A new year brings new opportunities for Disney to pull out all the stops and dazzle the masses, and they seem to do so year after year. What better way to kick off another trip around the sun than to roll out Figment and the rest of the crew for the highly anticipated Festival of the Arts at Epcot? Although it is a rather short festival, it packs a mighty punch! Culinary arts, performing arts, fine arts (and everything in between to scratch that creative itch), are the stars of the show and they always bring it full force.
Artists and chefs from around the world come to Epcot to showcase their work and make a name for themselves. With many actually returning year after year with highly sought-after pieces, you have the opportunity to get your hands on some of these masterpieces. Live performances at the American Gardens Theatre provide round-the-clock entertainment for those wanting to divulge into some performing arts. Anything from Broadway-style musicals to theatric painters, there is sure to be something that will spark your interest and have you taking a seat to spectate.
The big talking point of this year’s Festival of the Arts was none other than the big fella himself…..Figment!!! The elusive popcorn bucket that made headlines all across the world; it was all the craze!! Lines upwards to 5-6 hours at the Pop Eats booth, people were patiently (sarcasm inserted here) waiting for their chance to get their hands on the kernel-carrying dragon. If you were strapped up with one of these bad boys it was the ultimate Disney flex for 2022! Thankfully on opening weekend Jordan did what any upstanding gentleman would do and snagged me one. I am eternally grateful for that, thank you Jordan!
Like I previously mentioned, Jordan hit FOTA on opening weekend to kick off the new year and get an inside peek of what it had to offer. Beautiful time to visit Epcot in early January with cool brisk mornings and sunshine all day with a light jacket, our absolute favorite!! The fact that the popcorn bucket was being sold at the Pop Eats booth, whether you wanted the bucket, food, or both everyone had to wait in the same line(unfortunate). Making their way into World Showcase, Jordan and his family made a quick stop at the Donut Box to take a crack at the Inside Out Donut. From the little bite his 5-year-old rationed to him, Jordan was very pleased with the Bavarian Creme filled vanilla pastry. Then it was time for the wait we all dread, the quest for the Figment popcorn bucket!!!
Being the visionary he is, while snagging two Figment buckets he also grabbed a couple of the soup variations at the Pop Eats booth. A classic hearty tomato soup served in a retro tin soup can, paired with another classic, grilled cheese!! You had a choice between a standard grilled cheese or a jazzed-up version with apples, Brie and bacon! Neither will disappoint according to our sources. In true foodie fashion, you gotta finish strong with something sweet! Which prompted our compadre to dive into the almond frangipane cake. A multi-layered cake that literally throws your mind into a game of Tetris or a bucket of Lego blocks just from the presentation layered with Belgian chocolate and raspberry jam. A true banger dessert!
Just when you thought we were full, you thought wrong! It was off to the Craftsman’s Courtyard for the Cast Iron seared Steelhead Trout with parsley salad, grape tomatoes, Kalamata olives, capers, and lemon aïoli. A delicate oily fish paired with acid and brine for a perfect balance of flavors and textures. Pair that with the North Coast Brewing Co. Blue Star Wheat beer and you’ve got yourself a splendid treat.
My first visit to Festival of the Arts was rather quick but I managed to get to the Encanto booth, Vibrante & Vivído to try the house made chorizo and potato empanada paired with a couple of aioli variants with turmeric and annatto. Such a bold yet vibrant blend of flavors! I paired that with a frozen piña colada and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Moving on to a returning favorite from festival of the holidays, the hazelnut bomboloni from L’Arte di Mangiare at the Italy Pavilion was a must! A chocolate hazelnut Italian doughnut with powdered sugar, what’s not to love?! Following my customary habits, I washed my sweet treat down with a Peroni Pilsner which is literally a perfect beer for any food pairing. The last stop I made for my first FOTA visit was at the America Pavilion to try the cherry blossom funnel cake. A chocolate chip funnel cake topped with cherry ice cream, whipped cream, sprinkles and a maraschino cherry. Pure American decadence!!! Accompanied by the tried-and-true Bud Light I had a true Americana vibe in that moment.
Closing weekend, I made my way down to Epcot one last time for FOTA. Those resorts and parks reservations were few and far between this time around and it clearly showed. It was by far the most people I have seen at Disney since becoming a passholder. I managed to snag my crew a pool front, ground level room at Pop Century making Epcot access a breeze thanks to our handy dandy…..Skyliner! Our Epcot visit was slated for Sunday, the last day of the festival with Saturday entailing Magic Kingdom. We met up with some good friends as well as Justin, along with his son Jacob for the weekend and made it a family affair. A solid day at Magic Kingdom capped off with dinner at Diamond Horseshoe and some fireworks, where could you go wrong?
Early Sunday we race to the Skyliner and sail off to Epcot. The weather had warmed up a bit but the mornings were as beautiful as ever, mid 50’s to high 60’s until noon. Thankfully I already had a bucket because they were all sold out at this time, so my objective was to just try out a few food and drink items that tickled my fancy and just take in the essence of World Showcase. Much to my surprise a lot of the booths had already closed up shop, I’m assuming from selling out before forecasted. No big deal, I still enjoyed a crisp Labatt Light and a fresh order of poutine so I was a happy camper!
I really do wish this festival lasted longer because it has so much to offer and not enough time. I think with the growing popularity and crowd sizes this year, it may push Disney executives to alter how long this festival runs. There is just something about all the vibrant colors and displays of creativity it really puts me in a state of awe that will keep me coming back! The diverse food and drink atmosphere is another marvel within itself, so many different spectrums of flavor and texture you’re guaranteed to find a sure hit that you pray will return to next year’s festival. With a new year showing lots of promise and growth for us, I truly hope your year shares that same sentiment! Until next time, keep discovering that world of magic out there and we will keep this thing on the rails!