Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to 24 hours with the Epcot Festival of the Arts. All our lives we hear people telling us we need to grow up. “Grow up and get a job!” your parents say. “Grow up and make a commitment!” your lover pleads. “Grow up and pay your rent!” your landlord leaves on a note attached to your front door with a knife. But what if you don’t feel like being a grown-up? Then the Epcot Festival of the Arts is the destination for you!
At the Epcot Festival of the Arts, you can chit chat with people who have dedicated their lives to making art for Disney. You can stuff your face with cakes shaped like modern art. And you get to cuddle up with Figment, arguably the cultiest of all cult fan faves at Disney. Let’s not waste another second of our day here!
24 Hours with the Epcot Festival of the Arts
Where Should I Stay?
As a solo-traveling non-driver, I recommend staying at one of the Disney resorts because the transportation to and from the parks to the hotel is so convenient. Plus they offer complimentary transpo to and from the Orlando Airport. Finally, if you stay at a resort, they send you a Magic Band bracelet that makes using the Fast Pass system really convenient. I like to stay at one of the Port Orleans hotels because I am ride or die for The Princess and the Frog.
In order to get the most out of your 24 hours in Epcot, I suggest you get coffee at your hotel, hop on the free shuttle, and arrive at Disney in time to enter the park at 9AM when it opens.
24 Hours with the Epcot Festival of the Arts
What to Pack?
You’ll need comfy shoes for all the walking we’re going to do today. If it’s summertime, I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. They come in every shade, and I always get compliments on my electric magenta shoes.
Orlando can get very hot, so don’t forget the sunscreen. My favorite is the Neutrogena spray bottle because it’s so easy to apply. And as a solo traveler, I can actually use it myself on my own back. I just put it in my purse and re-apply throughout the day.
Finally, since we’re going to be out all day, you’ll want a battery for your cell phone. I always use the Anker charger. It’s light enough to fit in even a small purse, and you don’t want to lug a big bag through Disney World. Plus the Anker lasts for several full charges of a phone, so I’ll never run out of juice!
24 Hours with the Epcot Festival of the Arts
Morning: Future World
For those of you who’ve never really spent time in EPCOT, it’s one of four main theme parks at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. EPCOT is basically a permanent World’s Fair. It’s currently divided into two parts: Future World, which displays examples of human ingenuity and technology and World Showcase, which displays cultural products from many lands. (But not even once will the song “It’s a Small World” be played.)
World Showcase doesn’t really open until 11, so I always recommend starting in Future World. Keep in mind that EPCOT’s Future World is going to be completely redesigned over the next couple of years, so I’ll be sure to keep this post updated. Even if it means flying down to Florida and faffing about in the sunshine every single year, I will suffer through it just to keep you happy, Internet Stranger!
Even though Future World is definitely the lesser of the two halves of EPCOT, there’s still plenty of wacky hijinks to get up to here. I’ll start you off with…
three fun facts: epcot festival of the arts
1) where can i get breakfast?
One of the best things about attending the Epcot Festival of the Arts is that you can eat festival-exclusive treats. I suggest getting breakfast at Sunshine Seasons. This food court is located inside the Land Pavilion building in Future World. Just follow the signs or ask a Disney cast member for help if you’re lost. (I’m not exactly sure what happens to a Disney cast member who refuses to help a guest, but I think they are dropped into a pit containing sharks with laser beams on their heads.)
You can get normal breakfast food at Sunshine Seasons, but you shouldn’t. Instead get one of the cakes they prepare just for the Epcot Festival of the Arts. I have no idea what is in this cake, but it was as light as a magic carpet ride and it tasted like my favorite sesame seed candy, halvah. Ask the cast members what’s in it if you have a nut allergy, but I doubt it’s Nut Free.
The coolest part of this cake is that the palette and brush are made of fondant, so they are edible. Find a gullible child, tell him they’re a real palette and brush, and then eat them before his eyes to see if it makes him cry!
2) where can i avoid the sunshine/crowds?
If the Central Florida sunshine is frying your brains or the lines and swarms of tourist babies are getting to you, stop in the Short Film Festival. It’s located in the Imagination! Pavilion which is the perfect Future World Pavilion to see at the Epcot Festival of the Arts. You’ll be able to take a load off your tootsies, and there’s never a line here.
Plus you can see three Disney and Pixar shorts in the glorious third dimension! There’s three shorts and the exact line-up can change any time. But every time I’ve gone, the spectacular Disney short “Get a Horse” has been showing. (Do yourself a favor and don’t watch this short until you can see it in 3D. You’ll thank me later. And if you forget, I’ll just show up at your house in the middle of the night and demand thanks, Internet Stranger!)
