The Epcot International Festival of the Arts at Walt Disney World Resort is now open! Epcot’s annual global celebration of visual, culinary and performing arts will continue for 39 days through February 24, 2020. The event features visiting artists, an array of foodie delights, and opportunities for guests to embrace their own inner artists. We were invited by Walt Disney World to get a preview of everything the festival has to offer. Catch all the details below.
1 – Disney on Broadway Concert Series Returns with New Performers
The popular Disney on Broadway Concert Series returns to America Gardens Theatre with three daily performances headlined by Broadway stars who reprise favorite songs from past performances in award-winning shows. This year’s talent-rich lineup includes:
- 17, 20, 21 and 24 – Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White (“The Lion King”)
- 18, 19, 22 and 23 – Heidi Blickenstaff (“The Little Mermaid”) and Gavin Lee (“Mary Poppins”)
- 25 – Special performance featuring Simmons, White, Blickenstaff, and Lee
- 26, 28, 29; Feb. 1, 2, 5 and 6 – Kara Lindsay (“Newsies”) and Kevin Massey (“Tarzan”)
- 27, 30, 31, Feb. 3, 4, 7 and 8 – Liana Hunt (“Newsies”) and Adam Jacobs (“Aladdin”)
- 9 – Special performance featuring Lindsay, Massey, Hunt, and Jacobs
- 10, 12, 13, 18, 19, 22 and 23 – Ashley Brown (“Mary Poppins”) and Josh Strickland (“Tarzan”)
- 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20 and 21 – Syndee Winters (“The Lion King”) and Michael James Scott (“Aladdin”)
- 24 – Special performance featuring Brown, Strickland, Winters, and Scott
All shows are included with theme park admission. The best way to experience a performance is by reserving a Disney on Broadway Dining Package, which guarantees seating for one show on the day of the dining experience. Packages at participating Epcot restaurants are now booking; guests can visit ArtfulEpcot.com or call (407) WDW-FEST to make a reservation.
2 – Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White
During the preview, I had a chance to speak with Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White, both of whom performed in Disney’s The Lion King on Broadway, as Nala and Mufasa. White is Broadway’s longest-running King Mufasa with over 4,000 performances! Both Simmons and White were a part of the original tour company of Disney’s The Lion King. They both expressed how blessed they were to have been chosen to bring this powerful show to places around the country. “It was exciting, it was thrilling, it was great to introduce this to the country, because the show is so much about family and togetherness,” White shared.
Simmons shared how it feels to bring their Broadway music to Epcot. She said, “It feels so good. We are exposing the music to children and adults, anyone who may have never gone to see a Broadway show in New York or Broadway show that is touring around. They get to come to Epcot, and they get to see what it’s actually about, to hear the music, and it’s inspiring.” White also expressed how he loves the idea of inspiring kids to learn more about musical theater. He said, “It’s a great introduction to something that is already within them, that maybe we’re helping them to discover just by bringing the arts to them.”
You can watch Simmons and White perform on January 17, 20, 21 and 24!
3 – Food Studios Serve Up the Culinary Arts
Twelve festival Food Studios plus additional food and beverage locations will take culinary arts to the next level with scrumptious, imaginative dishes – artistically sculpted and ready for camera closeups. New this year is the Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine featuring a culinary reward – guests who collect a stamp in their festival passports for each menu item purchased along the Wonderful Walk will fill their “palette” and receive a delicious technicolor treat.
The Food Studios are an edible wonderland of dishes and beverages, from the Deconstructed Reuben and Rainboba drink at The Deconstructed Dish Food Studio, to the Wild Mushroom Risotto and Classic Sidecar with a Chocolate Twist at The Masterpiece Kitchen at the Canada pavilion. The Decadent Delights Food Studio features the sweetest takes on culinary art like the Lemon Blood-Orange Tart and the White Chocolate Figment Puzzle on an Artist Palette. Guests will discover new twists on festival favorites, as well as a broad selection of libations from craft brewers and global wineries.
