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Disney World Brings Back Beloved Epcot Event

A much anticipated event has fully returned to normal and Walt Disney's World Epcot theme park plans to bring in some big names.
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Walt Disney (DIS) - Get The Walt Disney Company Report has invested heavily in making its Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios theme parks full-day experiences. That effort has included adding Toy Story Land, "Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway," and Star Wars Galaxy's Edge at Hollywood Studios.

The Star Wars land alone has transformed that park into a destination. It has also expanded its appeal to all ages. 

Galaxy's Edge literally transformed a piece of the Florida resort into an immersive "another planet" experience. It does not feel like a theme park. Batuu, the fictional planet where Galaxy's Edge takes place, also offers two rides that have been so well executed that you don't need to be a fan of the space epic series.

Anything said about Galaxy's Edge can also be said at Pandora: The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom. Its signature "Flight of Passage" stands with Galaxy Edge's "Rise of the Resistance," and perhaps Comcast's (CMCSA) - Get Comcast Corporation Class A Common Stock Report Universal Studios Harry Potter "Forbidden Journey" when it comes to the title of best theme park ride.

And while Disney made huge investments in Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, it has also done the same at Magic Kingdom and Epcot. The company's first Florida park will welcome a Tron-based roller coaster soon (no date has been specified). Magic Kingdom, however, has always been about classic family rides, so it needs fewer new attractions.

Epcot, however, has been a challenge. Disney is in the middle of revamping the park, but while it has added new thrills including its first-ever roller coaster, which is themed to the Guardians of the Galaxy, it has also built around its signature festivals. 

The biggest of those -- Epcot International Food & Wine Festival -- runs July 14 through November 19.

During those dates, the beloved Eat to the Beat concert series will return to its full, prepandemic glory.

Epcot Concept Lead JS
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What Is Epcot's Food & Wine Festival?

The Food & Wine Festival involves Epcot adding food kiosks and pop-up restaurants all around the park. Each location has a theme (usually, but not always, a nationality) and features a few dishes, a dessert, and a signature beverage or two. 

It's an event that leans into the World Showcase part of the theme park, which already features 11 pavilions devoted to Canada, the U.K., France, Morocco, Japan, the U.S., Italy, Germany, China, Norway and Mexico.

Each "country" already features multiple eateries. The Food & Wine Festival adds even more choices to that, bringing in cuisines not represented in the World Showcase. The event draws crowds to Epcot, but in some ways it makes the park feel less crowded.

The food and drink are big draws and that takes people away from the rides (probably not from the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind since it's new). And, as part of the festival, Epcot hosts Eat to the Beat, a free concert series.  

What Is Epcot's Eat to the Beat?

Eat to the Beat takes over the outdoor theater in the U.S.  pavilion. Disney outlined some info about the event on its parks blog.

"This year, we’re following the same recipe you’ve come to love at our recent festivals, with internationally recognized artists as well as local bands bringing their sizzling sounds to the America Gardens Theatre stage. 

"Our five-star menu has something for every taste – from house favorites like Baha Men, Tiffany, and Air Supply, to fresh-to-the-festival acts like Hoobastank, Los Amigos Invisibles and Stokley," the company said.

Disney also laid out the full lineup:

  • July 14-15 – Baha Men
  • July 16-18 – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
  • July 29-30 – Taylor Dayne
  • July 31-Aug. 1 – Tiffany
  • Aug. 5-8 – Joey Fatone & Friends
  • Aug. 12-13 – The Devon Allman Project
  • Aug. 14-15 – Christopher Cross
  • Aug. 19-20 – Journey former Lead Vocalist Steve Augeri
  • Aug. 21-22 – Air Supply
  • Sept. 2-3 – Southern Avenue
  • Sept. 4-5 – Kris Allen & David Cook
  • Sept. 9-10 – Hoobastank (NEW)
  • Sept. 16-17 – Los Amigos Invisibles (NEW)
  • Sept. 23-24 – BBMak
  • Sept. 30-Oct. 1 – Stokley (NEW)
  • Oct. 2-3 – Sheila E.
  • Oct. 7-8 – Mark Wills
  • Oct. 9-10 – 38 Special
  • Oct. 23-24 – Billy Ocean
  • Oct. 28-31 – Hanson
  • Nov. 4-7 – Boyz II Men

More bands will be announced in the coming weeks. The lineup is subject to change. All concerts are free with park admission.