3) who is this figment guy?
First of all, let’s treat Figment with the respect and dignity he deserves. Figment isn’t a guy; he’s a ridiculous purple talking dragon. He is also the mascot of Epcot. I wonder if Epcot sometimes feels bad that everyone knows about the Magic Kingdom’s mascot, Mickey Mouse, but only Dis-Nerds like me know about poor Figgy.
The Epcot Festival of the Arts is really Figment’s time to shine, as he represents the imagination. You’ll see the purple fellow all over the Epcot Festival of the Arts. Figment also has his own Journey Into Imagination ride in the Imagination! Pavilion, right next to the Disney and Pixar shorts.
There’s usually not a long line here, but pro tip! The lines for Figment’s ride are longer during the Epcot Festival of the Arts than any other time. So you might want to use a FastPass for the Figment ride if and only if you’re visiting Epcot during the Festival of the Arts. If you’ve ever wanted to see an imaginary purple dragon inflict psychological abuse on a member of Monty Python, this is the ride for you!
24 Hours With Epcot Festival of the Arts
Afternoon: World Showcase Part One
All right, Internet Stranger! It’s time for me to show you the best part of attending a Disney festival: the food! There are several different festivals at Epcot every year, and during each festival there are booths with international and thematically appropriate foods for you to snack on!
Of course, not every dish is a winner. (Not that I was able to taste every dish. After all, I am not an imaginary purple dragon.) But I will steer you only towards my favorite treats. The lines at the Epcot Festival of the Arts food booths can look long, but I promise you they’ll move quickly. You’ll have more than enough time to try…
approximately top 5: epcot festival of the arts foods
1) popcorn and beer tasting
One of the things that makes Epcot the best Disney park is the delightful amount of quality booze! Don’t sleep on the fun alcohol/snack pairings at the Epcot Festival of the Arts. I tried this beer and popcorn pairing at the Painter’s Palette booth, but at the 2020 Festival of the Arts, this dish can be found at the Refreshment Outpost.
I suggest starting with the light beer and working your way up. The pilsner is paired with barbecue popcorn for a classic American taste. The IPA goes with jalapeno but somehow the two “love em or hate em flavors” go together as swimmingly as Dory and Nemo. And speaking of “love em or hate em”, the final pairing is dark beer and blue cheese. You really need a strong beer to stand up to the Ultimate Power of blue cheese.
2) blood orange tart
We’ve kicked off our lunch with beer and popcorn, now we need to continue this wholesome treat with dessert and wine! Follow your Festival of the Arts map (they are available for free everywhere at Epcot) to the Decadent Delights booth where we will indulge in a blood orange and lemon tart and Florida Orange Groves Winery Black and Blue Port.
I’m a totally curd head, and I approve this tart. The curd was neither too sweet nor too heavy, and the crust was as crunchy as one of Thumper’s carrots. I was surprised at how much I liked the port considering it came from Florida. I didn’t even think it was legal to make port outside of Portugal. But then they don’t really need to obey international laws in the swamps of Central Florida. It’s the famous Central Florida Gator Exemption.
3) el artista hambriento
There are two main kinds of food booths at the Epcot Festival of the Arts. Some have a theme only related to the arts, and others sell the cuisine of a particular country. The Mexico pavilion hosts El Artisa Hambriento, which I’m sure is Spanish for the Hamburger Artist. Or maybe it’s the Cheeseburger Artist because brie is a cheese.
The scallops I ate at this booth aren’t available in 2020, but you can still get the smoky Diego margarita. (I assume the Diego is for Diego Rivera who probably didn’t consider himself a Hamburger Artist. After all, he was a Communist.)
My Diego margarita was made with passion fruit because he was so passionate, but the 2020 margarita will be made with blackberry because…I’m not exactly sure. But the Mexican pavilion is top notch at margaritas, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy it even if the blackberries aren’t logical.
4) pop Eats
See what a classy event the Epcot Festival of the Arts is, Internet Stranger? I bet you didn’t expect to be eating a cake that was inspired by a Mondrian painting at Disney World! This treat, which is one of the most popular dishes at the Festival of the Arts year after year, is an almond frangipane cake layers with raspberry jam and rich chocolate.
