Walt Disney World’s newest, shortest, and most expressive seasonal event has returned in full form, and the Unofficial Guide has five hot tips for making the most of your visit to the 2022 EPCOT International Festival of
After presenting a pared-down pandemic event in 2021, the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts returned to Walt Disney World on January 14, 2022, with all of its signature elements intact. The festival, which continues daily through February 21, celebrates the visual and performing arts with creative displays, demonstrations, and—of course—plenty of delicious dishes. While still modest in scope compared to EPCOT’s Food & Wine or Flower & Garden festivals, the ever-expanding International Festival of the Arts can feel overwhelming, so here are our Top 5 Tips for tackling EPCOT’s annual exhibition of artistic inspiration.
Take Time to Talk With an Artist
Much like the fondly remembered Festival of the Masters that used to be held at the former Downtown Disney, EPCOT’s International Festival of the Arts fills the parks with open-air art galleries where guests can admire artworks for free, or purchase them to take home.
Although most (but not all) of the art on offer has a connection to the Disney characters or films, there’s a vast variety of subject matters, artistic mediums, and creative styles on display.
Best of all, if you have particular Disney artists you admire, there’s a good chance you might meet them in person at EPCOT’s International Festival of the Arts, where they are hosted for daily signing sessions.
On the afternoon of our visit, artists Ashley Taylor and Noah Elias were on hand outside Morocco in World Showcase, and both were extremely accessible and gracious with their fans.
Don’t Just Observe, pARTicipate!
If meeting professional artists leaves you feeling inspired, jump into the fun with creative activities you can participate in around the 2022 EPCOT International Festival of the Arts. For starters, bear right at Spaceship Earth when entering the park to find Figment’s annual Expression Section outside of The Land.
The popular paint-by-numbers experience allows anyone to contribute to uncovering this year’s mosaic-like mural.
Participation is included in park admission, but you may have to wait in one queue to grab your paintbrush and then another to claim your coloring spot. If you want to join in, be sure to jump in line before it closes at 5 p.m.
If your little ones don’t want to wait for the mural, they can express themselves in chalk on the pavement nearby, thanks to a designated kids’ art concrete cul de sac.
Finally, if all that is still too much effort, you can turn yourself into a work of art with the snap of a camera shutter simply by stepping into one of the many masterpiece photo ops once again found around World Showcase.
Follow the Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine
Now that the art is out of the way, let’s talk about EPCOT’s other big draw: eating and drinking around the World Showcase! The Festival of the Arts always brings out the best from EPCOT’s festival food booths, with impeccably plated creations that look as good as they taste.
A great way to sample the best of the 2022 EPCOT International Festival of the Arts’s edible offerings is to grab a free Festival passport at the park entrance, and follow the Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine detailed inside the back cover.
Food walks, where you collect stamps by purchasing five food items from a designated list and receive a complimentary treat upon completion, are a staple of EPCOT festivals. Often, the selections are of a single type, such as all cookies or cheeses. However, this year’s Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine provides a wide variety of both savory and sweet dishes.
Bear right towards Canada when entering World Showcase to find the lone vegan item on the Walk—one of only three in the whole Festival. (Unlike recent Flower & Garden and Food & Wine Festivals, vegan visitors to this year’s Festival of the Arts will want to pack a snack.) Luckily, this blood orange-braised beet carpaccio from the Gourmet Landscapes booth is full of flavors that even flesh-eaters will enjoy.
And if you still need to satisfy your craving for cow, the roasted bone marrow topped with pickled mushrooms is like a glorious canoe filled with hot beef gelatin.
Your Wonderful Walk will also guide you to one of the best additions to the International Festival of the Arts’s outdoor kitchen lineup, the new Vibrante & Vivido Encanto Cocina. Located between France and Morocco, this booth serves Columbian-style dishes inspired by the hit film, including the fabulous featured chorizo empanada and a generous portion of spicy chicken stew.
Scallops are very challenging to cook without turning them into rubber erasers, even under the best of conditions. So I was pleasantly surprised by the perfect medium-rare sear on these sizable shellfish from the American Adventure’s Artist’s Table.
Be sure to save room for dessert! The Donut Box behind Test Track calls the vanilla doughnut, the star of this plate, but we say the scoop of strawberry ice cream steps out of its supporting role to steal the spotlight.
Pro tip: if there are one or two items on the Walk you won’t eat, you can purchase doubles of another valid selection and still complete your Wonderful Walk stamp card.
Enjoy the Show, But Pass on the Dining Package
Live concerts in the American Gardens outdoor theater have returned as an essential element of the 2022 EPCOT International Festival of the Arts, and we rate the opportunity to see genuine Broadway stars sing selections from the great Disney songbook as “not to be missed.”
Fortunately, while the Flower & Garden Festival’s Garden Rocks concerts and holiday season Candlelight Processionals regularly play to packed houses, with audiences lining up hours before showtime, you’ve got a very good chance of finding a seat on short notice for the Disney on Broadway performances.
During our weekday visit, good seats were available up until curtain for the evening’s second show featuring siblings Arielle and Adam Jacobs, who both starred (separately) in Aladdin.
Many seats in the reserved dining section, which was directly in front of the free seats where we sat, remained open, as did reservations at some dining package restaurants for the night’s final show.
If you are intent on seeing a particularly notable performer (like Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland) or are attending on a Saturday, you may want to investigate Disney’s reserved dining and show seating packages.
But our suggestion is to save your money and just look for a seat 15 minutes before the scheduled showtime. In the worst-case scenario, you can always stand directly outside the amphitheater and enjoy the music.
End Your Evening With the Muppets
Speaking of music, be sure to stop and look back at Spaceship Earth as you leave the park for a memorable musical moment with the Muppets.
As a special “kiss goodnight” for Festival of the Arts visitors, the dazzling LED lights added to EPCOT’s icon for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary are periodically performing a colorful display synchronized to “The Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie.
This limited-time mini-show runs about every 20 minutes starting after sunset, so take a brief break before heading out the exit and enjoy a heartwarming sing-along with Kermit and company.
Bonus Tip: Forget About Figment
Did you hear about the exclusive Figment popcorn bucket being sold at EPCOT’s Pop Eats stand and think it would make an adorable addition to your collection? So did about 1 billion other people, leading to hours-long lines that stretched around the park during the Festival’s opening days.
Today, the lines are gone because the popcorn buckets are sold out. Drown your sorrows in a pop art can of tomato soup, while surfing eBay to see how much the $25 buckets are being resold for.
For all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, or to plan your family’s trip to Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.