Epcot is an artistic showcase at any time of the year, but January and February boast an extra element of style when the fabulous Festival of the Arts takes over the park. This is no stuffy gallery of masterpieces meant to be viewed but not touched, though. Instead, interactive elements abound. Let’s start with Look Mom, I’m An Artist!
Artful Photo Ops: This is your chance to step into a painting, strike your best pose, and take a starring role in a classic work of art. Choose from The Scream by Edvard Munch, Emanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware, Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo de Vinci, and Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, or do what we do and make the rounds of all five.
These giant props are set up around World Showcase, and it’s free to step into them and have your photo taken. Use your own camera, or, better yet, put that Memory Maker perk you received with your Disney’s 14 Day Ultimate Ticket through Attraction Tickets Direct and let Disney’s PhotoPass photographers do the work for you.
Guests of all ages can learn how to draw with a real Disney artist at Animation Academy, but if you just want something quick and easy as you tour World Showcase, Kidcot Fun Stops are just the ticket for a free craft that children can add to at each pavilion.
The Expression Section: A Paint By Number Mural is another chance to let out your inner Picasso as you paint a small segment of a gigantic mural. Epcot guests add to it over the course of the festival, and only at the end does the painting’s full glory reveal itself. Even so, your handiwork is now part of festival history, and that means bragging rights forever.
No art festival would be complete without bona fide artists who actually do this for a living, and they’re at the festival in abundance, too. Pop by their kiosks and watch them work, pick their brains for handy tips and techniques, or purchase a handcrafted treasure to take home with you.
Live concerts are a hallmark of Epcot festivals, and this is where Broadway Comes To Orlando makes an appearance.
Disney on Broadway Concert Series is included in your park admission, and it’s an element you’re not going to want to miss. You’ll be forgiven if you can’t help but sing along to the tunes you know and love from Disney musicals, performed by actors and actresses starring in Disney’s Broadway shows.
Purchase a Concert Series Dining Package and enjoy a fabulous breakfast, lunch or dinner, then head to your guaranteed seating for one of three evening concerts and avoid waiting in a long queue.
You’ll also find live performance artists, “living statues,” acrobats and international acts, including newcomers Delta Q (Germany pavilion) and return performers Bodh’aktan, with their mash-up of folk, polka, rock and Quebecois hits (Canada pavilion).
But one of the most incredible “performers” blends into the culinary side of things, with a heaping helping of visual delight, too. Wenbo Zhang hails from the Henan Province of China, and he has mastered traditional Chinese folk arts that date back to the Ming dynasty, among them the creation of Dragon’s Beard Candy (if spaghetti and candy floss had a baby it would be this sublime confection, made from nuts and soy bean) and the delicate art of Sugar Painting.
Guests visiting the festival will be able to purchase one of Wenbo’s intricate ‘sugar paintings,’ but even those who don’t will be mesmerised by the technique used to bring these exquisitely fragile masterpieces to life.
And finally, the one you’ve been waiting for: Scrummy Stuff We Ate!
Yes, we know travel should be all about the experiences you have and the memories you make, but let’s face it: there is no reason to leave home if you don’t indulge in great food while you’re away. As always, Epcot’s got you covered.
True, other festivals here include sample-sized food and drink at themed kiosks, but this one puts even more focus on presentation, and many of the offerings are mini masterpieces. There are seven “food studios” to choose from but why choose when you can graze?
Our stand-out favourites were the buttery-soft Pan Seared Scallop with Chorizo, Roasted Red Pepper Coulis and Parmesan Crisp from The Artist’s Table; light-as-air Smoked Salmon and Cream Gateau with Egg Yolk Cream, Paddlefish Caviar and Micro Herbs from The Painters Palate; and the rich Wild Mushroom Risotto with Aged Parmesan, Truffle Shavings and Zinfandel Reduction from The Masterpiece Kitchen.
There are 14 sumptuous desserts, 35 beers, wines and cocktails, and 5 non-alcoholic mocktails to choose from, but we were drawn to the amusing Chocolate and Beer Pairing Flight, with three craft beers and their confection counterparts (Milk Stout with Strawberry White Chocolate, Vanilla Ale with Honey Chocolate, and Raspberry Lambic with Black Currant and Violet Chocolate), ideal for sipping and nibbling if you’ve got a little bit of a sweet tooth.
There are interactive “extras” throughout the festival as well, including kid-friendly Figment’s Brush with the Masters Scavenger Hunt (purchase a map with stickers, find Figment hiding in works of art, and win a prize) while older kids and adults can take in an art seminar or hone their skills at a workshop.
Epcot’s Festival of the Arts runs from January 18 through February 25, admission into Epcot is required, and while some elements involve a separate fee, most of the festival’s highlights—including the pure enjoyment of discovering your own talent—are free!
Do you have plans to visit Epcot during the Festival of the Arts? Come and ask your questions – or tell us your experiences – on the ATD forums!
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