This week kicked off the all-new Epcot International Festival of the Arts, and while we were somewhat surprised last fall when this event was first announced, if you were thinking that this event would be a hastily thrown-together affair, you would actually be quite mistaken. We visited Epcot on the first day of this new festival, and while it’s still too early to judge the entire festival just yet, what we’ve seen in just a single day is already quite encouraging. If you’re planning to visit this new festival in the coming days, here’s everything you should know:
1. Short lines at food booths, but long waits for actual food
Though the Epcot International Festival of the Arts is a celebration of creativity in all forms, many guests are looking at this new event as an extension of the International Food and Wine Festival, with plenty of interesting new sips and bites available around the park at some familiar-looking kiosks. However, such an assumption would only be half-right, and here’s why:
First of all, there are far fewer food kiosks around the World Showcase during this event. While the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival has grown in the past few years to include nearly two dozen kiosks, the Epcot International Festival of the Arts has less than a third of that, with fewer than ten kiosks offering "artful" cuisine for guests to savor.
However, even though there are less options overall, the portion sizes are a little bigger, and unfortunately that means prices are a little higher as well. Though $40 might get you half a dozen samples during Food and Wine, you'll only get about half that at this new festival, so guests who are looking forward to this component of the festival may want to budget accordingly.
Finally, one thing we noticed walking around the festival on its opening day was that there seems to be less waiting in line to order these new food items. However, even though lines went really quickly at first, because these dishes are quite involved to assemble, the wait at the window to receive food was quite lengthy, with some guests waiting nearly 15 minutes before being able to take their food. And when you are standing in front of a kiosk, that can feel like an eternity.
While we expect that this may change as the event goes own, as of right now, if you are planning on sampling some of the food offerings at this new festival (and you absolutely should!), definitely budget a good amount of time, as you could be waiting awhile. And speaking of waiting...
2. You’ll probably need a reservation for the Disney on Broadway concert
We were definitely intrigued when it was announced that Broadway talent was coming to Epcot as part of this new festival. Though there are plenty of entertaining shows around Walt Disney World, Disney on Broadway has never had a presence inside the parks, which is actually kind of surprising when you think about it. And based on the reaction to the inaugural Disney on Broadway performance, which featured Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland performing songs from Disney’s on Broadway's greatest hits, including Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins, Tarzan, The Little Mermaid and even the upcoming Frozen, Disney on Broadway may be one of the biggest hits at an Epcot festival in a long time.
Though it's not uncommon to see long queues for popular acts during other Epcot festivals during the year, the standby line for Disney on Broadway's first performance stretched all the way from the America Gardens Theater all the way past the Germany Pavilion, with many guests waiting hours in the rain for the chance to attend one of the three daily shows.
So the takeaway here is that if you want to see this show, and can get reserved seating, you absolutely should. Walt Disney World annual passholders are currently able to register for reserved seating for a single performance here, and Disney is also offering a dining package that includes a guaranteed seat for the day's Disney on Broadway performance as well.
While of course you can wait in the stand-by line for Disney on Broadway, if crowds for this new offering are anything like what they were on the first day of this festival, be prepared to camp out for several hours if you want a seat.