• Experiencing the Epcot International Festival of the Arts in this week's Theme Park Thursday

    By: Shelley Caran

    Updated:

    ORLANDO, Fla. - For the second year, the Epcot International Festival of the Arts is returning to Walt Disney World for a celebration of all forms of art until February 19th. 

    It is really fun to walk around the park and experience visual, culinary, and performing arts in all forms!

    In addition to the expanded Food Studios, artists, experiences included with admission, and performances you can now experience the Epcot International Festival of the Arts seven days a week. So no more waiting for the weekends to be a part of the fun!

    With so much to do and experience at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, let’s dive right in to the highlights of the Festival!

    Taste the Culinary Arts

    If you are looking for a culinary adventure, the Epcot International Festival of the Arts has 13 enticing Food Studios scattered around the World Showcase promenade offering photo-worthy small plates with unique twists and interesting plating.

    This year there are five new Food Studios locations that can be found in:

    • France (“L’Art de la Cuisine Française” or “The Art of French Cooking”),

    • Morocco (“Mosaic Canteen”),

    • Japan (“Takumi Table”), 

    • Italy (“L’Arte di Mangiare” or “The Art of Eating”), and 

    • China (“The Painted Panda”).  

    If you want to plan your visit, you can find a complete list of Food Studios and menus online  on the official Festival website.

    Be a part of the Art

    One of our favorite activities was the hands-on wall mural, and I am so excited that it has returned this year!

    The mural is located in the Expression Section which is on the Showcase Plaza Promenade as you are traveling to/from Canada from Future World, and all you have to do is pick up a brush and assigned paint color at the kiosk from a Cast Member, find your squares, and paint them to help create the mural with a certain dragon that is royal purple pigment and more!

    Art Walk around World Showcase

    Year round guests can find galleries showcasing artwork or relics from that country in special displays in each country, but during the Epcot International Festival of the Arts guests will find an Art Walk in their Festival Guide that encourages them to visit each gallery to do a relief rubbing of the gallery's icon plaque.

    I will warn you that it looks easier that it is, and I think that next time I visit I am going to bring along a crayon to make the process easier instead of using the provided lead.

    Unique finds

    It wouldn't be a Epcot Festival without fantastic commemorative merchandise, but in addition to the artists there are some really unique ways to bring home a souvenir from the event in addition to the artist booths.

    Two of my favorites are Enemy Ink (located just inside of the building with Starbucks and Club Cool) where you can create a custom Festival t-shirt on-demand in a variety of designs & color combinations and Jortra Jewelry (their booth is located between Morocco and France in World Showcase) offering hand-made jewelry from natural materials melon seeds, orange peels and coffee beans.

    Fun Photo Spots

    During the Epcot International Festival of the Arts you can step into masterpieces with the really unique and fun 'Artful Photo Ops’.

    Inside of each setting you can find the original painting for the traditional pose or you can create your own masterpiece at the following locations:

    • Italy: The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli

    • Italy: The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci & The Scream by Edvard Munch

    • American Adventure: Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Gottlieb

    • France: Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

    There are PhotoPass photographers at each location ready to snap away, but they will also take photos with your camera or phone.

    Free Seminars

    During the Festival accomplished Disney artists, guest-perts, and Cast Members impart their professional expertise at complimentary seminars, hands-on workshops, and quick study sessions at the Odyssey Festival Showplace seven days a week.

    These Seminars happen at 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm, but space is extremely limited so if there is one that you HAVE to attend make sure you arrive early to grab a seat.

    You can find a week-by-week list of free seminars here.

    Also, during the Epcot International Festival of the Arts you can find the Animation Academy (YAY!) intermittently from 2 pm - 8:30 pm in the Odyssey Festival Showplace where you can learn to draw Disney characters from Disney artists for FREE!

    Interactive Workshops

    Each week the interactive workshop series offers Festival Guests a unique opportunity to walk away with an enhanced skill set or new understanding of various artistic and culinary techniques from animation drawing and floral arranging to calligraphy, abstract painting and other interesting topics.

