Epcot's new Festival of the Arts is a feast for the eyes, ears and tastebuds
Epcot's new winter festival is heavy on color and creation.
The International Festival of the Arts combines three things guests love most about theme park festivals for six weekends of international cuisine, Disney-inspired art and Broadway performances.
The new festival is plopped right in the middle of the slower season. The time between the holidays and spring break typically sees lighter crowds and milder weather, which is perfect for a festival that will increase your eating and drinking around Epcot's World Showcase.
The Festival of Arts started last weekend, and though the weather was a bit dreary, its first day was filled with people in art seminars, listening to singers in the rain and munching on culinary treats almost too pretty to eat.
Chelsea Tatham | Times
The food: We know it's what you're really here for.
These plates and handhelds are all about show and are even tastier than they look. The charcuterie palette is a Pinterest dream, the deconstructed purple sweet potato pie looks like a decadent science experiment and the classic reuben is anything but ordinary and defies the laws of physics.
We recommend the trio of savory croissant doughnuts found at The Painter's Palate pop-up. Each of the bite-sized doughnuts are stuffed with savory cream cheese, chicken or tuna mousse and topped with sea salt or everything bagel seasoning. We didn't have much faith in a doughnut that wasn't covered in frosting, but this trio made us believers.
Keep the indulgence going with a mushroom risotto from The Masterpiece Kitchen in Canada. Mushrooms, risotto, truffle oil, parmesan cheese and Zinfandel reduction. What's not to love? Wash it all down with a classic sidecar with a chocolate twist (cognac, orange liqueur and lemon garnished with white chocolate) or a deconstructed breakfast cocktail (Twining's Apple Chai Tea Shake, cream bourbon, waffle crisp and candied bacon).
Sticking to the art theme, guests can also play with their food before they eat it. Munch on white chocolate puzzle pieces served on a painter's palette with frosting paint, chocolate candies and sprinkles to create an edible masterpiece.
The art: There are a slew of seminars included with admission that explore various artistic topics, as well as interactive workshops that cost a little extra. You can get hands on learning in drawing, watercolor painting, calligraphy and floral arrangements starting at $39-$69 for adults and $23-$41 for children.
Chelsea Tatham | Times
If you're more hands off when it comes to art, there are galleries around the park showcasing international artists' work and Disney historical artists like Mary Blair and Herb Ryman. There's a pop-up gallery of art on almost every corner in the World Showcase area of Epcot, and many have the creators hanging out, taking questions and doing live demonstrations.
Disney artist Tim Rogerson was painting in his pop-up gallery this weekend and told fans that when he started at Disney part of his training was drawing circles for hours to perfect Mickey Mouse's look.
The performers: Disney Theatrical partnered with Walt Disney World to bring a star-studded slate of Broadway talent to Epcot. This weekend, Jan. 20-23, Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland are back to perform songs from Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, Mary Poppins and The Little Mermaid.
Jan. 27-30 and Feb. 3-6 has Kerry Butler and Kevin Massey singing numbers from Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, Newsies and Aladdin.
And Feb.10-13 and 17-20 sees Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White performing songs from The Lion King, Aida, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid.
They all perform three times a day at the America Gardens Theatre.
The International Festival of the Arts runs Fridays through Mondays Jan. 13 through Feb. 20. Included with Epcot admission, $97-$114; $91-$108 ages 3-9 (price based on season). 1515 N Buena Vista Drive, Orlando. Disney.com.
Contact Chelsea Tatham at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @chelseatatham.