The Festival of the Arts returns in 2020 for a 5.5-week run from January 17th through February 24th.
The Festival has quickly become a favorite of many, particularly those who thought Flower and Garden’s three-month spring run, Food and Wine’s 76-day fall extravaganza, and Festival of the Holidays’ month-long merriment were cut a little short.
If you’ve visited an Epcot Food/Wine/Flower/Garden Festival over the last few years, then you know the general idea behind the food and drink options. But Festival of the Arts brings a unique attention to detail with a focus on vibrant colors and bright flavors presented artistically. For any of the other Epcot Festivals, the charcuterie above would be pre-plated with generic offerings and a lack of accompaniments. For Festival of the Arts, each meat and cheese is sliced fresh inside the Studio and plated with care. There’s fresh herbs placed on top of the capocollo which is placed on top of a tangy sauce. There’s fresh honey on top of the blue cheese, pecans served alongside the brie, and pickled onions next to the prosciutto. You typically pay an extra dollar or two for the quality of the ingredients and the attention to detail compared to similar Food/Wine offerings, but both should be worth the extra cost on the recommended items that follow. The above is $14 worth, but it rivals the quality of most Disney restaurants, where you’d pay a similar amount of money. Having the opportunity to try and share a number of dishes around World Showcase is a lot of fun, particularly on warm days with cool evenings that make up much of the Festival’s run.
With the exception of the occasional wine, the website has reviewed every single food and drink item at this year’s Festival. If you find a wine that you do not think tastes like wine, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll rush over and give it a taste. If it does, in fact, taste like wine, then you can expect a bill in the mail.
Here’s an example of what France is offering this year in the form of L’Art de la Cuisine Francaise. You’ll note that the price points are on the higher side, with the food ranging in cost from $7 to $9.
Here’s France’s Food and Wine Festival menu from 2019, when the food prices ranged from under $5 to “just” $6.50:
But I think you’ll be surprised and impressed by the quality of most of the items served at the Festival of the Arts – or at least the ones recommended in the reviews that follow.
Below are the links to the individual Food Studios that you’ll find situated around World Showcase, beginning with Pop Eats! on the walk to the Mexico Pavilion and continuing in order through Decadent Delights on the opposite side. If you’re starting on the Canada side, then you can see about working your way up from the bottom of the list.
- Pop Eats!
- El Artista Hambriento
- The Painted Panda
- Refreshment Outpost
- Cuisine Classique
- L’Arte di Mangiare
- The Artist’s Table
- Funnel Cakes
- Mosaic Canteen
- L’Art du Cuisine Francaise
- The Masterpiece Kitchen
- Refreshment Port
- Deconstructed Dish
- Decadent Delights
Each item is photographed, described, and then rated on taste and value relative to the other Festival offerings.
The Website’s Favorite Items
Below, you’ll find our favorite items. As always, tastes differ, and there’s no guarantee that something won’t change during the Festival’s run. Consider these reviews one (very important) data point in your Festival food research.
Wild Mushroom Risotto – The Masterpiece Kitchen
This risotto is all kinds of rich and creamy. Unbelievably good. A real “masterpiece,” if you will.
Sopes de Barbacoa: Braised Barbacoa Beef served on Fried Guajillo Corn Shell with Black Beans, Cotija Cheese, Mexican Cream and Chives – $7.25
The crispy corn shell is a delicious base for the tender, spicy beef and everything else going on up top. Take advantage of a rare home run from Mexico at a price point that’s below average for the Festival of the Arts.
Tomato Soup Can Bloody Mary – Pop Eats
Easily the best souvenir cup available at the Festival, and probably the most proficient Bloody Mary that we’ve ever seen available at a Walt Disney World theme park, fans of the cocktail and the Festival should add one of these to their shortlists.
Kung Fu Punch – The Painted Panda
Almost everything in China is overpriced this year, but the $10.50 Kung Fu Punch moves over from the Food and Wine Festival. Featuring Vodka, Triple Sec, and sweet tropical flavors, it packs a surprising punch as cast members are typically heavy-handed with their pours.
Beef Shu Mai – The Painted Panda
This may be more of a recommendation for those with Disney Dining Plan snack credits, as $10.50 is a rough price point to pay for an item that you’re expected to eat outside, potentially on top of a trash can, or with a railing serving as your table or chair. But this was probably the tastiest dish of the afternoon with each of the three steamed dumplings packed full of spicy beef and perched on top of a briny, sweet slice of crunchy pickle. You don’t necessarily have to let the fact that it’s two dollars overpriced keep you away.
