Guide to This Year’s Epcot International Festival of the Arts
Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts is now under way, and we thought it would be useful if we offered our guide to this year’s version of what is fast becoming one of Walt Disney World’s annual highlights.
Just to start with, the Festival of the Arts made its debut as recently as 2017, but it has quickly become an essential part of Epcot’s seasonal offerings, adding its own style and colour to the ensuing Flower & Garden, Food & Wine and Festival of the Holidays celebrations that now ensure there is nearly always a major festival to enjoy year-round.
The 2022 version runs from January 14 to February 21, and there is just a nine-day gap until the start of this year’s Flower & Garden Festival, which makes its debut on March 2.
But, while the Arts Festival is very much the Johnny-come-lately addition to the park’s series of annual festivities, it has rapidly taken on its own character and attractions, especially with the live entertainment element.
This Year’s Line-up
For those who have yet to sample this latest seasonal speciality (and, let’s face it, the last two years have been pretty much a write-off!), the International Festival of the Arts breaks down into three essential sections:
The Culinary Arts – This is an opportunity for Epcot’s catering team to dazzle visitors with an array of food “studios,” or kiosks, across the park that feature unique samples of different cuisine styles in an exercise of epicurean splendour. There are 15 main “studios,” varying from Gourmet Landscapes (Canada) to the super-sweet Donut Box, plus another seven locations around World Showcase offering festival-related drinks or snacks.
The Performing Arts – *These live events include the *Animation Academy, where you can learn how to draw a Disney Character with an animation artist; Art Defying Gravity, featuring thrilling acts of strength; Chalk Art, which turns plain pavement into eye-catching masterpieces; the Disney on Broadway Concert Series, highlighting songs and performers from Disney’s classic musicals; and Visual Art in Performance, a high-energy, on-stage show by a guest artist painting favourite Disney characters that magically appear before your eyes.
The Visual Arts – Among the features here are a series of fun Artful Photo Ops, where classic paintings have been set up to put YOU in the frame (!), as well as the Expression Section, which is a gigantic mural for everyone to try their hand at, and the Artist Galleries, where participating artists set up their own showcases to demonstrate their talents, often with a classic Disney twist.
Shop Around the Festival
It wouldn’t be a Disney event if there wasn’t a tempting array of special merchandise and gifts to browse while you enjoy the various artistic elements. From unique art-inspired prints to mugs, totes and trading pins, the Arts Festival affords an extensive opportunity to grab branded souvenirs of all kinds that provide a permanent memento of your holiday.
In addition, children (and their grown-ups) can enjoy Figment’s Brush with The Masters, a clever scavenger hunt (for $9.99/person) around World Showcase with a map and series of stickers. Find a Figment hiding inside famous works of art at each pavilion and add the corresponding sticker on your map. Complete all 11 and return your map for a fantastic surprise!
Disney on Broadway
One of the major highlights of the festival is the daily concert at the America Gardens Theatre that features the stars of major Disney Broadway musicals performing the hits of the various shows live on stage.
From Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and Mary Poppins to Freaky Friday, Newsies and The Little Mermaid, these are true headline performers in a rare setting, and the quality and entertainment value are absolutely terrific.
Even better – the concerts are performed three times each evening, at 5.30, 6.45 and 8pm, giving guests ample opportunity to sit back and enjoy these genuine showstoppers.
And There’s More!
There are also special Concert Series dining packages that offer guaranteed seating for the live Disney on Broadway shows when booking a three-course lunch or dinner at one of four designated restaurants (the Biergarten in Germany, Coral Reef in The Living Seas pavilion, Garden Grill in The Land pavilion and the Rose & Crown in the UK pavilion). The meal cost varies from $57 to $69 per adult ($22-$43 per child 3-9) and includes a starter, main course, dessert and non-alcoholic drink. Reservations are required up to 60 days in advance.
As you can probably tell, we’re big fans of this Epcot special event, and we think it is well worth adding to your Orlando itinerary this winter. Oh, and don’t forget to stay on for the park’s nightly finale, the new Harmonious spectacular. It’s one of Disney’s most dazzling performances.