Saturday, February 4, 2017

Epcot International Festival of the Arts - Review

Walt Disney World is planning on some great things for 2017. The first great thing that they lined up for this year is the Epcot International Festival of the Arts.  This is the very first year of this festival!  I think it is a wonderful celebration of the arts and I hope to see it back next year. 

The first ever Epcot International Festival of the Arts.

As you walk in the main gate of Epcot, as with all other festivals, you’re greeted with signs and décor letting you know what is going on at Epcot.
Epcot International Arts Festival signage at night.

The first pieces of art you'll encounter are located the end of the Fountains of Nations.  There are three living statues sitting at the base of the Fountain View Stage. I should have gotten a picture of the other 2 but it was rainy and the kids weren't having it
Living Art
This is also the stage where American Music Machine performs in the afternoon. In this area, you can become part of a painting, see artists paint and even talk to some artists.
American Music Machine performing in the afternoon.
Once you enter the World Showcase, the festival really starts to show it's colors.  In the Showcase you’ll find many marketplaces set up with artwork for sale – both Disney themed art and non-Disney themed art.  At some, you can even meet and talk to some of the artists! I was lucky, and fortunate, enough to meet Don “Ducky” Williams – an animator and illustrator who has worked for Walt Disney Company for over 30 years.  (Spoiler alert: The ‘thank you’ cards Walt Disney World Resort guests receive after their vacation – bears his name.)  His favorite Disney character to draw? Without hesitation, “Donald Duck.”  I could have spent hours talking to him but there was quite the line to meet him so we moved on.
Meeting Don "Ducky" Williams.
A big draw to the Arts Festival is the Disney on Broadway Concert Series at the America Gardens Theater.  Each weekend (since the festival is only held on weekends) you can catch different Broadway stars belting out classics from Disney on Broadway’s shows.  The performances are outstanding. I wish Disney on Broadway performances were something we could do at Walt Disney World. But until that happens, this will have to suffice. During the afternoons, guests can check out local student performances on at the America Gardens Theater as well!

The festival also had various food booths set up throughout the World Showcase – similar to Flower and Garden, Food and Wine, and the Christmas Festival.  These food booths were Food Studios and celebrated how food can be art.  My favorite Studios were the El Artista Hambriento and the Artist’s Table.  The El Artista Hambriento booth was located outside the Mexico pavilion.  When I asked the Cast Member taking my order what he recommended between the two options, he couldn’t stop raving about either option. So we got both! These were phenomenal and we kept talking about going back and getting them again (unfortunately we didn’t get the chance).
Guarache on the left and the Choriqueso Taco on the right.
Another food booth that was my favorite was the booth outside the Artist’s Table at the American pavilion.  Here we got the Artist Palette Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookie (which was available at multiple booths) and the roasted pork dish. I wish I could cook pork this well.  It was outstanding.  My only complaint with this dish is the ‘sides’ that came with it – I get it was a sample but my carrots were more carrot stems than actual carrot. But the pork was great.
The giant cookie on the left and the pork on the right.
 We also tried the Wild Mushroom Risotto from the Masterpiece Kitchen. This was so good.  If you've had the Le Cellier Filet Mignon, you know how good this risotto dish is.  I failed in taking a picture before we dove in.  I promise it was beautiful to look at and beautiful to eat.
The Wild Mushroom Risotto container. 
The last booth we tried was the Pop Eats! Studio near the Showcase Plaza.  This drink and this cookie weren’t for us. The drink was sour and the leftover ‘bubbles’ were way too sweet.  I think it would have been better to squish the bubbles while the drink was still present - not after the drink had been consumed. The cookie was a sugar cookie with chocolate hazelnut filling. It tasted nothing but of sweetness - very, very sweet. It was pretty. But the chocolate and hazelnut got lost in all of the sugar. 
Our treats from Pop Eats!
One unique thing that this festival offered to Epcot guests was something that was free and all ages could partake in! A giant paint by number piece that by the end of the weekend was an Epcot mural - created by Epcot guests! 
A Cast Member handing out numbered paint and brushes.
You get in line to get a small cup of Glidden paint that had a number on the top along with a brush. Guests are then to paint 5 squares with the same number on their paint cup – a giant paint by number. 
Paint by number!
We went on Friday, and apparently the Cast Member told us they use the same canvas all weekend and it would be full by Sunday.  I wish I had gotten a chance to go back  to see the finished product but it didn’t work out that way.
Everyone got a postcard showing what the finished product will look like.

Some other great things going on with this festival are the live sidewalk chalk art that occurs!  We saw this artist doing a wonderful job in the mid-afternoon in front of the American Routunda.  She was doing chalk art of Mount Rushmore.
Chalk art mid work!
We came back later in the evening to see it completed! It was supposed to be 3D, but Im pretty sure I didn't take the picture correctly. I'd like to blame the bright lights but let's be honest here...

Finished piece.
Some other cool stuff happening around the Showcase included having the option to buy a pair of TOMS (the shoe) custom painted for you by artists. You could pick out any artwork – didn’t have to be Disney related – and depending on the scope of the work being done, you could pick them up later in the day or have them delivered to you or pick them up at Disney Springs.  You could get custom name art done as well.

For the kids (of all ages) they had a find Figment scavenger hunt  - Figment’s Brush with the Masters. Figment was hidden in a piece of art in every country. Some of them took me embarrassingly long to find – even when he was right in front of me!  You can buy a map with stickers and are given a prize when you find them all!
Can you find Figment?
There are lots of other events going on with this Festival that we didn’t have the time to check out – art seminars, interactive workshops, animation academy and more! There is something for everyone at this festival!

I hope Disney brings back this Art Festival next year.  I’d like to see it beyond the weekends and more types of artworks features that are live. It was so neat to go back and see the progression of the art pieces!

Did you and your family make it to the festival this year? Hope it returns for next year?
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