I’ll let you in on a little secret. Out of all the festivals that Epcot offers, my absolute favorite is Festival of the Arts. Yes, the food at Food and Wine is yummy, the holidays are festive, and Flower and Garden is beautiful, but the folks in charge of Festival of the Arts really hit it out of the park last year and this year looks equally as amazing. With cold weather coming to Florida in wave after wave (and when I say cold, I’m not talking Florida cold–I’m talking 30s tonight), my family decided to squeeze in a quick trip this week, just to see the tip of the festival iceberg.
When we arrived at Epcot on Monday (albeit a holiday Monday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day), crowds were brisk. I’m guessing many people had a similar idea. The secret is out about this festival.
Truth told, we were also looking for Pokémon on that day, and one showing up on sightings was over near the old Universe of Energy pavilion. That was a very lucky thing for us, because we might have missed the amazing chalk art over in that area. The 3-D chalk art always amazes me.
Chalk art has a great Disney legacy with its role in Mary Poppins. It is a lot of fun to watch these skilled artists making the art right in front of you, and so fascinating knowing that one rainstorm would wash these works of art away.
In that same area, they had a setup for kids to add their own chalk art. Our daughter decided to add Baymax to the sidewalk. When I was her age, I would have loved to have drawn in chalk all over Epcot.
In addition to showcasing beautiful art, the Festival of the Arts has a goal to educate. Perhaps that’s why I love this festival so much. It fits with the classic spirit of Epcot to educate and entertain.
Speaking of entertainment, a variety of arts are represented during the festival. As we walked over to the festival center, we caught the end of a performance from one of the youth Disney Performing Arts bands.
In the festival center (located in the old Odyssey Restaurant building), there’s plenty to experience. You have a variety of foods, artistically presented. There’s shopping for festival swag. There’s an exhibit of Disney attraction poster art. And best of all, there’s classes that you can watch or, if you sign up early, participate in. The class that was going on when we arrived was on animation techniques.
While I listened to the lecture, I spent some time looking at the attraction posters from around the world. Here’s the ones for Dumbo…
And Pirates of the Caribbean…
And the different versions of the Haunted Mansion (and Phantom Manor and Mystic Manor).
One part of Festival of the Arts that our daughter was looking forward to was the Panda Rice Cake food offering at the booth in China. Because it was getting on towards lunchtime, we headed over to grab a quick snack. Even though it was pricey (almost $10), we also bought one of the Crystal Moon Cakes. The Panda Rice Cake tasted slightly sweet, but otherwise very plain (with the barest hint of coconut flavor as advertised). For the Crystal Moon Cake, it had the texture of mocha with a citrus filling. Very tasty, but not something we’d splurge on again.
After we finished our snacks, we headed over to the Outpost (the area between China and Germany) for a few minutes to let our daughter play on the drums. When we got there, we found that they’ve changed the space. They’ve got some drums still, but they’ve added other percussion instruments, including COWBELL! I’m hoping that this stays beyond Festival of the Arts, because it was a lot of fun for the kids.
On our way out, we noticed one of the Festival of the Arts passport stations. Unlike previous festivals with stamps or stickers, this year they’re making the experience more interactive–to “stamp” your passport, you can do a rubbing on the page.
And with that, we headed on out for the day. There’s so much to see at Festival of the Arts, and we barely scratched the surface. I know we’ll be back several times more during this festival–once it gets a little bit warmer, anyhow!
One note for long-time readers of the Best Week Ever series. Around this time last year, I shared pictures of my grandmother on a hospice trip to visit our family here in Florida and part of a day at Animal Kingdom Lodge as part of a Best Week Ever article. This past Monday, far beyond the expectations of hospice and a tribute to her strength and stubbornness, I got the phone call that my grandmother had passed away in her sleep on January 15, 2018 at the age of 92. This Best Week Ever is dedicated to her, a person who embodied the idea that every week, even up until your last, can truly be a Best Week Ever.