Epcot features several festivals throughout the year: International Flower and Garden Festival in the spring, International Food and Wine Festival in the fall, International Festival of the Holidays late in the year, and International Festival of the Arts early in the year. I have enjoyed most these festivals numerous times over the years but the one that had eluded me was the Festival of the Arts. Celebrating its 5th year in 2021, I decided it was time to head south to see this festival for myself. The fam and I hopped on a plane and spent a quick weekend taking in the sights at Epcot and discovering this is our favorite festival of all. Why? Just keep reading…
So the Festival of the Arts only runs from early January to about mid-February. We just missed the start of the festival on our last trip over New Years. After seeing picture after picture from the festival on Instagram and Facebook, I just knew that I couldn’t let myself miss this event. Luckily flights were cheap and I booked a two-night getaway to Orlando. We stayed at Pop Century for this short visit and had a great room in the 60s section, very near the lobby and food court. Great location. This resort really is so fun and whimsical; I loved taking some time to walk around and soak in the icons and decor from the 1950s to 1990s. If you’ve stayed at Pop and never spent some time exploring, do it! Even the display cases in the lobby provide quite a bit of entertainment as you flashback to memories from your childhood. Those from Virginia will notice a pamphlet from Endless Caverns in one of them! The Skyliner took us from Pop Century over to Epcot’s International Gateway entrance between France and the United Kingdom. I love starting at the ‘back’ of the park, especially for festivals, because it puts me right in the center of the action. With no intention of riding or doing anything ‘typical’ on this trip, the focus was on activities and entertainment specific to the festival. Even though we got into the park before opening and stayed until close to closing, we still had a few things that we didn’t have a chance to do that were festival-specific. We’ll just have to go back in 2022! 😉
First stop, United Kingdom. There was the cutest display of paintings done of characters by characters here! That portrait of Mulan done by Mushu, in fire!, was incredible. And I loved the ‘pink, no blue!’ influence of Flora and Merryweather on Aurora’s painting.
The weather was looking a little iffy and rain showers were in the forecast, so I knew that I needed to move quickly to the Chalk Art display closer to the front of the park. Every day, artists come into the park and are given three hours and a block of space to finish a chalk art drawing. Color me impressed because their art blew me away. Luckily the major rainstorms didn’t transpire, but I cried a little inside thinking of the work that goes into these pieces only to have them washed away. From famous art reproductions to Disney characters, these pieces were breathtaking!
I felt inspired by the chalk artists, so I decided to head to the paint-by-number mural that was available for guests participate in. This was another must-do on my list. You are allowed to choose a color and then are able to paint seven squares marked with the number assigned to your color. The mural itself is huge and you can go back and paint more squares if you return to the start of the line after you finish your initial seven. The mural is sectioned off for social distancing and the finished mural will look like the bookmark (shown in the picture below) that you get as a souvenir when you’re done.
Another super treat for this festival was going into the countries of World Showcase and looking for hidden art. These characters were hidden pretty darn well at times and so much fun to look for! I won’t share them all, but here are two to enjoy! These would be fun to see year round, but alas, they’ll be gone soon!
You could find so many different styles of art for purchase during the festival as well. Everything from Disney Fine Art, to lesser known artists, different mediums, etc. Here are some of my faves! There are some others on their way to my home right now; shipping is available for these purchases and highly recommended! I also discovered that I love the art from Rob Kaz, the artist behind the little frog named Beau that you’ll see in a painting below. Adorbs!
The artists often visit the festival at different times to showcase and autograph their artwork. This is also so much fun to see. There is even a part of the festival where the artists are painting live! Disney Fine Artist, Tim Rogerson, painted this Baymax with a lollipop while we were there!
Another artist and former Imagineer, Morgan Lee Richardson, worked on a series of paintings illustrating the areas of Epcot and those were a treat to see in person. His work can be found throughout the parks and resorts, especially in Animal Kingdom. You’ll recognize his style from any buttons you have purchased recently in Animal Kingdom for the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. His art is on the right in the shot below, with Jimmy Pickering’s interpretation on the left.
For those of you familiar with Figment, the loveable purple dragon often used as an Epcot mascot, you’ll see him sprinkled throughout the festival. For a small fee, you can participate in a Figment-themed art scavenger hunt and receive a small prize after you have found all of the missing paintings. Figment has inserted his presence in several famous paintings that are hidden in World Showcase and it was a blast trying to find them all. You’ll notice him taking over the lead in ‘One Little Scream’ below.
To fully immerse yourself in the art, there are several 3D paintings setup throughout the park where you can literally ‘get in to the painting’. Some have PhotoPass photographers nearby to help pose you for some really cool snapshots. In the one below, you can step into the pages of Peter Pan and be a mermaid or part of Hook’s crew.
So.much.fun! And I didn’t even mention the food! All Epcot festivals have a food component where you can purchase different snack size foods around the park that are themed like the particular festival. The Festival of the Arts had what I would call the best tasting food of the four festivals and definitely the prettiest. The focus on presentation was impressive. You’ll have to check out my Instagram page for more pictures of the art and food!
Overall, loved this festival! What a great weekend! Can’t wait to go back next year!
Until next time!