It’s always a good time to visit Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. And if you want to go to just one place and feel as if you have gone all around the world, Epcot is the best place to visit. Through February 29, Epcot is hosting the 3rd Epcot International Festival of the Arts. In total, the annual celebration of the visual, culinary and performing arts will have run for 39 days.
Epcot already offers food and music from around the world, but the festival brings park guests more live music than ever before, along with fresh tastes to savor and new artwork to admire and bring home. In addition to the regular features of Epcot, the festival features pop-up restaurants that will offer different cuisines—ranging from Japanese, German and Chinese fare—spread among 13 Food Studios, plus additional creative food and beverage offerings.
Among other things, the Artist’s Table will feature Beef Wellington with mushroom bordelaise, fennel cream and roasted baby vegetables. Smoked salmon and cream gâteau with egg yolk cream, paddlefish caviar and micro-herbs are sure to be new favorites at The Painter’s Palate. Pop Eats! will serve up almond frangipani cake with raspberry and chocolate sauce. Red wine-braised short ribs with parsnip purée, broccolini, baby tomatoes and aged balsamic will also be available at Cuisine Classique.
There are also pop-up art vendors, which will allow guests to fan their inspirational flames by bringing a piece of the festival home with them.
Art collectors and Disney enthusiasts alike will find artwork for sale throughout the entire park, from the Art of Disney store to the Festival Markets. In addition, special merchandise will be available at Mouse Gear and other Epcot locations featuring the festival’s logo adorning shirts, mugs, totes and other charming items.
The 2019 event provides fun every day for the whole family, including mesmerizing performance art, complimentary seminars, hands-on activities and much more, including the invitation to grab a paint brush and help create a wall mural along World Showcase Plaza; an opportunity to literally step inside works of art and take fun photos, such as the “Washington Crossing the Delaware” Artful Photo Opportunity; and a chance to sign up for a variety of workshops led by professionals who will teach different artistic techniques, among other activities.
On the music scene, international musical and variety acts will share their talents with guests, including the return of Bodh’aktan to the Canada stage and Delta Q, a new group performing in Germany.
New this year, the Disney on Broadway Concert Series expands to seven days a week during the festival, providing more opportunities than ever before to bask in live Disney magic. Each week, different pairs of Disney on Broadway stars will take the America Gardens Theatre stage to sing favorite songs from award-winning Disney on Broadway productions. The lineup rotates regularly, featuring music from shows such as “The Lion King,” “Frozen” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Performers this year include: Kerry Butler (“Beauty and the Beast”) and Kevin Massey (“Tarzan”); Meredith Inglesby (“The Little Mermaid”) and Steve Blanchard (“Beauty and the Beast”); Arielle Jacobs and Adam Jacobs (“Aladdin”); Heidi Blickenstaff (“Freaky Friday”) and Gavin Lee (“Mary Poppins”); Ashley Brown (“Mary Poppins”) and Josh Strickland (“Tarzan”).
In addition, Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White (“The Lion King”) will perform during the Festival. Kissy Simmons starred as Nala in Disney’s “The Lion King” on Broadway. She also starred in this role on the national tour and in the Las Vegas production. Kissy is a native of Floral City, Florida and a proud graduate of the University of South Florida. Alton Fitzgerald White is Broadway’s longest-running King Mufasa in Disney’s “The Lion King,” with more than 4,300 performan- ces. His other Broadway starring roles include “The Color Purple,” “Ragtime,” “Miss Saigon,” “Tommy” and “Smokey Joe’s Café.”
The concert series is included with park admission, and show times are 5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m. nightly. I was able to visit Epcot in late January, and it is always a treat to visit the different sections that represent different countries, such as France, Germany, China and Great Britain. These exhibits make you feel as if you are in a particular country, with food, music and souvenir shops that directly showcase that country’s favorite offerings. I also enjoyed a concert, where Massey and Butler performed hits from “Tarzan,” “Newsies,” “Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Frozen,” among other Disney great films. Simmons and Fitzgerald White will perform February 13 and February 14; February 17 and February 18; February 21 and February 22; February 24 and on February 25.
For more information on the 2019 Epcot International Festival of the Arts, visit DisneyWorld.com.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen is the author of “Old School Adventures from Englewood—South Side of Chicago.” For book information email: editor91210@yahoo. com.