Everything You Need to Know about the Epcot International Festival of the Arts

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Disney's Epcot

The start of the New Year at Epcot means yet another festival. Starting in 2017, The Walt Disney Company increased the number of exhibitions to four, meaning that the park now averages one a season. Realistically, that’s not the way that it works, though. The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival begins in August, and the park basically has five months of festivals from that point forward. Here’s everything that you need to know about the newest one, the Epcot International Festival of the Arts.

What is the Epcot International Festival of the Arts?

The newest exhibition at Epcot’s World Showcase is an early year event. It runs from January 12th through February 19th. This festival celebrates the arts, and I mean all of them. The term, “the arts,” might sound ambiguous in nature. At Epcot, it has a specific purpose, though. The idea is to highlight as many different aspects of artistic expression as possible.

Epcot Festival of the Arts at Disney World

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

 

Also, the World Showcase sells a lot of novelty food.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s stick with the arts for now. When you hear the term, your mind goes to cultural aspects like concert performances, elegant paintings, and other demonstrations of artistic talent. At the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, you’ll find representations of all of these things.

The Visual Arts

Works of art are generally on display at galleries and museums. During the festival, you’ll find them interspersed at various Epcot buildings. Disney’s trying something commendable here. They want guests to slow down and appreciate the visual aesthetic of classic works of art.

Art from Epcot Festival of the Arts

Photo Courtesy of TheBucketListNarratives.com

 

As you explore Epcot, you’ll see gorgeous recreations of classical paintings. You’ll also get a look at some Disney characters and famous drawings. For example, classic Disney attractions have their original artwork framed and hung on the walls at a few buildings.

Disney’s also willing to put their thumb on the scale to make you appreciate art more. Epcot’s providing special PhotoPass opportunities during the event. You can pose in front of classic works of art, putting yourself in the middle of the action. The pictures will impose your face and/or body into the image. Some of the options even include Magic Shots where you’ll discover a surprise video when you look at your picture!

Several PhotoPass ops are available around Epcot. You’ll notice them by their appearance. A wall will show a famous painting. When there’s a line beside the painting, you’ll probably realize that something’s up, as you may see someone’s face sticking out of the picture. It’s like every novelty picture you’ve ever taken at a tourist trap, only classier due to the subject matter.

All of the photo ops are of legendary paintings. Options include “George Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, “Luncheon of the Boating Party” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir , “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli, and “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo Da Vinci. You can even recreate Edvard Munch’s legendary “SCREAM” if you like.

Disney has chosen world-renowned paintings to highlight the Visual Arts. You may have even recognized that they’ve added secondary theming. Each pavilion at the World Showcase is represented by thematically fitting works of art. The George Washington piece is at The American Adventure, “Mona Lisa” and “The Birth of Venus” are on display at the Italy Pavilion, and the Renoir piece is at the France Pavilion.

Finally, Disney emphasizes the Visual Arts in a different way. Would-be artists can participate in seminars. You’ll learn better techniques for painting with acrylics and water colors. These classes are available at the Odyssey Festival Center. The seminars are free with admission and last 30 minutes. Disney also provides 75-minute workshops for a modest fee.

Performing Arts

For many years now, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival has been inexorably linked with the Eat to the Beat concert series. At these performances formerly popular musicians relive their glory days by playing all their greatest hits. Despite the fact that many of these bands are long past their expiration date, it’s a beloved part of the festival.

With the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, Disney does something different. They highlight a different kind of musical style instead. In place of pop bands from the Billboard charts of yesterday, the World Showcase hosts some of the finest theatrical singers working on Broadway today.

Called the Disney on Broadway Series, this celebration of the performing arts has quickly become the most popular part of the entire festival. As you know, Disney’s had a huge presence on Broadway for a long time now. During the Festival of the Arts, they host performances from some of their favorite artists.

Many of these musicians have ties to Disney plays. For example, Kissy Simmons played Nala in The Lion King on Broadway. She’ll perform on stage at the America Guardians Theatre on eight days during the festival. Here’s the current list of scheduled performers for the rest of the event:

  • Kissy Simmons
  • January 26 to 29, 2018
  • February 2 to 5, 2018

 

  • Alton Fitzgerald White
  • January 26 to 29, 2018
  • February 2 to 5, 2018

 

  • Ashley Brown
  • February 9 to 12, 2018
  • February 16 to 19, 2018

 

  • Josh Strickland
  • February 9 to 12, 2018
  • February 16 to 19, 2018

Alton Fitzgerald White has played King Mufasa from The Lion King longer than any performer ever. Ashley Brown was the first actress to star in Mary Poppins on Broadway, and she’s also portrayed Belle in Beauty & the Beast. And Josh Strickland played Tarzan on Broadway. These are some of Disney’s most recognizable Broadway artists.

Guests who have never seen a Broadway show have a rare opportunity to watch these songs during the festival. Not coincidentally, tickets sell out fast for many of the shows. Performances are at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8 p.m. each night. Fans of dinner and a show should book a dining package, although availability is an issue at this point. People love the Disney on Broadway Series, and you will as well, assuming you can get tickets.

While this series is spectacular, it’s not the only type of performing arts at Epcot during the festival. Local music groups and touring bands with country-centric themes play at some of the pavilions and concert areas. Bodh’aktan, a Celtic band that was a huge hit last year, returns for 2018, as does Musique Aramenco. New acts include a Quebec band known as Suroît, a German yodeling act called Margret Almer & The Bavarian Band, and another popular Canadian band known as Raffy. Live music is everywhere during the Festival of the Arts.

For a difference kind of art performance, seek out the Living Statues. These artists are wonderful for photo ops, as they behave like guards at Buckingham Palace. They can go so still that you may not realize that they’re there. Then, they’ll suddenly launch into movement, giving you or a member of your group quite the fright. It’s all in good fun, and guests delight in the element of surprise from the Living Statues. Be sure to take lots of pictures and videos!

Culinary Arts

Okay, when you think about art, food may not jump into your mind. But the way that Disney does food, maybe it should. One of the wonderful aspects of their various exhibitions is that they always break out the pop-up restaurants. Sure, they have different names for the kiosks, but the idea is the same. These temporary food stations have unique menus for the event, meaning that they’re worth a visit during each festival. You’ll receive different meal options every time!

Photo Courtesy of DisneyTouristBlog.com

 

The Epcot International Festival of the Arts has expanded to daily operation in 2018. That’s music to the ears of foodies, because you can spend the body of a month feasting on culinary treats from the 14 food studios open during the event. Also, many of the menu items are visually gorgeous to fit the overall theme of the festival.

Disney Food Blog has compiled a list of all the food studios and menu items available for 2018. You can see the full details here. Also, WDWNT has reviewed every food studio here. You should use this information to choose which food studios are worth your time and money.

Photo Courtesy of TheBucketListNarratives.com

 

Remember that the event is only for a limited time, though. The food studios end when the Festival of the Arts finishes. Then, you won’t have a chance to eat at the kiosks again until the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Then again, that event starts on February 28th, only nine days after the Festival of the Arts ends. The gap between World Showcase exhibitions grows shorter each year.

Still, you’ll want to attend the Festival of the Arts because it’s the newest event at the World Showcase. With visually gorgeous, delicious food and several spectacular photo ops available, it’s the perfect way to start the year at Walt Disney World!

 

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