Believe it or not, I’m an artist. It’s something that drew me to Disney in the first place. So, when Walt Disney World first announced an International Festival of the Arts, it was something I definitely wanted to go and see. Though I missed the first one, I was able to go to the first day of the second event. Here are my impressions…
From the get-go, there are many things that line Epcot to help illustrate the art vibe. Banners appear before even entering the parking gates. They line several walkways and are present on buildings. It’s clear this is a big event just from those.
The entrance had a Figment topiary sitting atop several rainbows that look like they came to life from a painting. Backdrops of watercolor-like figures of Epcot landmarks provided various photo spots in Future World.
Around World Showcase were a few photo locations where large recreations of famous paintings allowed guests to be captured in the frame. At the Fountain View Plaza, a stage was set up with entertainment options throughout the day.
Fountain View Entertainment
Throughout the day there were quite a few entertainment acts. A smooth jazz band opened the day for a musical art act. An entertainer painter created artwork while dancing to music. The highlight for many are the living statues. Each represented some pavilion aspect of Future World. Imagination, Space, Energy, Seas, Land, and Motion had people that posed for photo ops, and then subtly moved throughout the time they were out.
All throughout the park were several tent booths of artists. Paintings and prints were available for purchase and many were present to answer questions, also while working on pieces. Many were Disney themed, but others were unique landscapes or floral patterns. It made it a very Disney art market.
Odyssey Festival Showcase
The Odyssey was the host area for the Festival. Inside was a food station with quite a bit of treats to purchase and enjoy. More on that later.
A gallery featured attraction posters from around the world, and how they are similar and different. On display is the new Skyliner transportation poster.
A seminar stage was set up for rotating lectures and workshops. A paid one that day was about how to make an action figure out of items you may find around your house. Another I got to be present for was with Mindy Johnson, author of Ink & Paint. She went through much of the history of the Walt Disney Studios’ women and the roles they played in animation.
Guests could get use of their artistic side in a couple of spots. One was a large mural of pop art Figments. Cast Members handed out a small cup of a color of paint, a brush, and instructions to paint 7 squares only. The mural was all done as a giant paint by number picture. And guests were the ones to put it together!
Near the old Universe of Energy and Wonders of Life pavilion were some chalk art areas. One part was an ongoing space for chalk artists to come in and create artwork on the ground. But, another area was for kids to draw with chalk.
A fun scavenger hunt available for purchase took people around World Showcase in search of Figment in famous paintings. The reward for completing was a Festival of the Arts Figment pin. There are 4 in all, and they can be collected with each purchase of the scavenger hunt map.
There was a lot to buy, not counting the artwork for sale. Shirts, mugs, and pins were the big items. Special annual passholder items were available as well. There will be a post later, so I won’t go into detail on these. The one thing I will describe is the marbelized custom shirts near Club Cool. The outline on the shirts are pre-printed, but a marble dye process made for one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
Disney on Broadway
One of the headlining items of the festival is the Disney on Broadway performance. It happens three times a day, and features different Disney Broadway performers each week. The first day had Kevin Massey and Jen Gambatese from Tarzan. They opened with a few songs from the Tarzan production, then went into Aladdin, and rounded out the show with Newsies and a Frozen medley.
This was such a fitting performance for the festival. It certainly showcased the talent of Broadway artists from Disney’s productions. It also gave a chance for this form of Disney artistry to be front and center for many who don’t get to visit the stage productions.
One of the big draws of the Festival is the food. I’ve been to the Flower and Garden Festival and Food and Wine Festival. I thought I knew how these festivals could do food until I went to this one! Each dish was a masterpiece in flavor and presentation!
I tried to have something from each booth, but my stomach sadly said “no.”
My first stop was inside the Odyssey. Croissant dishes and several drinks were some options. I went for the treats. I had two different chocolate art easels depicting the logo and Mickey and Pluto. I also tried a Popt’art, which was a very delicious pastry. My favorite out of here was the Figment white chocolate puzzle. It came with sugary “paint,” and toppings on a palette. A small brush allowed the customization of the pieces. It was a fun way to dive into food.
At the Deconstructed booth I had a deconstructed reuben and BLT. The BLT was essentially a pork belly with a well placed soft-boiled egg. The Reuben was the meat with a circular wafer crust. Both were amazingly good.
Another dish I greatly enjoyed in taste and presentation was the chicken roulade nearby the Deconstructed booth. Elsewhere was a short rib with broccolini – also a great dish. Near China I had a Panda shaped rice cake that was well shaped and sweet. Drink wise I had a Twinings chai bourbon shake with bacon pieces and a waffle cracker. Very creamy and delicious! Beside Mexico was a concha bread with a warm strawberry drink. Unusual, but very tasty treats.
My favorite treats were the chocolate caramel mousse bar and sweet potato chocolate mousse. These were nice and light, but full of flavor.
I was amazed at the amount of food, and how artistic each dish was. I didn’t find anything that was bad. I wish I could have these meals everyday! I also felt like a Food Network show judge as each item was put together so well and picture perfect.
The Artist Consensus
Being an artist I probably had some high expectations of this festival. It didn’t let me down. I loved how much of a spotlight it had on the fine arts. Even music was showcased. There was so much to see visually. And there were opportunities for artists to come in and enjoy. I brought a small sketch pad and pencil and treated the living statues as models to draw. I loved how the interactive parts let guests explore abilities in art. The Figment scavenger hunt can actually educate kids in art history. I loved how the food was even an expression of the art of cuisine. This is the most unique Festival I’ve seen at the park. It is something to definitely make a trip out to do, whether you’re an artist or not!