First, I want to thank my friend Josie for joining me and just making the trip so much fun! She helped me eat all the food and do ALL THE THINGS!! That sort of seemed to be the theme of the weekend. It was a pretty quick trip for me, down Friday evening and back Sunday early afternoon, But I SOOOOOO wanted to go for this festival, I NEEDED to go to this festival!! Why you ask? Oh, loads of reasons. It’s a celebration of the arts, visual, performing and culinary arts! Do I need to say more? Beautiful art of all types, fabulous concerts by Broadway performers, marching bands (be still my little band nerd heart) and oh, the food. You know me… it’s all about the food.
Where to start… I have to mention the topiaries, most for Katie’s Michael who really likes the topiaries… I didn’t take a lot of pictures of them, but as always, they are works of art EVERY YEAR! I know that the park is ready to explode with them now for Flower and Garden Festival, but we got a taste of them at Festival of the Arts.
Next, they had these awesome interactive art stations… where YOU got to be IN these famous paintings. I mean… I know what you’re thinking, please Heather, don’t ruin exquisite, priceless art by getting in the picture… but, oh… I did anyway. They were fun, and the people watching and the hilarious poses of people having a great time being “in the painting” was the best!
I have to take a moment and just share my general euphoria over watching the marching bands perform. Yes (shocker) I was a band nerd, I was a flag girl… and the friends that I made during those years and the memories that I made… which, most importantly, came my love of Disney. You see, my band performed during what used to be called “Magic Music Days” at Disney, and I got to go to Disney twice in high school with my band. And while I had been before as a kid with my parents, it was these trips that really made me LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Disney. I have memories (and pictures somewhere) of me and all my band nerd friends at Epcot, at Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground (RIP), at MGM Studios (without the hat, but WITH backlot tour and Streets of America). Yes, I’m so old that Animal Kingdom wasn’t a thing when I was in high school!! (gasp) And… crossing those generations… let me close the circle, sweet Josie who helped me do all the things… I would have never known her, but she married one of my amazing band nerd friends and they now live in Orlando! (lucky ducks)
I didn’t take pictures of ALL the wonderful art, mostly the things that either Katie or my family would enjoy… but, here’s just a sampling of some of the amazing Disney art out in the world! First for my bestest BFF ever… for Katie, the Maleficent collection. (no, I didn’t show them to her ahead of time, she’s has to read my posts too! HA)
And some for my Star Wars loving family, steampunk Mickey bc how cute is that?? and one special one for my oldest K, who LOVES her collection of converse!
The best part about having all this magnificent artwork? Most of the artists were there on hand to talk to you about their art, or, sign any piece that you bought. Which, of course, I did. I bought “Dream It, Do It” by the very talented Greg McCullough. His specialty is painting “hidden” things into his paintings, hidden Mickeys, but also, in hiding characters in the spaces between… It is wonderful, and mine is now in my office above my desk beside my pictures of me and my K’s at Aulani.
Next up, the Expression Station, where Josie and I and all our fellow Festival Friends did a giant paint by number! You got a paint brush and a color and a number, and you found your color and painted three squares. This was so much fun! It was amazing to watch it evolve as the day went on! Then, when they were complete, they were hung on display by the Festival Center for everyone to see!
The Disney on Broadway concert series was just without words amazing. I warned Josie before it started… “I’m going to sing, I’m sorry” I just couldn’t help myself. We saw Ashley Brown who was the original Mary Poppins on Broadway, and she also starred as Belle on Broadway!! She was joined by Josh Strickland who was the original Tarzan on Broadway. He was hilarious, he not only sang beautifully, his physical humor had us laughing as well as singing along! He does a great impression of a fork… Beauty and the Beast is my all time favorite, Belle is my favorite princess, so seeing Ashley perform songs from the musical was unspeakably incredible for me!!
And now.. we get to the REALLY good stuff. The food. YUM!
We started our day deciding on coffee and a warm up walk around before we started eating too very much, so we stopped at the Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company at Disney Traders. I had the Cinnamon Sensastion: Shot of Italian Espresso mixed with RumChata and Cinnamon Whiskey, blended with Steamed Milk and Whipped Cream. What a way to start your day!!
We walked to China before we stopped for food. At the Painted Panda we had the cutest food of the day! We had the Coconut Panda Rice Cake (cutest thing I’ve ever eaten) and the Crystal Mooncake with fruit filling garnished with toasted coconut and a beautiful fresh flower! This also is the only stop that we came back to later in the day and had the Crispy Fried Shrimp in a wonton lotus flower and a Fortune Cookie, ByeJoe Red, Amaretto, Coconut and Pineapple juice. Just a side note, do NOT ask if ByeJoe is vodka or if it is like vodka, or… well, anything. The response is “It’s BYEJOE, it’s a Chinese Spirit”. So, mystery solved.
