Epcot's Festival of the Arts - Overall Review
I have been a musician since I was 6 years old. I have tried all different types of art throughout my life; visual art, dancing, acting. I even minored in Music in college. When I heard that Epcot was going to have a 6 week festival dedicated to all of these things that I love, you know I was going to be there!
I was lucky enough to visit on three separate weekends, seeing all three Broadway Series Shows. I will talk more about these in a few minutes, but first, let me break down each of the arts I was able to experience and my thoughts on them.
Visual aspects - Similar to Flower and Garden, there were artist galleries in tents scattered all around World Showcase. Each usually featured a different artist. While I was glad to see more of them during this festival, I believe the spaces should have been a bit larger so that everyone could enjoy them. (Also, a better location for a couple, like not in that walkway between Japan and Morocco, everyone knows that it is WAY too tight there!!) They also had different areas where Chalk Art was being done. Some of these pieces were absolutely beautiful! I will make a slideshow of them at the end of the post.
One exhibit that was very well done was the Mary Blair exhibit inside the Odyssey building, used as the Festival Center for this festival. They had lots of her art framed beautifully from her time working in South America and there was a little shop at the end. The Living Statues that were featured off and on during the day in front of the Fountain of Nations stage were a great combination of visual and performing arts.
Fun and unique Photopass opportunities were available throughout the park as well. They had painting background of different famous pieces of art and you were able to step into them and play the part of the characters in the piece! It was fantastic!
My favorite visual piece of the whole festival was the Expression Section. Here, visitors got to get a small cup of paint with a number on it and a paint sponge and were told to paint a small set of squares with that number. It was the biggest community paint by number I have ever seen! Once you painted your section, you got a postcard of what the whole mural would look like after. It was so awesome!! I really hope that comes back in future festivals!
Culinary - One thing that seemed to bother a lot of people at the festival were the food booths. I heard people saying that the food was not coming out fast enough and that there was not a large selection. These people seemed to be missing the point. The food you were given was beautiful and that was the point! This was not Food and Wine, when the goal is to get the food plated as quickly as possible for the masses. This was about the artistry of the food and the talent of the chefs. In my opinion, they nailed it!
The biggest booth I hit during the festival was the Decadent Delights booth...aka the Delicious Desserts booth. This booth features Deconstructed Purple Sweet Potato Pie, Dark Chocolate S'mores, and Crisp Caramel Chocolate Mousse Bar. The Artist Palette Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookie could also be found here as well as at several other booths. Besides the absolutely beautiful display, the sweet potato pie and s'more were delicious!
Another visit had me trying the Popping Bubbles Cocktail, a champagne with tapioca balls filled with flavored liquid. This was not only delightful to look at, but drinking it was downright fun! One of the cast members at the booth informed me that the flavor of the boba (name for tapioca balls like in Japanese bubble tea) changed every day, so you could try it with multiple flavors!
Musical performances - As this festival begins right at the beginning of high school performance season, it was a perfect opportunity for those bands and choirs to strut their stuff in Epcot. They had several performing venues, including the Odyssey building, Fountain of Nations stage and America Gardens Theater for larger groups. It was at this last venue that I saw the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, who are celebrating their 60 year. It was a beautiful performance!
The other shows I saw in this venue were the pièce de résistance of the entire festival:
Disney on Broadway Concert Series!!!!
Just Wow! I was able to see a show done by all three sets of performers and they were all amazing!! The first group was Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland who performed songs from Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, Mary Poppins, Frozen and The Little Mermaid. The second two weeks were Kerry Butler and Kevin Massey performing from Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, Newsies and Aladdin. The last two weeks had two performers from The Lion King on Broadway, Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White, who performed songs from The Lion King, Aida, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid.
All of the performers were amazing, naturally, as they had all been featured in at least one of these amazing shows on Broadway. They acted their parts and were very supportive of each other on stage. They each had a certain set of songs that they performed, so while it looks like musicals were repeated with different actors, they always sang a different song than the other group did. Their energy and love for what they do lit up the theater and the audience. It was an absolute joy to see those shows! Check below for some videos from a selection of these performances.
I thoroughly enjoyed this festival, moreso than the other festivals that Epcot has done and am looking forward to seeing this again next year! Disney has already announced that they will be bringing back the festival in early 2018, so you will know where to find me.