Colorful paintings, Broadway performances and a killer rainbow boba drink: These are just a few of the treats awaiting guests at this year’s Epcot International Festival of the Arts.
The 2020 festival may be one of the Disney theme park’s shortest, at just six weeks, but what it lacks in duration it more than makes up for in style.
The festival opens Jan. 17 and runs through Feb. 24, paying homage to visual, performing and culinary arts.
Coinciding with this year’s festival, three new films will debut at Epcot on Jan. 17: “Awesome Planet” in The Land pavilion, “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along” in the France pavilion and “Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360” in the Canada pavilion.
If you’re planning a trip to the festival, here are a few highlights.
Food studios set up throughout the World Showcase and Future World will feature dishes almost too beautiful to eat.
Snap a picture and then dig into new creations, as well as fan favorites from years past that have been re-imagined for 2020.
At a recent media preview, Epcot festival chef Kevin Downing showed off the Deconstructed Reuben, served at the Deconstructed Dish in the Showcase Plaza. Tender slices of house-smoked corned beef rest atop a rye-crusted sauerkraut and Jarlsberg cake, accented with a broken Thousand Island dressing.
“The cake is kind of the new component,” Downing said. “It gives it a really nice texture, a little crunch. You really get to taste that Jarlsberg cheese and sauerkraut in there.”
The Masterpiece Kitchen in Canada features another artfully refreshed old favorite. The Vanilla, Rose Water and Pistachio Banna Cotta “looks like a rose,” Downing said. Break through the sleek, pink sculpture shell to find a silky, slightly floral custard.
The Almond Frangipane Cake at the Pop Eats! kiosk in the Showcase Plaza, with its carefully crafted, colorful layers of frangipane separated by raspberry jam, is covered with a thin frosting of Belgian chocolate.
“The desserts are stunning,” Downing said. “They did a great job with them this year. The cake is certainly like a piece of art, and the rose we think is going to be super popular.”
As if these aren’t enough, Downing also recommends the Deconstructed BLT (once again at Deconstructed Dish), which features crispy pork belly, tomato jam and a soft-poached egg; and the Wild Mushroom Risotto (at The Masterpiece Kitchen), with aged Parmesan, truffle shavings and Zinfandel reduction.
“Come and try everything,” he said. “It’s going to be great.”
When it comes to washing down all that wonderful food, Rick DeCicco, proprietor of festivals and events at Epcot, has a few suggestions, too.
“You’ve got to go with bubbles,” he said, gesturing to a flute of Pinord La Dama Reserva Familia Brut Rose available in The Masterpiece Kitchen. “I can’t get enough.”
For those who prefer their bubbles in beer, the Refreshment Outpost offers beer and popcorn pairings with Barrel of Monks Brewery Endless Enigma Golden Pale Ale and Bacon Barbecue Popcorn, Collective Arts Brewing Life in the Clouds with Jalapeno Ranch Popcorn and M.I.A. Beer Company Malt Bach Brown Ale with Buffalo Bleu Cheese Popcorn.
“You have to take a bite of that popcorn and a sip of each beer to really get the full experience, DeCicco said.
Back by popular demand is Titusville’s own Playalinda Brewing Company’s Rainbow Sherbert Glitter Dream Ale.
“We worked with Playalinda last year to create this offering that’s served at our Pop Eats! location,” DeCicco said. “(It) actually sparkles when you shake the cup.”
Don’t want alcohol? Don’t worry, you can enjoy bubbles, too.
“One of the ones I’m most excited about is a brand-new offering at our Deconstructed Dish called the Rainboba,” DeCicco said. “Everybody loves a little juicy boba pearl every now and then. This concoction is a rainbow boba in a sparkling lemonade with glitter, of course, and a foam cloud on top. It’s very flavorful.”
Just taking a sip makes you want to giggle.
Festival guests can enjoy performances ranging from gravity-defying acrobats and Broadway singers to painting and drawing demonstrations.
The Disney on Broadway Concert Series, with performances at 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m. daily, features stars from Disney shows such as “Aladdin,” “Mary Poppins” and “The Lion King.”
The series opens with Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White and Heidi Blickenstaff and Gavin Lee.
Watch artists like Trevor Carlton paint to music, turning a blank canvas into Disney magic.
And if you’d rather do than watch, reserve a spot in a workshop and learn about Disney animation, 3D paper crafting and drawing basics. It costs $45.
And, it wouldn’t be a Disney production without movie debuts.
Tom Fitzgerald, portfolio creative executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, described “Awesome Planet” in The Land pavilion as a call-to-action film about our planet and what we need to do to take care of it.
“Spectacular visual effects from ILM — Industrial Light & Magic — open the story to show us the formation of this incredible planet,” Fitzgerald said.
The film, which replaces “Circle of Life,” also features nature footage from filmmakers around the world and a score by Academy Award-winning composer Steven Price. Fitzgerald said 4-D effects add spice to the experience.
The new “Canada Far and Wide,” a love letter to Canada, is the third iteration of this Circle-Vision show.
“We worked with a lot of Canadian consultants to make sure it was as accurate and authentic as possible,” Fitzgerald said.
The sweeping views of Canada’s natural beauty and cityscapes give the dizzying illusion of flying cross-country, as actors Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy narrate.
For the ultimate in family fun, Angela Lansbury narrates “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along” in the France pavilion.
Even dads are encouraged to join in, as Lansbury urges kids to make sure their fathers are actually singing, not just moving their lips. “Beauty and the Beast” lyrics are shown on the screen, as the film tells a twisted version of the Disney classic that casts Gaston’s sidekick LeFou as the hero of the story.
The sing-along will be shown in rotation with “Impressions de France.”
“All are part of the DNA of what makes Epcot so unique,” Fitzgerald said.
The Epcot International Festival of the Arts runs Jan. 17-Feb. 24 at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista. The festival is included with park admission, which starts at $109 per day.
Art workshops and Disney on Broadway Concert Series dining packages are available for an additional cost.
More information is available at artfulepcot.com.