Epcot Festival of the Arts Premier
Epcot has a brand new festival. It’s called the Epcot International Festival of the Arts. The inaugural event runs from January 13 – February 20, Fridays through Mondays only. This first-ever celebration is the result of mixing visual, culinary, and performing arts inspired by cultures from all over the world. Anytime you introduce something new, there’s always room for improvement. Disney knows that better than any other company out there. It’s a given that future Festival of the Arts will be bigger and better than this initial one, but honestly, they set the bar pretty high — higher than my expectations.
Initially, I thought they probably just came up with a concept to fill in the low-attendance time period between the holidays and the beginning of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival (see photos of the 2016 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival here). I was convinced it was simply Disney flexing their master-marketing muscles; a month-long money-making scheme in the middle of the off-season. I was wrong!
Color and Creativity Everywhere!
For a moment, upon entering the theme park, I thought I was at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. On display at the main entrance was a sea of sensational color — gorgeous fuchsia and purple blooms. It looked like someone had taken gallons of brightly colored paint and splattered them everywhere; eye catching, to say the least. This spectacular burst of color set the stage for what was to come at the Festival of the Arts; I’m sure it was strategic.
Epcot Living Statues
After leaving the impressive picturesque area just inside the front gate (probably the best “selfie” spot in the entire park), I couldn’t wait to encounter the next “wow” moment at the Festival of the Arts. I didn’t have to wait long. There was live entertainment at the Fountain View Stage and Plaza in Future World. Well, maybe “live” isn’t the best word to describe it. There were three different life-size cast figures expertly sculpted; one in silver, the next in gold, and the third in a bronze material. A large crowd had gathered around the human representations, so of course I had to investigate the reason for their popularity. Turns out the statuaries were alive and breathing. Well, I never seen them blink or utter a word, but I know real blood was running through their veins because I did see them move at times.
Long lines had formed by families who watched in awe as the statues came to life. Sporadically they would interact with guests posing for photos. Every now and then the calculated moves were downright hilarious. The living statues brought back fond memories of the ones that used to be stationed around the France Pavilion many years ago. The death of Epcot’s living statues was a sad day for me, so imagine my joy to witness their resurrection at the Festival of the Arts.
NOTE… The entertainment in this area changes throughout the day. I got to see the remarkable living statues, but you may see a vocal ensemble singing American pop tunes, a festive marching band, a splendid jazz quartet, or a lively choral performance by some of Central Florida’s finest high schools and universities.
Galleries Throughout the Park
As I walked away from the living statues, I couldn’t help but think, “How in the world do they do that?” Some of these street artists pose as statues for hours at a time. Incredible concentration and focus!
Well, I had only been inside the Festival of the Arts for less than half an hour, but I was already loving it. The immense amount of creative gifts and talents in the world never ceases to amaze me. My next stop was one of the Art Galleries spread throughout the park at the Odyssey Festival Showplace in Future World East. On display here was the work of Mary Blair, Herb Ryman, and some Disney Original Art. I’m under strict orders from hubby not to bring home any more artwork, so my willpower was getting quite a workout browsing the masterpieces on display. There was a variety of artistic styles, which made my window shopping even more enjoyable.
Food Studios at the International Festival of the Arts
Regardless of which Epcot festival you attend, it just wouldn’t be as memorable without the creative food offerings that are custom-made for each event; food items that aren’t available any other time of year. We were first introduced to food kitchens at Disney’s Food and Wine Festival, then food kiosks at International Flower and Garden Festival were added, and here they are again at the Festival of the Arts. Only this time, the food was waaaay more gourmet-ish! Each small plate was an edible work of art almost too beautiful to destroy, rivaling the presentation and flavors found in any 5-star restaurant. The prices ranged from $6 – $14, a bit hefty for just a few bites, but no regrets here. In all fairness, each one was quite labor intensive to put together. Watching the chefs work their mouth-watering magic made the delectable morsels even more wonderful. Hubby and I tried eight different gourmet treats; each was flat-out fantastic!
Meet the Artists!
Each weekend of the Epcot Festival of the Arts features different artists. A highlight of our visit was meeting the various creators. Every one of them shared unique facts and tidbits about their creative art skills. To me, the stories behind the art can be as incredible as the art itself! For example, we met Jeff Laibson who specializes in the art of music. Each musically inspired piece is full of rhythm, and emotionally evocative. You see, this artist is also a renowned composer; a musician who has performed all over the world with some very famous people. He later became a professor of music at the University of Miami. His artwork was absolutely amazing, and the conversation as warm as an old friendship.
Then there was Rodel Gonzalez. He’s got artistic DNA from his father and grandfather, who were artists. His artistry, like Jeff Laibson, also became evident in the field of music. At the age of 20 he founded “Side A” in the Philippines. He was the lead singer and the band’s most prolific songwriter. The band is still active today and is currently the longest-lived band in Manila.
When you attend the Festival of the Arts, don’t just scurry by the displays that are not your “style” — take a moment to engage the artist. I guarantee you will learn something!
What happens when you mix visual, culinary, and performing arts inspired by cultures from all around the world? You get a global masterpiece! You get the Epcot International Festival of the Arts! I believe the inaugural event was a success, at least in my book. I’m sure Disney has just laid the foundation of something awesome that will be built upon for many years to come. Kudos to “the Mouse” for producing a top-notch artistic production to fill the void between holiday happiness and those first blooms of spring at Epcot!
UPCOMING EPCOT FESTIVALS…
2017 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Dates: March 1 – May 29
2017 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Dates: August 31 – November 13