Epcot International Festival of the Arts 2018: My Top Picks

Epcot International Festival of the Arts 2018: My Top Picks

Epcot International Festival of the Arts: It’s Back!

2017 was the festival’s inaugural year, and it was smallish, only open Fridays – Mondays. For 2018, the festival is much bigger and runs full-time from January 12 – February 19.

Last year, I thought the Epcot International Festival of the Arts was fun and, you know, fine. This year, though, I absolutely love it. Remember when I joked that Epcot was going the way of all festivals, all the time? I’m still totally ok with that.

All Forms of Art

Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts encompasses all kinds of art: performance, visual, and culinary. Similar to Food & Wine and Flower & Garden, the World Showcase features multiple booths, each with themed fare. Between the food opportunities, you’ll find tents filled with all kinds of original art and prints. Much of it is Disney-themed (which includes Star Wars!), but plenty is not.

In the Odyssey Center, you’ll find seminars, workshops, and even an Animation Academy. The seminars and Animation Academy are complimentary with park admission. The workshops are $39 and need to be booked in advance.

At the Fountainview Plaza, pause to see living statues, painting demonstrations, and live performances. We were fortunate enough to catch Stephen Fishwick creating a painting of Stitch along to music one morning, and it was such a fun and unique experience!

Other fun stuff includes chalk art, screen printing by Enemy Ink, a student gallery, and a huge paint-by-number mural that you can participate in creating.

Are you a Disney on Broadway fan? If so, be sure to visit the America Gardens Theatre. From Monday – Friday, Disney on Broadway stars perform beloved hits from their shows. The lineup for the remainder of the festival:

  • February 2 – 5: Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White
  • February 9 – 12 and 16 – 19: Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland (we saw them last year and they were excellent!)

Oh, and perhaps our family’s favorite: photo ops that allow you to become part of famous paintings.

The Ear Collector Ohana does The Scream and The Mona Lisa - Epcot International Festival of the Arts

My Top Picks

Fun Stuff

  • Figment’s Brush with the Masters. Similar to the traditional Epcot Eggstravaganza (Easter egg hunt), you purchase a map, search around the World Showcase for classic works of art featuring mischievous Figment, place stickers on your map accordingly, and redeem for a fun pin!
  • Enemy Ink. In Future World West (the building right behind Club Cool), you can pick a fun shirt design and watch as Enemy Ink prints it right in front of you!

Figment's Brush with the Masters Prizes - Pins! Epcot International Festival of the Arts


  • Star Wars. Found a Rey piece from Karen Hallion and an Ahsoka print from Danny Haas. MADE MY DAY.  – located near Germany in the World Showcase
  • Sugarboo & Co. This is one of my favorite shops, and I’m so excited they have a booth! – located near Germany in the World Showcase
  • WonderGround Gallery. This is where you can find lots of adorable art, including pieces from Ashley Taylor (I met her once and she’s super lovely, so now I feel like we’re friends. I never said I wasn’t weird.)
  • Disney Fine Art – multiple booths throughout the festival. Lots of happy-making prints.
  • Thomas Kinkade Studios: this is a fun treat, because it’s the style of Thomas Kinkade with Disney elements. Really pretty; great for nostalgia.

Food & Drinks

Refreshment Port (between the World Showcase entrance and Canada)

Croissant Donut with Pastry Cream

Croissant Donut (Cronut!) with Pastry Cream - Epcot International Festival of the Arts

This was delicious, though much larger and messier than expected! The cronut was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The pastry cream was sweet but not too sweet. There was plenty for two people to share, and we’d buy it again!

Pop Eats (between the World Showcase entrance and Mexico)

Cloudem Sparking Wine

Cloudem Sparkling Wine - Epcot International Festival of the Arts

This sparkling wine actually sparkles and shimmers! Not only is it beautiful, but it’s sweet and oh-so-drinkable. Several different colors, including pink and blue, are available, so it’s a fun surprise to see which one you get!

El Artista Hambriento – The Hungry Artist (Mexico)

Tacos de Puerco: Two Corn Tortillas with Slow-roasted Pork Shoulder, marinated in Ancho Paste and served with Sweet Plantain Puree garnished with Pea Tendrils

Tacos de Puerco - Epcot International Festival of the Arts

The Tacos de Puerco are possibly my favorite offering in the entire festival. Tender pork with smoky, slightly spicy sauce and sweet plantain. YUM. Will absolutely get these again.

