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. And while those are always a good family vacation idea and definitely worth a visit, there’s another food festival just steps away from Epcot that’s more of a hidden secret.
Orlando’s Lesser-Known Festival: The Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic
The Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic is an annual fall event at the twin Walt Disney World Swan and Walt Disney World Dolphin resorts. After a hiatus last year due to the pandemic, the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic will return this October. (Smaller food and wine events were held last winter and this spring in place of the annual festival, focusing on wines from around the world, beers from Orlando craft breweries, and food from the on-site restaurants like Shula’s Steak House and Todd English’s bluezoo.)
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. 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.
With the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic, you can bundle your festival tickets with your room as a package deal to ensure you’re just steps away from the event. And for the price of your festival ticket, you can eat and drink as much as you want during the festival—a big difference from the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, where you pay individually for everything you eat.
Tips for Maximizing Your Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic Experience
The best way to start out a foodie weekend is to arrive on Friday afternoon and enjoy dinner at one of the many award-winning restaurants at the Swan and Dolphin. If you like seafood, Todd English’s bluezoo is a can’t-miss dining experience. The dining room is open to a wood-burning grill, where you can watch dinner being prepared right in front of you. The menu is filled with ocean delicacies like scallops, crab, lobster, and octopus. For those who don’t enjoy seafood, the restaurant’s top-notch steaks are always cooked to perfection as well.
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After dinner, turn in early so you can be ready for a full day on Saturday. Typically, this is when the main focus of the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic takes place, including the outdoor portion where you can eat and drink as much as you want within the set time. Because the festival usually starts around dinner time, you might want to make Saturday a pool and resort day.
The 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.
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 with a few rides on the attractions over at Epcot—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 and Disney’s Yacht Club and Beach Club resorts.
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On Sunday, enjoy the morning with a cup of coffee in your room before going to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Munch on a few of the festival favorites and enjoy live music from some of the park’s most iconic entertainment groups. Because Epcot is so close to the Swan and Dolphin, you can do a little bit of the park in the morning, take a break in the afternoon when the park is the busiest, then head back over in the evening to finish your tour of World Showcase.
Foodie weekends at Walt Disney World are some of the best 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.