Saturday, January 13, 2018

FIRST LOOK! Festival of the Arts 2018! (PART ONE!)


Hey there, Disney Guys and Gals!

     Happy 2018 and WELCOME to the 2018 Epcot International Festival of the Arts! As you may know, this Festival debuted at Epcot last year and was a HUGE hit, so it is returning for it's sophomore year. This year's event, unlike last year, will run every day, until February 19th. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite events on property. Think Flower and Garden Festival meets the old Festival of the Masters from the old Downtown Disney, with some Food and Wine Festival mixed in. In fact, Disney may have found the PERFECT recipe to make Festival of the Arts the new fan favorite. Take a gorgeous park, add in a rainbow of gorgeous art and displays, stir in some fantastic Broadway performers in concert, and then take the food and drink booths and kick 'em up to an elevated level that only true foodies could appreciate, and there you have it. Magic! Top it all off with a dollop of heavenly Florida winter weather, and you really can't mess it up.

     So, what are we waiting for? Let me take you through my day in the park, including reviews of the food and drink items that I sampled. Buckle up. It's gonna be another tasty post!
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     Like last year, there's tons to see and to at Festival of the Arts! There are gorgeous displays, photo ops, and live music all over, not to mention artists in residence creating visual art pieces all over the park. Guests will receive a handy passport that outlines all of the events, as well as the booth menus for the amazing eats all around World Showcase. 


     There's extra touches of beauty all around Epcot during the Festival. Here's just some of the gorgeous sights I saw...






     I also saw areas in Future World set up for Chalk Art, painting and more! Don't forget, I was there during the opening hours of the very first day, so there wasn't too much art already created to photograph.




     There was some live music, up on the Fountain Stage, a jazz group called Nova Jazz. 


     There are even more photo ops this year, including putting yourself in various famous works of art like these...




     A fan favorite is the gigantic pain by number mural that Guests are able to help with. There was already a lot filled in for it being early in the day!


     It does seem like they have made more of an effort for kids to enjoy the Festival this year. Aside from the regular Kidcot Fun Stops, there's also Figment's Brush with the Masters Scavenger Hunt.



For a fee, you can purchase a map and corresponding stickers, and find Figment's secret art pieces through out World Showcase to collect a prize.


There's a second, complimentary scavenger hunt (of sorts) this year, located in the Festival Passport. Called, "The Art Walk", it guides you around to artist features of World Showcase that are always there, like the train in Germany, or the gargoyles in France. At each spot, there's a place where you can take the Passport and do a crayon rubbing to show that you have been there. Kinda cool!



Mine didn't work very well!
     If art, shopping and shopping for art are more your speed, there's plenty of that too!

Lots of artist appearances

You can buy hand painted Tom's shoes!









     And that's not all! There are Broadway performances, classes and seminars and tons more to do!


 
      Let's be real, most for us are here for the food anyway, so can cut to the chase and get to my food reviews? Much like I have with other Festival reviews, I want to remind you that I don't drink, so I don't have any alcoholic drink reviews for you, but I DO have plenty of food reviews, (some of which are from last year, but only on repeat items). At Festival of the Arts, presentation is JUST as important as taste, so you will get to enjoy some gorgeous dishes! Let's go...

Pop Eats

World Showcase Plaza





  • What did we try?   Almond Frangipane Cake
  • How would I describe it?   An amazing looking cake, no doubt. Super colorful and elaborate. The cake itself was a very, very dense sponge cake, pasted together with a ton of sickeningly sweet raspberry jam, and coated in chocolate ganache.
  • How was the portion/value?   It makes no sense that this cake is only $4.25, since it was served as a huge slab of cake, about an inch thick. Very fair price. Too bad it was not good.
  • What letter grade would we give it?  D- This cake's only redeeming quality to me was it's appearance. I didn't get much almond flavor, because all I could taste was the insanely sweet raspberry jam, holding the cake together. It was overwhelming and took away form everything else about the cake. I took a bite and threw it out. Big bummer.




  • What did we try?: Pop't Art
  • How would I describe it?: Thin sugar cookies, with a layer of strawberry jam in between, and then a huge pile of royal icing on top.
  • How was the portion?: $4.25 wasn't bad, but considering that I found it to be a shingle of icing, not worth it to me. My kids would LOVE this, though!
  • What letter grade would I give it?: C- Though the flavor wasn't bad, I found my tart to be a gooey mess of white royal icing, topped with... more icing. I took a bite, and was done.
  • Will I get it again, when I return to the Festival?: No way. I am not a big frosting person to begin with, so this was NOT something I enjoyed at all. The Hubs did, however, like it more than I did, though he didn't want to finish it either.



El Arista Hambriento (The Hungry Artist) Mexico



  I didn't get to try anything here, as it wasn't open when I went by, so I'll have to go next time!



The Painted Panda
China 






  • What did we try?:  Coconut Panda Rice Cake
  • How would I describe it?: Sweet coconut rice, packed down into a little mold and decorated with paper thin seaweed. 
  • How was the portion?: $5 was too much for this tiny "cake".
  • What letter grade would I give it?:  NOT a fan! Rice should not be sweet. Or cold. Yes, the shape was adorable, but the rice was gummy and not enjoyable at all. 
  • Will I get it again, when I return to the Festival?: Nope.


