals throughout the year, including both the Food and Wine Festival and the Flower and Garden Festival. While those are always a good family vacation idea and definitely worth a visit, there’s another food and wine festival just steps away from EPCOT that’s more of a hidden secret: The Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic.
What Is the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic?
An annual fall event hosted by the Walt Disney World Swan, Walt Disney World Dolphin, and Walt Disney World Swan Reserve resorts, the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic is open to the public and does not require you to stay at any of the three resorts. The festival has grown in size and popularity over the years, with more food and drink samples than ever before available for guests to try.
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If you’re looking to experience something new at Walt Disney World this fall, consider making The Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic part of your trip. This is one of my favorite events of the year at Walt Disney World, not just because of the sheer amount of food and wine to try, but because the tickets are all-inclusive of food and drinks, so you’re not shelling out money for each sample like other Disney food festivals.
In fact, making a foodie weekend out of the event is a unique and fun way to experience one of the best family vacation spots in the U.S. while also spending a little bit of time at some of the top Orlando theme parks.
When Is the 2023 Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic?
The 2023 Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic takes place on Friday, November 10, and Saturday, November 11, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tickets give you access to unlimited food and beverage samples throughout the night, plus lively entertainment, and various themed areas around the Swan and Dolphin’s private causeway, lakefront, and beach. (And good news for the 2023 event, tickets are still on sale as of publication for both nights of the festival.)
What’s on the Menu for the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic in 2023?
Each of the food offerings is based on popular dishes from one of the restaurants or lounges at the three sister resorts. Unlimited tastings mean that you can try one of every dish, and even go back for seconds or thirds of your favorites throughout the night. The full menu, including dishes that are vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, and gluten-free, is already available for the 2023 Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic.
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On Friday night, a few of my favorite bites are the red chicken chile tacos from the newest restaurant at the resort complex, Rosa Mexicano; the beef sliders with truffle aioli and bacon from The Fountain; and the pork belly bao buns from Chinatown. If you’re going to the Saturday night event, be sure to try the smoked beef rib from Smokin’ D’s BBQ, the grilled chicken BLT from The Fountain, and the homemade clam pasta from Amare.
Themed Areas within the Festival in 2023
Within the larger Food and Wine Classic are smaller themed areas that are around for the whole weekend. These themed areas have the same menu throughout the weekend but typically have their own entertainment, soundscape, and decorations.
The 2023 returning-themed areas include Chinatown, the Beer Garden, and Carnival Corner. Two new themed areas that will debut for the 2023 Food and Wine Classic are For the Love of Florida, which highlights fresh, local cuisine from the Sunshine State; and The Rosé Room, where rosé wine is free-flowing in a pink garden party.
Educational Seminars and Upgraded Experiences are Available Too
Every year, the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic hosts hands-on educational seminars for guests to participate in. Each of the seminars are a separate ticketed event and space is limited for each one. This year, you can participate in classes with themes around craft cocktails, pasta making, Champagne, and beer.
Additionally, there are two VIP options if you want to upgrade your experience, and both are an additional charge. The first is The Grand Tasting, where you are led by a Master Sommelier through a wine tasting paired with a chef’s table menu. The Grand Tasting takes place on Saturday, November 11 in the afternoon.
The second VIP option is a VIP Dessert and Champagne party, which takes place on Saturday, November 11, at night with a private viewing of the Disney fireworks. The event also includes a selection of sparkling wine and Champagne paired with tasty desserts.
Tips for Maximizing Your Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic Experience
My favorite way to start a foodie weekend is to arrive on Friday afternoon and enjoy a light lunch at the pool bar at the Swan, Dolphin, or Swan Reserve. The poolside service at the Swan and Dolphin is my personal favorite for its good music and long menu, but the Swan Reserve has a more laidback vibe if that’s what you’re looking for. No matter which of the three resorts you stay at, you can bounce from pool to pool since they all share amenities.
The swimming pool at the Swan and Dolphin is huge, has ample seating, and even offers food and drink delivery right to your chair through mobile ordering. If you don’t want to eat right in your beach lounger, don’t worry, the pool-side restaurant offers tables on a first-come, first-served basis. The seated restaurant menu is slightly larger than the mobile order menu.
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After lunch and some pool time, I head back up to my room for a quick nap and give myself plenty of time to get ready in the afternoon before the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic starts. The outdoor event can be warm, even in November, so I usually opt to wear shorts and a nice shirt and if I need to change I can easily pop back up to my room to grab a jacket.
If I’m going to both nights of the event, I try to make Saturday as chill as possible so I can fully enjoy the nighttime festivities without being tired. Sometimes I’ll spend the morning and early afternoon at EPCOT or Disney’s Hollywood Studios (home of Disney’s Star Wars land, Galaxy’s Edge) since there’s a complimentary boat that can take guests to both parks, but I’m always back at the resort by 2:00 p.m. to rest and get ready for another night of food and drinks under the stars.
Before heading up to your room to get ready for the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic after lunch, you’ll want to head over to the lakeside dock where you can ride around in a swan paddle boat. The multigenerational activity is free and fun for people of all ages.
As night falls, the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic will be in full swing with a live band, drinks, eats, and people out mingling with each other. Typically the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic ends a little earlier than EPCOT closes, so if you’re still in the partying mood, finish up your night by heading to EPCOT and watching the nighttime fireworks show (it’s just a 10- to 15-minute walk depending on where your room is located at the Swan and Dolphin).
You can also take one of the friendship boats over to EPCOT, but that can take extra time since they also stop at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Disney’s Yacht Club and Disney’s Beach Club resorts. Alternatively, if you don’t want to go into a park to see fireworks, head over to the Yacht Club or Beach Club beach areas for a good viewing spot outside of the park.
Foodie weekends at Walt Disney World are some of the best family vacations because you get to try so many different things. Adding on the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic to a typical foodie weekend in Orlando is a great way to try something new and explore a resort that’s considered a hidden gem at Walt Disney World.
Each of the three resorts’ restaurants is featured during the festival with food samples that match the overall feel and culinary point of view of the restaurant.