Also new for the 2020 festival, guests can book a Saturday or Sunday Le Cellier Brunch, a leisurely prix fixe bounty in the Canada pavilion.
We had a chance to speak with Chef Kevin, Festival Chef, and Chelsea Florig, Project Manager, Epcot F&B, who walked us through some of the different food and beverage options available this year at the festival.
4 – Fun Interactive Photo Ops
Visual art surrounds festival guests, who can immerse themselves in a brand-new Artful Photo Op featuring two Vincent Van Gogh paintings: Café Terrace at Night and Sunflowers. Other photo-ops include:
- Mexico Pavilion – An homage to Frida Kahlo
- Italy Pavilion – Mona Lisa – Leonardo da Vinci and The Scream – Edvard Munch
- American Adventure Pavilion – Washington Crossing the Delaware – Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze
- France Pavilion – Luncheon of the Boating Party – Pierre-Auguste Renoir
- United Kingdom Pavilion – Peter Pan Storybook
Disney PhotoPass photographers will be available to capture the moments, or you can use your own camera.
5 – Family Fun
Family fun will be in full swing every festival day:
- Join Figment’s Brush with the Masters, a scavenger hunt where the friendly dragon has painted himself into famous pieces of art in each World Showcase pavilion.
- Explore the Green Landing Family Play Zone where Wall-E and Eve invite the entire family to enjoy a lush, green environment built for exploring.
- Jump into photo-ops located throughout Epcot, such as the Peter Pan Storybook installation by the United Kingdom pavilion, where guests can flap their fins in Mermaid Lagoon or get their pirate on at Skull Rock.
- Get creative with friends, family, and other guests at the interactive Expression Section: A Paint-by-Number wall mural in Future World.
- Let the kids pick their palette and express themselves at Kidcot Fun Stops reimagined just for the Epcot International Festival of the Arts.
- Over in Future World West, Kids can create their very own chalk masterpiece from 10 am-4:00 pm.
6 – Entertainment and Performing Arts
There is plenty of entertainment and performing arts for you to enjoy. We had a chance to speak with Disney cast member, Marsha Jackson-Randolph, Show Director with Disney Parks Live Entertainment, and she shared her favorites and must-dos while visiting the festival. Learn more in the video below.
Here is a list of some of the different performances you can check out during the festival. Check your festival passport or Times Guide for showtimes and locations.
- Dominic Gaudious (guitarist and didgeridoo performer)
- Victor Espinoza (concert artist and Paraguayan harpist)
- Art Defying Gravity (the spectacle of thrilling acts of strength)
- Disney Performing Arts Showcases (top high school bands perform jazz and pop music)
- Epcot Living Statues (statues come to life right before your eyes)
- Visual Art in Performance (visual artist paints favorite Disney characters in minutes; Fridays-Mondays)
7 – Chalk Drawings
While touring, be on the lookout for chalk artists that create multi-dimensional sidewalk masterpieces. Charming chalk drawings of Disney characters—from Abu to Jiminy Cricket—are waiting to be discovered in tucked-away corners throughout World Showcase.
8 – Animation Academy
Experience the magic of Disney animation at this fun and informative drawing class taught by actual Disney artists daily at 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm in America Garden Theatre.
9 – Festival Merchandise
No Epcot festival would be complete without exclusive festival merchandise! This year the “Figment Color Co.” collection features Figment with lots of pink and purple. There are a variety of items in the collection and can be purchased throughout Epcot. Click here to see photos of some of the merchandise available.
10 – Interactive Glass Art at Glaskunst by Arribas Brothers
There are a few interactive art opportunities available for extra fees. Over in the Germany pavilion, you’ll find Glaskunst by Arribas Brothers. In this very unique experience, you can tap into your creativity by designing your own decorative fused glass souvenir. Purchase a project, and then choose from a variety of glass pieces to customize your work of art. Your art will be bonded together by a process called “glass fusing,” where different pieces of compatible glass are bonded together by heat and gravity to form interesting patterns and textures. The project cost varies depending on which kind of art you choose but start at $25. They offer pendants, frames, dishes and more. The price includes them shipping your piece of art back to your home. Check out the photo gallery below for the different kinds of glass art you can create!
