A lot of people don’t realize that EPCOT has four festivals – both Food & Wine and Flower & Garden have been around for such a long time and Festival of the Holidays is just a given. Festival of the Arts is just a baby in comparison to these well-established events. All of the EPCOT festivals are fantastic, but Festival of the Arts is criminally underrated. EPCOT comes to life with this festival – there is color everywhere and so many talented artists are selling Disney-inspired art throughout the park. There’s music and interactive activities and it is honestly a delight. We’d never been before, and I’m so glad we made it in 2022.
As with any EPCOT festival, there are a few things that make the experience unique and exciting. With Festival of the Arts, is the life and color of the festival. It reminds me of a vibrant street fair – there are things to eat, food to try, and music everywhere. Festival of the Arts is a very limited event at EPCOT – typically only running for one month (February). If you find yourself planning a trip around this time and you’ve never been, do consider catching this festival.
Festival of the Art is, of course, hosted by Figment. And what better host could there be? The Figment of Imagination is what makes art come to life, after all. That, hard work, and skill. For those not familiar, this goofy purple dragon is a ride-original character from Journey Into Imagination and a fan favorite. I’m always happy to see him pop up (even if I wish Disney would revert the ride to the 1983 version).
An Atmosphere of Whimsy
Most festival activities take place in the World Showcase – the only event activity outside World Showcase is the paint-by-number mural located opposite he Land Pavilion. If you walk through World Showcase plaza, you’ll be greeted to the festival grounds by one of several rotating performers on stage as well as a series of incredible chalk drawings. Most popular of these chalk drawings is a three dimensional one – the week we were there, the 3D half drawing was Frozen themed and you could ice skate with Olaf. Unless they are blocked off, these chalk drawings are perfectly okay to walk on and stand on and you won’t mess them up. They’re so pretty – I didn’t want to walk on them!
Once you’re inside the World Showcase, you’re immersed in the festival booths! Unlike the other EPCOT festivals, these are shopping booths. Even you’re not looking to buy any art from the festival, it’s an absolute joy to wander in and out of the booths and appreciate the skill of the featured artists. Both originals and prints are on sale, but if you love a piece and also are trying to stay thrifty, there are a lot of postcard sized prints for sale at the booths that will let you capture some of your favorite art and support the artists at a more fiscally conservative level. We brought home three attraction-style prints for our living room – I still need to frame and hang them! I absolutely love the style. There are sculptures, paintings, graphic art, fine art, photography available at the festival. Everything, everything. And the artists rotate regularly throughout the festival so an artist you see on Monday may be different by Friday. It kept things interesting!
Speaking of art and photography, there are a dozen Festival of the Arts photo spots in the park and they are an absolute delight. If you’ve ever wanted to step into a famous painting, this is the place to do it! We posed in “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze and “The Luncheon” by Claude Monet. You can take photos yourself or take advantage of a PhotoPass photographer. Disney vacation tip? You can give your phone or camera to a PhotoPass photographer and they will take your picture! It’s a great way to get around the Memory Maker package, and these cast members are professional photographers so they’ll get great photos for you.
I think my favorite thing about this festival’s decor is the scavenger hunt. And I don’t mean the $9.99 “Find Figment!” scavenger hunt with a prize (one of my friends did this and had fun!). I’m talking about all the hidden characters throughout World Showcase. You can find at least one Disney friend painted on the buildings, walls, or ground in each pavilion. I definitely didn’t find them all, but it was a delightful surprise every time I found one.
A Smattering of Treats
Like any EPCOT festival, there’s a selection of special food and merchandise. I’m sure you heard about the Figment Popcorn Bucket fiasco? We actually had the opportunity to mobile order one of those, but my MNSSHP Oogie Boogie bucket from 2018 is still just sitting on our dresser, so we didn’t need it and didn’t want to wait in line. The food booths were offering more than just Figment Popcorn Buckets! Though you wouldn’t know it from the news. 🙂
We tasted a couple different offerings from Festival of the Arts – nothing to the extend to Food and Wine, but that whole festival is about food so of course we didn’t prioritize it here.