Cuisine Classique (Germany)

Red Wine-braised Short Rib with Parsnip Puree, Broccolini, Baby Tomatoes, and Aged Balsamic

Red Wine-braised Beef Short Rib - Epcot International Festival of the Arts

I was expecting a bit more of a pot roast-y type dish, so when we saw the plate, I wasn’t sure I’d like this. It also smelled quite heavily of balsamic vinegar, which Mr. EC finds overpowering. Despite our first impressions, though, we loved it.

The beef fell apart when poked with a fork. The balsamic vinegar ended up being a thick, sweet glaze, and it was an amazing enhancement. The parsnip was sinfully delicious, super creamy, and had an almost cheesy flavor.

L’art de la Cuisine Francaise – The Art of French Cooking (France)

Frose: Frozen Cotes de Provence Rose wine with Grey Goose Vodka and Peach Puree

Frose - Epcot International Festival of the Arts

France is known for having great frozen festival drinks, and this is no exception. Sweet, slushy, and delightfully peachy. Also surprisingly strong – it doesn’t even taste alcoholic, but woooo! I ended up with a fierce headache later that day, which confirms I am too old to be drinking things that contain both wine and liquor. But still! The Frose is delicious; I’d get it again (and split with a friend!)

The Masterpiece Kitchen (Canada)

Charcuterie Palette with Artisan Cured Meats and Cheeses featuring Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Beef

Charcuterie Palette - Epcot International Festival of the Arts

At $14, the Charcuterie Palette is one of the most expensive offerings of the entire festival. Truly, though, it was lovingly assembled and beautifully presented.

I have two wishes for this one: more detail about what the palette contains, and there were only two small toasts on the entire platter. That results in a lot of eating straight-up meat with your fingers.

The featured Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Beef was very good! My absolute favorite, though, was the honeycomb-topped blue cheese. There was one item I couldn’t place (that’s why labels would be helpful!) and I wonder if it might’ve been Pate or Fois Grois.

Final Thoughts on 2018’s Epcot International Festival of the Arts

This year’s festival exceeded all expectations! Everything – the art, the food, the activities, heck, even the branding – are wonderful, and I will return as often as possible. It’s even giving my favorite festival – Epcot Flower and Garden – a little competition!

Have you experienced this year’s Epcot International Festival of the Arts? What did you think? What would you recommend?


Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays: What I Want to Eat and Drink Edition

Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays: What I Want to Eat and Drink Edition

Gluhwein is amazing.

Experiencing the magic of Gluhwein.

You guys.

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to start trying treats from the holiday kitchens at Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays (yes, I’m probably gonna slip up and call it Holidays Around the World a time or two!).

Yep – as we move toward All Festivals, All The Time at Epcot (I’m ok with this) Holidays Around the World has grown and officially become Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays. If you’ve never experienced it, imagine a winter holiday-themed Flower & Garden or Food & Wine. If you’ve never experienced either of those, imagine lots of little kiosks with internationally themed and inspired foods and drinks.

*festive squealing*

These items are at the top of my “must try” list:

Refreshment Port

Chocolate Peppermint Glazed Croissant Donut

Yukon Holiday Kitchen (Canada)

Ice Wine Flight. ICE WINES. Winessss. Plural. More than one. Yes please. Merry Christmas, Kevin.

Maple Buche de Noel. A kind of maple and gingerbread yule-roll-type thing. I need it. Canada has a special place in my heart; maybe it’s because I spent three years living between Seattle and Vancouver, BC. Maybe it’s because of their delicious foods like nanaimo and poutine. Maybe it’s a little because of Justin Trudeau. I guess we can’t be sure.

Alsace Holiday Kitchen (France)

Spiced Rum Punch Slush. I haven’t yet met an Epcot slush I didn’t enjoy, and this one is delightfully red and contains spiced rum, orange, and cinnamon. It sounds SO endearingly Christmassy, I can practically hear sleigh bells and reindeer hooves. I’m just picturing drinkable holiday cheer. Side note: I wasn’t really even considering trying this (not much of a rum person) until Disney Food Blog tempted me with their photo and review. Now, it’s one of the items I’m MOST excited about.