Our next stop was Italy for what ended up being our #1 food all day, and it was a surprise! At L’Arte Di Mangiare we tried the Sformato di Melanzane e Pomodori, Mozzarella Fior di Latte: Tomato and Eggplant Terrine, Fior di Latte Mozzarella. THAT is a mouthful, but it was the best thing we had all day. We expected it to be warm, but it was cold and refreshing. It was A-MAZING!!! We also had the Crema Fritta: Pesche e Rucola Pesto, Ciliege di Amarasca: Crème fritters, peach and arugala Pesto and Amarena Cherries. This was good, but… it didn’t live up to the eggplant offering. We also had the Amaretto Bellini: Amaretto, white peach puree, ad Prosecco. It was FABULOUS! SO yummy and refreshing and FUN!
We then backtracked to Germany to the Cuisine Classique thanks in part to a lost AP card (oops). We had the Red Wine-braised Beef Short Rib with parsnip puree, broccolini, baby tomatoes, and aged balsamic and the Saint-Honore Tart: Caramel cream tart with caramel glaze topped with cream puffs. The short rib was so tender and delicious, I honestly didn’t pay attention and thought we were eating mashed potatoes not parsnip puree, so parent tip: fool your kids! The only thing that let me down a little was the balsamic, and it’s probably only because I am a HUGE balsamic fan, that this was just sort of meh. It wasn’t as strong and lively as I would have liked. The caramel tart was tasty, it was similar to a twix (with the chocolate to the side), but with real cream puffs on top!
Next up was the American Pavilion with The Artist’s Table. I have to admit, that America kinda let me down here… I’m used to the F&W offerings that are memorable! We got the Roasted Pork Roulade with butternut squash puree, marble potatoes and baby carrots with a red win sauce. We also got the Pan-seared scallop with chorizo, roasted red pepper coulis and parmesan crisp (which was gluten free if anyone needs that information). The pork was… meh. It was ok, but it was more fat than pork, we each really only got a bite and a half before it was too fatty to eat. The scallop had NO flavor at all, no seasoning, nothing. It was sitting on a yummy sauce, but even if you ate it together, the scallop was boring, However… America did redeem herself with the drink. Katie, we must find this, SOON! Perla Santa Coffee-flavored wine (from Spain). HOLY COW! It was like drinking an iced coffee, it was AMAZING!! Seriously Katie, we are looking for this soon!
The most interesting stop of the day was in Japan, at Takumi Table. Here, although neither of us are big raw sushi fans, we got the Chirashi Sushi and Haupia Pearl: Salmon, Tuna, and Yuzu Miso with Coconut Tapioca Pudding. A very nice sized sushi roll with it’s own little dessert with fresh berries. We were shocked! We both really liked it! We also got the Taiyaki Dessert: Japanese stuffed pastry with sweet red bean filling, sesame cream, and raspberry sauce which comes in a very close second to cutest food of the day. This was a yummy dessert that wasn’t super sweet! We hated to cut into it because the fish was so darn cute! We each got Masu Sake in a personalized wooden cup with the date and our name in Japanese written on the sides!! I’m not a sake fan, but this was ok, better than I expected. We ended up tossing most of it, and keeping our fun little cups!
Next stop around the world showcase was in Morocco for the Mosaic Canteen. We opted for the Chebbakia (pronounced cha-bikia, but we lovingly referred to it as Chewbacca). This is Hand twisted strips of fried dough coated with honey, rosewater and sesame seeds. It’s pretty, oh, it is beautiful. It wasn’t especially tasty. It was ok. It was… not what I expected. It had a spice to it that was unique, and I normally LOVE all things from Morocco pavilion. This was my least favorite dessert of the day. But boy was it pretty!
Next up was France, whom I absolutely ADORE during F&W, so admittedly, my expectations were high. Hmmm… I’ll start where we started, the Rillettes du Mans, Cornichons, Carre du Boulanger: house made pork rillettes, cornichons, and house made bread. I so wanted to be in love with this, because the presentation was unique, it was in a small plastic “pull top can”. It was fun, and I started there, because after all you eat with your eyes first, right? It was unique and fun! It was awful. It had a congealed layer of something on top of it, like congealed fat, and below that was something that we agreed was nothing short of cat-foodish. We almost didn’t continue with the French offerings. We tried the bread that came with the cat food, and it was good, it wasn’t spectacular, it was typical French bread, but it was messy because there was so much flour dusted on top of it. Oh, but the pickles were really yummy! So… there’s that. I have to separate this one from the rest, because it was really just that bad. But look, isn’t the container just the cutest??