Plant-based Bratwurst with Spicy Turmeric Aïoli, Coffee Barbecue Jackfruit, and Slaw – Refreshment Outpost
The size of this thing is just about big enough to be a meal, but it’s also a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan. It’s a no-brainer for vegetarians and everyone else may be surprised by how well the flavors come together.
The Draft Beers – Refreshment Outpost
While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the Popcorn Pairing Flight – the popcorn is left out and lacks any sort of crispiness – each of the drafts offered is very good this year. You can also order them in 12-ounce individual pours, which is rare at the Festival, where individual pours are usually six ounces, and the flights arrive with three 4-ounce cups.
Caramel Cream Tart – Cuisine Classique
A good size, this sweet dessert has a lot going on with a couple of cream puffs on top, in addition to the sweet caramel custard surrounded by the lightly crispy exterior. Table service quality.
Rossini: Prosecco Mousse with Strawberry Sauce (contains alcohol) – L’Arte di Mangiare
This boozy dessert is hiding among the drinks on the menu, but any fan of prosecco will want to give it a hard look.
Pan-seared Scallop – The Artist’s Table
A little bit of spice and everything nice, the red pepper coulis adds a delicious complexity to the perfectly-seared scallop topped with a deliciously crispy, cheesy cracker. And it has a flower on top. Tender and flavorful.
Carmel Road Drew’s Blend Pinot Noir – The Artist’s Table
On value and quality, this is the best non-sparkling wine served at the Festival – fruity and surprisingly spicy with a smooth finish.
Sushi Donut: Donut-shaped Sushi featuring Salmon, Tuna, Shrimp, Cucumber, and Sesame Seed over a decorated plate of Wasabi Aïoli, Sriracha, and Eel Sauce – Goshiki
While it looks a little wild for 2020, this is a heaping portion of fresh fish that’s delicately put together inside of the Studio on top of the tender sushi rice. A really great value and a good opportunity to try several different types of nigiri.
Nigori Sake Cocktail: Frozen Nigori Sake and Calpico accented with Strawberry and finished with Cotton Candy – Goshiki
This is the fruitiest and most refreshing of the frozen cocktails available at the Festival this year. At “just” $8.50, it’s also one of the least expensive.
Warm Creamy Brie in a House-made Bread Bowl – L’Art de la Cuisine Francaise
At almost eight bucks, price versus size comes into play here, but this remains a very fun, very satisfying dish with the chewy bread bowl surrounding the creamy, salty cheese inside. You might pick up at least a half of a baguette at the Boulangerie inside of the Pavilion to help mop up all that extra cheese.
Molten Chocolate Cake with Pure Origin Valrhona Chocolates – L’Art de la Cuisine Francaise
This is a good example of how much the Festival of the Arts differs from other Festivals. Almost all of the plating is completed inside the Studio, first with the swirls of chocolate sauce underneath. The cake is then placed on top, before another cast member delicately squeezes colorful dollops of fruity sauce around the cake and then it’s finished with a couple twists of a powdered sugar mill. Beautiful, rich, and decadent.
Frozen French Martini: Grey Goose, Vodka, Chambord Liqueur, Pineapple, Orange, and Grape Juice with Lemon-Lime Foam – L’Art de la Cuisine Francaise
At fourteen dollars, you’re definitely paying for the privilege, but this is a well-balanced, refreshing cocktail that’s easy to drink and actually packs a pretty good punch. It’s worth the premium price.
Lobster Chips – Refreshment Port
This is a big portion of fresh, crunchy, salty chips covered in a rich and creamy Lobster Cheese sauce with plenty of chunks of lobster placed on top. It’s a bit removed from the theme of the Festival, but I think you’ll enjoy the flavors and the portion for the price. There’s plenty of art to enjoy elsewhere around World Showcase.
Deconstructed BLT – Deconstructed Dish
The rich, creamy egg contrasts beautifully with the crispy pork belly that’s so tender it will melt away in your mouth. A couple of incredibly decadent bites. Top three dish.
Deconstructed Breakfast: Twinings Spiced Apple Chai Tea Shake garnished with Maple Syrup, a Waffle Crisp, and Candied Bacon – Deconstructed Dish
I actually prefer the non-alcoholic version to the one that’s $6 more and contains about a half-ounce of cream bourbon. The drink is ice-cold, refreshing, and combines a lot of different flavors into something that’s surprisingly delicious.
Overall, there is much to delight at this year’s Festival of the Arts. Hopefully these reviews offer some insight into what to expect.