Walt Disney World kicked off its fourth annual International Festival of the Arts in Epcot today, and it is sure to be a fun event filled with all sorts of Disney-themed fun! This year, the festival takes place every day from January 17 – February 24, 2020, making it the shortest of all the Epcot festivals throughout the year – but even though it lasts a little longer than a month this event is still packed with great offerings and fun activities for all ages!
Centered on the visual arts, the culinary arts, and the performing arts, this festival offers some great entertainment and fantastic eats each winter. As always, guests will also find some unique edutainment (education + entertainment) opportunities that Epcot is famous for… this time themed specifically to the arts. With over 80 artists showcasing their talents at the event this year, you are sure to find unique art in nearly every corner of Epcot!
The element that truly separates this festival from all of Epcot’s other yearly festivals is that the fine arts really take center stage, making it even more colorful and a sight to see – quite literally! Specially created markets, exhibits, and galleries circle the park and are filled with paintings, photography, sculptures, jewelry, and more, generally showcasing some sort of Disney theme. Many of these art pieces are also available for guests to purchase, which definitely make for a unique souvenir. Some of these venues even offer interactive activities for the guests to make their own art, such as spin art using paint and a super fast turning disk with paper on it.
Professional workshops also take place on the weekends that guests can participate in for an additional cost of $45 each if they would like to learn a little bit more about a specific art form, such as animation drawing, painting, or paper crafting. The schedule posted for this year has certain workshops listed on select Saturdays and Sundays:
- Ink & Paint Animation Workshop on Select Saturdays (January 18 – Mickey Mouse; January 25 – Minnie Mouse; February 1 – Donald Duck; February 8 – Pluto; February 15 – Goofy; February 22 – Mickey Mouse)
- Disney 3D Paper Crafting Workshop on January 19
- Gesture Drawing Basics: “Story Telling Drawings” Workshop on January 26 and February 16
- Animation 101: Flip Book Fundamentals Workshop on February 2 and February 23
- Doodling with Viz Workshop on February 9
You can find out more about each of these workshops on Disney’s website, and as always it’s a good idea to double check the schedule and pricing to make sure nothing has changed before you head over to the parks.
One of the coolest features of the festival are the 3D painting photo ops located in World Showcase, where guests can actually step inside a famous painting and become one of the characters. If you’ve ever wanted a photo of you as Mona Lisa, you can get it here!
This year’s festival photo ops are:
- Homage to Frida Kahlo
- Mona Lisa – Leonardo da Vinci
- The Scream – Edvard Munch
- Washington Crossing the Delaware – Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze
- Luncheon of the Boating Party – Pierre-Auguste Renoir
- Peter Pan Storybook
The best part is that these photo ops are set up so that you can have a PhotoPass photographer take your picture, or if you don’t have PhotoPass you can take a picture with your own camera or phone. These painting photo ops are only offered during this festival and make awesome souvenirs!
The two exhibits featured this year are the Chalk Art exhibit located in Future World and the Art of Disney exhibit in the American Adventure Pavilion located in World Showcase. And while you’re in World Showcase, be on the lookout for Disney Character Off the Page art portraits located in five of the pavilions as well –
- Donald Duck in Mexico
- Mulan in China
- Snow White in Germany
- Aurora in France
- Belle in France
- White Rabbit in United Kingdom
Just like all other Epcot festivals, the International Festival of the Arts offers speciality foods and food booths located all throughout the park. The food and beverages featured at this event are perhaps even more artistic in look and in flavors than usual to match the theme of the festival.
This year’s specialty kitchens include:
- The Deconstructed Dish
- Cuisine Classique
- The Artist’s Table
- Pop Eats!
- Decadent Delights
- The Masterpiece Kitchen
- Funnel Cakes located in The American Adventure Pavilion
- Fife and Drum located in The American Adventure Pavilion
- Block & Hans located in The American Adventure Pavilion
- Goshiki located in the Japan Pavilion
- El Arista Hambriento located in the Mexico Pavilion
- The Painted Panda located in the China Pavilion
- L’Art du Cuisine Francaise located in the France Pavilion
- Mosaic Canteen located in the Morocco Pavilion
- L’Arte di Mangiare located in the Italy Pavilion
- Refreshment OutPost located at the Outpost
- Refreshment Port located at the Showcase Plaza
- Test Track Cool Wash located in Future World East
Each of these kitchens offer unique food and beverage options made especially for this festival, from a Deconstructed Reuben sandwich and a Rainboba non-alcoholic drink to a White Chocolate Figment Puzzle dessert and a Cold Fashioned Coffee Cocktail. Food and beverages served at Epcot festival booths are usually on the smaller side, so its a great time to try several different cuisines and flavors from all over the world.
