With the announcement of Epcot’s newest festival came quite a bit of chatter. While some people grumbled that Epcot would be in a constant state of hosting festivals, others embraced it. Personally, we loved the idea as we found it to be pretty consistent with Walt’s original vision of a permanent World’s Fair at Epcot and were pretty excited to see what this festival would bring. We had the privilege to make it out to Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts during the second weekend it was open. Here’s our experience and what you can expect!
The festival runs Fridays-Mondays from January 13-February 20 with it seeming like Saturdays are going to be the busiest. No surprise there! We ended up spending an entire day in Epcot on a Monday and the crowds were pretty manageable. The festival features arts of all kinds, visual arts with art booths, very similar to what you would see at a traditional art fair; performing arts, with the vocal stylings of many different artists as well as Broadway talent featured at America Garden Theater Stage; and of course our favorite, the Culinary Arts. Yum.
The Visual Arts
The visual arts, which include anything from art prints to original works, from chalk art to art demos set to music(our favorite!) are scattered throughout the World Showcase. Prints and original works of art from artists around the world are available for purchase and some of the artists are present if you’d like to meet them or have them sign something for you. Now is the time to get that gallery wall piece you’ve been eyeing! This is a very experiential portion of the Festival and enjoyed just browsing through the art tents and admiring the beautiful work of these talented artists!
Our favorite part of the Visual Arts is an interactive mural that Disney has set up as a paint by number. Just see the cast member at the front of the mural for your paintbrush and paint! The mural painting is only open to painters for part of the day day though, so don’t make the same mistake we did and get there before it closes!
The performing arts as I stated before, are featured at America Garden Theater Stage and have different Broadway talent each weekend. Aside from that, there’s a stage set up between the entrance of the World Showcase and Future World, where you can listen to the vocal talents of different groups from orchestra to a cappella. This seemed like a great place to take a break and always seemed to have somewhat of a crowd. And even better, we were able to catch a pretty cool performance by an artist who painted to music! Super fun and really awesome to watch. I just wish I was a better fan and could remember his name! Be sure to pick up a schedule so you can watch your favorites.
As with all WDW festivals, there are food booths set up throughout the World Showcase. As I had to point out to my daughter, these are not the centerpiece of the festival so there are not nearly as many as you would expect to find at the Food and Wine Festival, however we found a pretty wide variety of foods, all which were works of art themselves. While we did notice price points slightly higher here than at the Food and Wine Festival, we also noticed quite a few of the items were available as snack credits; if you’re using the Disney Dining Plan, this is a great use of a snack credit as we saw some food items priced as high as $7.50. Score. Just look for the DDP snack credit notation.
Some of our favorites included Huarache from The Hungry Artist in the Mexico pavillion, the Braised Beef Short Rib from Cuisine Classique in Germany and for sweets we LOVED the Dark Chocolate S’mores from Decadent Delights and Almond Frangipane Cake from Pop Eats! although we recommend sharing the latter as it’s pretty rich.
For a guide to the menus of the International Festival of the Arts, we found this very helpful! And don’t forget your Festival of the Arts passport so you can check off what you’ve tried!
For the kids…(big or small)
Similar to Remy’s Hide and Squeak during the Food and Wine Festival, the International Festival of the Arts has a scavenger hunt with Figment’s Brush with the Masters. It will cost you $6.99 to buy the map and at the end of your hunt, you will receive a Figment magnet for your hard work. Basically, you will travel around the world showcase and in each country, you will find a painting with Figment in it in one way or another. We enjoyed this game, however it was a little more difficult to get started as we couldn’t seem to find where they were hidden. I’ll give you a hint though- they’re inside the buildings, not outside like you’re used to seeing Remy if you’re familiar with that game. Many of them can be found near the Kidcot stops, however this wasn’t true 100% of the time. Another tip- these are large paintings, so if you don’t see it, it’s not there.
In addition to the artwork throughout the World Showcase, there were several Photo opps where you can become part of the art! Oversized framed artwork serves as a backdrop for the photo and Photo Pass photographers are situated with each piece for ease of photo taking- we didn’t take advantage of this but a lot of people seemed to be having a good time with it!
Overall we really loved the International Festival of the Arts and think its a great addition to Epcot’s lineup of festivals. With great food, a great vibe and lots of beauitful and fun artwork to peruse, we think this is a great event for art and Disney lovers alike!