So, the rest of the French offerings were a definite improvement. I am SOOOO thankful that we tried the
cat food Rillettes first, because if we had ended on that, I would have been really upset to ruin the rest of the yumminess that France gave me! We also had the Saumon en Croute Facon Paul Bocuse: salmon in puff pastry crust, Paul Bocuse style with Spinach and Beurre Blanc Sauce. I will admit, that I don’t know who Paul Pocuse is, but he’s a genius! I am NOT a fan of salmon. I don’t like salmon. I don’t. I’m sorry, I know it’s really healthy and good for you.. but… I just don’t care for it. But this? OH. WOW. This was heaven in my mouth. It was the best salmon I’ve ever eaten. If all salmon tasted like that, I’d eat it every day! WOW! Just, well… wow! And did I mention it was TOTALLY ADORABLE too? We also tried the Le Coucher de Soleil: Sunset Mango and Raspberry cake. It was PHENOMINAL! It was so moist and just BURSTING with fun springy fruity flavors. It was almost too pretty to eat. Almost, don’t be crazy!
We had to take a small break in the food after France, and after a quick trip to the International Gateway to get a new AP card because yours truly just lost hers… I had it when I bought my RINSE lip balm (BTW in case you didn’t know, and are a super fangirl like me… RINSE now has a permanent shop at Epcot near the refreshment port. I was THRILLED!! I loved catching them at festivals, now I can get my fix year round. If you haven’t tried one of their pucker sticks yet, you are MISSING OUT my friend!! Also, their Peppofoot is amazing! Seriously. You should go buy some!). I’m sorry – did I fangirl out? Yes, I did. Oops. Back to the Festival. We stopped by Canada for super cold water, then took a little walk and talk break. We rode Figment (Journey into Imagination) and stopped into the DVC lounge there for a drink and a moment to sit and rest ourselves and ENJOY THE VIEW!!
We walked and looked at a little more art, Paige O’Hara was signing her artwork at the front of the park and had a line that was crazy long, until you realize this is PAIGE O’HARA, voice of Belle, cameo in Enchanted, did I mention voice of Belle (my favorite)… Disney royalty, who, oh, you know, is also an amazing artist!
We decided we were ready to tackle some more food, so we headed back to Canada. At the Masterpiece Kitchen, we got the Wild Mushroom Risotto: aged parmesan, truffle shavings, and zinfandel reduction (vegetarian) and the Triple Chocolate Mousse: chocolate crunch, dark chocolate sauce and gold leaf. We managed to snag a prime spot overlooking World Showcase Lagoon where the view was magnificent. Now, I big ol puffy heart LOVE risotto, so I was really excited about this, and it did NOT disappoint. It was rich and decadent, the flavors were SO BIG. The mushrooms were yummy, the parmesan was sharp, the truffles were earthy and just… just wow. SO GOOD. The chocolate mousse… I think of all the ways they could have described this, they chose wrong, because this pyramid of chocolate yumminess was freakin’ amazing. Mousse sort of makes it sound boring, or… certainly unworthy of the avant garde masterpiece that we had in front of us. It tasted even better than it looked. It was definitely a top 5 dessert from the festival.
Since we had such a prime spot, I left Josie to guard the table while I ran to The Deconstructed Dish just down the way. I had to dodge a marching band and flag corps (be still my heart) but I will admit, that I was MOST looking forward to this stop all day long. Seriously, I had dreamed about it for a couple weeks! I got us the Deconstructed Reuben: with shredded corn beef, thousand island dressing, pickled red cabbage, and a rye curl, the Deconstructed BLT: with crispy pork belly, tomato jam, and a perfectly soft poached egg, the Deconstructed Strawberry Cheesecake: whipped new York style cheesecake with fresh Florida strawberries, sugar cookies and micro basil, AND (yes, it took me two trips to get all of it back to the table) Deconstructed Breakfast: spiced apple chai tea shake with cream bourbon garnished with a waffle crisp and candied bacon.
