The first inaugural International Festival of the Arts has begun at Epcot this winter. If you think of Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival as Food & Wine with Flowers, then you can think of the new event as Food & Wine with Art. Because of course an abundance of sweet and savory morsels, possibly washed down with something bright and bubbly, is at the heart of all three festivals. At the same time, art and artists really are front and center on festival weekends. While the last weekend is set for February 20, it’s not too early to start contemplating a visit to this wonderful new event in 2018.
The Festival of the Arts invites you to jump right in – just as Mary & Bert jumped into his sidewalk drawing in Mary Poppins – contributing to and becoming part of the creation. There are artists to meet and mingle with and classes to enjoy. A handy little passport will be your guide to everything on offer.
World-famous canvases literally welcome you into their world as you stroll around the Lagoon. These photo ops are one of the most unusual and successful features of Epcot’s Festival of the Arts. The backgrounds of familiar paintings such as The Scream, Mona Lisa, Luncheon of the Boating Party, and Washington Crossing the Delaware have been enlarged and set up in stage-like frames. As you enter each painting, a Photopass photographer, standing by to capture the moment, will offer specific and helpful suggests for striking not one but a series of great poses. The settings are large enough for the whole family to get into the act. An additional frame greets you at the entrance to World Showcase – a huge painting celebrating the festival. Here you pose holding enormous five-foot paint brushes!
Another favorite photo op is created by the Living Statues – one silver, one gold, one brass – located in front of the Fountain of Nations. (Some long-time Disney guests, still mourning the departure of the Living Statues from World Showcase Italy and France, will be especially delighted with this new incarnation.)
The Odyssey Festival Showplace acts as headquarters for the Arts Festival. As the Showplace is normally open only for private or separately-ticketed events, this might be your first opportunity to check it out. Two beautifully curated art exhibits feature the original works of Mary Blair and Herb Ryman. There are complimentary seminars held here twice every festival afternoon, while interactive painting workshops (fee required) take place in the morning. A wide variety of classes in many art forms is offered during the festival.
You can become a Disney artist yourself at the “Expression Section,” located on the walkway between the World Showcase entrance and the Canada pavilion. Here you can help paint an 80-foot-long mural. You check in under the adjacent canopy to receive a paint brush and choose a color (one of 14 – all with Disney inspired names like Pretty as a Princess pink). Participating painters will be awarded with a Festival of the Arts postcard.
Don’t worry, Disney collectors – there’s Festival merch! Figment is the mascot on many of the designs for t-shirts, hats, mugs, etc. Festival merchandise can be found at the Odyssey Festival Showplace as well as Mouse Gear and Art of Disney. You can also purchase prints and other works of art and meet the creators all around the World Showcase Lagoon.
Figment’s Brush with the Masters Scavenger Hunt will remind guests of similar hunts that go on at Epcot in spring and fall. You can purchase the scavenger hunt map (with stickers of the paintings you’ll be searching World Showcase for – each in a Figment-themed frame) at Pin Central, Disney Traders or World Traveler. The completed map can be redeemed for a prize.
Music is represented at the Festival of the Arts in the form of the Disney on Broadway performances at the America Gardens Theater at the American Adventure pavilion.
“Food Studios” (aka kiosks) showcase delicious and unusual gourmet culinary offerings. At some locations, you can watch the food stylist plate your selection! And don’t miss the “Painter’s Palate” (see what they did there!?) inside the Odyssey Festival Showplace. A standout here is the crispy threesome of Savory Croissant Doughnuts:
- Whipped Herb Cream Cheese with Sea Salt
- Chicken Mousse with Fresh Herbs and Everything Bagel Seasoning
- Spicy Tuna with Sriracha Mayonnaise and Sesame Seeds
For dessert, you can choose:
- Pop’t Art: Abstract-designed Sugar Cookie with Chocolate-Hazelnut Filling.
- White Chocolate Figment Puzzle on an Artist Palette
- White Chocolate Art Painting with Chocolate Easel
Decadent Delights is one of the most popular kiosks at the Arts Festival. They offer a striking Deconstructed Purple Sweet Potato Pie, Dark Chocolate S’mores with White Chocolate “Fire,” and the signature Artist Palette Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookie (complete with icing “paint” and a paintbrush).
The E = AT2 kiosk features “Deconstructed Presentations of Familiar Comfort Foods” including a Classic Reuben, BLT with Crispy Pork Belly, and Soft Poached Egg Cobb Salad with Smoked Duck Breast, Avocado Mousse, Neuske’s Applewoodsmoked Bacon, and Blue Cheese. Cleanse your palate with a Pop-Artsicle – Red, White, and Blue Frozen Slushy (non-alcoholic).
Across the water at The Artist’s Table at The American Adventure you’ll find Roasted Pork Roulade with Marble Potatoes and Baby Carrots, with a Red Wine Sauce or Pan-seared Scallop with Chorizo, Roasted Red Pepper Coulis, and Parmesan Crisp. Finish off your adventure with Callebaut Belgian Sipping Chocolate Flight: White, Milk, Dark (either non-alcoholic or with Chambord).
Disney has created a beautiful new festival to bridge the gap between Food & Wine and Flower & Garden. Disney asks, “What happens when you mix visual, culinary and performing arts inspired by cultures from all around the world? You get a global masterpiece.”
Hurry and catch the Epcot Festival of the Arts, it is schedule to end for 2017 on February 20!