    All of the interactive workshops ($39 per person plus tax, Epcot admission required but not included, & 15% discount per Annual Passholder or Disney Vacation Club Member) are held in the Odyssey Festival Showplace seven days a week at 11 am to 12:15 pm.

    Space in these workshops is EXTREMELY limited, and you will need to make reservations in advance by calling (407) WDW-TOUR to reserve your spot or visit the Odyssey Festival Showplace. Guests under 18 years of age must have parent or guardian permission to call.

    You can find a week-by-week list of the interactive workshops and how to book them here.

    Live Performances

    This year there is an increased presence in the performing arts at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts with entertainment on the Fountain View Plaza Stage throughout the day.

    I had the chance to see the Art Defying Gravity show up close, and it is amazing what those performers can do!!!

    You can also find Living Statues that are on the ground in front of the stage that you can take photos with and a Jazz band playing throughout the day.

    But for a really unique experience you can find artists creating paintings in an unexpected way! My favorite is Stephen Fishwick who paints using his fingers creating an upside-down painting while bopping along to music. The gasp when the audience figures out what he is creating is pretty awesome to witness!

    Disney on Broadway Concert Series

    The EXTREMELY popular (and rightly so) Disney on Broadway Concert Series take the stage in the American Gardens Theater in World Showplace on 'Disney Weekends' (Friday to Monday) bringing a taste of 'The Great White Way' to Florida!

    The concerts showcase the stellar talents of performers who sing selections from award-winning Disney on Broadway musicals that you will not want to miss! 

    Here’s the lineup:

    • January 19-22: Kara Lindsay (NEW!) and Kevin Massey Jan. 19-22, who will perform songs from “Tarzan,” “Aladdin,” “Newsies” and “Frozen.”

    • January 26-29 and February 2-5: Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White will perform songs from “Tarzan,” “The Lion King,” “Aida,” “Aladdin” and “The Little Mermaid.”

    • February 9-12 and 16-19: Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland will perform songs from “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Tarzan,” “Mary Poppins,” “Newsies” and “Frozen.”

    All Disney on Broadway shows are included in theme park admission and will take place Fridays through Mondays at 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m. 

    New this year are the Disney on Broadway Concert Series Dining Packages that are available at five participating Epcot restaurants that can be booked online or by calling (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-7463.

    Walt Disney World Annual Passholders

    Not only to Walt Disney World Annual Passholders have exclusive Festival merchandise, but they can receive an Epcot International Festival of the Arts print.

    Simply go into the American Adventure Pavilion (you will see a sign outside guiding you to enter on the left set of doors), show your valid Walt Disney World Annual Pass and photo id, and a Cast Member will give you the Belle print with an embossed seal. It's really pretty!!!

    Tips for experiencing the Epcot International Festival of the Arts

    You know I can’t leave you without giving you some of my best tips for making the most of your time at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts!

    The Epcot map, times guide, and Festival Passport can found at the entrance and in retail locations throughout the park, and these let you know what time you can see performances, where you can find activities, where you can eat, and let you know what is closest to you on your travels around the park. Definitely don’t forget to pick up one (or two) on your way in or to pick up a replacement.

    Outside of each Food Studio you can find menu on a display on the promenade, also just as inside of the traditional dining locations you can inquire about ingredients of dishes if you have food allergies or dietary concerns.

    Even though there are three Disney on Broadway Concert Series shows a night, GET THERE EARLY!!! I cannot stress how popular these performances are with guests!

    I like to carry a folder in my theme park bag during the Epcot International Festival of the Arts to help keep our creations safe during our visit to the park.

    Don’t forget to visit the official website where you can find out how to book specific experiences and find more information for planning your ultimate day at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts.

    That’s it for this week’s Theme Park Thursday! I hope that you’ve enjoyed taking a look at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, which if you can’t tell I adore.

    Remember to join us here on Facebook every Thursday for Theme Park Thursday, to follow @icFlorida Events on Twitter & Instagram, and to share this with your friends to keep the conversation going!

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