Whew. That is a LOT of food. But. This was my favorite stop of the day. Everything was fantastic. Nothing was meh. Even what I thought might be… I’m not a Reuben eater, mostly because I don’t like Rye bread. So, this was perfect for me. The bread wasn’t the feature. The meat was super yummy, the cabbage was deliciously picked, there was spicy mustard dots… it was sublime. The deconstructed BLT. I almost can’t even. It was my favorite of the day, well maybe the eggplant tomato terrine ties with it… but… pork belly. Come on! The pork belly was crispy and so yummy!! The egg… I’ve never seen a more perfectly poached egg. The yolk was still runny, it had so much flavor! The tomato jam was just the right amount of tart and sweet. Just… WOW WOW WOW. Did I say WOW?
The strawberry cheesecake was delicious! It was whipped, so it was light and airy! The fresh berries were sweet and perfect! The sugar cookies were crunchy and a wonderful little side item! The deconstructed breakfast drink was really yummy! The first drink or two was… STRONG!!! Like WHOA that’s a lot of alcohol! But maybe it just needed time to mellow, because when I told Josie how strong it was and she tasted it, it was not her impression at all. The candied bacon was a yummy little salty sweet touch that made it fun! The only negative was that it really didn’t have any Chai taste at all. It was just missing that spice of the Chai – but if it hadn’t said Chai in the name, I wouldn’t have expected it.
We passed back over to Mexico to El Artista Hambreinto (The hungry artist). I’m not sure how he was hungry with the amazing food at this booth! We got the Tacos de Puerco: two corn tortillas with slow roasted pork shoulder, marinated in ancho paste and served with sweet plantain puree garnished with pea tendrils, the Atole de Fresa and Mexican Concha Bread: warm strawberry drink served with Mexican concha bread, and the Diego Passion Margarita on the rocks. The tacos were really good, and not just as someone who loves some #tacotuesday action… the pork was tender, mildly spicy and rich, but the plantains added a sweet element to it that completely balanced it. I could eat those every week! The margarita was yummy! It was a pretty peach/orange color and was totally enjoyable! The Atole de Fresa… I’m not sure exactly what to say about it. It wasn’t what I expected. The strawberry drink was warm, and tasted like a warmed up strawberry Quik. It wasn’t bad, it was super sweet and thick. We weren’t exactly sure what to do with the dish. We sipped the strawberry Quik, then we dipped the bread into it, which did knock a little sweetness off, but the bread was sweet too. The bread was… sort of wafer-ish? It was hard to describe. It was good, but it was NOT a top 5 of the day. It was a little weird. I wouldn’t necessarily eat/drink it every week… although Prince Charming probably would, he loves Quik! HA!
Next up was POP EATS! Here we had the Sous Vide Poulet Rouge Chicken Roulade with apples and sage, served with warm brie fondue, blueberry and beet gel, garnished with apple and beat chips, Almond Frangipane Cake layered with raspberry jam and callebaut Belgian Chocolate, and Popping Bubbles Cocktail. The chicken was surprise hit! Josie put it at her #2 behind only the eggplant tomato thing. It was really good. Like you think, Oh, it’s just chicken.., It was the only chicken on the adventure, so with all the magnificent offerings, how could chicken be THAT good? Oh, but it was. Juicy, moist and tender, and who knew beet gel was a thing, or that it was tasty??!! The cake was a must do, because it was just so gorgeous! It tasted yummy too! chocolate and raspberry, how do you go wrong?? The popping bubbles cocktail… is almost a choking hazard? HA!! It was really yummy with boba balls and a bubbly something. It was super tasty though! If you could dodge the popping bubbles! HA!! We ended up squishing the popping bubbles and just drinking the sparkling wine (??) drink.
After a stop back by the Painted Panda, we went to the Disney on Broadway show and loved every minute of it. We laughed, we sang, we clapped and cheered! It was fabulous!
The Painter’s Palate was a perfect after show stop. This one ended up being a big surprise win for me! I was not super excited about the toppings of the croissant donuts, but I tried them all anyway (duh) and was pleasantly surprised. Ok, from here located inside the Odyssey Festval Showplace, we got the Trio of Savory Croissant Doughnuts: Whipped Boursin Garlic & Fine herbs cheese with fresh herbs, Chicken Salad with shaved fennel and fresh herbs, and Spicy tuna with wasabi and seaweed salad. The first one, with the Boursin cheese… I’m NOT a huge garlic fan. Or rather, it’s not a fan of me. It tends to hurt my stomach, so I cautiously took a tiny little bite… and then threw caution to the wind, because it was SO YUMMY! The next up was the chicken salad. We both didn’t care for this one. The fennel was really strong, and overall it was just MEH. The last was the tuna, and again, I’m not a huge raw fan, but this was delicious!! It was so good!
