Epcot – 200 Epcot Center Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
We love a good Festival. Unique food offerings, limited edition merchandise, and live entertainment – what’s not to love? Like it or not, and obviously we like it, festivals have become a way of life at Epcot Center. From Flower and Garden to Food and Wine, it’s rare if there isn’t something festival-related taking place during your visit to The Walt Disney World Resort.
In 2017, EPCOT launched a brand new Festival, The Epcot International Festival of the Arts (also known affectionately as “FOTA”) which focuses on the imaginative art of food and entertaining by celebrating the culinary, performing, and visual arts. As a result, the Festival’s Ambassador is none other than our favorite flying purple dragon, Figment. Now in its fourth year, the 2020 Festival took place January 17, 2020 through February 24, 2020.
Similar to Epcot’s other annual Festivals, twelve food kitchens line the pathways of World Showcase Lagoon with unique and artful culinary creations from pastries and desserts to appetizers and entrees. Each of the aptly titled, “Food Studios” offers Festival-exclusive menu items that focus not only on flavor, but presentation. The Studios give guests the chance to eat their way around World Showcase while enjoying some practically perfect dishes.
Some of the most popular menu items at Festival of the Arts include the deconstructed Reuben, and the Artist Palette Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookie. Not only are these menu items delicious, but they’re also Instagram-worthy! Since the focus is on presentation, guests should keep in mind that longer Food Studio wait times may occur as some of the menu items require a little more love to create than what you might find at the other Epcot festivals.
When it comes to entertainment, Festival of the Arts offers live performances to celebrate the performing arts. Live performances include acts from school and university choirs and bands, and they can be seen performing throughout the Festival. This Festival offers some of the most unique and eye catching performers such as the Living Art Statues which we personally can’t take our eyes off of!
One of the highlights of these performances, for us, is the Disney on Broadway Concert Series featuring actors and actresses performing favorites from Disney musicals and movies at the America Gardens Theater located at The America Pavilion in World Showcase nightly at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. If you’re planning to attend a Disney on Broadway performance, plan to arrive to the theater early – if you want to get a good seat. These performances are incredibly popular with park guests, and the Theater can only seat so many guests per show.
Travel Tip: Reserve a Disney on Broadway Concert Series Dining Package for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner to guarantee seating for the performance of your choice.
The following restaurants participated in 2020:
- Biergarten (Germany Pavilion) – Buffet – Lunch or Dinner @ $57.00 USD for Adults/$32.00 USD for Children
- Coral Reef (The Seas Pavilion) – Table Service Restaurant – Lunch or Dinner @ $69.00 USD for Adults/$22.00 USD for Children
- Garden Grill (The Land Pavilion) – Family Style Meal – Breakfast @ $52.00 USD for Adults/$31.00 USD for Children; Lunch & Dinner @ $65.00 USD for Adults/$39.00 for Children
- Rose & Crown (The UK Pavilion) – Table Service Restaurant – Lunch or Dinner @ $57.00 USD for Adults/$22.00 USD for Children
Each package includes a full meal or buffet, depending on the restaurant reserved. A ten percent discount is also available to Annual Passholders for the Disney on Broadway Concert Series Dining Package, so make sure you mention it at the time of booking or to your server upon arrival.
For those who plan to Festival hop with little ones, be sure to check out Figment’s Brush with the Masters. This family-friendly scavenger hunt around World Showcase is available for $6.99 USD + tax. Everyone who completes the search receives a special prize at the end of the hunt. Search as a family for Figment using the clues available in some of the world’s most famous works of art that can be found around World Showcase Lagoon. Along the way, be sure to capture a family photo at each of the famous photo ops located around World Showcase Lagoon.
Our tradition is that whoever solves that painting’s clue on the scavenger hunt gets their own personal photo with the painting. We do this to make the hunt more interactive and give everyone a chance to participate. This challenge has provided us with some of our most memorable Walt Disney World photo ops over the years, and we really feel that the Disney Photopass Photographers do a fantastic job encouraging us to really have fun with all of the paintings at Festival of the Arts.
We found the Figment’s Brush with the Masters Scavenger Hunt activity was a great way to get little ones interested in the arts, and if you ask us – it was way easier than searching for hidden mickeys! If you’re interested in giving Figment’s Brush with the Masters a try, be sure to visit the World Traveler gift shop where you can purchase your Map. The Map is also a convenient tool for first time visitors to Epcot’s World Showcase.
