These days, it seems like the festival seasons never stop coming at Epcot. While the park has already moved on with the Flower and Garden Festival in full swing, we are going to take a step back today and take a final look at our favorite of the Epcot festivals.
The 2019 Epcot Festival of the Arts took place from January 18 – February 25. I was forced to cancel a January trip due to illness, and reschedule that trip for the last week in February. This is the reason we are doing a look back post instead of an earlier one which would actually of been beneficial to those attending, or thinking of attending, the festival. The good news is that the return of the festival in 2020 has already been confirmed by Disney and most of what you read there will apply then as well!
I visited on the final day of the 2019 festival which was (not surprisingly) quite busy. Rather than take you through a linear timeline of my day, I am just going to kind of throw various offerings of the festival together to give you an overall idea of what to expect.
In terms of touring, I wanted to experience the festival in as spontaneous a way as possible. Because of this, I did very little research ahead of time in terms of what exactly this years festival would be offering. The only thing I had to go off of way my memory of the first Festival of the Arts which I attended in 2017.
I’m usually a big supporter of going into every day at WDW with a solid game plan, however I think of big part of this Festival (and World Showcase in general) is not knowing what fun things you may stumble across. I also wanted to look at it through the eyes of the average visitor who may not have done a ton of research ahead of time.
Future World doesn’t have a ton going on for the festival. There is the customary garden display which features an adorable Figment topiary.
I didn’t really notice anything else of interest in regards to the festival in Future World. I know there were a few good booths in the area but I didn’t come across any of them. Admittedly, I did not spend much time there. I didn’t ride a single attraction on this day.
In terms of food, the Festival of the Arts has fewer booths than Flower and Garden, and way less than Food and Wine. It probably has around the same amount as the Festival of the Holidays. While the food we tried was good, its by no means essential to enjoying the festival. Honestly, the biggest reason to buy it is that many of the dishes offered make great Instagram photos.
I tried 3 items on this day:
From the “Pop Eats” booth:
Almond Frangipane Cake layered with Raspberry Jam and Callebaut Belgian Chocolate.
This is one of the most popular instagram desserts of the festival. While it does make a great photo, it was also really delicious. I had low expectations but I ended up really loving this piece of cake.
From the “Masterpiece Kitchen” booth:
Wild Mushroom Risotto, Aged Parmesan, Truffle Shavings and Zinfandel Reduction
This also was very good. It was a little on the dry side, however I was impressed at the flavors and textures of the dish. Risotto can be tricky and serving it in a quick service manner like this has to be tricky. I was pleased with the dish overall.
From the “Decadent Delights” booth:
Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Pretzel Crunch
I guess I made good choices this day because this was delicious as well. The description doesn’t tell you a whole lot, but it was basically a chocolate and peanut butter mousse cake with a berry coulis. Despite the name, the only pretzel crunch is the chocolate dipped pretzel on top. Still, I found all the flavors to go together wonderfully and the pretzel at least provided some degree of crunch.
The other super popular dessert which I didn’t try was the Artist Palette Jumbo Cookie.
This is basically just a large chocolate chip cookie in the shape of an easel. The edible “paint” makes it fun to look at but I heard from many others that the cookie itself pretty mediocre at best.
Overall, each of the three food items I tried were very good. That being said, they were all on the pricey side compared to other festivals. They make nice photos and taste good, but they are not the main draw of the festival. If you decide to skip the food aspect here you won’t be missing too much.
Moving on, a major component to the Festival of the Arts is the various pop up shops. The majority of items for sale is various drawings and or paintings, all of which are Disney themed in some way or another.
I really liked a lot of the artwork but its predictably very much on the expensive side. The best you can do is hope to find a smaller (unframed) print for somewhere around $39.99.
Another fun thing was these photo ops scattered around World Showcase.
Each on had a photopass photographer on hand. I was here solo on this day so I didn’t take the time to pose by myself as that would have both looked and felt a bit sad.
Perhaps one of the cooler things to come across: various artists are out creating their works of art for all to see. You may see an artist painting a landscape or a chalk artist drawing right on the concrete walk. Its all very neat.
Pretty much all of the character meet and greets will have a painting of the character along side of it as well.
You can also fill in some tiles on the huge wall mural as well which is super neat.
I didn’t do the Figment painting character hunt, but I did notice a couple of them while walking around.
The main entertainment for the festival is the Disney on Broadway concert series. Because this was the last night, the show featured four singers rather than the usual two.
Unfortunately my camera battery died and I left my replacement in a locker at the front of the park (I know, rookie mistake) so I don’t have any photos of the performance. The show was fantastic though. We live very close to NYC and attend Broadway shows quite frequently. The voices here were on par with what we would expect of a Broadway caliber performance. This makes sense seeing as all of the singers have been on Broadway at some point. We’ve actually seen quite a few of the performers throughout this concert series in actual Broadway shows.
One of my favorite things of the festival was the painting of different Disney characters on various outdoor walls around World Showcase. These characters are not advertised, nor are they in easy to find spots. This makes it sort of a game to find them and its super fun when you notice one. Here are the ones I noticed (I’m sure I missed some):
The characters can all be found in whatever country their film is set in, with Morocco filling in for the fiction Agrabah.
The last thing I want to look it was my favorite part of the entire day: The Animation Academy. Exclusive to the festival, this takes place inside the Odyssey building every half an hour beginning at 3:30 pm. There are also various seminars held here throughout the earlier parts of the day. Some are free while others are paid add ons.
Basically, a Disney artist spends a half hour session showing you step by step how to draw a Disney character.
The character is different each session so don’t hesitate to do it more than once if you enjoy it! For my session, we drew Mickey!
My questionable artistic skills aside, this is so much fun and I could have sat there all day drawing if there weren’t other people waiting to take my spot for the next session. This is all bittersweet as we used to be able to do the Animation Academy any time we like to at Hollywood Studios. In an all time blunder, this was removed for the underwhelming Star Wars Launch Bay. Boooo to that, I say!
I think that covers most of the main items offered during the festival. This is by no means a comprehensive look at all you can expect to find. We would recommend planning multiple days at Epcot during next years festival to try and see as much as possible. There is just too much going on to take do it all in a day.
Overall, this is our favorite Epcot festival. There is so much to do, much of which can be done at no additional charge! There is also just a really cool vibe around the park, especially World Showcase! We strongly recommend planning a trip if you can to catch this festival early next year!
If you have any questions regarding the festival, please feel free to ask in the comments below. Thanks for reading!