12 Creative Must-Dos for the Epcot Festival of the Arts
I don’t know about you, but I find the start of a new year exhilarating. Sure, all the resolution-making can be stressful, what with the pressure to eat better or work out more. However, during this annual tradition of ‘new year, new me,’ it can also the perfect time to get creative, try out a new hobby and learn something new.
And there’s no better place to do that at Walt Disney World than at the Epcot Festival of the Arts. Held each year from mid-January through mid-February, this oversaturated celebration of the senses is sure to leave you inspired to pick up a paintbrush, sharpen your singing skills, perfect your food plating or, at the very least, open your wallet for that special souvenir or something tasty to eat or drink.
Ready to create your own masterpiece-worthy Disney World vacation? Grab your sketchbook and a pencil, and read on, as we explore the best that the Epcot International Festival of the Arts has to offer.
12 Epcot Festival of the Arts Activities You Won’t Want to Miss
This year, the Epcot International Festival of the Arts runs from January 13 through February 20, 2023, with over five weeks of performances, activities, exhibits and food studios dedicated to the performing, visual and culinary arts. Making its debut back in January 2017, the Festival of the Arts is the newest of the park’s seasonal festivals.
However, don’t think that its relative novelty means the Epcot Festival of the Arts isn’t worth a visit. Quite the opposite, in fact! Maybe it’s the choir girl in me or all those art history classes I took in college, but Disney’s most colorful festival soon climbed the ranks to compete for my favorite Epcot festival.
Though one of the shorter festivals at Epcot, this artsy special event is small but mighty, featuring everything from hands-on arts & crafts and tantalizing food booths to arguably one of the best Epcot festival entertainment line-ups, the Disney on Broadway Concert Series. In short, it’s a delight.
But, just what should you do while you’re there? Consider your day at the festival a blank canvas and express yourself! Here are some ideas for your Disney Festival of the Arts mood board.
To Be Inspired
Searching for a new artistic outlet? Or perhaps you’re looking for inspiration for your next big project, performance or dish. Whether it’s music that moves you, you have a passion for painting or food is your muse, you’re sure to find something at Epcot Festival of the Arts 2023 to get your creative juices flowing.
1. Take in a Show-Stopping Performance of the Disney on Broadway Concert Series
My musical theater-loving heart might be a bit biased, but I can’t get enough of the Disney on Broadway Concert Series. Seriously, I’d go every single day if I could. Featuring a talented line-up of Broadway stars belting out electrifying performances of some of your favorite Disney on Broadway showtunes, this is one Festival of the Arts entertainment offering you definitely won’t want to miss.
Performers are paired up with the star of another Disney on Broadway production, with duos rotating throughout the season. So, you can typically expect a setlist of songs from each performer’s headlining shows with perhaps a smattering of other random tunes. In other words, if your dream is to sing along to a rousing rendition of “Seize the Day,” your best bet is to plan your visit for the first week of the festival when Kara Lindsay, one of the stars of Newsies, is performing.
Best of all, unlike during the Epcot Festival of the Arts’ early years, the Disney on Broadway Concert Series is offered three times every day of the festival, from January 13 through February 20, 2023 at 5:30 PM, 6:45 PM and 8:00 PM. Keep in mind that due to the popularity of the concert series, you may need to wait in line prior to the show if you want a good seat.
For those who happen to visit on the last day of the festival, you’re especially in for a treat, when Kissy Simmons, Central Florida native Michael James Scott and actual besties Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland join forces for a truly epic extended finale. The playful chemistry between Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland is charming; everyone’s vocals are incredible. The entire thing is a joy to behold. (Ok, I’ll stop gushing. Just trust me and go.)
