It's time to whip out your paintbrushes! Epcot International Festival of the Arts has returned for its fourth year, running from Jan. 17 to Feb. 24, 2020. This festival highlights creativity in all forms — the visual, performing and culinary arts. We’re so hoppy the event is returning daily to the park, which gives us plenty of time to admire the art and devour limited-time treats from the Food Studios! Even better, the Epcot International Festival of the Arts is included with regular park admission.
In my not-so-humble opinion, this festival is Epcot's best. Entertainment abounds with live Broadway performances, art being created on-site and so much more. It's not just the Disney artists showcasing their art ... you can exercise the right side of your brain too! This year, the first day of the festival also hoppened to coincide with the debut of three new films at Epcot (we share our thoughts on those here). We're here to paint the full picture of the best eats and acts to enjoy during the Epcot International Festival of the Arts 2020, plus our top tips to make your visit a masterpiece!
Disney on Broadway Concert Series at Epcot International Festival of the Arts 2020
We’re no Broadway connoisseurs, but this Frog Family has fallen in love with the Disney on Broadway Concert Series. Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White kicked off the 2020 series with a fun, energetic performance that showcased their powerful vocals! They sung hits from "Hercules," "The Lion King," "Aida" and "The Little Mermaid."
If you have theater-loving tadpoles in your family, you won’t want to miss the show. All of these performers will blow you away with their talent and have you singing all night long! If you’ve heard “How Far I'll Go” one too many times in your household (we’ve all been there), have no fear — these performers dig deep into Disney classics and offer a unique style. Our favorite part is hearing songs exclusive to the Broadway shows ... not included in the original films!
Performances take place nightly at the America Gardens Theatre in World Showcase at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8 p.m. That means you can sing and dance every day of the week! We'd suggest arriving about 30 minutes early to get good seats. Dining packages are available if you'd like to guarantee a show seating. Reservations can be made by calling (407) WDW-Fest or visiting ArtfulEpcot.com. The participating restaurants — Biergarten Restaurant, Coral Reef Restaurant and Rose & Crown Dining Room — serve lunch and dinner, while Garden Grill offers a breakfast option in addition to lunch and dinner.
Disney on Broadway Concert Series Schedule 2020
- Jan. 17, 20, 21 and 24 – Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White (“The Lion King”)
- Jan. 18, 19, 22 and 23 – Heidi Blickenstaff (“The Little Mermaid”; “Freaky Friday”) and Gavin Lee (“Mary Poppins”)
- Jan. 25 – Special performance featuring Simmons, White, Blickenstaff and Lee
- Jan. 26, 28, 29; Feb. 1, 2, 5 and 6 – Kara Lindsay (“Newsies”) and Kevin Massey (“Tarzan”)
- Jan. 27, 30, 31; Feb. 3, 4, 7 and 8 – Liana Hunt (“Newsies”) and Adam Jacobs (“Aladdin”)
- Feb. 9 – Special performance featuring Lindsay, Massey, Hunt and Jacobs
- Feb. 10, 12, 13, 18, 19, 22 and 23 – Ashley Brown (“Mary Poppins”; “Beauty and the Beast”) and Josh Strickland ("Tarzan")
- Feb. 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21 – Syndee Winters (“The Lion King”) and Michael James Scott (“Aladdin”)
- Feb. 24 – Special performance featuring Brown, Strickland, Winters and Scott
Epcot International Festival of the Arts Variety Acts
Art in Action
Everywhere you turn at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, you’ll find inspiration. Not being personally graced with artistic talent myself, watching art come alive is fascinating for me. Throughout World Showcase, some of your favorite Disney artists can be found bringing their unique styles to life. The creativity is truly astounding. What’s even cooler is that you can purchase the pieces that you watched being created before your very eyes!
Tons of artists can be found around World Showcase, whether creating something new on the spot, talking with guests or signing their work. This year, we chatted with Tim Rogerson, who was painting Mickey Mouse at the Disney Fine Art by Collectors Editions booth near Morocco. He shared that Mickey is his favorite Disney character to paint and is a large source of inspiration.
Paige O'Hara, the voice of Belle from the original "Beauty and the Beast" and a Disney Fine Artist, is making a special appearance on select festival days. On Jan. 17-20 and Jan. 24-27, she is available to meet guests and sign artwork. You do have to purchase one of her art pieces for this experience, but you can admire from afar (like us!) as you walk by her booth near Morocco.
What's wonderful about Epcot International Festival of the Arts is that the art spans beyond Disney. We watched artists create both 2D and 3D chalk art inspired by famous paintings in addition to beloved Disney characters. (You can find the Chalk Art Galleries on the bridge to Showcase Plaza.) There is something for every Frog Family!
Drawing on Inspiration Gallery and Pavilion Galleries
Catch multicultural art in the Pavilion Galleries, open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
- American Heritage Gallery – American Adventure
Explore the artistry of American Indian communities from seven geographic regions across the United States.
