Who’s ready for the Epcot International Festival of the Arts?!!
By way of introduction, and I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but my very first visit to Walt Disney World very early in our marriage occurred with a complete lack of preparation. On our first day we even showed up in the early evening at the Magic Kingdom only to learn it had already closed for the day. (We hadn’t even checked the park hours in advance!)
One my goals in creating RideMax is to help *you* be better prepared for a trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World than I was, as I’ve learned that the line between an *enjoyable* visit and a semi-miserable one can be fairly thin — and a little preparation can make all the difference between the two.
I’ve noted before that RideMax plans include some important tips to help you navigate the park, and sometimes these tips are critical to a successful plan (like if your RideMax plan has you visiting the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train first thing in the morning).
Sometimes though, the space for those tips in your RideMax plan just isn’t large enough to cover a given topic, and that’s where this blog comes in handy. It’s certainly the case with the Epcot International Festival of the Arts. The Festival is new this year, and just opened today, running Fridays through Mondays, from today through February 20th.
My goal here is to give you a quick overview of the festival so you’ll know what to expect, and to help you decide if you want to include the festival as part of your visit. I’ll also provide here a list of the unique food items available especially for the festival, complete with full menus and prices. I haven’t sampled all of the menu items, but will give a brief review of those that I have tried, along with pictures of several that I haven’t.
The festival includes music performed on the stage behind the Future World Fountain…
…as well as photo opportunities designed especially for the festival. Above is just one of many examples.
The old Odyssey building, which lies along the pathway between Test Track and the World Showcase, serves as the main showcase for the festival.
The entrance greets you with a hint of Flower & Garden.
Inside, you can take an art class. Some of these classes charge a fee, others are complimentary. Here, artist Rachelle Eason demonstrates some of the techniques used in making “Boiled Books.” (More on those later.)
Also inside the Odyssey building is the Painter’s Palate. You can see the full menu above (and you can click on any image here for a larger view).
The Trio of Savory Croissant Doughnut dish definitely caught my eye. These are each somewhat smaller than a regular-sized doughnut, and as you can see, are artfully presented. I had intended to try these on my way out of the park today, but the line was very long by then, so they’ll have to wait for a future visit.
Art by Mary Blair is also on display in the Odyssey building.
Most of the food kiosks are clustered around the entrance to World Showcase. Our tour will start here at the E=AT2 booth, which stands near-ish to the Mexico Pavilion.
Looking at the menu here, one thing that stands out is the higher price points than what we’ve seen previously at the Food & Wine and Flower & Garden Festivals. The portion sizes are slightly larger, however, helping to compensate for the higher prices.
While I was here, I ran into Josh from easywdw.com, who was touring with another group of Disney bloggers. Josh was kind enough to invite me to take pictures of the food items they had just purchased. Above is the Classic Reuben.
Here are both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of the Deconstructed Breakfast, along with the Pop-Artsicle.
The Cobb Salad.
As we proceed closer to the Mexico Pavilion, we find El Artista Hambriento…
…along with the full menu. Note that I didn’t try any of these dishes today, but that Huarache looks good enough to sample on a future visit.
As we move clockwise around the World Showcase, the next booth isn’t seen until we get closer to Germany. Even though Cuisine Classique is right across from the Germany Pavilion, the menu seems to hint at a French inspiration. Not sure why the kiosk isn’t closer to… France?
I ordered the Braised Beef Short Rib here, and found it delicious. The beef was very tender, so much so that I didn’t end up needing a knife. The balsamic reduction drizzle and tomatoes added a nice bit of zing to help complement an otherwise very mellow, comforty-food-like experience.
The Seared Red Snapper, also available here, looks to be worth trying.
Something I found rather amusing was the care that went into the visual preparation of the dishes here, presumably due to all of the bloggers in the park today taking pictures. Once the cook here finished plating the dish, she handed it off to what appeared to be a food stylist, who applied finishing tweaks to the appearance.
I’m expecting that by Monday, they’ll be cranking these out much more quickly. My hope is that even if the quality of presentation drops a bit as time goes on, the food quality will remain high. I do plan to stop in here again later in the festival to see if that is indeed the case.
There were several tent-like structures around World Showcase displaying merchandise and various forms of art.
One of these featured the Boiled Books I mentioned earlier.
The larger books here will run you $84.95. The smaller ones are a bit under $20.00.
No festival would be complete without hats and bags.
Each tent seemed to sort of specialize in an art style and/or artist.
The Star Wars art booth was one of my favorites.
You’ll have to click on this one for a closer view, but these structures built by the Fairy House Ladies looked pretty cool.
More Disney art.
Here is The Artist’s Table kiosk, over in front of the America pavilion.
Full menu with prices. I’ll be back to try the Scallop.
I don’t drink alcohol, but there appear to be at least a couple of festival-specific drinks here.
Nice touch here near the Alice meet-and-greet area.
Note that as we move clockwise past the America pavilion, we don’t encounter the next kiosk until we’re closer to Canada, where we find the Masterpiece Kitchen kiosk. That means there was nothing at Japan, Morocco, France, or the UK. Hopefully we’ll see this rounded out more in future festivals.
One really nice touch is this huge paint-by-numbers wall art, which hangs close to the Wrold Showcase entrance. Guests are given small cups of paint, and allowed to contribute to the overall mural.
Here, a Cast Member hands out paint cups and directs guests to the mural.
Very little paint goes into each cup. My guess here is that they’re trying to maximize the number of guests who participate, rather than the amount of painting done by each guest.
Just past the mural, we find Decadent Delights.
The menu offers various desserts.
We finish our kiosk overview with POP EATS!
Above is the Almond Frangipane Cake…
…and this is the Pop’t Art.
Be careful when ordering this one. I asked for “the Pop Tart,” but the cashier quickly corrected me… “The Pop-t-Art?” Apparently that glottal stop between the “t” and the “Art” is important.
Practice before you go, folks.
This is available at several of the kiosks, and is basically a thin sugar cookie, topped with a thin layer of hazelnut filling and a very sweet icing. The icing here was very thick, making this an extremely sugar-rich dessert. Proceed with caution.
I should have included this earlier, but here is the decorative icing used on some of the cookies back in the showcase.
To finish things up, I also wanted to mention that the various Joffrey’s locations around World Showcase also offer some Passport Specialty Beverages.
(Click for a larger view of the beverage itself.)
I also thought these workshops near the Japan pavilion looked fun. They seem to run only on Saturdays and Sundays though.
I hope this overview gives you at least enough to go on if you’re on the fence trying to decide whether to include the festival in your upcoming visit. My personal opinion is that it’s worth checking out.
If you’re using RideMax to plan your visit, you may want to either include one of the various World Showcase tours in your plans, or create a RideMax plan with an early start time and later ending time which includes just the major attractions. This should leave the plan with a large-ish gap of “free time” at some point in the day, which you could use to visit the festival.