Disney on Broadway Concert Series 2023 Schedule
Kara Lindsay (Newsies) and Kevin Massey (Tarzan)
January 15 through 16
January 19 through 20
Arielle Jacobs (Aladdin) and Adam Jacobs (Aladdin)
January 17 through 18
January 21 through 22
Patti Murin (Frozen) and Robert Creighton (The Little Mermaid)
January 25 through 26
January 29 through 30
February 2 through 3
Mandy Gonzalez (Aida) and L. Steven Taylor (The Lion King)
January 27 through 28
January 31 through February 1
February 4 through 5
Ashley Brown (Mary Poppins) and Michael James Scott (Aladdin)
February 8 through 9
February 12 through 13
February 16 through 17
Kissy Simmons (The Lion King) and Josh Strickland (Tarzan)
February 10 through 11
February 14 through 15
February 18 through 19
Ashley Brown, Michael James Scott, Kissy Simmons and Josh Strickland
February 20 (extended finale)
2. See Artistry in Motion
These next acts of artistry are sure to take your breath away. For a mesmerizing presentation that will probably have you asking, “how do they do that?”, don’t miss Visual Art in Performance. Held Thursday to Sunday, as well as select Mondays, during the festival at World Showcase Plaza, watch in amazement as a painter creates a Disney character within minutes in front of your eyes.
And, believe it or not, you don’t need a paintbrush or a camera to make art. As Art Defying Gravity proves, you can also use your body. See impressive feats of strength, agility and acrobatics during live performances on Saturday through Wednesday at World Showcase Plaza.
3. Admire Chalk-Art Masterpieces
As anyone who has ever watched Mary Poppins can attest, chalk art is magical. There’s just something enchanting about a piece of art that only lasts as long as the next rain shower—which, as this is Central Florida, typically isn’t very long. These sidewalk galleries are nestled along the World Showcase Plaza bridge. Not just fun spots for a selfie, you can even watch the chalk artists bring their masterpieces to life.
4. Savor a Vibrant Palette of Flavors
Whether the Festival of the Holidays or the Flower & Garden Festival, Epcot festivals are famed for their themed food booths. Happily, Epcot Festival of the Arts 2022 is no exception. After all, they call it the culinary “arts” for a reason! Putting different flavors together, choosing the right mix of cooking techniques and ingredients and making everything look as good as it tastes is definitely an artform.
While the food served up at any Epcot festival is worth a bite and a quick photo for the ‘gram, the Epcot International Festival of the Arts is when Disney World’s culinary team really gets to show off. Food studios cook up a tempting array of dishes and drinks inspired by art movements and gastronomic traditions from around the world.
It’s said that you eat with your eyes first. If that’s the case, then this tasty tour of technicolor eats is sure to leave you satisfied before you’ve even reached the delicious conclusion. The food plating at the Disney Festival of the Arts is huge part of the appeal, making each food studio a veritable feast for the senses.
Naturally, the best way to experience it is to try a little bit of everything. The Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine allows foodies and art lovers alike to embark on an edible gallery tour. Just try five of the seven vibrant dishes on the list (don’t forget to collect your stamps!). Then, once you’ve completed your tasty, technicolor trek, claim your complimentary reward at the Deco Delights Food Studio.
Here’s everything you can choose from:
Gourmet Landscapes – Red Stamp
Blood Orange-Braised Beet Tartare with Mustard Vinaigrette, Pickled Clamshell Mushrooms and Golden Beets
Moderne (New!) – Orange Stamp
Pan-Seared Scallops with Vanilla-Butternut Squash Purée, Brown Butter Cauliflower Purée and Lime Foam
Vibrante & Vivido: Encanto Cocina – Yellow Stamp
Chorizo and Potato Empanada with Turmeric Aïoli and Annatto Aïoli
The Deconstructed Dish – Green Stamp
Deconstructed Key Lime Pie: Flexible Key Lime Curd, “Key Lime” Mousse, Graham Cracker Cake and Meringues
Deco Delights – Blue Stamp
Orange Mousse with Lemon Cake and Raspberry Meringues
Pop Eats – Indigo Stamp
Almond Frangipane Cake layered with Raspberry Jam and Belgian Chocolate
Figment’s Inspiration Station at the Odyssey: Art, Food and Little Sparks of Magic (New!) – Violet Stamp
Pop’t Art: Sugar Cookie with Blueberry Filling
5. Browse Inspiring Art Galleries
No art festival is complete without some artwork to admire. Fortunately, you’ll find many art galleries sprinkled around World Showcase and the rest of Epcot like pixie dust. Featuring a variety of styles, mediums and subject matters, you’re bound to find something that speaks to you.
They might just inspire you to create your own masterpiece—or, at the very least, open your wallet so you can take one back home with you. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to get your purchase signed by the artist (more on that in #7).
