The International Festival of the Arts at Epcot - Photo Tourby Donald and Bonnie Fink, contributing writer
Every year at the Epcot international Art Festival, there's a tendency to think that the idea is go, buy art, then go home. While that certainly works if that's what you want, there's another side of the festival that we've come to enjoy, and that's the entertainment we get from just being there. Many of the old standby activities are at this year's Art Festival, and a few new ones are here too. Here's what we found.
Figment's Scavenger Hunt
The scavenger hunt is back for this year. It's called Figment's Brush With the Masters, and the way it works is like this:
Buy a map at pretty much any retail location at Epcot. It contains spaces in each land around World Showcase. You also get stickers depicting some of the world's masterpiece paintings. You make your way around World Showcase, searching for a masterpiece painting with a Figment-themed frame. When you find one, place a sticker of that painting on the map next to the pavilion where you found it.
At the end, when you have your map filled out, you can return your map and get a prize. We won't reveal the nature of the prize here, but the idea is to get your young ones looking at art.
The Living Statues are back at this year's Festival of the Arts. You may have seen these performers before. They frequent the Festival of the Arts, but different versions can usually be found at Disney Springs in the evenings, next to the fountain by Amorette's Patisserie. We mentioned them in an earlier Photo Tour about Disney Springs here.
The group that provides Living Statues is called World Gate Entertainment. They've provided over 620 different characters to various shows and events throughout the years, even performing with Taylor Swift at the Grammy Awards in 2013.
There are six mimes at Epcot this year. Their themes are meant to represent Sea, Land, Space, Imagination, Motion, and Energy. Three statues are on stage at a time, so you might have to wait a bit to see all six. We enjoy the Statues. They frequently interact with guests and are often hilarious to watch.
We haven't verified this, but we're pretty sure that the living trees and flowers you sometimes see at Disney's Animal Kingdom are from the same entertainment group.
Also at the Fountain View Stage is a performance called Art Defying Gravity. Several times during the day, artists take the stage and perform gravity-defying maneuvers and poses. They're fun to watch just because you know you couldn't do this in a million years.
There are several groups of performers defying gravity in the Art Defying Gravity show at the Fountain View Stage. These performers do several shows a day during the Festival of the Arts. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Seminars and Workshops at Odyssey Festival Showplace
There's a busy schedule of workshops at this year's international Festival of the Arts. Some are free events, and some are at an extra cost. One workshop that caught our eye was Photography 101: Magic with Water. In this free seminar, Tom Smutny from Disney Photo Imaging talks about camera settings, lenses, and locations to get the best images around water. This workshop takes place on Tuesday, February 13, at 1:30 pm. You can check on its availability, and the availability of other seminars and workshops here.
Disney on Broadway Concert Series
The Disney on Broadway Concert Series is held at the America Gardens Theatre throughout the Epcot international Art Festival. Like other concert series, its schedule is centered around the weekends. You can check the link above for dates and times.
The entertainers this year include performers from Disney Broadway shows, including Ashley Brown. Ms. Brown held the title role in Mary Poppins on Broadway. She also starred as Belle in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway. She'll be performing here at Epcot on February 9-12 and February 16-19.
Another performer appearing on February 9-12 and February 16-19 is Josh Strickland, who appeared in the title role in Tarzan on Broadway.
As with other concert series at Epcot festivals, you can make an evening of the show by purchasing a Dining Package, which gets you into one of the best restaurants at Epcot and provides you with preferred seating at the concert. We've done this many times at various times of the year and have always enjoyed the experience. You can check on reservations for a Dining Package here. Be sure to get in line at least 45 minutes before the concert.
This is a performance by Jenn Gambatese and Kevin Massey during the Broadway Concert Series at the 2018 Epcot International Festival of the Arts. Jenn and Kevin played Tarzan and Jane in Disney's "Tarzan" on Broadway. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
Chalk art is back. This year it's at Future World East, near the closed Ellen's Universe of Energy Pavilion. We first saw this presentation at Downtown Disney, way back before the new construction and transformation to Disney Springs. The artists are usually local talent presenting Disney-inspired scenes using chalk on concrete.
