Eating Gluten Free at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival
My sophomore year in college, I participated in the Disney College Internship Program. Prior to that, I had never been inside a Disney park. Ever. I remember stepping foot into Magic Kingdom in wonder (I was 18) and tearing up during the Wishes fireworks show at the end of the night in sheer awe of the magicness (yes, I just made up that word) of it all. It was during this semester with Disney that I also first experienced the Food & Wine Festival. This was our 4th time at the festival but something was new for us! This was the first time we were eating gluten-free at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival!
* I was provided free admission into Epcot in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own. *
Eating Gluten Free at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival
Disney has always done a fabulous job supporting people with food allergies and sensitivities. We’ve been to all the parks and several of the hotels for meals over the years and have never experienced anything less than service that goes above and beyond. I’ve had chefs come out and walk me through buffet lines, providing tips on what’s safe to eat and what they could especially prepare for me in the back. At sit down restaurants, I’ve had the same experience but I was more impressed with the service at buffets because they don’t normally provide catered service to individuals like a sit down restaurant does. And the Food & Wine Festival is no exception to Disney’s exceptional support of those of us who eat differently than the masses!
Back in the day when I was a Disney intern, there was very little gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, etc on the Disney menus. Oh, how life has changed in the last decade! Now, Disney labels everything and provides full guides for eating in their parks and restaurants! It’s a delight and a testament to the lengths Disney goes to provide a magical experience for everyone who walks through their gates. For the Food & Wine Festival, there’s a detailed “passport” of every stand with icons that mark which items are gluten-free and/or vegetarian in each of their food booths. This is so handy as it helps to not have to ask each and every cast member what’s in each dish and whether or not the food is safe for those of us with food allergies.
There are 12 official dishes on the menu that are labeled “gluten-free” in this year’s Food & Wine Festival. And don’t you worry, we tried each and every one! In addition, there are a couple of extra dishes that you could make gluten-free by some slight modifications (mostly, asking for no bread). We did this in India by asking for the Chicken Korma with rice instead of with naan bread.
Active Eats: Spice-crusted Verlasso Salmon with Warm Lentil Power Salad, Crushed Avocado and Sherry Vinegar
Africa: Berbere-style Beef Tenderloin Tips with Onions, Jalapenos, Tomato, and Pap
Australia: Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp with Pineapple, Pepper, Onion, and Snap Peas
Brazil: Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Tomato, and Onions AND Brazilian Cheese Bread
Canada: Le Cellier Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce
Chocolate Studio: Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey-Caramel
France: Creme Brulee
India: Madras Red Curry with Roasted Cauliflower, Baby Carrots, Chickpeas and Basmati Rice
Japan: Beef Nigiri topped with Shrimp Sauce and Diced Pickled Jalapenos
Mexico: Coconut Rice Pudding served with Mango Coulis
Spain: Seafood Salad with Shrimp, Bay Scallops, and Mussels
Which dish was my favorite you ask? The Brazilian Cheese Bread, in where else? Brazil! I mean, bread + cheese? Does it get better than that?! I think not. After that, it was probably the Dole Whip in Rum at the Refreshment Port. Not on the gluten free menu but it is gluten free and dairy free. Yum! When you’re in 90 degree Florida sun, nothing is more refreshing! I’m not a huge seafood fan but my mom’s (who’s also gluten free) favorite was the salmon at Active Eats. My dad (who’s not gluten free) thought the lamb meatballs in New Zealand was the best dish.
Gluten Free Brazilian Cheese Bread
In addition to the food booths located around Epcot, Disney also does cooking demonstrations, food and wine pairings, and many other food related activities. We participated in a cooking demonstration with one of the chefs from Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, Jeramy Moore. He prepared a Smoked Pork Belly Slider with an Apple and Purple Cabbage Slaw that was to die for! And even this demonstration, they were able to offer a gluten-free option to participants. The pork belly was cooked in beer so instead, they substituted with a gluten-free beer for the marinade and served it on a gluten free bun. Regular guests got a pretzel bun that looked delicious as well. We had a wonderful time! This activity costs extra but at only $17, it’s definitely reasonably priced!
One of our favorite rides in Epcot is the Livin’ on the Land ride. Here they take you on a boat ride through their greenhouses and show you how they’re working on farming and growing produce in alternative ways. All of the produce they grow is then prepared and served in their restaurants throughout Epcot. What was so fun to see was how they were using certain vegetables and fruits in the Food & Wine Festival! There were many signs throughout the ride describing where you could try a vegetable or fruit in a dish at one of the food booths!
How fun! I highly recommend you experience this ride. I love how Disney tells you how they’re incorporating eco-friendliness into their daily park activities.
You can also take a “Behind the Seeds” tour if you wanted to get up close and personal with their greenhouse and gardening efforts. We didn’t have time but will definitely consider it in the future.
Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. There are over 40 different booths and 20 countries represented in the festival this year. It runs until November 12th, so you’ve still got a few weeks to go check out all the yumminess it has to offer! We really had a fabulous day exploring all the allergy-friendly food at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival. Thank you, Disney, for having us! We will definitely be back in the future!