The first Festival of the Arts snack came from Deco Delights, between the Canada Pavilion and the World Showcase Plaza. The treats and drinks at this stand are designed to emulate art deco style. They’re colorful and flush with with elegant lines and flourishes. This food stand caught my eye every time I passed it, and I knew I had to try something!
This stand was smooth running and the cast members running it were both friendly and efficient.
Orange Mousse with Lemon Cake and Raspberry Merengues
This dish is beautifully plated and caught my eye even before arriving at the festival. The orange-flavored mousse (deceptively dyed blue) was a light orange flavor and refreshing. The mini lemon cupcake was tasty but not extraordinary and I struggled to taste the lemon. I really love a good “melt in your mouth” merengue, and the raspberry ones in this dish did not pass the test. Despite the flavor claim, these were 100% headache inducing sugar, sugar sugar. The dish was very pretty but the flavors fell far short of expectations.
El Artista Hambriento
The second stop on my Festival of the Arts food tour was way over in the Mexico pavilion at El Artista Hambriento. Everything on this menu looked tasty to me, but I only had two hands and had to limit it to two dishes. We wanted to go over to the Encanto-themed Festival of the Arts food booth for an empanada (love empanadas!) but the crowds were a bit rough around World Showcase by the time we were looking for dinner, so we settled with two treats from El Artista Hambrieto and claimed a viewing spot for Harmonious.
Each pavilion has a Festival of the Arts style food booth for the festival, but Mexican food is some of my favorite so we nearly always end up choosing something from this pavilion!
I love a good carne asada and this was not it. This dish fell victim to the festival food booth factory line failure. The black beans were dry, the scallion slimy, and the beef itself cold and dry. It was disappointing because the overall plating looks decent… except the black beans. You can tell those are dry.
Like most dishes around the Mexico pavilion, the spice is toned down compared to an authentic restaurant. That was expected, but always disappoints me.
Taco de Chocolate
While this is not the most creative name, Taco de Chocolate is pretty tasty if you like chocolate… which I do! The shell falls apart easily, but the Mexican chocolate mousse inside is delicious. The dish would be overwhelmingly rich if not for the pineapple corn and honeydew lettuce served with it.
Even though it’s only a couple bites, this is plenty of dessert for me! Very tasty, and a better value than the Carne Asada at the same booth.
A Song to Sing Along To
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that artists and performers appear throughout the festival. There are two stages – the main festival stage between Future World and the World Showcase Plaza and the America Gardens Theatre. The Canada Mill Stage has entertainment too, but nothing special for the festival. While there’s a rotating set of artists on the main festival stage (I saw a didgeridoo act that was incredible), the America Gardens Stage runs only two events for the festival: an Art of Animation experience (a la Rafiki’s Planet Watch in Animal Kingdom) and two shows a day of Disney’s Broadway stars singing some of Disney’s biggest Broadway hits.
A dozen different stars rotated for the length of the festival. While we visited, we were fortunate to see Ashley Brown (Mary Poppins) and Josh Strickland (Tarzan), both of whom are incredible performers and had great chemistry together. If you’re a person who doesn’t typically enjoy musicals, the energy and familiarity of these performances is still worth watching.
The stars put on multiple shows a day, and they’re all a little different. We walked past the stage while Brown and Strickland were giving their all to a Frozen medley that wasn’t included in the set we watched later that evening. The entertainment was lively, fun, inspiring, and reminded me why I love musical theatre so much.
I loved the color throughout the park, I loved the whimsical design and the overall feeling of being a part of a street fair – Festival of the Arts feels more like a festival to me than any of the other ones at EPCOT. But if I had to pick one thing that I liked the very best, it would be the Disney on Broadway series. There are not a lot of things that make me want to dance and sing, especially after dark when I’m ready to fall asleep. Brown and Strickland are so incredibly talented and their performance brought the festival to life for me.
Altogether, I adored Festival of the Arts at EPCOT. This festival is the best to just come and immerse yourself in. Walk around, find things that catch your eye, stop to watch shows as you pass. This is a festival that brings you to the present and encourages you to slow down and enjoy the activities around you. This is probably my favorite overall festival, and I hope to make it back someday.