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Last Updated on February 16, 2021 by Allyson
The Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts is currently running at Epcot through Feb. 22. If you haven’t visited yet, here are the ways Festival of the Arts has changed in 2021.
Before getting into all of the differences compared to years past, it’s important to note how special this festival is. The festival that debuted in 2017 (that’s right, it’s not that old) is a fan-favorite for multiple reasons, including the fact that it celebrates culinary, visual, and performing arts.
From the food studios, to the amazing and talented artists, to the overall celebration of the arts that are far too often ignored, Festival of the Arts is one Epcot festival you should attend at least once.
And like with every other Epcot festival that’s returned during the ongoing pandemic, Festival of the Arts has some noticeable modifications for health and safety reasons.
So, if you’re planning on going before the festival closes out for the year, here are a few things that are different this year.
1. How You Meet Artists
To ensure you maintain an appropriate physical distance, there will be at least six feet between you and the artist you choose to meet. Like guests and Cast Members, artists also follow Walt Disney World’s health and safety protocols by wearing face coverings.
I was lucky enough to meet the unbelievably talented artist Jason “Jay” Ratner after purchasing one of his newest pieces he created for this year’s festival. He is also a graphic designer for The Walt Disney Company.
2. The Paint-By-Number Mural
The Paint-By-Number mural is one of the many fun activities at the festival. Here, you get to contribute to a massive art mural by painting squares similar as if you were coloring by number.
You can find the mural in Future World West. It’s complimentary and is available from park open through 5 p.m. daily.
And this year there are some slight changes, including the following:
1. As seen above, you get to select your color, which also has a designated number on the top.
2. After standing in a socially-distant line, the working Cast Member will direct you to a specific section to paint that’s separate from other guests. If you look at the photo above, you can see how guests are spread out when painting.
3. You get to paint a select number of squares. In January, I painted seven, but in February, I painted two. The number of squares you’re allowed to paint may vary by mural, because the larger-than-life art isn’t the same throughout the festival.
Once you’re finished, you dispose of your paint brush and paint in designated cans as instructed by a Cast Member. You also receive a bookmark of what the mural will look like once finished.
3. How The Artists Create
From time to time, you’ll actually get to see artists at work. You’ll notice that unlike in the past, they are physically distanced from each other and also wearing masks.
Make sure you take the time to walk around see all of the art in the World Showcase tents and the chalk art that’s along the walkway as you enter the World Showcase.
4. Artful Photo-Ops
Similar to past festivals, there are different artful photo opportunities allowing guests to step inside art and become part of a painting or scene.
But, this year, PhotoPass photographers aren’t available at every location to take your photo. So, if you’re by yourself, it will be more difficult than normal to take a selfie and capture the overall effect.
Here are the available immersive photo stops that you can find around the World Showcase:
- Homage to Frida Kahlo
- Mona Lisa – Leonardo da Vinci
- The Scream – Edvard Munch
- Washington Crossing the Delaware – Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze
- Luncheon of the Boating Party – Pierre-Auguste Renoir
- Peter Pan Storybook
- Birth of Venus – Sandro Botticelli
- Café Terrace at Night and Sunflowers – Vincent van Gogh
Speaking of photos, the festival art (above) that’s usually placed next to character meet and greets throughout the World Showcase is now located in the U.K. pavilion near the gazebo.
5. Voices of Liberty & Other Entertainment
For the first time ever at Festival of the Arts, guests can watch Voices of Liberty perform a new Disney Songbook in the America Gardens Theatre in the American Adventure pavilion.
They have several shows throughout the day that begin in the late afternoon. Check the My Disney Experience app for exact times. There’s also a schedule posted outside the theatre.
As for other entertainment, you can catch two acts inside the World Showplace, located between the Canada and U.K. pavilions. They include:
- Art Defying Gravity: Watch thrilling acts of strength, in which the performer will defy gravity right in front of your eyes. You can catch this act on Sundays through Saturdays.
- Visual Art in Performance: An artist paints Disney characters in the matter of minutes and it’s beyond impressive. The artist performs Thursdays through Sundays.
6. Animation Academy
Returning this year is the Animation Academy, but it’s held in a different location — in the America Gardens Theatre daily at 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.
The academy gives guests the chance to learn a step-by-step lesson on how to draw Disney characters with help from an actual animator.
7. No Broadway Concert Series & More
Sadly, the Disney on Broadway Concert Series is on hiatus this year, along with workshops, seminars, and living statues.
Hopefully next year’s festival will see the return of these events, especially the concert series, a major highlight that showcases amazing Broadway talent.
8. A New Food Studio
There’s a total of 16 food studios this year, but only one is brand new — Vibrante & Vívido (between the France and Morocco pavilions).
You can find several choices here, including the non-alcoholic Coconut and Passion Fruit Smoothie (above). For more on the food and beverage options, be sure to check out my post reviewing select 2021 Festival of the Arts menu items.
What do you think of all the ways Festival of the Arts has changed? Overall, the modifications aren’t anything drastic. The festival is still as enjoyable as it’s always been, so clearly Disney is doing something right.