A new twist this year that we haven't noticed before is that in another section, near the local artists, there's a spot sectioned off where young emerging artists can try their hand at some sidewalk chalk art too.
Merchandise and Eats
Expression Section - And Other Fun Things
Back from last year, you can be part of building a mural. Located in Showcase Plaza, guests can color in parts of a giant mural, and of course, you can watch it being revealed as the Art Festival proceeds.
Help create a wall mural at Expression Section at Showcase Plaza. Collect a color and a paint brush from a cast member, then paint in five squares of your choice, so long as they match the number of the color you're supposed to paint. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
You can be part of the art with these interactive pictures. Guests walk into the scene from the side, where they're immersed within the image with a foreground and background. In this scene in Italy, guests stand or sit in front of the giant sea shell from "The Birth of Venus" by Sandro Botticelli. A PhotoPass photographer is on hand to get the shot. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Personal Contact With the Artists
Like most of the festivals at Epcot, there are opportunities to stroll around World Showcase and sample the food and drink, but we've found that there are a great many opportunities to stop in at the various booths and speak with the artists. In many cases, the actual artist that produced the work you're viewing are there to talk and answer questions. This year we spoke with several as we made our way around taking pictures, and had a great time.
Located in Showcase Plaza as you head toward Canada is a booth called Artistic Marbling. These folks are using an ancient Japanese process called Suminagashi, which means "floating ink." What happens here is that you can make your own designs with the help of an artist. The medium is oil-based ink floating in water that is transferred to fabric in the form of a scarf, headband, and so on.
Artistic Marbling is part of an art talent agency called Artistic Talent Group. They are a local talent agency that hires out artists of various disciplines to work and perform at events. In addition to Suminagashi, you can find artists that do airbrush tattoos, face painting, and caricatures.
The process of Suminagashi is fascinating to watch as the ink is swirled into a design, then a fabric is lowered into the water for the transfer. Our understanding is that this process originated in China over 2,000 years ago and has been practiced in Japan since 1200 AD. It's usually done with rice paper, but the adaptation here to fabric makes for an interesting twist to this very old art form.
On the opposite side of World Showcase, by Germany, you can find another Artistic Talent Group booth specializing in graffiti names, where they make art from your name. You can check out Artistic marbling at www.artisticmarbling.com.
A local artist that really caught our eye was Jortra Boutique. Operated by Jorge and Traci, forming the trade name of Jortra (JOR-ge and TRA-ci), these inspired artists create unique jewelry from mostly organic materials. In looking at their work, we saw pieces made from bamboo, coffee beans, orange peels, pumpkin, and cantaloupe seeds. There were a few stones thrown in here and there too, but nowhere did we see any significant amounts of metal. The chains were made from braided thread that looked like metal, but were much lighter.
This art work from Traci and Jorge is not only unique, but tasteful and attractive. We were drawn to it not because it was "organic," but because it was really good work. We think their line will appeal to pretty much all age groups too.
Walfrido Garcia is a painter from Hawaii. This year, at the International Arts Festival, he is located between Japan and the American Pavilion. We found him painting a Hawaiian scene with acrylics on canvas. Walfrido is the real deal. He works at his craft full time. When he's not painting, he's touring from one show to the next, often painting while he's at the show.
Mr. Garcia also displays at the popular Wyland Galleries, so if you miss him at this year's show, you can see his work on the Boardwalk. Walfrido will be back in Orlando on April 6 and 7, displaying his work at the Wyland Gallery on the Boardwalk. You can see more of his work and check his touring schedule on his site at Walfrido.com.
You can watch Walfrido Garcia work on one of his paintings near the America Gardens Theatre. If you stop by, be sure to see hello. He's an interesting guy. Also, pay particular attention to his pieces involving water and waves. Photo by Donald Fink.
We've made more than one visit to the Epcot International Festival of the Arts this year, and each time we've found fun and unique things to do. One time it might be talking to the artists, or just admiring the work. Another visit might involve sampling the food. Whatever your fascination might be, there's a reason you should be here if you can.
There are a variety of things to see and do at any festival at Epcot, but the Festival of the Arts is certainly something worth seeing. If you can, make it a day, or even more. Video by Donald Fink.