The Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts kicked off yesterday, and, just in case you’ll be in Walt Disney World for the festival, or you’d like a look at things if you’re not able to attend in person, I thought I’d hit a few do’s and don’ts to help you as you plan. Ready? Lace up your sneakers ’cause we have some walking to do!
DO grab a Festival Passport and skim through it. Paper Festival Passports made a return during the Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, and I’m so glad that they’re along for the ride for this festival as well. The Festival Passport is your guide to knowing where each Food Studio can be found, as well as where to find fun festival activities. Take a few minutes and grab a passport from one of the food studios and plan things out so that you can maximize your time in the park and hit as many of the stops that you’d like to. It’s never fun to get to the end of a park day and realize you’ve missed something big.
The back page of your passport will also be the spot where you’ll gather stamps from cast members if you’re completing the Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine. The Walk requires you to purchase 5 colorful food items from around the World Showcase. Once you’ve gathered the stamps that you need, you can show your completed page to a cast member at the Decadent Delights Food Studio and receive a surprise culinary treat.
DON’T miss the opportunity to meet an artist. One of the elements that differentiates the Festival of the Arts from the others is, well, the art. And not only are there tents filled to the brim with amazing artwork scattered throughout Future World and World Showcase, many of the talented people who’ve made the art are there as well. If you attend the festival, I highly suggest that you take time to peruse the offerings. You never know; you could fall in love with a piece and have the opportunity to have the artist who created your new favorite thing sign it. I had the chance to meet Jerrod Maruyama at the festival in 2018 and thank him for the joy that his work has brought to so many. And he signed my little Ratatouille print that now hangs in my kitchen. I completely fangirled when I met him, but it’s an opportunity that I’m so glad that I had.
DO try something new. I know, I know. We all have our favorite items that we need to eat every year at the festival or in the park. I get it; I have them, too. But I would recommend that, in between savoring your favorite festival treats, you try a little something new. Disney’s doing a great job at balancing fan favorites and new offerings. I tried something completely out of my comfort zone at this year’s new Food Studio, Vibrante and Vivido, and I was so proud of myself! If you haven’t watched the Disney Dining Show that we filmed at this year’s festival, be sure to click here to check it out. You just never know what your new favorite food item might be!
DON’T forget to make (or enjoy) a little art. Guests at the festival have little opportunities of their very own to flex their creative muscles. Expression Section: A Paint-by-Number mural (which is located in Future World West this year) gives guests a sponge brush and acrylic paint and the chance to lend a hand at creating a gigantic mural. The Animation Academy (located this year in the America Gardens Theatre) is led by a Disney sketch artist who shows guests how to draw a beloved Disney character. There’s something for everyone.
If you’d rather enjoy the artistic work and discoveries of others, there’s a new Drawing on Inspiration display this year that highlights the work of two Imagineers, Morgan Lee Richardson and Jimmy Pickering, and the inspiration that they drew from classic EPCOT attractions. Chalk Art galleries, as well as performing arts exhibitions, take place throughout the park each day.
DO consider buying the (not so) lousy t-shirt. We’ve all seen the classic t-shirts that declare “So and so went to (fill in the blank with a popular place) and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.” Well, there are plenty of not-so-lousy shirts and merchandise items at the festival this year. My favorite of the Disney-branded merch items is the yellow Passholder t-shirt. It features an utterly adorable, stylized Figment (he can be found throughout the festival’s merchandise offerings), and the shirt also bears an embroidered 5th anniversary patch on the bottom right corner. And, to my great delight, Figment is painting Dreamfinder popping up out of a faux pocket on the front of the shirt. We hardly ever see Dreamfinder on Disney merch! Be still my heart.
A favorite non-Disney merchandise item was found at a kiosk near the Refreshment Outpost. The Jortra kiosk features jewelry made from natural items, and the small artist palette earrings ($19.99) were crafted just for the festival. The team member that I spoke with said it was tough to choose just what paint colors to highlight on the earrings, but I think that what they came up with is just perfect.
Of course, what would a Disney festival be without a spirit jersey? This year’s edition features that same stylized Figment and his bucket of paint.
DON’T forget to have a little fun. While this year’s festival is different from those of previous years, it still provides ample opportunity for good, old-fashioned EPCOT fun. Snap a pic in front of a set of beautiful butterfly wings, Figment horns and wings (gasp!), or an artistic photo op, and enjoy. And, together, we’ll all look forward to the future return of Festival of the Arts favorites like the Disney on Broadway performers and art-centric seminars and workshops.
What are your Festival of the Arts favorites?