6. Go on a Creative Quest With Figment
Whether looking for Hidden Mickeys or tracking down a forestful of yuletide pines during the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll, I love a good Disney World scavenger hunt. For the Epcot Festival of the Arts, everyone’s favorite purple dragon plays hide & seek in artwork located around World Showcase, and it’s your job to find him.
To get started on Figment’s Brush with the Masters, pick up a map and stickers ($9.99 plus tax) at either Creations Shop, Port of Entry or World Traveler. Then, as you explore the World Showcase pavilions, place the appropriate stickers next to the corresponding spot on the map. Once you’re done, go to Disney Traders or World Traveler to claim your prize.
7. Meet the Artists and Have Your Own Brush With the Masters
Is there a particular piece that catches your eye while wandering the art galleries? You might be able to meet the person who created it. Whether you’re interested in their stylistic choices, their life as an artist or simply getting them to sign the back of your art, these masterful meet-and-greets are what make the Epcot Festival of the Arts so unique and keep guests like me going back again and again.
To Unleash Your Inner Artist
Ready to get hands-on? No matter if you’re an aspiring animator or someone who’s drawing skills amount to artfully drawn stick figures, there’s something for you at the Epcot Festival of the Arts. (I recommend #9, the Animation Academy.) Get your hands dirty—figuratively and possibly literally, too—with one of these fun, interactive activities.
8. Make Your Mark on a Massive Paint-by-Numbers Mural
I was one of those kids who loved arts & crafts and one of my favorite projects was always the classic paint-by-numbers kit—I loved seeing the different colors bring the picture to life in slow motion. This is the same concept on a massive, collaborative scale. Picture a giant, crowdsourced mural made up of pixel-like blocks of color, and it’s your job to paint in a few of the squares.
To get started, simply go to the Expression Section booth between 11:00 AM and 5:00 PM daily and collect your assigned paint color, which is also labeled with a number, as well as a brush. There, you’ll also be given the number of squares you can paint in. (Remember, as much fun as it is, everyone wants to have a chance to contribute.) Be sure to walk by later in the day to see how to the mural has progressed.
9. Learn How to Draw Like a Disney Animator
Have you always considered yourself a lackluster drawer at best? I know I have! Then the Animation Academy is for you. Sharpen your drawing skills and learn how to draw a beloved Disney character during a step-by-step art lesson led by a Disney animator. Artists of all skill levels are welcome—as long as you can draw a circle and a line, you can draw like a Disney animation artist. Sessions are offered from 12:30 PM to 1:00 PM daily at America Gardens Theatre and are completely free to participate in. Academy instructors include:
10. Let Your Aspiring Artist Channel Van Gogh During Kids Chalk Art
Does your little one like to draw on the walls, your paperwork or basically anything else they shouldn’t be drawing on? Channel their creative energy in a positive direction at Kids Chalk Art. Located on the bridge to World Showcase Plaza between 11:00 AM and 5:00 PM daily, this hands-on activity allows kids to share their burgeoning drawing skills for all to see.
11. Step Into the Canvas for an Artsy Photo Op
Along with parades, attractions, fireworks and food (lots of food), one of my favorite things to do at Walt Disney World is take pictures. There are just so many fun backgrounds, props and character meet-and-greets to take advantage of! (Just do a quick hashtag search on Instagram for #purplewall and you’ll see what I mean.) The Epcot Festival of the Arts takes that idea and plusses it in the most artistic way possible: With step-in frames of some of history’s most famous works.
These interactive backdrops allow you to become part of masterpieces like Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Emanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware and Vincent Van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night, making for an especially whimsical photo. Disney PhotoPass photographers may be available to take your picture. Even if you don’t plan on buying a print, be sure to hand them your cellphone to snap a shot so everyone in your group can take part in the fun.
12. Go Shopping and Make Your Wallet Your Paintbrush
You can’t go to Walt Disney World without buying something to remember your visit by. Luckily, there is no shortage of souvenir options at the Epcot Festival of the Arts. From shirts and pins to all sorts of art, there’s something to suit every budget and interest.
Well, artists, that brings our visit to the Epcot Festival of the Arts to a close. What are your favorite things to do at the Epcot art festival? Let us know in the comments! Then, learn how to stretch your budget and save for your next vacation with our Disney World discount tickets.