Special food workshops also take place during the festival, and in the past these have often been a type of interactive presentation in which guests can learn more about how to cook certain delicious dishes. This is a great addition to your park plans if you have an interest the culinary arts!
Returning to the International Festival of the Arts this year is the Disney on Broadway Concert Series, which takes place each day at 5:30 PM, 6:45 PM, and 8:00 PM in The American Adventure pavilion. This concert series features special musical guests performing classic songs from Disney Broadway productions.
- January 17 – Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White
- January 18, 19 – Heidi Blickenstaff and Gavin Lee
- January 20, 21 – Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White
- January 22, 23 – Heidi Blickenstaff and Gavin Lee
- January 24 – Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White
- January 25 – Heidi Blickenstaff, Gavin Lee, Kissy Simmons, Alton Fitzgerald White
- January 26 – Kara Lindsay and Kevin Massey
- January 27 – Liana Hunt and Adam Jacobs
- January 28, 29 – Kara Lindsay and Kevin Massey
- January 30, 31 – Liana Hunt and Adam Jacobs
- February 1, 2 – Kara Lindsay and Kevin Massey
- February 3, 4 – Liana Hunt and Adam Jacobs
- February 5, 6 – Kara Lindsay and Kevin Massey
- February 7, 8 – Liana Hunt and Adam Jacobs
- February 9 – Liana Hunt, Adam Jacobs, Kara Lindsay and Kevin Massey
- February 10 – Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland
- February 11 – Michael James Scott and Syndee Winters
- February 12, 13 – Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland
- February 14, 15, 16, 17 – Michael James Scott and Syndee Winters
- February 18, 19 – Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland
- February 20, 21 – Michael James Scott and Syndee Winters
- February 22, 23 – Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland
- February 24 – Ashley Brown, Michael James Scott, Josh Strickland and Syndee Winters
This year’s planned performance schedule basically alternates between two pairs of artists at a time, with special performances by four artists together on January 25, February 9, and February 24. Of course, it is always possible that this schedule could change, so it’s a good idea to check Disney’s website several times before your vacation (especially right before you go) just to make sure nothing has changed.
These performances are free to all Epcot guests and take place on the outdoor stage at The American Adventure pavilion in World Showcase, so you’ll may have a chance to see (or at least hear) the performances from elsewhere in the pavilion even if you don’t manage to find a seat in the audience, but if you’d like to guarantee a seat you do have the option of purchasing a separate Dining Package at one of four Epcot restaurants for one concert showing on whichever day you select.
Other performing arts showcases this year include acrobats, high school bands, living statues, and live performance art, so be on the lookout for these great entertainment options all around the park if you visit on the weekends!
Every Epcot festival has specially themed activities that guests can participate in if they would like, and this year’s International Festival of the Arts has a few returning favorites as well as two fun new additions!
First up, both the Paint-By-Number activity and the Figment scavenger hunt are back this year and are definite must do’s for Epcot fans of any age. In Future World, park guests can grab a tiny tub of paint and a brush to paint a few squares of a giant Paint-By-Number Mural, which will become a Disney-themed art piece at the end of the festival once all of the squares are filled.
Over in World Showcase, guests can purchase a map and stickers for Figment’s Brush with the Masters in order to help them find Epcot’s famous purple dragon hidden within classic paintings. Of course, you can always find Figment for yourself if you’d rather not purchase the map, but if you do decide to purchase a map, you can receive a special surprise for completing the scavenger hunt with all of the accompanying stickers!
New this year is Chalk Full of Character, which are chalk drawings of Disney characters placed all throughout World Showcase for guests to find, making it a sort of mini scavenger hunt (though without the map, stickers, and prize). Keeping with the same theme, Kid’s Chalk Art activities are offered over in Future World West as well.
If you’re looking for a fun food-themed activity, you can complete the Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine by purchasing any five items from the participating food locations around the park and collecting a stamp on your Festival Passport. Once you’ve completed your passport, you can receive a special “culinary prize” at the Decadent Delights booth. This activity is new this year and is a great extra if you are planning on trying several festival food offerings anyway, and the best part is that you can complete your passport at any point before February 24 – meaning that you don’t have to eat all five of those items in one day! Check out Disney’s website to find the list of participating locations.
Finally, Animation Academy is an awesome activity for anyone wanting to take a drawing class from a Disney artist. This is similar to the animation classes offered year-round at Animal Kingdom and Art of Animation Resort, which have been long-time favorite activities for Disney guests of all ages.
With so many great activities and offerings, this festival makes an already fun theme park even more fun, and this season can also be a great time to visit Walt Disney World with the possibility of lower crowds and cooler temperatures overall. If you love art, food, entertainment, or Epcot, then the International Festival of the Arts is an event that you won’t want to miss!
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