Another fun “Festival must” for families is a visit to the Paint by Numbers Mural located at the main entrance to World Showcase Lagoon from Future World. This activity is completely free. There is absolutely no charge to participate, so get in line and a friendly cast member will outfit you with a tiny plastic container, a disposable foam paint brush, and assign you a number with a particular color of paint which corresponds to a square number on the Festival’s massive mural. Each guest can color up to five squares on the mural with the number that correctly matches that paint color. If you’re looking to color more, simply get back in line, wait your turn, and repeat. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to pick up in the same area where you left off previously, but it is a great opportunity to leave your mark on Epcot!
The Paint by Numbers Mural is a fun activity for adults and kids. As each of the murals are completed, they are changed out and new designs to be painted are added. We simply cannot visit the Festival without painting a few squares, and there are more than enough squares for everyone to participate.
Towards the start of the Festival, this mural is rather empty – a blank canvas of numbered grids. However, it’s fun to watch throughout the Festival as each of the squares come alive from white to color, and the various murals create incredible works of art.
The only down side is that, unless you’re a frequent visitor to the Disney Parks, first time visitors most likely won’t ever see the finished product of the mural they contributed to in person. This is kind of a bummer, we must admit. We do our best to capture the moment on each visit as much as we can, but we sure would love to be there when those last few squares are filled!
If you’re new to the world of art or looking to learn more about all things art-related, catch a complimentary seminar available to all park guests. These seminars provide guests the opportunity to learn first-hand about fun art-related topics. In addition to the complimentary workshops available, guests also have the opportunity to participate in special seminars available for an additional cost, such as a workshop where guests learn to paint with a Disney animator for $259.00 USD per person.
These for-fee workshops are the real-deal and they are taught by industry professionals who really go above and beyond to provide a unique experience to each of their participants. We love the hands-on aspect of these seminars and workshops, and it was nice to leave with our own personalized souvenir ranging from mixed media to ink and paint and even floral designs.
Perhaps the most impressive display at Festival of the Arts is the Festival’s collection of incredible art available for purchase. Both Disney and non-Disney forms of art are on display and available for guests to take home and add to their personal collections.
Pavilions located around World Showcase Lagoon display everything from an individual artists’ take on our favorite Disney characters and movies to cultural Pavilion-specific paintings, photographs, and sculptures. We love to start our Festival mornings off with a walk around World Showcase to see all of the artistic offerings on display.
The talent on display at Festival of the Arts is extraordinary. Many of the artists featured at the Festival have a cult-like following, and others are first-time exhibitors which offers a great mix of both new and old favorites. One of the Festival’s most popular artists, and a favorite of Disney fans, is Greg McCullough. Mr. McCullough is best known for his Disney and Pixar themed artwork, and he even designed one of the Festival’s previous promotional posters.
Festival of the Arts is the perfect opportunity to take home unique souvenirs for both yourself and your loved ones. From paintings to photographs, and Disney to Pixar, there really is something for everyone. In addition to art-related merchandise, some of our festival-favorites can also be found at Festival of the Arts, like Rinse Bath & Body Soaps. Festival-themed merchandise is also available such as pins, spirit jerseys, hats and glassware.
Travel Tip: We prefer to be hands-free when we’re park hopping. If you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, be sure to take advantage of complimentary Resort Hotel Delivery allowing guests to arrange for the shipment of their theme park purchases seamlessly to their hotel. For those not staying on Walt Disney World property, Souvenir Pick-up conveniently transfers all theme park purchases to that theme park’s front entrance where guests can collect their items as they exit the park.
If you’re looking for your Mary Poppins moment, look no further. (Afterall, who doesn’t want to jump into a chalk painting with the lovely Mary and Bert?) At Festival of the Arts, the chalk art game is on point. Artists display their best chalk renderings on the main walkway between Future World and World Showcase. There are both 2D and 3D creations on display. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll catch an artist or two bringing their sketches to life. Be sure to check the forecast before your visit as a heavy Florida rain can really take a toll on these vibrant works of art.
With Festival of the Arts taking place in January and February, you’re probably wondering what the weather might be like when planning a visit. For us, we plan our visits to FOTA from late-January to early-February. In 2020, we visited from January 30th through February 10th. During this time, we’ve experienced a weather roller coaster. These unpredictable temperatures can make it difficult to pack appropriately for your trip. Read more about our most recent trip here, and how we pack for a January – February trip to the Walt Disney World Resort.
We absolutely adore the Epcot International Festival of the Arts. Epcot Festivals are always a good time, and we love that this one completely explodes with creativity and innovation across the culinary, visual, and performing arts. FOTA may be young as far as Epcot Festivals go but in its short lifespan it has grown into something that we look forward to every year, and we can’t wait to be back again next year!
Have you had the chance to or are you planning to attend the Epcot International Festival of the Arts on an upcoming visit to The Walt Disney World Resort? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts, tips and tricks in the comments below!
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