- Bijutsu-kan Gallery – Japan
Delve into the origin and evolution of “kawaii,” Japan’s cute culture.
- House of the Whispering Willows – China
Discover the wonders of the new Shanghai Disney Resort.
- Mexico Folk Art Gallery – Mexico
Celebrate the artistry and traditions of Día de Muertos.
- Stave Church Gallery – Norway
Discover the legendary gods and myths of Norway's real vikings.
- American Heritage Gallery – American Adventure
The whole family can get in on the arts action during Epcot Festival of the Arts' interactive events. With Figment's Brush with the Master Scavenger Hunt, the tadpoles can purchase a map and stickers at locations around Epcot, then search for Figment hiding inside famous works of art at each World Showcase pavilion. In Future World, everyone can grab a paintbrush and contribute to a giant mural, which is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Tadpoles and fully-grown frogs alike can create their own art pieces at a brand-new Spin Art Experience. Jump on a stationary bicycle that's connected to a spinning drum, where you spread paint onto paper. Choose from four colors and mix to your heart's desire. Froggy parents, this is a great way to let some of your tadpole's energy out! There is also a stationary table-top option to create your own spin art. Either option costs $19, and your finished piece will be ready for pickup after drying for 15 minutes.
The event brings back free Animation Academy classes during which you can learn to draw some of your favorite Disney characters. You can find those classes daily at 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. at a new location — the America Gardens Theatre. Additionally, hop over to Kidcot Fun Stops in each World Showcase pavilion to draw, color and collect activity cards.
Community Arts Showcase
Epcot International Festival of the Arts is chock-full of professional artists — painters, singers and more are around every corner! We love that the Festival also shines a light on young performers. Between Broadway performances at America Gardens Theatre, up-and-coming local talent is showcased.
If you’re a fan of Etsy-esqué art, you’ll find yourself captivated around World Showcase by Disney-inspired artists selling custom products. Exhibiting artist Paola Gracey uses her background in chemistry to work with the physical aspects of acrylics, resins and glitter to create colorful canvases. We also saw Jacinthe Lacroix of Wyland Galleries work on molding a sculpture.
Performances at the Showcase Plaza Stage
Throughout the day, a variety of performances take place at the Showcase Plaza stage. Catch "Art Defying Gravity" as acrobats demonstrate a show of strength and dexterity during multiple shows. The "Disney Performing Arts Showcase" features top high school bands that perform jazz and pop music in the mornings at 9:25 and 10:25 a.m. You can also listen to Dominic Gaudious playing the guitar and didgeridoo or Victor Espinola plucking the strings of his harp.
However, our favorite has to be the "Visual Art in Performance" show, which features a visiting visual artist painting Disney characters within minutes on stage. Trevor Carlton really hyped up the audience as he painted Donald Duck to the rhythm of popular tunes!
Epcot International Festival of the Arts Eats and Treats
If you know us at all by now, you know that we toadally live for the food at Epcot’s annual festivals. Festival-exclusive Food Studios are open daily during the festival from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. across Future World and World Showcase. Full food menus are listed on Disney's website that include returning favorites, such as the creamy Brie bread bowl, and new dishes to try!
New this year is the Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine. Similar to the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays' Cookie Stroll, you'll receive a colorful culinary surprise if you get five menu items from the Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine locations and receive a stamp in the Festival Passport for each of them. The participating menu items include:
- Deconstructed BLT from The Deconstructed Dish (Showcase Plaza)
- Almond Frangipane Cake from Pop Eats! (Showcase Plaza)
- Seared Corvina from Cuisine Classique (Germany)
- Pan-seared Scallop from The Artist's Table (The American Adventure)
- Vanilla, Rose Water and Pistachio Panna Cotta from The Masterpiece Kitchen (Canada)
Not only is the food absolutely delicious, but the platters are oh-so-Instagram-worthy. Each snack and meal is a work of art both in taste and sight. This year, we tried out the Mediterranean Flatbread with zaatar, olive oil artichoke, olives, mozzarella and feta cheese from Mosaic Canteen in Morocco. It had bolder flavors than what Tad and Lily are used to, but this Mommy Frog enjoyed it!
Don’t froget dessert! Some favorites among the tadpoles were the Artist Palette jumbo chocolate chip cookie (which can be found at multiple locations) and the paintbrush churros from Refreshment Outpost.
Seminars and Workshops at Epcot International Festival of the Arts 2020
Disney artists, guest experts and cast members present workshop experiences at Epcot International Festival of the Arts. Explore your creative horizons or take your talents to the next level with different events each week! Learn things like 3D paper crafting or ink and paint animation.
The workshops take place on Saturdays and Sundays at the World Showplace Events Pavilion, located between the United Kingdom and Canada pavilions. Each workshop costs $45 per person, and you need to call 407-WDW-FEST (or 407-939-3378) to reserve a spot. Regular park admission is required to participate. Take a look at this year's offerings!