  • What did we try?: Crispy Fried Shrimp
  • How would I describe it?: Two fried shrimp, on two fried wontons, covered in a sweet Thai chili sauce. 
  • How was the portion?: $8.50 was too much. This one was only large because of the size of the wontons. It's not really very shareable. 
  • What letter grade would I give it?:  This had nice flavor, thanks to the sweet sauce. The shrimp were tasty, as was the wonton. It was, however, super awkward and messy to eat, so get lots of napkins!
  • Will I get it again, when I return to the Festival?: No. It was good, but not good enough to spend $8.50 on again. 




  • What did we try?: Crystal Mooncake
  • How would I describe it?: Hmmmm..... tough one. A rice "cake", with fruit filling?
  • How was the portion?: Holy cow, I paid $9.75 for this?????
  • What letter grade would I give it?: D-  Ok, I'll start on a positive note... It was one of the most beautiful desserts I had ever seen. That's about where my compliments end. I'm not even sure what this was. The outside "cake" part reminded me of mochi, but more gummy and wet. The inside was basically a can of fruit cocktail. It was less than delicious. Way less. I actually witness three other Guests throwing this away. And with a price tag at almost $10, that's a shame. 
  • Will I get it again, when I return to the Festival?: No way. 





Cuisine Classique





  • What did we try?   Saint Honore Tart
  • How would I describe it?  A caramel creme pastry with mini cream puffs on top.
  • How was the portion/value?   $6 was reasonable. You'd pay more than that in a full service restaurant, for the same size dessert. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?  A   A festival favorite! The caramel pastry cream was in a sugar cookie crust, which was delicious! The mini cream puffs and puff pastry squares were added tasty treats. Even the chocolate that it was plated with was delicious! 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   YAS!



  • What did we try?   Red Wine Braised Short Rib
  • How would I describe it?  Beef short rib in a savory gravy, over creamy parsnips and served with roasted veggies. 
  • How was the portion/value?   A good amount of food for the $7.75 price tag. Definitely shareable. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?  B+   This was really delicious! The beef just fell apart with a fork and the rich sauce on it was heavenly. The parsnips were surprisingly creamy, though I am not a huge lover of the "earthy" taste that they tend to finish with. The roasted tomatoes and broccolini were great. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   I might!



  • What did we try?   Artist Palette Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookie
  • How would I describe it?  A huge chocolate chip cookie, with a hole cut out of it and topped with some colored splotches of icing, and served with a paintbrush! What do you think they do with the part they cut out? I want that part. 
  • How was the portion/value?   $5.50 seems like a lot but the cookie was MASSIVE. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?  B   Decent, soft, fresh chocolate chip cookie, and the presentation and concept were fun. A chocolate chip cookie has got to be REALLY good to wow me, though, and this one was more like an "Eh."
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Nah. Better things elsewhere. 



L’Arte di Mangiare (The Art of Eating)
Italy 






  • What did we try?   Crema Fritta
  • How would I describe it?  Two fried ovals filled with a lemon creme and served with peach and arugula sauces. 
  • How was the portion/value?   $7 was a little too much for this. The fritters are a good size and you do get two of them, but you really only get the fritters, so I'd say the price is too high. 
  • What letter grade would we give it?  B-   The fritter breading was lighter than I expected and the pastries had a nice lemony scent to them. The cream inside was dense and rich. I didn't like the sauces and just left them to the side, which made the fritters a little dry and bland. 
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   Nope. One and done. 






The Artist's Table 

American Adventure





  • What did I try?: Roasted Pork Roulade
  • How would I describe it?: A pork loin stuffed with sweet apples, breading and I believe ham. Served with veggies and over a delicious red wine sauce.
  • How was the portion?: This one's definitely for sharing. Two good sized slices for $6.75. One of the best deals of the day!
  • What letter grade would I give it?: A  OMG, yum! A Festival Favorite for sure! The pork was tender and the stuffing was out of this world!
  • Will I get it again, when I return to the Festival?: Can I have one now?




  • What did we try?   Pan-Seared Scallop
  • How would I describe it?  A large scallop, on a bed of chorizo pieces, and topped with a crunchy Parmesan wafer.
  • How was the portion/value?   One large scallop for $6.50 isn't fantastic, but considering the quality, really not too bad. The portion was big enough to share.
  • What letter grade would we give it?  A-  Totally delicious! Cooked perfectly and had fantastic flavors with it. Yum! (The minus is only there because I liked the pork better.)
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   I may, though I still have lots of other stuff to try.



  • What did we try?   Callebaut Belgian Sipping Chocolate Flight
  • How would I describe it?  Three types of liquid chocolate: white, milk and dark.
  • How was the portion/value?   The portion is very large. Each cup probably has 2 oz. worth of chocolate in it, and with three varieties, this can easily be share among three people. The price is steep, at $8, so sharing makes sense. (You can do just one dark chocolate cup with Chambourd in it for $9.75.)
  • What letter grade would we give it?  A-   SO good, but very easy to get sick of. One sip of each was enough for me.
  • Will we get it again, when we return to the festival?   I might, but only because the Little will LOOOOOVE this.

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     So, are you drooling yet? Well there's plenty more where that came from! Check back here in the coming days for PART TWO of my Festival of the Arts Review!

     And don't forget... if you need help planning YOUR visit to Festival of the Arts, or for any other Disney adventure, contact the agents at Kingdom Konsultant Travel for all of your Disney travel needs! They're the best!

     Until next time, have a MAGICAL week!

                                                                                     Jenn

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