Having attended both the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival and the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival in the last year, it can almost go without saying that I was intrigued when the Epcot International Festival of the Arts was first announced. At a time where funding and support for the disciplines highlighted by the festival are severely lacking, it's exciting to see Disney putting the spotlight on something so close to the heart of the company.
After exploring everything the festival had to offer during the inaugural weekend of the festival, it's easy to see how the Epcot International Festival of the Arts fits right in with its counterparts. By utilizing many of the stalls created for Food & Wine and Flower & Garden, Disney is obviously getting the maximum use out of the currently temporary buildings (although something tells me that if things continue as they have been, some may become permanent in the coming years). Of course, each of the stalls was given a makeover to reflect the theme of the festival, differing it from the other events as well.
To give you a basic rundown of what the festival offers, the Festival of the Arts includes workshops and seminars similar to those you find at the other festivals, as well as food kiosks throughout [mainly] World Showcase. Additionally, there are festival-specific activities and experiences such as Broadway performances by Disney on Broadway performers (I was lucky enough to see Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland!), living statues, live music performances, a giant paint-by-number experience, art displays, and photo ops. I'll go into the specifics of these opportunities in later posts.
At first I felt as though things were off to a slow start, likely due to the fact that I was there on the first day when things were still getting settled and January is a slow season to begin with, although this is obviously part of Disney's plan to even out attendance throughout the year, encouraging visitors to come during the non-peak season. Of course, because it's the inaugural year as well, visitors didn't seem to know the festival was even happening until the end of the weekend, which meant shorter lines for me (and also more than a few confused guests). It did get better though, and by the end of the weekend, the festival was humming with life, a good sign that this event will continue for years to come.
I will also say, however, that like the Food and Wine and Flower and Garden festivals, it's nearly impossible to see everything the Festival of the Arts has to offer. I picked up a guide book on my first day and highlighted some of the foods I definitely wanted to try, and between my mom and I, pre-registered for all four of the workshops and the Broadway performance that weekend, but I still missed out on all of the seminars, most of the photo-ops, only saw a glimpse of the living statues, and barely looked at the art exhibits at all. That being said, there's just as much going on at this festival as there are at the others, and if that doesn't say something about the versatility of the arts and the creativity put into this festival, I don't know what does.
Keep an eye out for in-depth posts on the Workshops, Food, Broadway Performance, and Art and Other Opportunities at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, because there's a lot to cover!
Have a magical day!