Hokkaido Holiday Kitchen (Japan)

Cinnamon Mochi Cake: Cinnamon and Coconut Cake. I’m in love with cinnamon this time of year and I always love coconut, so what could go wrong?

Strawberry Nigori Sake Cocktail: Semi-sweet Unfiltered Sake with Puréed Strawberry. I’ve never had Sake because I’m afraid it’ll taste like gasoline, but this sounds so juicy and tempting.

American Holiday Table

Slow-Roasted Turkey with Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, and Cranberry Sauce. All the holiday foods in one boat. I’ll take it.

Chocolate Apple Shake featuring Twinings Winter Spice Herbal Tea and Bols Butterscotch Schnapps. Oh. Em. Goodness. Also available in a nonalcoholic version.

Cocoa Candy Cane: Nestlé Chocolate Delights Hot Cocoa with Peppermint Schnapps. Yuuuuup. Pretty sure this is the kind of thing you’re supposed to leave out for Santa.

Bavaria Holiday Kitchen (Germany area)

So basically, I’m gonna need this entire menu. It offers a bunch of my favorite holiday things: cheese, melted cheese, mulled wine, and cider. My heritage is Bavarian so I feel especially validated in my love for those foods, too.

Cheese Fondue in a Bread Bowl

Melty cheeeese.

German Artisan Cheese Plate: German ButterKase with Ham, Mushroom Brie with Pretzel Crostini, and Tillamook Cheddar. Had this last year. Having it again this year. The ButterKase is so creamy (imagine Gouda meets Munster, maybe?) and the Mushroom Brie gives a little something extra to one of my favorite everyday cheeses.

German Artisan Cheese Plate

German Artisan Cheese Plate

Cheese Fondue in a Bread Bowl with freshly steamed Baby Vegetables and Marble Potatoes. Also had this last year. It involves melted cheese, so I’m DEFINITELY having it again. You can’t go wrong with melted cheese at any time, but hot, melted cheese on a cold Florida evening, surrounded by evergreens and fairy lights? Heart eyes.

Hard Apple Cider and Hard Blackcurrant cider. Oh yeah. Mmm hmm.

And last but not least, my personal favorite: Glühwein! Imagine red wine mulled with clementine, cinnamon, and every delicious Christmas spice imaginable. HOLIDAY JUICE, if you will. You drink it warm, and it is perfection.


Gluhwein makes me happy.

Tuscan Holiday Kitchen (Italy)

Panettone alla Milanese: Warm Italian Fruit Cake with Vanilla Sauce and Cherry Syrup 😳

(If the words “fruit cake” scare you, Panettone is not very similar to the heavy, sticky thing I bet you’re picturing. The versions I’ve had have been more akin to a light, fluffy raisin bread.)

Norway: Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe

Traditional Holiday Rice Cream. No idea if this is different from the rice cream served at Kringla Bakeri year-round, but I’m kind of hoping for something with apple, cardamom, and raisins – yummm.

The Cookie Nook (Odyssey Center)

Warm Apple Fritter with Cinnamon Ice Cream and Warm Caramel Sauce

Gingersnap Cookie with Cream Cheese Icing and Cranberry Jam

Florida Orange Groves Winery Sparkling Cranberry Wine

Someone please fetch me a paper bag to breathe into.

Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen (Mexico)

Tostada de Tinga: Crispy Corn Tortilla smothered with Black Beans, topped with Chipotle Chicken and garnished with Crema Mexicana, Queso Fresco, Avocado, and Tomatillo Sauce. “Oooohhhhh” is the only commentary I’ve got right now.

Okay, well, now I’m starving. Someone we know will probably be leaving Epcot quite a few dishes fuller bit also several dollars poorer.

Your turn! Are you visiting Epcot during International Festival of the Holidays? What are you most eager to try? Have you experienced any of the dishes I’m longing to get? If so, what did you think?

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Make the Most out of Epcot Flower & Garden Festival’s Last Weekend

Why does it feel like just last week that Epcot Flower & Garden Festival was starting and everyone was excited for the debut of Beauty and the Beast? 

