Walt Disney World offers a taste of the arts at EPCOT

January 21, 2024, 1:54 PM · Immersing ourselves in a world where art blends seamlessly with colorful cuisine, we recently attended the opening weekend of the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts at Walt Disney World. This annual event - a celebration of artistic expression and cultural vibrancy - runs from January 12 to February 19.

Upon our arrival, we discovered a captivating blend of 16 unique food studios, an array of merchandise, awe-inspiring artwork, engaging activities, and a lineup of entertainment. The air buzzed with excitement as we anticipated the delightful journey that awaited us, promising a harmonious fusion of culinary delights, artistic brilliance, and the magical ambiance that is EPCOT.

We arrived around 10 AM and found the park very crowded, given that it was opening day weekend, which limited our ability to try some of the food items we hoped to sample. We started our culinary journey at Pop Eats, near the Port of Entry where we sampled the Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese.

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese

The dish, while tasty, lukewarm, and comparable to what one might make at home. It was part of The Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine where you receive a stamp in your Festival Passport for seven specialty items around the World Showcase. If you purchase five of the seven items, you can claim a complimentary Artist Palette Cookie at the Deco Delights Food Studio. You can also purchase one at the Refreshment Port if you choose.

While waiting for our tomato Soup with grilled cheese, we "divided and conquered" to purchase the Gnocchi Poutine with Red Wine-Braised Beef, Cheese Curds, Basil and Burrata and traditional poutine with French fries and cheese curds. Both dishes were savory and satisfying, although the gnocchi and cheese curds were a bit chewy.

Gnocchi Poutine

Traditional poutine

Our next step was Figment's Inspiration Station at the Odyssey: Art, Food and Little Sparks of Magic to pick up our Figment Premium Popcorn Bucket with Rainbow Popcorn. This year's bucket is modeled after the Journey Into Imagination pavilion. The bucket lights up and comes with rainbow popcorn. We mobile ordered ours earlier in the day, and Disney also used this system last year after sales of the 2022 Figment popcorn bucket resulted in 7+ hour lines and limited availability.

While there, we also tried the Blueberry-filled Pastry Tart with Purple Icing (another Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine item), Rainbow Cake with freeze-dried Skittles bite-sized candies, and the nonalcoholic Grape Smoothie with freeze dried Skittles bite-sized candies. All of these were some of our favorite items from last year, and they didn't disappoint. The pasty tart was soft and chewy with a hint of blueberry flavor, and the rainbow cake was light and airy with just the right amount of sweetness. The freeze-dried Skittles were the highlight of the cake and smoothie.

Blueberry-filled Pastry Tart

Figment Grape Smoothie

After our delectable desserts, we made our way to the Refreshment Outpost in the World Showcase to try the Frozen Brown Elephant. This creative concoction featured Frozen Coca-Cola and Amarula Cream Liqueur (also used in the famous Zebra Domes at Boma). At first, the liqueur overpowered the Coca-Cola, and it went down much smoother after mixing it together.

The lines at the other booths had a 30+ minute wait, so we decided to skip them and save room for dinner at Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya. It was our first-time dining there since it opened, and it did not disappoint. The sushi was exceptionally fresh and flavorful, and we also tried the Grilled Wagyu Gyoza (Pan fried dumplings filled with smoky A5 Japanese wagyu beef) and the Kushi Assorted (six of their signature skewers featuring two each of beef, chicken, and shrimp). We also tried the Okinawa Wave (non-alcoholic), the Toki Highball, and Mt. Fuji cocktails.

Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya

Artwork is also on sale around the park, and some of the artists sign their works at various times throughout the day. We purchased a beautiful retro print featuring Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto from Scott "Scooter" Burroughs who worked 10 years for Disney as an animator on movies and mentor for new artists. His credits include Pocahontas, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, Tarzan, Fantasia 2000, The Emperor's New Groove, Lilo and Stitch, Brother Bear, and several shorts. He graciously took his time to chat and take pictures with guests who purchased his artwork.

Aspiring artists can help create a mural at the Expression Section by picking supplies from a Cast Member paint five squares on a paint-by-number mural. Everyone who participates receives a bookmark featuring a rendition of the final piece.

In addition to these experiences, you can also see or take part in...

All in all, we enjoyed our visit to the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts, and we're already making plans to return for the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival, which starts February 28.

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Replies (3)

January 21, 2024 at 3:39 PM

Any instance of Animation Academy, and I'm in! Thanks for the report Eric.

January 22, 2024 at 10:31 AM

We went to the Festival of the Arts just before the Pandemic in January 2020. Having frequently visited the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, I was surprised that the winter festival was able to stand on its own merits and distinguish itself from its older fall cousin.

January 22, 2024 at 10:56 AM

Heading there for dinner later today!

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