Everything You Must Do at the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts

EPCOT's shortest festival definitely packs a punch. Here's how to maximize your time if you only have a single day to experience it.
EPCOT International Festival of the Arts (Photo: Harrison Cooney)
EPCOT International Festival of the Arts (Photo: Harrison Cooney)

One of my favorite times to explore EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando is during the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts. This short festival celebrates all of the various types of art like music, food, and painting in a way that only Disney can. The festival runs from mid-January to late February, so while it’s EPCOT’s shortest festival, it definitely packs a punch.

How to Do the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts in One Day

There’s so much to do at the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts that you and your family couldn’t possibly everything in a single day. But for those who do only have one day, I’ve put together an itinerary that hits all the must-do’s and must-eats at this colorful festival.

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Morning Must-Do’s at EPCOT International Festival of the Arts

EPCOT is typically the last Walt Disney World theme park to open in the morning, which means you get to sleep in a little longer at your resort hotel. But you should definitely take advantage of each moment the park is open to ensure you get everything done.

At the front entrance of the park there’s a bright display with rainbows, paint tubes, and of course the lovable dragon Figment, which makes for a great family photo spot.

Before heading to World Showcase, be sure to hit up World Nature, near The Seas With Nemo and Friends, to take part in the Expression Section: A Paint by Numbers Mural. Each day from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. you can get a small tub of paint and a paintbrush to help fill in the colors of a large mural. As you leave the painting area you’ll get a bookmark with what the finished mural will end up looking like. Swing back by the mural at the end of the day to see how far away it is from being done.

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As you make your way back to of World Showcase, be sure to swing through the center walkway to see some amazing chalk art by talented artists. Some of the art is a recreation of a famous painting, and others include fan-favorite Disney characters like Mickey Mouse.

Those traveling with kids should stop by Port of Entry, Creations Shop, or World Traveler to pick up the Figment’s Brush with the Masters scavenger hunt map. The fun activity has families searching through each of the World Showcase pavilions to find Figment in a famous painting, and placing the corresponding sticker on the map. Once you have all of the stickers in the right spots you can return to Disney Traders or World Traveler to get a prize.

Afternoon Must-Do’s at EPCOT International Festival of the Arts

Spaceship Earth Celebrates EPCOT International Festival of the Arts (Photo: David Roark)
Spaceship Earth Celebrates EPCOT International Festival of the Arts (Photo: David Roark)

The afternoon should mostly be spent in World Showcase, especially if you plan on sampling all of the amazing foods that are available during the festival. It doesn’t matter if you start on the Mexico or Canada side of World Showcase for your culinary tour, but you will want to pace yourself because many of the portions are deceptively large.

A few must-try foods from the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts include:

  • Deconstructed French Onion Soup: Beef Broth Ravioli, Gruyere Espuma, Onion Bread Pudding and Onion Textures (The Deconstructed Dish – Near Port of Entry)
  • Deconstructed Key Lime Pie: Flexible Key Lime Curd, “Key Lime” Mousse, Graham Cracker Cake and Meringues (The Deconstructed Dish – Near Port of Entry)
  • Huarache Verde: Cilantro Huarache with Cochinita Pibil, Fresh Pineapple and Pickled Onion (El Artista Hambriento – Mexico)
  • Opera Cake: Almond Joconde, Coffee Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache (Pastoral Palate – Germany)
  • Tomato Soup with Bacon, Apple and Brie Grilled Cheese (Pop Eats – Near Port of Entry)

Be sure to save room for the Vibrante & Vívido: Encanto Cocina, located between Morocco and France. The entire food booth is inspired by the Disney hit film Encanto, with bright colors, festive music from the film, and delicious bites. Sadly, there are no healing arepas like in the film, but the house-made chorizo and potato empanada is the star of the show here.

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As you walk around World Showcase you’ll spot plenty of gallery tents showcasing some amazing art. If you want to hop into some art yourself, there are Artful Photo Opportunities around EPCOT where your entire family can join famous photos like the Mona Lisa or The Scream and get your picture taken.

When it’s time for a break, head to the America Gardens Theatre for the Animation Academy where everyone in your group can learn how to draw a famous Disney character like Goofy or Stitch. The Animation Academy is free and you get to take your drawing home with you if you wish.

Evening Must-Do’s at EPCOT International Festival of the Arts

As night falls at EPCOT, the park truly comes to life. One not-to-be-missed activity is the DISNEY ON BROADWAY Concert Series, featuring the real Broadway stars of some of Disney’s biggest Broadway hits like Aladdin, Tarzan, and Mary Poppins. The nightly shows take place inside the America Gardens Theatre and seating is limited.

The best way to get a guaranteed seat is to purchase a dining package. If you’ve had enough to eat around World Showcase then you can wait in the stand-by line for a seat. I recommend getting in the stand-by line at least 45 minutes early on weekends and 30 minutes early on weekdays.

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Harmonious debuts October 1, 2021, at EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort (Photo: Matt Stroshane)
Harmonious fireworks celebration at EPCOT (Photo: Matt Stroshane)

The end of any day at Disney means fireworks. Be sure to stick around for Harmonious, the nightly fireworks show at EPCOT. There are great viewing spots all around World Showcase Lagoon. When looking for a spot, be sure the large ring in the middle of the lagoon is open to you. My favorite spots include the area between the Canada and Mexico pavilions and the space between the Italy and Japan pavilions.

On the way out of the festival, stop and watch the Beacon of Magic show on Spaceship Earth, which has a fun nod to the festival by playing and lighting up to the Muppets singing “Rainbow Connection.”

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Megan duBois
Megan duBois is a freelance writer who covers theme parks, cruising, food and drink, and family travel. Her work has appeared on Buzzfeed, Popsugar, Insider, Orbitz, The Daily Meal, Family Vacation Critic, TravelPulse, and more. Megan has been quoted as an expert and thought leader on theme parks for Forbes and other outlets. Follow her on Instagram @MinglingwithMickey and Twitter @Megand513 for theme park travel tips and tricks, and email her at megand513 [at] gmail [dot] com for story ideas.

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