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The NYC Magic Traveler: The Epcot Festivals

Updated: Oct 29

Festival Time in Epcot

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Epcot (currently) has four festivals throughout the calendar year. Here is your quick intro to Epcot's festivals in Disney World.

Each festival has similarities:

* Additional kiosks to add to the 11 countries represented in the World Showcase

* Special food, drink, snack and dessert offerings, including Joffrey's Coffee and Tea Company special offerings

* Performances, including concerts in the American Garden Theater in the American Adventure pavilion

* Events, seminars, classes

* Scavenger hunt and Kidcot activities (purchase a scavenger hunt card, free redemption prize). You search for the festival mascot around the festival throughout the park.

*Special photo ops

*Themed merchandise for sale, including passholder specials, limited edition collector pins

*Possible free passholder gift

*Food stroll/crawl: purchase certain items and then redeem a prize

*Meet and greets with special guests (and Disney characters)

*All attractions operate normally. Living with the Land usually changes its decor for the festival, so it's worth riding every time.

So, what do you do?

* First of all, make sure you have a ticket. Check the Disney website for the latest information, including information about park hopping.

* When you get there, get the Passport, the festival guide booklet and check the My Disney Experience App. This way, you can plan your day (or days).

* You can enter at the "front" of the park. Major attractions here will be Spaceship Earth, Nemo and Friends (and the aquarium), Soarin', Living With the Land, Test Track, Mission Space, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.

* If you enter at the International Gateway, from the Boardwalk area (via the Skyliner, the Friendship launch [ferry] or walking), you will be in between the UK and France pavilions in the World Showcase.

* Some events require an extra fee and reservations, such as culinary workshops, craft seminars, flower arranging, etc. You may get the supplies included.

* Other events are first come, first served and. you'll have to queue up, such as the popular drawing animation academies at the Arts Festival.

* The concerts are free, but sometimes they sell special seating in conjunction with a dining reservation. Do this only if you want to be up front. This option is very popular for the Candlelight Processional during the Holidays Festival.

* There might be a stroll: purchase specific items in different areas and get a prize at the end.

* Wine, beer, cider or other drink flight strolls may also appear.

* There is special food, snack, dessert and beverage offerings created just for the festival. Some items are popular, therefore they are often repeated or re-imagined for another year or another festival. Of course, Disney says to taste your way around the world but drinks are for sale as well.

* Don't forget to visit the Odyssey Center, just past Test Track on your way toward the Mexico side of the World Showcase. There are often overlooked treasures in there.

* The festivals are very popular. Earlier in the day has less people (but it can be hot, especially for the Garden and Flower Festival and the Food and Wine Festival). For me, the magic time is between 3PM-6PM. There is a gap between peak times (families leaving, night time people arriving). Most of the nighttime spectaculars begin between 9PM and 9:30PM.


International Flower and Garden Festival:

Date began: the granddaddy of them all, first bloomed in 1994

Time: Spring, usually March through May-June.

Concert Series: Garden Rocks

Past special events: Royal Tea Garden Tour

Mascot: Spike the Bee

What's Different: special gardens planted throughout the park, butterfly pavilion, extra topiaries, unusual food and drink offerings with edible flowers and plants

International Food and Wine Festival

Date began: 1995

Time: Late summer-fall, usually July/August to late November, early December

Concert Series: Eat to the Beat

Past special events: cooking seminars, wine tastings

Mascot: Remy

What's Different: this festival has the most kiosks; chef presentations, cooking

International Festival of the Holidays

(formerly Holidays Around the World)

Date began: @1996

Time: usually Thanksgiving week until December 30

Concert Series: Candlelight Processional, featuring a celebrity narrator

Past special events: entertainment from around the world in each pavilion

Mascot(s): Chip and Dale, Olaf (2020)

What's Different: the festival closes precisely December 30 to prepare for the New Year's Eve festivities

International Festival of the Arts

Date began: the baby of the bunch, 2017

Time: Winter, January - mid to late February

Concert series: Disney's Broadway Concert

Past special events: Art seminars for a fee

Mascot: Figment

What's Different: sidewalk chalk art, performance art, more interactive activities

So, get your passport, and get ready to travel around the world, well, at least around the Epcot World Showcase as you celebrate the International Festivals.

Happy Travels!

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