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Epcot International Food and Wine Festival begins its 18th year this Friday

by Banks Lee

Wine Cheese & Thou

Get ready to embark on a global tasting tour during the 18th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sept. 27 through Nov. 11, 2013.

The 46-day festival, celebrated for its food-and-beverage marketplaces, concerts and premium dining events, debuts a Scotland Marketplace and adds fresh flavor to the Brazil Marketplace, returning by popular demand. Griddled lobster tail with garlic butter sizzles at the Hops & Barley Marketplace by American Adventure, and the aromas of more than 25 ethnic and specialized marketplaces — Africa, France, South Korea and Florida Local included — waft across the World Showcase Promenade. Guests can have their own complimentary “passport” stamped at each location for a fun festival souvenir.

The festival will be one of the first venues in Florida to serve wine on tap in kegs under a new Florida law allowing wine to be dispensed from sustainable stainless-steel containers. Guests can taste a Cabernet and Chardonnay from kegs at the Festival Center and sample a Pinot Gris and a Pinot Noir from kegs at the park’s Cool post.

Disney guests can catch culinary demonstrations by celebrity chefs like Cat Cora, Warren Brown and Jamie Deen. Chef Carla Hall, host of ABC’s “The Chew,” will appear at the Festival Center Sept. 28 and 29 for a cooking demo, signings of her book “Cooking with Love: Comfort Food That Hugs You” and for a Sweet Sundays brunch event.

In Future World, the iconic Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog returns for a third year to introduce families to the cranberry’s rich agricultural heritage. Daily wine tastings and mixology seminars offer new sips to guests. Nightly Eat to the Beat concerts keep the party rockin’, and six bands make their festival debut this year.

Top musical acts ranging from the Go-Go’s and Hanson to The Manhattan Transfer and Boyz II Men will rock audiences with their greatest hits and take their turn on the America Gardens Theatre stage during concerts at 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m. daily.

The lineup (subject to change and included in Epcot admission):
• Sept. 27-29: Starship starring Mickey Thomas
• Sept. 30-Oct. 1: NEW! The Go-Go’s
• Oct. 2-4: Air Supply
• Oct. 5-6: Sister Hazel
• Oct. 7-9: Sugar Ray
• Oct. 10-11: NEW! Edwin McCain
• Oct. 12-13: NEW! The Manhattan Transfer
• Oct. 14-15: NEW! Wilson Phillips
• Oct. 16-17: The Pointer Sisters
• Oct. 18-20: Night Ranger
• Oct. 21-23: Boyz II Men
• Oct. 24-25: Survivor
• Oct. 26-27: 38 Special
• Oct. 28-30: Smash Mouth
• Oct. 31-Nov. 1: NEW! Spin Doctors
• Nov. 2-3: NEW! Christopher Cross
• Nov. 4-5: Hanson
• Nov. 6-8: Dennis DeYoung, original member of the group Styx
• Nov. 9-11: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Authentic Taste seminars, Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog, special book signings, Eat to the Beat concerts, cultural adventures, Marketplace Discovery Passport and all attractions and park entertainment are included with regular Epcot admission.

The Party for the Senses grand tasting events and other special wine and culinary programs require reservations and separate event admission. Guests can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) to make reservations. Information and reservations for select programs is available at www.epcotfoodfestival.com.

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