1st Ever Festival of the Arts at Walt Disney World

For the first time IN MY LIFE I was actually at Walt Disney World for the opening day of a new event.  I was BEYOND excited and we extended our vacation by 1 day to make sure we were able to get the full festival experience.

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First, let me give you a brief overview of what the festival is.  Its at Epcot and is called Festival of the Arts.  The festival will be 6 weekends (Jan 13- Feb 20) featuring world-class cuisine, visual art and live Broadway entertainment!

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Festival Highlights Include:

  • Artist appearances
  • Artful photo ops (picture above)
  • Workshops and seminars with visiting artists
  • Community arts musical showcase
  • Culinary masterpieces
  • Destinations Discovered Tour
  • Disney on Broadway Concert Series
  • Gallery exhibits
  • Interactive mural
  • Living statues
  • Walking chalk gallery and more!

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That’s the summary let’s talk specifics.  Unfortunately the first day was very rainy so a lot of the artists weren’t able to be out.  We did see some sidewalk art but it was hidden in the back of the American Pavilion.  I wish we could have seen the living statues but again the weather kept them inside.  The food you can seem some of what we tried below.  The stand-out for me was actually the Pop-Art and the pot roast (not shown).  The NASTIEST thing I had was the fish things you see in the top left.  So nasty I threw them both away.  In all honesty we actually skipped a lot of the food stations because the only things that sounded good to me were desserts and a woman can not live on sugar alone, at least not in the real world.  PRO TIP—be prepared to wait for your food.  The concept behind each dish is art so they take a little longer to prep than normal food kiosk offerings.

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The big ticket item though, and the real reason we stayed an extra night was the Broadway Live show and for the first night it was Ashley Brown (Marry Poppins) and Josh Strickland (Tarzan).  I have seen both of them perform these types of shows before and knew I had to see this one, it did not disappoint.  Even though we waited in the rain for 45 minutes and ended up being seated in the rain on wet bleacher seats it was worth it.  The show was only an hour but it felt like 15 minutes it was so entertaining.  PRO TIP—from what I heard from cast members reserved seating for Annual Pass and DVC Members is already full so the only way to get reserved seating is to do a dining package.  Dining package seating is very limited, I tried and they only restaurant available was Biergarten in Germany and I wasn’t feeling that.  So if you cant do any of those reserved seating options make sure you are in line at least an hour beforehand because this event will only grown in popularity.

Here’s what I thought was AWESOME

  • Live Broadway performers.  Sorry for the bad video quality below, we didn’t have the best seats and it was raining.
  • Uniquely crafted food offerings
  • Variety of artists selling goods
  • Interactive “paint-by-numbers” wall
  • “Part of the Art” displays
  • Workshops.  The one I saw was watercolors and I wish I could have done it!
  • Friday-Monday only, allows the park to be itself during the week

What I thought could be better

  • Wait times for food.  I know its hand crafted but wait times were more than 10 minutes with no line.
  • More food kiosks.  I don’t need Food and Wine caliber but I think a few more would have been nice or at least more “main course” type foods.
  • More independent artists.  I mean those not paid by Disney to do Disney all the time.  Or have those artists sit out and paint.  I think they are doing this now but on the day we were there it was too rainy so I’m not 100% sure
  • Re-loadable gift card 😦  Whomp Whomp cast members were not able to activate this on the first day.  The glitch has probably since been fixed but when I tried they were not able to load.  I fully recommend these wrist gift cards but it just wasn’t working for me.

Joe and I both agree this was a great start to a solid 1st year.  I know its not the best but I think in a few years this could really be a big draw for Epcot.  With all the elements they had this year I think next year they will just keep adding on.  I also like that its not the whole week.  That way during the weekdays you can experience Epcot but on the weekend it transforms into a festival.  Very cool concept if you ask me.

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I’ve heard Epcot get a lot of flack for introducting “yet another festival”.  While I at first felt the same way I quickly changed my tune and here’s why.  First of all, festivals happen all the time in the real world so the concept of a wide variety of festivals absolutely fits in with WorldShowcase.  Second, the arts are often times forgotten and I am so excited that they are being showcased in such a classy way.  As a non-professional musician and lover of the arts this festival really resonates with me and Im so happy to see Epcot offering a diverse range of arts (not just paintings, but music, food, scultupre, etc).  This festival is also subtly educating guests.  Dont know what the painting above is, well you can find out on the back and learn about it!  Im so excited for this festival to grow and you can bet I’ll be back again in years to come.

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CHIME IN!!!  What do you think of the festival of the arts?  Do you want to become part of the art?  Are you a broadway lover?

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