It should come as no surprise that when Disney produces a festival, it is incredible. I attended the newest, Festival of the Arts a few times pre-COVID and the year after, when masks were required. Even wearing masks couldn’t dull the fantastic offerings of this winter festival that is a feast for your eyes. Here are my tips for Disney’s International Festival of the Arts at the Epcot theme park.
Do Your Research
This Epcot festival is to “experience the culinary arts through creative food and drinks” in 2017, and boy is it fun. It didn’t take long to become a fan favorite. The festival’s 2023 dates run from January 13th to February 20th, leaving around ten days before going straight into the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival.
Plan the things you want to see and make it a point to cross them off your list earliest. The park will vastly expand with guests around noon. Between then and 2:00, then again between 4:00 and 7:00, expect long lines and increasing crowds.
I pick Tuesday and Wednesday as the best days to attend Disney theme park festivals for fewer people.
Include time for food, drink, art, and music. Musical performances run daily in World Showcase Plaza. Check the My Disney Experience app for times.
Pro Tip: Remember…Disney parks offer complimentary WiFi.
Disney on Broadway
The Disney on Broadway events is a new offering at the Epcot Festival of the Arts. Behold show-stopping live performances and dining specials, putting you in the action of these beloved award-winning musicals and film legends.
The Broadway Concert Series occurs at 5:30, 6:45, and 8:00 PM at the America Gardens Theatre. See your favorite stars from The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Tarzan, and Frozen (to name a few) as they perform free of charge to ticketed park-goers.
Dining packages for lunch and dinner are available with guaranteed seating for the evening Broadway Concert Series. You can have meals at eight locations, including Rose and Crown Dining Room, Le Cellier Steakhouse, and Biergarten. Prices vary and discounted rates apply to children.
The Disney on Broadway dining package includes an appetizer, entrée, non-alcoholic beverage, dessert, or full buffet, where applicable. Reservations are highly recommended.
Visit the Art Installments
Disney’s Festival of the Arts is filled with unique opportunities to see art being created or participate in it. I love the Expression Section’s larger-than-life mural, where you can leave your mark on the whimsical mural.
The Chalk Art portion is extraordinary. Have you ever seen someone whip up a gorgeous scene that brings tears to your eyes in minutes…and with chalk? Part of the allure of this one is that with the first good rain, or for the next day, the treasure may or will be gone permanently.
Watch for temporary artistic creations such as the photo-ops above or the Artful Photo Ops that allow you to step into a masterpiece and be part of the classic scene.
In The American Adventure, I couldn’t resist inserting myself into my favorite, Washington Crossing the Delaware. A few of the other backdrops include Luncheon of the Boating Party (France), Mona Lisa and The Scream (between Italy and Germany), and Birth of Venus (Italy).
Watch for Characters
As always, be on the lookout for your favorite Disney characters throughout the park for photo ops and meet & greets. Even during COVID, Disney still managed to bring them to life.
A few givens are Anna and Elsa from Frozen (Royal Sommerhus), Vanellope from Wreck-It Ralph (inside ImageWorks), Mulan (China pavilion), Alice in the English Gardens (UK pavilion), Donald Duck (Mexico pavilion), and Jasmine (Morocco pavilion).
You will see some opportunities for meet and greets published via brochures or park posters, while others will be random. I’ve had great luck at the International Gateway in World Showcase, between the France and UK pavilions.
Meet Disney Artists
You’ve probably seen Disney paintings in professional art galleries around the country (I know I have in Miami, Laguna Beach, etc.). You will have the chance to see many of them at Disney’s Festival of the Arts.
Over the years, I’ve seen my favorite Disney artists, whose works are so incredible that they are featured in Disney theme parks’ shops, such as Ann Shen, Dave Avanzino, Michelle St. Laurent, and David E. Doss.
You may even get lucky and see them drawing, sketching, or coloring their masterpieces. And, of course, you can buy Disney art pieces at the Festival of the Arts. There are opportunities for witnessing the arts everywhere you look during this happy-go-lucky Epcot gem.
Taste Festival of the Art Food
Taste your way through Disney’s Festival of the Arts at the 16 unique food stands. Art-inspired creations make up the limited-time menus with tasty food and drinks.
Kiosks open at 11 AM and close around 9 PM. Let Them Eat Art kiosks I enjoy are The Artist’s Table (also the best drink options), El Artists Hombrento, and Gourmet Landscapes, where I never miss the delicious risotto.
Alcoholic beverages are for guests age 21 and older—ID is required. Items range in price from affordable to off-the-charts expensive. I typically allot a specific dollar amount for Disney festivals ($40-$50) and try to stay within budget.
Bring a friend and share the dishes to sample even more deliciousness.
2023 Festival of the Arts Food Highlights
This year, look for these delicious items:
- Symphony in Chocolate Flight: Mozart Chocolate Liqueurs paired with Sipping Chocolates (The Artist’s Table)
- Crème de Brie en Petit Pain: Warm Creamy Brie in a House-Made Bread Bowl (L’Art de la Cuisine Francaise)
- Beef Wellington: Française Duxelles, Prosciutto and Puff Pastry with Red Wine Demi-Glace and Baby Vegetables (The Craftsman’s Courtyard)
- Red Wine-Braised Beef Short Rib with Parsnip Purée, Broccolini, Baby Tomatoes and Aged Balsamic (Pastoral Palate)
- Decadent Valrhona Chocolate with Dark Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Brownie and Cassis Mousse (Deco Delights)
- Wild Mushroom Risotto, Aged Parmesan, Truffle Shavings and Zinfandel Reduction (Gourmet Landscapes)
- Plant-Based Bratwurst with Spicy Turmeric Aïoli, Coffee Barbecue Jackfruit and Slaw (plant-based) (Refreshment Outpost between China and Germany pavilions)
One of the items that caught my eye, and made them nearly pop out of my head is the Rainbow Cake with freeze-dried SKITTLES® bite-sized candies. You’ll find this beauty at Figment’s Inspiration Station at the Odyssey: Art, Food and Little Sparks of Magic, a new Festival of the Arts food installment.
Buy Limited Edition Souvenirs
As with all Epcot festivals, Disney rolls out limited edition merchandise in the form of clothing, tumblers, magnets, lanyards, Disney trading pins, Magic Bands, and much more during the event. You can find the goods at the marketplaces or pop-up booths.
Being a Disney trading pin collector, I prefer to buy my pins during this time to add to my collection.
So, who is Figment? You’ll see him all over Epcot and hear about him during Disney’s popular festivals.
Figment is a small purple dragon, sometimes wearing a yellow sweater. He is the mascot of the “Imagination!” pavilion at Epcot and is used on much of the Epcot merchandise. Tony Baxter created Figment after watching an episode of Magnum P.I.
“Two tiny wings, eyes big and yellow, horns of a steer, but a lovable fellow. From head to tail, he’s royal purple pigment, and there, voila, you’ve got a Figment”, is how he was described for Dreamfinder, the original Journey Into Imagination attraction. He’s so cute.
Look High and Low
Disney’s artistic images come in all forms. Be sure to look high and low on the buildings to find sweet additions to Epcot like the one shown below. You can get into the action with Figment, the festival mascot, on a scavenger hunt around World Showcase.
To get started, purchase your map and stickers (they sell out early) for $9.99+ tax at Port of Entry, Creations Shop, or World Traveler. Once you find Figment at the various artworks, add the corresponding sticker to your map.
Once your map is complete, just return it to the World Traveler or Disney Traders (the best pin selection) for an artful surprise.