Right now, it is very likely that the only food and wine festival you will find open to patrons is none other than Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival in Walt Disney World. This year, the modified festival will run its longest course ever. It kicked off as soon as the parks re-opened mid-July after being closed since March due to Covid-19. As loyal guests and locals flock to Epcot for it’s limited time offerings, it is important to remember safety precautions to keep your visit a healthy one. Disney has implemented many safety protocols which they continue to enforce via friendly, specially trained cast members. While Disney does their part in keeping their guests safe, it is important that guests practice their own safety measures as well.
What is Disney doing to ensure safety at Epcot for guests visiting the Food and Wine Festival?
New health and safety measures are in place at restaurants across Walt Disney World Resort theme parks during their phased reopening. These new procedures include:
- Enhanced Cleaning – Seating and dining areas are cleaned between guest seatings, along with increased cleaning procedures in other high-traffic common areas.
- Self-Serve Changes – Beverages and other items previously available as self-service options will now be served directly to guests.
- All Cast members are required to wear masks, including those preparing and serving food.
- Tables and chairs are distanced to keep dining parties safely separated from one another.
- Dining areas have limited capacity to ensure safe social distancing.
In addition, many Walt Disney World restaurants are using convenient technologies to minimize contact at dining locations, including:
- Reduced-Contact Menus – Most quick-service theme park restaurant menus are available in the Mobile Order section of the My Disney Experience app* and/or displayed on signage at the restaurant. At select table-service locations, guests may scan a QR code with their mobile devices to access a digital menu.
- Mobile Order – Using the My Disney Experience app, guests can browse menus for most quick-service theme park restaurants, order ahead from wherever they are in the park and pick an arrival time that fits their schedule. Upon their arrival at the restaurant, they tap “I’m here” in the app and head to a designated pick-up area. The service fully supports cashless payments, including debit cards, credit cards, Disney gift cards and more.
- Mobile Dine Check-in – The My Disney Experience app now offers this service via mobile device for select table-service theme park restaurants. As their check-in window for a dining reservation arrives, guests will receive a push notification on their mobile device prompting them to check in via the app; guests can also begin the check-in process by scanning a QR code located in the restaurant’s lobby. A series of prompts will walk guests through the check-in process, confirming their arrival time and party details. Guests will then be notified when their table is ready. While guests will be encouraged to use this new mobile check-in option, they will still be able to check in at the host stand.
How safe is it to eat and drink while visiting Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival?
The Centers for Disease Control ranks restaurant settings from lowest risk to highest risk for possible COVID-19 transmission:
- Low risk: Drive-through, takeout, delivery, and curbside pickup options.
- Medium risk: On-site dining limited to outdoor seating only, with reduced capacity and socially-distanced tables.
- High risk: On-site dining with both indoor and outdoor seating, with reduced capacity and socially-distanced tables.
- Highest risk: On-site dining with both indoor and outdoor seating, no reduced capacity or socially-distanced tables.
The Food and Wine Festival kiosks fall between low and medium risk. The indoor table-service festival offerings fall between medium to high risk. Thanks to limited capacity in parks and dining areas, as well as distanced seating areas, the festival does not create the highest risk on the ranking board.
What can guests do to stay safe while still partaking in the limited-time food and beverage offerings at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival?
There are several options to enjoy eating during the festival that are relatively low risk.
- If you would like to eat indoors, your resort room is low risk. Order your desired menu items “to-go” after you have toured the park and ridden your chosen rides. Enjoy your food once back in your resort room or in a secluded area at your resort.
- The lowest risk scenario to eating IN the park involves outdoor eating areas. Order your quick service menu items then walk to a socially-distanced sit-down eating area, and enjoy your food away from crowds and others without mask. If you’re seated at a table, make sure the tables have been cleaned between the last dining guest and yourself. Wash your hands thoroughly, or properly sanitize, before removing your mask and enjoying your food and beverage. Do not use a garbage can as a standing table!
- Eat during off-peak hours for mealtimes. This means an early lunch when World Showcase opens, or a late dinner before park close. Midday during the lunch rush would be your least opportune time to safely dine as the sun is at it’s peak, there is the least shade (which means guests crowding in shadows), and many guests will be looking to sit in the same area. Even with socially-distanced seating and tables, you are still likely to cross paths with more guests than during the less busy dining hours.
In all cases, remember to thoroughly remove your face covering while stationary and eat/drinking at the festival. Simply pushing it to the side, down to your chin, or wearing it on your wrist will increase the likelihood of contaminating yourself and others. Pack a clean brown paper bag to safely store your mask and keep it clean while it is removed when eating and drinking. Stay at least 10+ feet away from other guests dining with removed face masks. Keep your dining party relatively small and dine only with others you have kept close in your circle. If you’re meeting up with friends or family you haven’t seen in a while, eat separately, wash your hands, replace your mask, and rejoin together for touring and rides where you can distance or wear a mask for protection. For more tips on safe dining during phased reopening, click here!
If you’re still on the fence about enjoying the modified and longest-running Food and Wine Festival at Epcot, consider your personal risk, discuss concerns with your healthcare providers, and make the decision that is best for you! For those up for the tasty adventure, keep these safety precautions in mind for a healthy trip around the World Showcase in what will surely be a memorable visit! Take a look what is offered at this year’s event in the Foodie’s Guide posted here!