The 2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival has some snacks and desserts that you should skip. Dishes that are not worth your money, time, or limited stomach space. In this post, we’ll cover the booths and items you should avoid at Walt Disney World’s flagship culinary event.
We’re not trying to be ‘Debbie Downers’ here. By and large, the food at the 2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is solid. Given that our Best of the 2018 Epcot Food & Wine Festival list opted to name several entire booths rather than just individual dishes, there’s a lot to try that’s excellent. However, we think you’re going to need a list of things to avoid, too. There’s simply not enough time, money, or appetite for most people to taste it all.
We offer this preface because our post last year about the worst items was met with a lot of agitated comments that we’d suggest anything was less-than-excellent. To be sure, it stinks when someone pans something you enjoy, and we get that. Opinions vary, and we’re hardly the ultimate arbiters of what’s “good” or “bad” at Walt Disney World. (If we were, Country Bear Jamboree would have a 240-minute wait and Primeval Whirl would be bulldozed.) That’s why we invite readers to offer their own opinions in the comments, even (especially) those who disagree with us.
The good news is that there are not many truly awful things this year at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival. There are plenty of items that are poor values, but very few dishes that are terrible, taste-wise. In fact, there isn’t really anything at the 2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival that can be described as culinary crimes.
Mostly, the things we didn’t enjoy at the 2018 Epcot Food & Wine Festival were unambitious, executed with mediocrity, or just sat under a heat lamp too long. With that said, here are my picks for the worst dishes and booths at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival…
Shrimp Quesadilla (Mexico) – This was one of the very first dishes we tried this year, and it was also easily one of the worst items. (I was honestly a bit worried after this.) This tasted like someone defrosted a frozen corn tortilla, some frozen shrimp, tossed in some cheese, and microwaved it all.
For a dish that should be pretty simple to execute, Mexico’s Shrimp Quesadilla is a surprising dud. Unfortunately, the other food at the Mexico booth is only marginally better.
Beef Nigiri (Japan) – Like Mexico, the Japan booth doesn’t exactly have the best track record. The last couple of years, it seems like we’ve seen improvement, but this one dish appears hellbent on singlehandedly undoing all of that.
While the idea of beef sushi may sound interesting, the way it comes together is far less appealing. You’ve got sliced beef topped with shrimp sauce and diced pickled jalapeños sitting atop rice. It’s a really awkward combination of textures and flavors, and isn’t even remotely good.
Taste of Greece – While the Chicken Souvlaki here is fine–perhaps even good–the other two items are meh at best; the Lamb Sausage is too bland and the bite-sized pita is only okay.
Worst of all, the portions here are impossibly small. When you factor in the $8 price tag, that’s honestly a bit insulting. Unlike other pricey items that can be okay options on the Disney Dining Plan, this is something everyone should skip.
Artist Palette of Wine and Cheese (Wine & Dine Studio) – We end up getting this every year, and although I don’t think it’s ever made past incarnations of this list, I’ve never been pleased or even ‘pleasantly surprised’ by this artist palette of wine and cheese.
The cheese is the real problem here, as it all could be summarized as gooey. I know ‘melt in your mouth’ is a positive colloquialism, but this cheese was just melting on the tray when handed to us. Trying to get beyond that (a difficult task), none of it was anything noteworthy. You could buy a few significantly better dishes with your $11, including 2.5 of the exceptional Maple Bourbon Boursin Cheesecakes from nearby Cheese Studio.
Energy Bar Bites (Active Eats) – If we’re being optimistic, these are definitely better than the bargain-bin protein bars I sometimes buy at the grocery store. If we’re being pessimistic, they are the worst “dessert” (air quotes) at the 2018 Epcot Food & Wine Festival.
Why anyone would compare a dish at a food festival to utilitarian protein bars is beyond me, so I think the pessimistic approach is appropriate. With a loaded dessert lineup at this year’s Food & Wine Festival, there is absolutely no reason anyone should order the Energy Bar Bites.
New England Lobster Roll (Hops & Barley/America) – This one might be a bit of a stretch. The real Maine lobster featured here is far preferable to lobster salad, but you’d think the lobster here is Iranian Beluga Caviar given how conservative Disney is with the portion on this $8 mini lobster roll.
The good news is that if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, rolling the dice here and hoping you get something that isn’t minuscule is actually a smart use of a snack credit.
The Italy Booth – After skipping the Italy booth entirely last year because it has historically been so bad, we decided to give it a second twelfth chance this year. This was mostly driven by comments on our version of this post last year, and to those of you who chided us for writing it off without trying it last year, I’m slightly bitter that I gave in to your ‘peer pressure’ and did this booth again, dropping $27 in the process.
Our experience this year with Italy, reaffirmed our belief that this is the most disappointing booth of the entire Food & Wine Festival. Italy’s food is bland and uninspired, and even though minor improvements have been made over the abysmal offerings of previous festivals, it’s still pretty bad. This is clearly a case of targeting first-timers to Walt Disney World or guests who find Italian cuisine familiar and comfortable. I can’t imagine this booth does much repeat business.
Earth Eats (Maybe) – We prefaced our ‘Best of’ list with a couple paragraphs about how many dishes are very much dependent upon how long they’ve been sitting under a heat lamp and whether they’re under or overcooked. The same also applies with this list, which is why Earth Eats earns a heavily-emphasized maybe next to its name.
We didn’t enjoy the Steakhouse Blended Burger or the Impossible Vegan Burger, but we’ve heard from plenty of readers who have raved about both. Unlike Italy, this is a scenario in which we could’ve been unlucky with two burgers that were way over-cooked and not perfectly prepared. The Kombucha, on the other hand, is unredeemable.
Light Lab – It’s really unfortunate that such a cool environment that fits the spirit of Epcot (and the neon nineties aesthetic of Innoventions) serves drinks that are glorified sugar water, but that’s exactly the case with Light Lab.
We were really hopeful that the debut of Light Lab was a matter of first-year hiccups, but this year confirms that the drinks are just bad.
Hopefully this list provides you with a good starting place for what not to order at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. As you can see, there aren’t a ton of truly bad options at the 2018 Epcot Food & Wine Festival. If you skip the Italy and Light Lab booths entirely–and maybe also Japan and Mexico, you’re in a good position. At that point, you can try almost anything you want, and good or bad results will be more dependent upon luck of the draw with the heat lamp and portion sizes than anything else.
Check out our Epcot Food & Wine Festival Booth Menus post if you want to see and read more about every menu item we recommend this year! You’ll also want to read our full Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival Guide before you go to get an idea of what to do, strategy for the festival, and much more. For Walt Disney World trip planning tips and comprehensive advice, make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and related articles. Also make sure to read our other Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews and Disney Dining Plan Resources.
If you’ve already visited, which items did you think were the worst of the 2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival? Did you try any items that were downright awful? Anything you’re actively avoiding this year based on poor experiences in the past? 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!