Epcot was my favourite park the first time we came to WDW, and because I only had one day there in 2016 I had it built up in my mind for this most recent trip. It was the Festival of the Arts while we were there this time (last time it was the Flower and Garden Festival). I didn’t really know too much about it, and it didn’t really seem that interesting to me. But I was really, really wrong. I think it just exceeded every expectation.
We arrived an hour before opening on our Epcot day. We were staying offsite, so we left at 7:30 am each morning on park days… I believe we also aimed for that when we stayed onsite last time. I am definitely a “get-there-for-rope-drop” kind of person. You can get in line, get some pictures, get yourself settled. We grabbed the booklet that was available for the festival, and took advantage of our early arrival time by looking through it and familiarizing ourselves with what the festival had to offer.
Once we got through the gates (about 45 minutes early), they had a little drumming presentation at the base of Spaceship Earth. It’s definitely a long wait, as everyone is crammed into the one small area.
We had a FastPass for Spaceship Earth (we knew that it would be undergoing construction soon, so we didn’t want to miss out on it). Unfortunately it was down when we entered the park, BUT they gave us the option of having a “multi-experience” pass which was good for the rest of the day on certain rides (everything except Soarin’, Test Track and Frozen… if one of those rides went down we would’ve gotten a pass for the higher tiered rides). This worked in our favour because when we walked by Spaceship Earth the next time it was open and a walk on, so we were able to use the pass for a different ride.
So we changed course (again, easier with 2 people or just adults for SURE) and went straight to Soarin’, and it was literally a flood of people, so we ended up going on The Seas with Nemo & Friends first. It was a good call because it was a walk on, and then we went to Soarin’ and used our free FastPass from the DVC (Disney Vacation Club) presentation. From what I’ve read and now seen, this is one you will just always want a FastPass for because the standby line is always SUPER long. However, they were projecting a screen from the “Play Disney Parks” app to help the line go faster, which is fun.
We then quickly did Living with the Land and Journey into Imagination with Figment as we were in the area (both really fun and worth doing if the lineup is short).
We went to “Club Cool” right as it opened at 10:30 am, and it was PACKED! Super busy. You can try a ton of different pop flavours from around the world. We went back after our second time around the World Showcase and for another coffee hit (Starbucks and Club Cool are in the same area) and it wasn’t busy at all… so if it’s busy and you have the time, go back when it’s not as crazy. *Note that since we’ve been, there are major renos happening at Epcot. Club Cool is currently closed down, but you can still get a flight of sodas at the Coke Store in Disney Springs.
Then we headed over to the other side of the park and did Mission: SPACE. Truthfully, I was really really nervous about this ride. We did the green track, but I’ve been fighting anxiety in this last year and all of the warnings were a bit much. There is a green track (easy) and an orange track (extreme) that lets you feel the G-forces of leaving Earth’s orbit. They’ve changed the video to the green track since the last time we were here to be more current. In the end, it was really fun… I quite liked it. We had a FastPass for later in the day to do Test Track so we waited on that.
From here we headed to the World Showcase. We walked the extra length to go in via the main entrance. I do recommend this for the first time (instead of entering behind Test Track). Bonus: we got there early enough that the main photo op line wasn’t too bad. We didn’t have PhotoPass this time around, so we gave the Cast Member our cell phone and they got a great photo. PRO TIP: remember to get there early as the line-ups are much more manageable.
In that same entrance area were the Living Statues, and they were HILARIOUS! We managed to have no line here as well, so we spent some extra time there… one statue even stole Dan’s water bottle out of his bag while our picture was being taken!
We headed straight for a food booth unique to the festival. We ended up getting a “deconstructed BLT”. It was delicious! Keep in mind these are very very small plates. And they run from $6.00-9.00, so they can definitely add up (especially if you add a drink). The first pavilion after the food booth was Canada. We didn’t spend a ton of time there (obviously).
We then headed towards Morocco, because we knew we wanted something more substantial to eat from there. At that point we saw a framed picture of Figment, and thought it was really cool… then at the next pavilion we saw another one. We asked a Cast Member and they explained that it was called “Figment’s Brush with the Masters Scavenger Hunt”. Purchase a booklet, find all of the 11 paintings (one in each pavilion), and get a prize at the end.
