As noted in our First Impressions & Review of the 2019 Epcot Food & Wine Festival, we were underwhelmed by this year’s event. This has led to procrastination on the booth reviews (which are still coming this weekend…hopefully), and instead mixing things up with this list. If you’re taking advantage of Free Dining at Food & Wine, you’re basically paying with Monopoly money anyway, making you the type of guest most likely to have a blast at the event!
We’re going to approach this from a subjective perspective, since you could easily look at menu prices to determine the best objective uses of a Disney Dining Plan snack credit. We think the former approach is also more useful since not every pricey item is actually worth the money or, in this case, snack credit…
We’ll start this by recommending that you consider converting some of your Disney Dining Plan counter service credits for “Epcot Day” (or Epcot Days) into snack credits. The going ‘exchange rate’ is 3 snack credits for every 1 counter service credit. Every Global Marketplace should have the ability to do this, with a couple of caveats.
First, that the Cast Member working the register know how to do it. (We’ve learned from experience that there are no guarantees on this.) Second, that you use all 3 converted snack credits in a single transaction. Due to this rule, we’re going to try to offer some booths with 3 options, or items that could/should be ordered in multiples!
Anyway, on with the best uses of Disney Dining Plan snack credits at the 2019 Epcot Food & Wine Festival list!
Jerk-spiced Chicken with Roasted Sweet Plantain Salad & Mango Chutney Yogurt (Islands of the Caribbean) – This rates as my favorite dish of the 2019 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, so it makes the list even though it’s on the “cheap” side.
The grilled flavor and jerk-spice work wonders together, with the sweet flavors from the mango and plantain providing a playful contrast. This is Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival at its best–ambitious, approachable, and delicious!
Roasted Lamb Chop (Australia) – This Global Marketplace has been offering up lamb dishes since as long as I can remember, and this Roasted Lamb Chop with Sweet Potato Purée, Bush Berry Pea Salad and Pistachio-Pomegranate Gremolata is the best one in at least 5 years.
Ours had a generous amount of meat and wasn’t too fatty (YMMV on both counts), and the accompaniments are sophisticated and thoughtful items that pair well with the lamb. Order three of these!
Spicy Hummus Fries (Morocco) – The first year the Spicy Hummus Fries with Cucumber, Tomatoes, Onions, Tzatziki, and Chipotle Sauce debuted, they were half the cost and twice the size. This made them the smash hit of the event.
In subsequent years, the price has climbed and the portion has shrunk. Still, they’re delicious and worth it if you’re not paying real money. (By contrast, the NY Strip Steak Green Shermoula Flatbread most definitely is not–avoid that one!)
“Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle-Butter Sauce (Canada) – I’ve been on the losing end of the “Le Cellier Lotto” a few too many times, to the point where I’m incredibly reluctant to pay out of pocket for what could be an overcooked, undersized piece of filet mignon.
On the Disney Dining Plan, I’m willing to roll the dice on it, though. When this is good, it’s really good–to the point that you’ll want to return to split a counter service credit and order 3 more. Either way, it’s worth gambling your “Monopoly Money” Dining Plan credits.
New England Lobster Roll: Warm Lobster with Fresh Herb Mayonnaise (Hops & Barley) – Same deal here as with the Le Cellier Lotto in Canada.
The biggest difference is that this lobster roll at its best is never as good as that filet mignon. Still, it can be pretty good, and is worth using a credit if you have one to spare.
Wuxi Spareribs (China) – We were pleasantly surprised by these ribs in China. They were tender, juicy, and the soy & ginger flavors were apparent in the tasty glaze. That made them something different from your regular Walt Disney World ribs, even if they’re still pretty safe.
There are a couple other pricey items at the China booth, including the Mala Chicken and Shrimp Bao Bun pictured to the right above. Accordingly, you could split a counter service service credit at the China Global Marketplace…but we wouldn’t recommend that. The other two items leave a lot to be desired.
Everything at Coastal Eats – Here, we have the Lump Crab Cake, Baked Shrimp and Scallop Scampi Dip, and Pacifico True Striped Bass Tostada. Each of these items is “only” $5-6, which puts them about middle of the pack in terms of pricing.
However, we enjoyed all three items and it’s a good trio to order if you’re splitting up a Disney Dining Plan counter service credit. If not, stick with just the Baked Shrimp and Scallop Scampi Dip with Sourdough Baguette. It’s rich, decadent, and delicious. (And also, the most expensive of the trio!)
Ribs (x2) and Ravioli Carbonara (x1) in Italy – The Italy Global Marketplace is beloved among guests but has gained notoriety among bloggers. The menu is always entirely new each year, expensive, and is a veritable comedy of errors. We say that because if we don’t laugh at it, the only alternative is crying over how much money we’ve wasted.
That’s no exception this year, with a couple of truly abysmal desserts and chicken fingers that are inferior to what your elementary school cafeteria served up. However, there are a couple of (potential) silver linings. The first is the Balsamic-glazed and Oven-roasted Pork Ribs. Our order came with three ribs, two of which were tender, meaty, and flavorful. The other was a fatty mess. The other good item we tried was the Ravioli Carbonara, which was savory and delicious. You could just as easily get overly al dente pasta and nothing but fatty ribs, so your mileage may vary here.
“It Depends” at Flavors from Fire – Our favorite booth every single year since its debut, you cannot go wrong with anything at Flavors from Fire. Literally everything is a standout, and worth trying. It’s also the Global Marketplace with the best ambiance (and smells), so you won’t mind hanging out here while enjoy your feast.
There are a few approaches at Flavors from Fire. The first would be splitting a counter service credit to order one of every meat dish, and paying for the dessert out of pocket. The second would be splitting 2 counter service credits to order the Charred Chimichurri Skirt Steak (x3) and one of everything else. The third would be splitting 3 CS credits, ordering 3 steaks, 3 smoked corned beef & potatoes, 2 sliders, and one dessert. If you have three or more people in your group, we’d recommend the final course of action. (Not even joking.)
What’s your favorite way to use Disney Dining Plan snack credits at Food & Wine? Any go-to items that you think are good uses of credits? Do you ‘gamble’ on pricey items, or do you steer clear of the Le Cellier Lotto? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!