The Epcot International Festival of the Arts is a cultural celebration of art, food and entertainment

The second annual Epcot International Festival of the Arts continues through Feb. 19. There’s plenty to do for the young and the young at heart.

BY LISA ROGERS CHERRY
FLORIDA COURIER

So much simultaneous and stimulating excitement was taking place at the Epcot International Festival of Arts that a guest might not know what to do first.

Upon entering Epcot, your eyes feast on the beautiful displays and delightful activities such as the Art Walk, Art Defying Gravity and Chalk Art.

The second annual Epcot International Festival of the Arts began on Jan. 12 and runs through Feb. 19. It’s a trifecta of visual, performing and culinary arts. Open daily, there is a schedule of events and workshops that offers something for everyone.

Guests are cordially invited to learn artistic techniques from the pros in a classroom setting. Hands-on participation seemed to be the name of the game.

Charles W. Cherry III adds his touch to a paint-by- number mural. CHAYLA CHERRY/FLORIDA COURIER

Both young and the young at heart were painting wall murals, completing paint by numbers pieces, and doing creative chalk drawings along the walkways. Some individuals were designing their own T-shirt masterpieces in celebration of the festival.

Thrills and deals
Whether you are up for “Soarin’ Around the World,” seeking the thrill on the Test Track or investigating the Circle of Life, there are a myriad of rides and adventures that are available at Epcot.

In addition to all of this, Epcot’s Festival of the Arts will feature beautiful artwork from around the world that is reasonably available for purchase. Everything from Disney posters to African masks and artifacts, to Moroccan jewelry and cultural garb, and framed Mexican folk art.

The Matsuriza drummers perform using the traditional taiko drum. CHAYLA CHERRY/FLORIDA COURIER

No matter the country, there was something appealing to the many visitors from across the world. The guests were snapping lots of pictures at every turn, especially in the Installations around the World Showcase, which represents 11 countries.

Gourmet delights
Walking around the park and participating in the artistic activities can really work up your appetite. You can’t help but smell the gourmet delights throughout the park.

For breakfast, one of the favorites of park-goers was the tasty Deconstructed Breakfast, which included a Twinings Spiced Apple Chai Tea shake garnished with maple syrup, a waffle crisp and candied bacon.

This is one of the creative items available for breakfast. LISA ROGERS CHERRY/FLORIDA COURIER

The combination of the flavors blended well together and made for a filling first meal of the day. Another mouthwatering breakfast treat is the Deconstructed BLT with crispy pork belly, tomato jam and a soft poached egg. The guests filled the restaurants in the various countries along the way.

International flavors
The smell of the delicacies of various countries including Epcot’s rendition of Mexico and Italy quickly caught my attention around lunchtime.

In Mexico, a young lady from Naples named Hannah was meticulously enjoying the “Tacos de Puerco,” which consisted of two corn tortillas with slow-roasted pork shoulder, marinated in an ancho paste and served with a sweet plantain puree garnished with pea tendrils.

In Italy, I noticed a couple who shared that they had traveled to the park from Brazil were partaking in the Involtini di Salmone al Basilico, Piso Venere, and Salsa Romesco, which the server explained translates to basil-scented salmon roulade with purple rice and a Romesco sauce.

Ratatouille and more
There are so many appetizing meals to select from that park-goers could spend all day feasting between the attractions, rides and entertainment. For lunch, I was adventurous and tried the seared corvine (a white fish which tastes similar to sea bass) with braised ratatouille and lemon-thyme beurre blanc.

Of course, I wanted to taste the ratatouille simply because of the Disney movie, “Ratatouille.’’ The blend of onions, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers were absolutely divine. The meals were all aesthetically appealing.

Statues and real stars
The Epcot Living Statues were a favorite of the picture takers. The real-life statues come to life right before your very eyes.

One new feature is the Art Defying Gravity act where a couple seems to perform mind-blowing body-bending contortions with ease.

One of the most exciting performances at Epcot was the Disney on Broadway Series held in the America Gardens Theater. We witnessed Kevin Massey and Jenn Gambatese, who both starred in “Tarzan’’ on Broadway as Tarzan and Jane, capture the audience’s undivided attention.

Jenn Gambatese, who starred in “Tarzan’’ on Broadway, performs at Epcot.

Kissy Simmons, a Floral City native and graduate of the University of South Florida, who starred as Nala in “The Lion King’’ on Broadway is scheduled to perform Jan. 26-20 and Feb. 2-5. Joining her will be Alton Fitzgerald White, who is Broadway’s longest-running King Mufasa in “The Lion King.’’ Each week there will be new acts featured.

Treat yourself
The festival offers many art-filled performances to thoroughly enjoy, with an abundance of artful finds that can be purchased and even more delicious, artistic dishes to savor with a Disney twist.

If you haven’t gone, I’d highly recommend that you take a day or two to treat yourself to an assortment of sensory sensations. Your eyes, ears, and taste buds will thank you.

For more information on the festival, visit https://disneyworld.disney.go.com

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