In the France and Morocco areas we noticed vinyl stickers of Disney characters on various wall. The cats from The Aristocats, Abu from Aladdin, Pascal. We found a Cast Member (remember, Cast Members are there to help. You don’t always have to figure out things on your own!) She told us they were all over the pavilions in the World Showcase for the Festival of the Arts. We had the best time looking for them! I wish we could’ve found them all, but there really wasn’t time.
We spent the majority of the afternoon and evening in the World Showcase. (By the end of the day we had walked it in it’s entirety three separate times!) It was significantly less busy at the beginning of the day, which you will see from the pictures.
Epcot International Festival of the Arts
It was really neat to be there for the Festival of the Arts. I love that they celebrate three areas of art: culinary, performance, and visual arts. One of the things they do is give you a “passport” where you can see all of the specialty foods from each country. We had a list of 5 or 6 “must eats”. Unfortunately, Danny and I have very different food tastes. I mean, maybe that’s not unfortunate, cause then we both got to try things that were great!
Some other things that were unique to the festival include:
The Disney on Broadway Concert Series: Broadway stars live on an outdoor stage performing a variety of Disney songs. We liked that we could walk by, stop and hear a couple of songs, and not have to wait a really long time.
Easels with character specific art: Set up by character meet and greet spots, and they had unbelievable 3D chalk art! You also could take part in workshops with Disney artists and create your own art!
The paint by numbers wall was also a highlight. They gave each person a paintbrush and asked you to paint five squares that corresponded with your paint number. It was really incredible to be a part of something so large. My understanding is they change out the board quite often because so many people are in the park that it gets completed after a couple of days! Because we headed to the World Showcase as it was opening, we didn’t have to wait in line for the wall, but I do think it gets pretty busy.
And lastly, as part of the festival, you could step “into” famous paintings. Truthfully I found this a bit awkward (clearly, lol), but I would’ve loved it with the kids or my family. To Get a more detailed account of Festival of the Arts, check out this post.
We bought as many things as we could that were featured in the festival booklet because we knew it could be our only chance to try them. At one point I realized I was quite hungry and needed something more substantial, so we split the pita combo at the quick service restaurant in Morocco (Tangierine Cafe). And it really didn’t disappoint!
The other items we tried (from the festival) were:
– Sushi Donut: Donut-shaped Sushi featuring Salmon, Tuna, Shrimp, Avocado and Masago accented with Citrus-soy Gelée and Wasabi on the side
– Roasted Candied Beet Salad with Goat Cheese Fritters
– Trio of Savory Croissant Doughnuts: Whipped Boursin® Garlic & Fine Herbs Cheese with Fresh Herbs; Chicken Salad with Shaved Fennel and Fresh Herbs; and Spicy Tuna with Wasabi and Seaweed Salad
The items that weren’t from the Festival were our pitas from Morocco (they really filled us up and were inexpensive) and poutine from Canada. I really wanted the poutine in Canada. It was okay… I liked the gravy a LOT (it was the best gravy I’ve ever bought), but it wasn’t really hot enough for me.
One thing I personally don’t like about the World Showcase is how the Starbucks is nowhere close. When there isn’t a Starbucks around we settle for Joffrey’s. Our experience is they make pretty good espresso based drinks, but not so good other drinks. We got the cold brew because it was huge and cheap (24 ounces for $3.50ish). The first alarming thing was how much ice they tried to put in it. Then they were going to put in sweetener, and then they were about to dump in a ton of CREAM! I got it modified with no sweetener, a little milk, and light ice and it just didn’t cut it. We never felt the pick me up that we need from our afternoon coffee.
When we were done going around the World Showcase twice (we had popped out for a FastPass) it was dark. My husband suggested we walk around one more time in the dark to see all of the pavilions at night so we did. It was nice to see them all lit up for sure.
There is just SO much to see at Epcot. We managed to time our day well and do all of the attractions (Spaceship Earth, Nemo & Friends, Living with the Land, Journey into Imagination with Figment, Mission: SPACE, Frozen Ever After, Gran Fiesta Tour) once and our two favourites (Soarin’ and Test Track) twice.
Epcot really is an amazing park, and can be enjoyed by all ages. The Kidcot Fun Stop stations were a huge highlight for our kids and they’ve changed them a bit so I can’t wait to go back (I know it’s a kid-free post, but we are still parents!).
Now that I’ve been to Epcot for two of the four annual festivals, I just can’t imagine not going back for the other two. What’s your favourite festival at Epcot? We’d love to hear from you!
Have a magical day!