Review: Epcot International Festival of the Arts
The newest of the Epcot festivals wraps up its 2018 residency in just a few days before the park preps for the International Flower and Garden Festival’s late February return. The International Festival of the Arts came back for an encore performance in 2018 on the tails of its popular debut last year, making it the fourth seasonal Festival offered in Epcot! I didn’t have the opportunity to visit last year’s festival, but when I saw all of the amazing experiences my friends were taking part in 2017, I booked my trip for 2018 before last year’s fest was finished. If you’re planning to visit during next year’s International Festival of the Arts, here is a full review of my experience; it’s best to know before you go!
With so much to cover, I’ll break down the festival into three parts: Food, Art, and Entertainment. With food always topping my list of Disney must-do’s, let’s start there!
#1: Food and Beverages
The Festival kiosks around World Showcase selling food and beverages have become pretty permanent fixtures considering there is almost always a festival happening. The offerings at the kiosks during the International Festival of the Arts featured foods with artistry in mind, both in flavor and plating.
I love seafood, and I knew I had to try the scallop from the American Adventure. The seared scallop sat atop a mouth-watering pool of tomato sauce with chunks of sweet peppers and the whole thing was topped with a Parmesan cheese crisp and gorgeous edible flower! The scallop was cooked perfectly, and my favorite part of the dish was getting to watch the chef plate it for me- he truly kept artistry in mind here and took his time to ensure my scallop was perfect before presenting it to me.
There are so, so many food and beverage offerings to choose from at the festival that it was difficult for me to choose which to highlight here. My favorite of the beverages I sampled came from the France Pavilion. I couldn’t’ choose between the Alsace Pinot Blanc or the Frose, so of course I got both!
The Frose was a great mid afternoon refresher. The peach flavor paired well with the Rose wine. My favorite wines are on the dry side, so the Alsace Pinot Blanc was right up my alley! Light on the tongue with notes of berry, I wish I could have ordered a full pour!
Of course, this festival was created with art in mind, so it would be wrong to exclude it from my review! My favorite of the art elements was the giant mural presented by Glidden. The community-painted canvas was basically a huge paint by number. I was given a color of paint and a sponge and instructed to paint the corresponding number with my color. Over the entire duration of the festival, the huge mural was slowly but surely completed by park guests! I thought this was a great idea and really made my friend and I feel like we were part of the festival
There were several free seminars presented throughout the festival, and I was lucky enough to be in attendance when Dancakes came through to do a demonstration of pancake art. The 30-minute seminar featured an ex short order cook showing us the ropes of how he created the now-popular social media trend of pancake art, and how it launched his career. Have you ever seen the videos online of a pancake being flipped over to reveal an amazing design? Dan created it! For a free seminar, it was engaging and I learned something- I give it a thumbs up.
In addition to seminars, there were countless tents pitched all around Epcot holding countless canvas paintings, prints, screens, posters, statues, and so many more Disney-inspired pieces of art for sale. From Princess murals to enormous Star Wars canvases, the Disney art collector simply must visit this festival! Even though I didn’t purchase any pieces of art, I enjoyed just walking through the tents and marveling at the amazing effort and attention to detail put forth by each of the artists.
Ah, the entertainment. From special shows happening on the Fountain of Nations stage to festival exclusive Photopass opportunities, I was excited to see and do everything listed in the entertainment category. Overall, the entertainment experiences were not as extensive- or offered as frequently- as I would have hoped. Unless you visited on a weekend…
The Disney on Broadway Concert series was the pinnacle of the festival for me. When I attended, Ashley Brown (original Broadway Mary Poppins; Belle) and Josh Strickland (Original Broadway Tarzan) were the performers. They performed backed by a full band at the American Adventure Pavilion.
My goodness, those voices. Ashley Brown has long been one of my favorite Broadway singers, but she had the crowds at Walt Disney World fawning over her just as much- if not more- than in New York. She brought the house down with smash hits from Mary Poppins, but her rendition of Part of Your World was like none I’d ever heard. Josh Strickland surely held his own, and although his performance of Strangers Like Me from Tarzan was my personal favorite, he received a STANDING OVATION when he sang the popular Santa Fe from Newsies. I can’t finish my rave review of the show without giving ample praise to the band, as the arrangements and performances given by the musicians was just as good as the singers and deserves an equal nod!
Overall, I really enjoyed the International Festival of the Arts. I must admit, it seemed like a ‘filler’ festival to me when it was first announced last year- just a way to get more people to come to WDW during their notoriously quiet season post-holidays. Being at the festival, though, didn’t give me the same feeling. While definitely less populated than the others, the offerings were all extremely well thought out and the execution was very high-level, delivering the same quality and satisfaction as each of the other seasonal offerings! I would recommend visiting the International Festival of the Arts in 2019; I know I’ll be back! Will you? Let me know in the comments below!
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Special thanks to Maria Salerno for writing this article: Hiya pal! I am a NYC-based writer/musician thrilled to be bringing you all things Disney! I’m a WDW Annual Passholder, so you can find me in the parks regularly throughout the year. In addition to being a Disney Parks loving girl, I’m also a Disney toy and merchandise collector, a runDisney enthusiast, and Disney music and movie aficionado. You can follow me on Instagram: NYCtoAP and find me on YouTube: NYCtoAP. Thanks for reading, hope to see ya real soon!