Raspberry and chocolate go together like Timon and Pumbaa! The cake is so moist you could cut it just by looking at it. Plus this is one of the most affordable dishes at the Festival of the Arts. #eatit #apologizestoweirdal
6) the masterpiece kitchen
I think each art-themed food booth at the Epcot Festival of the Arts is supposed to focus on a different type of food, but it wasn’t always clear to me what the theme was supposed to be. But I think the theme at The Masterpiece Kitchen booth was “class out the wazoo”. The dishes were all European classics like a smoked salmon gateau and a charcuterie plate.
But my favorite was this risotto with Parmesan cheese and truffle shavings. First Mondrian paintings and now truffles and Parm! It’s too bad when you tell non Dis-nerds that you go here for the fine dining and fine art they will probably not believe you.
24 Hours with the Epcot Festival of the Arts
Evening: Even More World Showcase!
Ordinarily I suggest doing two entirely different things in the afternoon and the evening. But at the Epcot Festival of the Arts, it’s just more of the delightful same! Continue snacking, slurping down quality booze, and staring at pictures of masterpieces that have been defaced with the image of a giant purple imaginary dragon!
approximately top 5: epcot festival of the arts (again)
1) deconstructed dish
The Deconstructed Dish has the coolest theme of any of the art food booths. They take classics and give them an oddball twist. Their most popular plate, at least according to the interwebs, is the deconstructed BLT. Instead of bacon it has pork belly, and instead of a tomato it has tomato jam. Plus there’s an egg on top, so it’s kind of like BLT and eggs. Clever and yum-alicious!
2) l’art du cuisine francaise
France never disappoints at these food events, possibly because a legit French restaurant group runs the France pavilion. And you won’t be disappointed with the Creme de Brie en Petit Pain. It’s warm bread, warm cheese, and it has a freaking Eiffel Tower on it! I should have bothered to take an actual cute Instagram photo that didn’t have my skirt in it.
If you only get one drink at Epcot, let it be from the martini selection at the French pavilion either. They make their drinks with the French premium vodka Grey Goose. Considering how smooth the vodka is and that it’s always blended with fruit juice, you could probably down three of these bad boys before feeling any pain. But please don’t! This is Disney World! Think of the children!
3) mosaic canteen
Another pavilion that usually has tasty snacks is the Morocco pavilion. Again this is probably because the actual Moroccan government helped build the pavilion. Smart on their part because spending time here would make anyone want to visit Morocco. The staff here all comes from Morocco, and they’re extremely enthusiastic about discussing the country with you.
I recommend the flatbread with zaatar and artichokes. Given the large size of the dish, it’s one of the best bangs for your buck at the Festival of the Arts. The bread is a little doughy, but the tangy tasty of the zaatar spice is quite addictive. And unlike the Grey Goose, if you have three of these you won’t run the risk of getting evicted from Epcot for intoxication!
The Japanese pavilion is the final pavilion that never, ever disappoints me food-wise at Epcot. Again, the sponsorship matters and the Japanese pavilion is under the aegis of the legendary Japanese department store Mitsukoshi. Just look at that majestic sushi donut! I was impressed with how well the sushi rice stuck together to form a perfect circle. And there’s Mickey-shaped wasabi on the side if you need a little kick.
If your blood alcohol levels can stand it, pick up the sake + Calpico cocktail at the Japanese pavilion. Sake is Japanese rice wine and Calpico is a Japanese soda made with milk. It sounds like they’d be disgusting, but the drink is as pink and dreamy as a ballgown entirely made by singing mice.
5) disney on broadway concert
Even though the food is the best thing at the Epcot Festival of the Arts, it’s not the only thing. Make sure to hit up at least one of the cultural offerings that don’t involve stuffing your face. I suggest the Disney on Broadway concerts. (They’re free with admission to Epcot, but show up a bit before the show begins to make sure you get a seat.
Showtimes will be posted at the concert stage in the American pavilion.) But you can see the list of performers here. The emphasis at Disney on Broadway is Disney’s Broadway productions, not the films. That means you might hear songs from Newsies, so prepare yourself accordingly. I was surprised to learn that there had actually been a stage production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Oh, so you’ll put on a musical of that notorious flop, Disney, but when I keep begging you to do a live-action remake of The Great Mouse Detective, you keep blocking my calls? Typical!
That’s the Epcot Festival of the Arts!
What would you do at the Epcot Festival of the Arts? Are you satisfied with Figment tormenting a member of Monty Python or should he move on to the cast of Saturday Night Live? And who should play Live-Action Ratigan in my dream remake of The Great Mouse Detective? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours at the Epcot Festival of the Arts, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Epcot. If you want to add itineraries for the Magic Kingdom I’ve got one here, one here and another one for Epcot over here.