Review: The Epcot International Festival of the Arts
By Dave Shute
Epcot’s International Festival of The Arts is a new-for-2017 event happening in Epcot’s World Showcase Fridays through Mondays until February 20, 2017.
The Festival combines
- Great, albeit pricey, dining
- Dozens of kiosks with art to view and buy
- Interactive opportunities to paint, be photographed into great art, and play with silly living statues
- Seminars and other sessions
- Music–some casual, some distinctive presentations from the Disney on Broadway team
Disney calls it a mix of “visual, culinary and performing arts inspired by cultures from all around the world…a global masterpiece.”
That’s a stretch, but with better food than past Food and Wine festivals, and better visual appeal than past Flower and Garden festivals, it is, by far, my favorite among all the Epcot festivals I’ve attended, and I highly recommend it for returning visitors.
First-timers will enjoy it as well, but will find that it adds crowds to Epcot’s World Showcase on the days it is open.
EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS DINING
Dining opportunities are particularly concentrated at the entrance to the World Showcase, but are also found in the Odyssey Festival Showplace (between Test Track and Mexico—the Showplace is the centerpiece of the Festival) and scattered through the rest of World Showcase.
The Festival of the Arts offers the best dining ever seen at an Epcot Festival. Waits are long as much food is prepared while you wait, and prices are also high. The value for money is also very high, and with many $7+ items available for a snack credit, the festival provides the single best argument in years for you to buy the Disney Dining Plan.
I had a chance to try the Charcuterie Palette from the Masterpiece Kitchen…
…the Savory Doughnuts and darling Mary Blair Chocolate from The Painter’s Palate…
…and half of co-author Josh’s deconstructed BLT from E=AT^2 (that’s not, I think, a typo). Because nothing says deconstructed BLT better than a poached egg…
Detailed reviews of the dining options are on Josh’s site easyWDW.com:
- Pop Eats!
- Decadent Delights
- The Masterpiece Kitchen
- The Artist’s Table
- Cuisine Classique
- El Arista Hambriento
- The Painter’s Palate
EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS SHOWS AND GALLERIES
Art, fittingly, is everywhere at the Festival of the Arts.
Begin in the Odyssey Festival Showplace, which includes brief exhibitions of the work of Herbert Ryman and Mary Blair.
The Ryman work is stunning. For more on Ryman, see this.
The Blair material is focused on her early South American work.
While mildly fun and historically very important in the life of the Walt Disney Company–and suiting the Festival’s international theme–it is much less interesting than her later work, which you can find here or, even better, here .
All over World Showcase are tented kiosks offering mostly Disney-related art to browse through and buy:
EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS INTERACTIVE OPPORTUNITIES
There’s lots of opportunities for simple play.
In front of the Future World stage you can find living statues that will mess with you and your kids (check the Times Guide for showings)…
There’s an opportunity to play with a paint-by numbers canvas on the way to Canada…
Scattered through World Showcase are opportunities for you to join famous works…
These folks in France are from the “toxic employee” list.
There’s also some Figment thingy that I paid no attention to, but is a bit of a variant on the Kidcot concept—buy a map and stickers, find Figment-themed picture frames and Figment within them, add the appropriate sticker to the map, and turn the map in for a prize.
EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS SEMINARS AND SESSIONS
Formal seminars happen at the Odyssey Festival Center at 1.30p and 4.30, and less formal sessions happen there during the day–check your Times Guide.
Over in Innoventions East you’ll find The Animation Academy, an animation drawing class, where you learn to draw a Disney character under the tutelage of a real animator.
Some have reported that all will end up with a great drawing, but irl your results will vary.
My Winnie the Pooh is above…
…and above is Josh’s Winnie the Pooh. No, he was not trying to add Darth Vader elements; this was just the best he could do.
EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS MUSIC
Music at the Festival includes both performances at the Future World stage (see your Times Guide for show times)…
…and a more interesting set of brief Broadway concerts in the evenings at the American Gardens Theater, at 5.30, 6.45 and 8p.
Presented by the Disney on Broadway team, the concerts showcase songs from Disney Broadway productions sung by Broadway stars.
I saw Kerry Butler (who was Belle in Beauty and the Beast) and Kevin Massey (Tarzan) singing songs from Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, and The Little Mermaid.
These two will be returning next weekend, and then the rest of the February dates will see Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White doing songs from The Lion King, Aida, Aladdin, and the Little Mermaid.
Passholders and DVC owners can get priority seating, which you are supposed to do ahead of time, but we had no trouble grabbing day of. Your mileage may vary.
The area to do so and/or pick up your reserved badges is in Innoventions East.
Those with priority badges line up on the Japan side of the pavilion. There’s a stand-by line as well, on the Germany side.
As you can probably tell, I love this Festival…and hope it returns next year!