Food and Wine 2015 Next Eats Frozen Ice Cream

Disney Builds a Festival Kitchen

One of the things that Epcot is most well-known for is the festivals. It all started over 20 years ago with the International Food and Wine Festival.

The International Flower and Garden Festival followed shortly thereafter, and the International Festival of the Arts was recently added to the lineup.

Now, the International Festival of the Holidays solidifies Epcot’s focus on festivals, and they now run for most of the year.

While the Food and Wine festival is the one that is most concentrated on food and especially preparation and wine pairing, each festival has its own food. The Festival of the Arts celebrates culinary arts, and the Festival of the Holidays focuses on sweet and savory treats from around the world. There are more than a dozen kiosks set up in addition to the kitchens that already run in each pavilion in World Showcase and Future World.

I can only imagine how much food Disney serves in a day just at these festivals, and that’s not to mention the other theme parks, Disney resort hotels, and water parks. This created a huge problem in a small space; too much food being prepped in too small an area.

Epcot's festival chefs prepare thousands of plates each day, so they needed a kitchen dedicated to festivals!
Epcot’s festival chefs prepare thousands of plates each day, so they needed a kitchen dedicated to festivals!

More Festivals, More Kitchen Space

To solve the problem, Disney built a new, 12,000 square food kitchen dedicated solely to food prep for the festivals. They have 60-gallon kettles for pasta and mixed drinks, 40-gallon tilt skillets for soups and sauces, and double-stacked convection oven where, each day, chefs roll out 4,000 sheet pans of hot food. There’s even a 5,000 square-foot cooler where marinades, sauces, and prepared dishes are painstakingly labeled and organized to be sure that it gets to the right festival kiosk.

During busy festival days, there can be as many as 90 cooks in the kitchen at once with another 30 Cast Members moving items between the kitchen and the booths.

Start Here, Finish There

Not everything is fully prepared here though. Both for temperature, taste, and smell, it’s important that the final cooking takes place in the parks like when food handlers decorate gingerbread cookies right in front of the guests during the Festival of the Holidays. What’s more, Disney chefs and Celebrity Chefs perform on-stage cooking demonstrations, and the food has to be prepped but not cooked so the demonstration is as real as possible.

While festivals are not running, this new kitchen area serves as a flavor lab where Disney Chefs can create new dishes in addition to the 150 created daily during the festivals! They consider feedback from last year’s festival guests and think of ways they can make things better and develop new and innovate dishes based on recommendations, reviews, and the latest trends.

A new Epcot festival kitchen: a good idea?