11 – Handimals
Another interactive art opportunity is the Handimals presented by Kaman’s Art Shoppes. It’s a whole lot of fun for all ages. The artists work with you to create an illustration around your handprint. You get to choose which animal you would like. They will place paint on your hand, and then they will draw the animal around it. One handprint is $25; however, they do have an option for families where you can have as many handprints as you wish for $99. Check out the photos below. It was a lot of fun, and I have a fantastic keepsake!
12 – Spin Art Experience
Another fun interactive experience is the Spin Art Experience. This hands-on experience allows you to create a one-of-a-kind piece of art. Patterns are created on a spinning canvas with four colors of your choosing. With the guidance of an artist, you’ll apply paint drops into a spinning drum. Within a few short minutes, your creation is complete! You can also choose to create the spinning by pedaling a bicycle, which looked a lot of fun. This option works great when you have a least two people in your party—one can peddle, and the other can drop the paint! The Spin Art experience costs $19 for the canvas or $25 for the canvas and an 8×10 frame.
13 – Creative Workshops
I had a chance to observe the Ink & Paint Animation workshop presented by Lynn Rippberger, Disney Animation Ink and Paint Artist on Saturday’s at 10:00 am. In this workshop, you’ll learn about the history of 2D Cel Animation and paint your very own Ink & Paint Cel with one of Disney’s Ink & Paint artists!
Each week, you’ll paint a different Disney character:
- Saturday, January 18, 2020 – Mickey Mouse
- Saturday, January 25, 2020 – Minnie Mouse
- Saturday, February 1, 2020 – Donald Duck
- Saturday, February 8, 2020 – Pluto
- Saturday, February 15, 2020 – Goofy
- Saturday, February 22, 2020 – Mickey Mouse
To book an interactive workshop featuring Ink & Paint Animation, or the other workshops: 3D Paper Crafting, Gesture Drawing Basics, Animation 101 or Doodling (additional fee) that take place Saturdays and Sundays at 10 am in World Showplace, call 407-WDW-FEST or visit Guest Relations in the park. For more information about the workshops, click here.
14 – Premium Experiences
Premium festival experiences include Paint with a Disney Artist and the World Showcase: Destinations Discovered guided tour are available to guests for a fee. To book one of these experiences, guests can call (407) WDW-TOUR or sign up for openings still available the day of their festival visit. Visit ArtfulEpcot.com for details.
15 – New Films Debut During the Festival of the Arts
Several new on-screen experiences open the same day as the festival, January 17:
“Awesome Planet” – This new 10-minute film in The Land pavilion offers a breathtaking look at Earth’s beauty and diversity through spectacular imagery, in-theater effects, and an original score from Academy Award-winning® composer Steven Price.
“Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along” – Directed by Don Hahn, who produced the animated and live-action “Beauty and the Beast” films, this magical experience at the France pavilion invites guests to embrace a twist on a “tale as old as time.” Angela Lansbury, who played Mrs. Potts in the original film, narrates the new sing-along that runs in rotation with “Impressions de France,” just upgraded to 4K projection. We got a sneak peek of the new movie, and it is a whole lot of fun! The “twist” is hilarious and adds so much to the story! You’ll definitely want to stop by the France pavilion to catch this new movie.
“Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360” – Canada pavilion’s original “O Canada!” is refreshed with dazzling new scenes, a new musical score by Canadian composer Andrew Lockington and insightful narration by award-winning actors Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy. We also had the chance to watch the new movie in Canada. We were huge, “O Canada,” fans with Martin Short, so I had high expectations. I loved the new film. It still has some familiar scenes but has many new scenes that are breathtaking. Be sure to stop by the Canada pavilion for this new movie!
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