Ink & Paint Animation
Learn all about the history of 2D cel animation, which is how many of Disney's animated features were brought to life. Paint your very own ink and paint cel under the guidance of Lynn Rippberger, a Disney Animation Ink and Paint artist. Each Saturday at 10 a.m., guests will be drawing a different Disney character:
- Jan. 18 - Mickey Mouse
- Jan. 25 - Minnie Mouse
- Feb. 1 - Donald Duck
- Feb. 8 - Pluto
- Feb. 15 - Goofy
- Feb. 22 - Mickey Mouse
Disney 3D Paper Crafting
Led by Dave Avanzino, whose work has been featured in Disneyland, Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line, you will create your own dimensional paper artwork. Learn how to cut, fold and add spacers to create a 3D Disney shadowbox piece. This workshop will take place on Sunday, Jan. 19 at 10 a.m.
Gesture Drawing Basics: "Story Telling Drawings"
Master the art of quick sketching from Todd Bright, a former Disney animator who worked on Disney animated films such as "Mulan," "Tarzan" and "Lilo and Stitch." You'll create your own sketch by practicing gesture drawing — a foundational practice for animators, storyboard artists and directors. This workshop takes place at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26, and Sunday, Feb. 16.
Animation 101: Flip Book Fundamentals
Todd Bright will also be teaching the fundamental principles of animation as you make your own moving sketches and bring them to life. Tools will be provided. Reserve a spot for either Sunday, Feb. 2, or Sunday, Feb. 23 at 10 a.m.
Doodling with Viz
Gregg "Viz" Visintainer of Viz Art Ink will present a doodling class on Sunday, Feb. 9 at 10 a.m. Create a master doodling piece with hidden pictures and words.
Be sure to save room in your luggage for that new beautiful, hand-painted canvas! Check out additional details about the seminars and workshops here.
Epcot International Festival of the Arts Tips and Tricks
- Pick up a free festival passport at the park entrance before you head in. It was perfect for planning our day! Everything you need to know is packed inside, including all of the Food Studios' menus and the times and locations for shows and activities. While you're at it, grab the Times Guide too. It will list all of the featured artists and where you can find them.
- Try scheduling your visit for Tuesday through Thursday mornings for lighter crowds. Locals tend to stop by on the weekends!
- If you have the time, try dedicating a full day to Epcot. There is so much to do and see at the Festival of the Arts!
- Attend the first showing at 5:30 p.m. of the Disney on Broadway concert series. Crowds usually increase later in the evening. (We also like to play it safe and catch the first showing in case weather interferes later!)
- Arrive about 30 minutes ahead of time for the best standby seats at the Disney on Broadway concert. We still managed to get a decent central spot about 20 minutes before show time. If you just want to enjoy the music and it doesn't matter where you sit, you can stroll in about 10 minutes before.
- If you’re already planning on a sit-down meal during your day at Epcot, we highly recommend the Disney on Broadway Concert Series Dining Package. Not only will you get a delicious meal at one of Epcot’s five best restaurants, but also guaranteed prime seating at the concert!
- Find interactive photo-ops throughout World Showcase. You and your tadpoles can become part of classic masterpieces for fun family photos!
- There are many Disney character meet-and-greet stations located around the park. They even have their own individual art easel ready for the photo-op!
- Take time to visit with the artists around World Showcase. Watch them paint and chat with them! If art interests your tadpoles, this is a truly unique opportunity to show them where their creativity can take them. We loved seeing Lily inspired to make her own giant dreamcatcher, and Tad excited to go home and paint his favorite "Star Wars" character.
- Go all out and wear your most creative outfit! Take inspiration from this frog's "Starry Night"-themed dress.
- Share your snacks! Many of the festival flavors are quite unique and rich. Some flavors may be too intense to indulge in a full serving of yourself. Sample around the world and split, sip and savor flavors among your frog squad. This is the perfect way to introduce your little ones to exciting new ingredients and teach them about culture.
- In general, all of the artist tents and Food Studios are located by the main path near the lagoon (rather than inside the pavilions). If you grab food at a Food Studio, you’ll need to find a nearby bench or a standing table.
- Don’t froget about the other half of the Food Studios menus — the drinks! Parents can enjoy specialty adult beverages (Leap had a tough time picking among the many beer and wine options), while the tadpoles can sip on the Blue Sky Black Cherry Boba Freeze drink from Pop Eats! or the Sipping Chocolate Flight from The Artist's Table.
- Check out your usual food stops, such as Refreshment Outpost and Fife & Drum for more special Epcot International Festival of the Arts food and beverages.
- Find unique festival merchandise, special pins and more in the Festival Showplace and around the park. As always, we recommend creating a "wishlist" throughout the day and picking up all of your sought-after items at the Festival Markets on your way out.
What excites you the most about this year's festival? Have a question about the Epcot International Festival of the Arts? Ask away in comments, and then hop over to purchase discount Disney World tickets.
Related: Guide to Walt Disney World Events