2014 is going to go down as the "year of the upgrade." Starting with Star Wars Weekends, Walt Disney World has been adding extra upgrades to free events and with Food & Wine being one of the biggest events of the year, they expanded to 2 upgrades!
With the Premium Package you actually get both upgrades in one, but first we will look at the Premium Package add on. In order to do the Premium upgrade, you must have a Disney resort hotel stay and then for $199.00 per person you can add on the upgrade.
When you check into the hotel you are given your credential for the Premium Package, which gives you access to VIP areas along World Showcase, a custom Food & Wine MagicBand, a $50.00 Disney Gift Card, and a gift bag.
The gift bag, which is a very nice insulated wine bag, included a bottle of Disney Parks branded wine, an etched Food & Wine glass, and a chocolate box with 4 truffles inside.
The main appeal of the Premium Package would have to be the VIP Areas around World Showcase. With 10 different areas, guests with the lanyard are given the chance to enter these small areas and Disney Cast Members will actual go and retrieve the food and drink that you order (and still pay for).
As far as the overall Premium addition goes, it was a little underwhelming. While the gift bag was nice, the VIP areas were nice but not really much of a benefit. Due to the fact it is only being offered Monday - Thursday when the lines for the food booths are not the longest and nothing extra is available in the areas, such as water or even covering from the elements (we experienced the first week of non-stop rain) the VIP areas were very empty.
Now onto the Late Nights Live part of the package. This was described as "the perfect destination for a delicious final bite," which I feared was just going to be a dance party. Thankfully this event was very unique, running from 9:45pm to 1:00am every Thursday during the run of the Food & Wine Festival. This private party gives guest a chance to experience some of the food booths, some great entertainment offerings, and a chance to enjoy a corner of World Showcase by moonlight.
As part of the Late Nights Live package, which comes at a price of $79.00, you are given the chance to get food from 5 booths, including the Dessert & Champagne, Hawaii, Greece, Canada, and Ireland. Each guest is given a lanyard that offers 5 selections of food or beverage from any of the open booths and a "glow cup" with a choice of the premium drinks.
Overall the food/drink offerings were nothing different than whats available during the normal park hours, the stand out part of the evening had to be the entertainment.
Besides, what has become standard fair, a DJ in front of the Canada stage.
We had a guitar and "human beat box" duo providing a fun distraction for guests, playing almost any request given to them.
My favorite piece of entertainment of the night had to be Martini Pop swing band playing in World Showplace, providing a lounge type feel.
The final piece of entertainment was the Late Nights Live Dance Troupe. This group would seemingly appear out of the dark multiple times throughout the event and do a short dance piece before dancing with some of the guests to the DJ.
Overall this addition to me fell a bit short, while the Premium Package at $199 per person plus the hotel room is a bit pricy, the Late Nights Live was a nice way to end the day, so maybe just go for the less expensive of the packages if you are a Food & Wine fan.
But by far my favorite part of the evening was walking out of Epcot at 1:00 am with the chance to take photos in a nearly empty park!