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Another Disney layoff, this one affecting the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Written By Administrator On March 27, 2009

Nora Carey, project manager for Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, is the latest name to surface among the nearly 500 rumored to be laid off by Walt Disney World this week. Carey also oversaw the Tables in Wonderland program, which until recently was known as the Disney Dining Experience, a discount program.

Carey had been with the company for a total of 13 years, beginning with Disneyland Paris. Over the years, however, she worked for other companies, including the Paris Ritz. It was while she was there that she was approached by Disney’s Dieter Hannig and Rosemary Rose, who convinced her to leave Paris for Orlando to head up the annual Epcot event. Ironically, both Hannig and Rose have also left the company recently, Hannig by voluntary separation and Rose by resignation to accept an executive position with another company.

When I asked Carey what she thinks will happen with the festival this year, she was cautiously optomistic. “I think it will be very different in scope,” she said. “I think the look and feel of the festival will be different.”

Carey said the Marketplace kiosks, the little booths set up around the World Showcase to sell samples of food from various nations, have always been one of the most popular aspects of the weeks-long event, so those are sure to continue. But beyond that she couldn’t speculate.

One thing that won’t happen is a return of the Bocuse d’Or this year. The biannual cooking competition was a highlight of the 2008 festival and wasn’t scheduled to return until 2010. But Carey and Jerome Bocuse of Chefs de France were planning to have the event again this year in order to give the winner a better chance to train for the main competition in Lyon, France, in 2011. That plan has been scrapped, she said, as has one to have an international pastry competition as part of this year’s event. (That one was dropped more because of climatic reasons than economical.)

Carey added that Marianne Hunnel and Kelly Block would continue with the culinary programming of the festival and has faith they will keep as much integrity in the project as possible.

Carey said she’s not sure what is next for her but she finds it difficult to move on. “You work so hard to build up something,” she said from her home in Celebration, “it’s hard to walk away.”

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