As we make our way through Walt Disney World in the time of COVID, we continue to see Disney's unique ability to think out of the box and bring us what versions they can of the experiences that we know and love. One of the best examples of all of this are the “Taste of” festivals that we've seen at Epcot, where we get just a little…taste(!)…of the events that we know and love.
Disney continues this approach with its Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts, which opened this past Friday, January 8th, and runs through February 22, 2021. And while we aren't getting the usual Broadway concert series or some other more hands on experiences this year, we are getting lots and lots to enjoy.
Grab a Festival Passport booklet on your way into the park to peruse the many, many food options around the park for Festival of the Arts this year. You'll find special items at each Joffrey's cart, the American Adventure Funnel Cake stand, and Refreshment Port, as well as 17 food booths around World Showcase and inside World Showplace.
Some of our favorites? Try Lobster Poutine at Refreshment Port, the Deconstructed Reuben and BLT at The Deconstructed Dish, Almond Frangipane Cake at Pop Eats!, Pork Belly Pastor at Mexico's El Artista Hambriento, Sushi Donuts at Japan's Goshiki, Blue Corn Pupusa at Vibrante & Vívido Food Studio between Morocco and France, and Panna Cotta in Canada's Masterpiece Kitchen.
First and foremost, Festival of the Arts celebrates our artists. Every year we have such a good time roaming the exhibits, chatting with the artists themselves, and perhaps even picking a piece to add to our own collection at home. You'll find a wide ranges of styles and price points throughout the park – hopefully enough so that you'll find yourself able to bring a special piece of the Festival home with you, too.
Also absolutely do not miss the incredible chalk art on the ground as you walk down the center path from Future World to World Showcase. If ever there was beauty in impermanence…..just knowing that these will be washed away with the next winter rain is incredible.
In Future World West, you'll also find “Drawing on Inspiration” – depictions of classic Epcot attractions illustrated by two Disney Imagineers with unique points of view.
New in the United Kingdom pavilion is Characters Off the Page – where you can stroll through an idyllic English courtyard while admiring portraits of some of your favorite Disney characters from around the world.
The Interactive Experiences
Expression Section: A Paint-by-Number Mural is back!! So glad to find that this guest favorite is back in some form. You'll find it near The Land pavilion with stanchions to ensure that participants stay socially distanced. Watch throughout the day, from park opening to 5pm, so watch each mural take shape – or grab a brush and join in the fun!! This is always a favorite for my kids.
One of my favorite developments this year is the use of the America Gardens Theater for the Animation Academy!! Daily at 12:30 and 1:30 you can grab a clipboard and pencil and learn to draw a Disney character from an animation artist.
Figment's Brush with the Masters scavenger hunt is back and a GREAT way to involve your kids as you roam World Showcase. You can purchase the map at many shops throughout the park, and redeem your prize for completion there as well!!
Also great for the kids in World Showcase is Chalk Full of Character – hidden character art hidden throughout the park and just waiting to be discovered!!
Voices of Liberty – The Disney Songbook – is another great use of the America Gardens Theater this year!! We're all valuing Disney's performers more than ever right now and the chance to hear the Voices of Liberty perform some of our favorite Disney songs is pretty great.
Also in the America Gardens Theater this season is Mariachi Cobre!!! They'll be there daily performing their beloved traditional folk music.
The World Showplace Events Pavilion between Canada and the UK is also being put to good use yet again. In addition to food and festival merchandise inside, you'll also find performances by Art Defying Gravity, the EPCOT Pianist, and Visual Art in Performance – where a visiting artist with paint a colorful Disney character before your eyes.
And last but not least, our favorite guys, the JAMMitors, will be drumming and entertaining us every day on the Canada Mill Stage.
The Photo Ops
(Unmasked photo of course from a prior year….)
One of the classic bits of fun every year at FOTA are the Artful Photo Ops. These large art installations allow you to step right in and grab a picture of yourself in some of histories most famous paintings.
Also be sure to ask your PhotoPass photographer for a little magic….as you never know what might show up in your pictures!!
And finally…what would a Festival be without some great merchandise?? You'll find the merchandise throughout the park – in shops and tents, as well as toward the park of World Showplace! As usual, our favorite purple dragon is the Festival's mascot and widely featured on all of the goods.
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If you’re planning a trip to Disney and want a fun way to rock a mask, check out my designs at TeePublic right HERE!! If you cannot or choose not to visit now and are looking for a way to bring the magic home, I’d love for you to check out my Core Memory Candle collection right HERE. And as always, stay safe and be kind, my friends.