We also got the Gallery Bites which included Chilled Shrimp with cucumber cream cheese on a crostini, Traditional deviled egg with candied bacon, and a Crispy Truffled Risotto Ball with stone-ground mustard. Remember a few stops ago when I puffy heart professed my love of risotto? This cute little ball of fried risotto did not disappoint! It was crispy on the outside but rich and soft on the inside! My only slight negative to this one, was that with the mustard called out in the description, I was expecting something strong, like the spicy mustard from the Rueben… this mustard just wasn’t very impressive. The risotto ball though definite thumbs up! Being from the south, we were ready to not like the deviled egg, I mean… we invented it! or, perfected it… or, we think we did anyway! So, these two southern belles were ready to turn our noses up at this egg… We did not. It was perfect, and the candied bacon just put the icing on the cake! Last of the three was the shrimp. I was pretty excited about this one to be honest. It was possibly the second worst thing we had (because how do you get worse than cat food?) all day. The shrimp was fishy, it had NO flavor, no seasoning, nothing. If I’d had the crostini with the cucumber cream cheese without the shrimp, it would have been quite tasty, but the shrimp literally left a bad taste in my mouth.
The desserts here were super fun. They were my souvenirs to take home to my family! I got a white chocolate figment puzzle, which was supposed to go to little K because she loves white chocolate! But, what I didn’t understand was that it didn’t come al packaged to go like the other ones. This came with a paint brush (except they had run out) and 3 different colors of “paint” (icing) to decorate your puzzle. It also came with M&M’s and sprinkles. We tried the puzzle and a dipped it in icing since we had no brush, and ate a few M&M’s. I’m not a huge white chocolate fan, but it was good. And a SUPER fun idea for kids! I bought to take home (and MOST of them survived the rest of the night at Epcot, and the next day at MK, AND a plane ride home unbroken) the Mickey & Pluto White Chocolate Painting with chocolate easel and the Festival of the Arts White Chocolate painting with chocolate easel. These were SUPER SUPER cute! And what better kind of souvenir? Something artsy and yummy!
The last stop on the Culinary Arts adventure was Decadent Delights in the Showcase Plaza. Here we ended the night with desserts, we had the White Chocolate and Purple Sweet Potato Mousse with salted caramel, coconut and maple meringue, the S’Mores Tart: house smoked buttermilk chocolate cake with chocolate mousse, toasted marshmallow meringue, graham cracker dust, and malted milk chocolate sauce, and the Chocolate Caramel Mousse Bar: flavored meringue kisses and passion fruit sauce. I’m not sure if it was because we had already eaten so much wonderful food, or if it was the end of a long day… but these weren’t my favorite. The white chocolate and sweet potato mousse had a weird consistency, it was grainy. However, what you may not know about me is I LOVE meringue. And every single one of these desserts had FLAVORED MERINGUES!! And they were yummy!! The S’Mores bar definitely had the smoky flavor of fireside s’mores with gooey marshmallow, chocolate mousse and the best part besides the meringue was the malted milk chocolate sauce! YUM! I think our favorite was the chocolate caramel mousse bar, it was so similar to a twix bar, delicious caramel, rich chocolate and the passion fruit sauce was the perfect break to the sweet of the rest of the dish. It was a fun trio of desserts, but as a last stop, it was a little anti-climactic. Good but not fabulous. But they were SO PRETTY! They really were works of art!
Our final final stop on the day’s tour was to go see the chalk art, but it was covered by clear tarps but we could still glimpse a few peeks. I got a few pics, and the art work was amazing!
Overall, this Festival gets A++++++++++++++++++++ Seriously though, this has become hands down my favorite festival. And I don’t leave F&W behind easily, but I could give up on F&W completely and come for this festival every year. Or as often as I can talk Prince Charming into letting me run away for a weekend 🙂 The arts of all sorts were truly without words, they food was excellent, beautiful, delicious. The visual arts were amazing, and I am in love with the piece I brought home. And the performing arts were spectacularly fabulous. I highly recommend you experience this at least once. As crazy as it may seem, I didn’t get to experience every piece of the festival. Next time I’ll go when I have time to take a class or two, and make sure I do the “ART WALK” around the World Showcase. This cements EPCOT as my favorite park, by far.
Thanks for reading if you made it this far! Also… Do you know how proud I am that I remembered to take pictures of everything?!