On Monday, Flower & Garden comes to an end and I still haven’t made it to the theatre for B&TB. 😱

Where does the time go? I’m not ready to say goodbye to Flower and Garden.
This is my favorite festival of the year, so I’ll be braving the Memorial Day crowds to have one more go of taking in the beauty, enjoying my favorite seasonal treats, and attempting to try all the things I haven’t been able to get my hands on.

The Must Have at Least One More Time list:

  • Desert Violet Lemonade. Obviously. This Instagram darling is sweet, tart, and fruity. And it’s a slush. Oh yeah. The perfect spring drink. – Pineapple Promenade (near the start of World Showcase, just a bit before Canada)
  • Watermelon Salad. I’d buy a whole bucket of this is they’d let me. Peppery arugula, lush, juicy watermelon, tart, creamy feta cheese, the syrupy zing of balsamic glaze, and the astringent sweetness of pink pickled onions. I’m not an onion fan – raw onions especially (they taste like fire), but I loooove these pink pickled onions. – Urban Farm Eats (along the path between the Imagination Pavilion and the World Showcase)
  • Candied Strawberries. These are so strange and so delicious! Imagine a skewer of bright, plump strawberries coated in an almost savory sesame-esque brittle candy. – Lotus House (China)
  • M.S.G: Mango Wine, Strawberry and Ginger Ale. This was DELICIOUS. If you like peach or lychee (neither of which are in this drink, but, you know), you’ll like this. SO fruity and refreshing! – Lotus House (China)

The Would Really Like to Have at Least One More Time if Life Permits List:

  • Nanaimo Bar Trifle. Creamy and comforting, this is like an extra-decadent chocolate and coconut layered pudding. – Northern Bloom (Canada)
  • La Vie en Rose Slush. Essentially a strong, exponentially more delicious version of a vodka cranberry with a hint of Saint Germain. The pale pink color is exceedingly pleasing. – Fleur de Lys (France)
  • Watermelon Cucumber Slush. Hydrating, summery, and fruity. I’ve had the alcoholic version (gin) twice, once was perfection and the other was stunningly strong. The non-alcoholic version is equally delightful. Sweet, but not too sweet. – Florida Fresh (between France and Morocco)
  • Frushi. This fruit sushi is a festival staple! Cute, novel, and tasty. – Hanami (Japan)
  • Warm Chocolate Cake with Bourbon-Salted Caramel Sauce and Spiced Pecans. So good! Warm, caramelly, and spicy. – The Smoke House: Barbecue and Brews (US)
  • Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapeños. I really liked this one! Mega flavorful and just a teensy bit spicy. I love a good mingle of jalapeño and cheese flavors! – The Smoke House: Barbecue and Brews (US)

The These Sound Really Good and I Want to Try Them Before They’re Gone List:

  • Avivé Natural Peach Sparkling WineUrban Farm Eats 
  • Ciderboys Strawberry Magic Hard Strawberry CiderCider House (UK)
  • Caribe Blood Orange Tropical Hard CiderCider House (UK)
  • Carne Asada with Black Bean Cake and Cilantro Lime Cream Cheese – Florida Fresh
  • Meatball Parmigiana: Hand-made Beef and Veal Meatballs, Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Parmigiana and Fresh Basil – Primavera (Italy)

The Mr. EC’s favorites list:

  • Currywurst with Curry Ketchup and Paprika Chips – Bauernmarket (Germany)
  • The aforementioned Violet Lemonade
  • The aforementioned Nanaimo Bar Trifle
  • Beef Tenderloin TipsNorthern Bloom (mentioned below)

And finally, Things I Have Tried:

  • Warm Wild Berry Buckle with Pepperberry Sorbet. Nothing at all wrong with this one, but I felt the flavors were much more suited to the holiday season instead of spring. – The Berry Basket
  • Spicy Hot Dog with Pineapple Chutney and Plantain Chips. This was unusual and tasty, but the hot dog itself was a bit too spicy for my liking. – Pineapple Promenade
  • Beef Tenderloin Tips, Mushroom Bordelaise Sauce, Whipped Potatoes with Garden Vegetables. SUPER flavorful. The beef could’ve been more tender, though. – Northern Bloom (Canada)

There you have it! Will you be visiting Epcot this weekend? Which treats are your favorite, and which would you avoid if given the opportunity to experience again?