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WDW Radio # 766 – The Best of the EPCOT Festival of the Arts 2024 – The Superlative Edition

We explore the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts like never before as we unveil our superlative selections! We share our top picks across the festival, from artistic wonders to the most delectable culinary treats, hidden gems, and serene spots, as we celebrate the best of the best that the Festival has to offer!


Summary

The conversation discusses the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, highlighting various aspects such as the most flavorful dish, the most creative culinary delight, the best new food item, the most beautiful and Instagrammable dish, the most refreshing beverage, the most beautiful dessert, and the best overall food studio. The conversation covers various aspects of the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, including food and festivals, shopping for festival merchandise, art and artists, interactive art experiences, performing arts, family-friendly activities, and photo opportunities. In this episode, Lou Mongello, Serena, and Amanda discuss their favorite hidden gems, relaxing spots, and overall experiences at the Festival of the Arts in Epcot. They highlight the Rainbow Connection on Spaceship Earth as a must-see attraction and recommend spending time in the World Celebration Garden for a tranquil experience. They also share their personal favorite spots in Epcot and invite listeners to join the conversation. Overall, the Festival of the Arts ranks highly among the hosts, with Flower and Garden Festival taking the top spot.


Takeaways

  • The Epcot International Festival of the Arts is a celebration of creativity, cuisine, and culture.
  • The festival offers a wide variety of food and beverage options, including flavorful dishes and visually stunning desserts.
  • The festival provides opportunities for interactive experiences, such as painting activities and live art demonstrations.
  • The festival showcases the talents of performers from Disney on Broadway and offers educational opportunities in the visual and performing arts. The Epcot International Festival of the Arts offers a wide range of culinary experiences, from classic dishes to unique and surprising menu items.
  • The festival merchandise includes a variety of items, from practical and functional bags to art prints and collectibles.
  • The festival showcases the work of talented artists, providing an opportunity to appreciate and purchase art in various forms.
  • The festival offers interactive art experiences, such as animation classes and paint-by-number murals, that allow guests to engage in the creative process.
  • The Disney on Broadway performances feature talented performers and provide an opportunity to enjoy live theater and music.
  • The festival offers family-friendly activities, including scavenger hunts and chalk art, that can be enjoyed by guests of all ages.
  • There are numerous photo opportunities throughout the festival, including interactive murals and famous artwork that guests can pose with. The Rainbow Connection on Spaceship Earth is a hidden gem and must-see attraction at the Festival of the Arts.
  • The World Celebration Garden offers a relaxing spot to unwind and recharge during the festival.
  • Each host has their own favorite spots in Epcot, such as Ketsura Grill and the pathway overlooking the water and the Skyliner.
  • The Festival of the Arts ranks highly among the hosts, with Flower and Garden Festival taking the top spot.

Chapters

[00:00] Introduction and Background of Epcot International Festival of the Arts

[03:36] Love and Appreciation for the Festival

[11:51] Most Flavorful Dish

[15:39] Most Creative Culinary Delight

[19:26] Best New Food Item

[20:05] Most Beautiful and Instagrammable Dish

[23:49] Best Visual Feast

[24:31] Best New Food Item

[28:15] Most Refreshing Beverage

[32:31] Most Beautiful Dessert

[36:58] Best Overall Food Studio

[38:57] Food and Festivals

[42:13] Shopping for Festival Merchandise

[46:59] Art and Artists

[49:14] Figment Popcorn Bucket

[51:23] Interactive Art Experiences

[56:02] Performing Arts

[01:08:01] Family-Friendly Activities

[01:13:23] Photo Opportunities

[01:18:58] Hidden Gems at the Festival of the Arts

[01:21:14] Relaxing Spots at the Festival

[01:22:13] World Celebration Garden

[01:24:09] Favorite Spots in Epcot

[01:26:13] Community Favorites

[01:27:13] Ranking the Festival of the Arts


Thanks to my guests for joining me this week:



What’s your favorite aspect of the EPCOT Festival of the Arts, and why does it stand out to you?

Share your thoughts in the WDW Radio Clubhouse at WDWRadio.com/Clubhouse, or call the voicemail at 407-900-9391 (WDW1) and share your story on the show.


Episode Transcript

Click Here To Read The Full Podcast Episode Transcript

Lou Mongello (00:01.785)
Times, they surely have changed. I want you to quickly dial your way back machine to 1996 when the first Epcot International Food and Wine Festival was held. And this remarkable new idea was conceived of by George Kalogridis, who was then president of Walt Disney World Resort. He had been president since about 2013 or so. And

It was a 30-day event that ran from the end of September through the end of October and had replaced this single weekend wine festival that was sort of the trial run that was held in previous years. Since that time, the festival has grown so big that it gave rise to three more festivals that run for all intents and purposes almost continually throughout the year. There is Food and Wine, Flower and Garden, Festival of the Holidays.

and the festival that helps to kick off the new year, the dazzling and delightful Epcot International Festival of the Arts. It is a spectacular celebration of creativity and cuisine and culture. And this week, we're going to highlight some of the superlatives from this year's festival. We're going to uncover and explore everything from...

I'm going to see how much alliteration I could use here. Mesmerizing masterpieces to tantalizing taste and some of the hidden gems that I think really are the heart and soul of the festival. We'll also talk about some of the family friendly fun. I think this is a very family friendly festival and some of the photo ops that will make your Instagram a gallery of Epcot enchantment. At least I think we will. We're also going to talk about some of the relaxing retreats and

that'll sort of take you out of the festival frenzy, especially on the weekend. So if you want to have a little bit of tranquility among the festival. So get ready to paint your palette with some of the wonders of Epcot in a visually vibrant event of the year. But of course, I cannot embark on this artistic adventure by myself where every flavor paints a picture. So I want to welcome Amanda Bonner from Me and the Magic.

Amanda (02:20.322)
Thanks so much for having me back, and this is one of my favorite festivals. It's probably in the top two.

Lou Mongello (02:27.037)
I knew it was, which is why you're here. And Serena Lynn from Living by Disney.

Amanda (02:29.878)
Thank you.

Serena (02:41.79)
Hello, it's so nice to be here. Sorry, I lost you for just a second. So it's always great to come back and talk with you, Lou.

Lou Mongello (02:44.001)
Sorry, I'm not supposed to do this again.

Lou Mongello (02:49.485)
It's great to have you both back again. We are like-minded, I think, in our love and appreciation of the festivals. And look, it's festival time again. I sound like Bill Murray from Groundhog Day. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. Like my weight from eating my way through the festivals, Festival of the Arts has really grown on me because I think it really is this wonderful blend of the culinary and performing and

visual arts. I think I know the answer to this question already, but Amanda and Serena, I have to imagine this is this a festival you look forward to? And if so, why? What sort of distinguishes this festival for you from the three others in Epcot throughout the year?

Amanda (03:36.686)
I so look forward to it. It started in 2017, officially. And I've been going since 2018. And I moved down here in 2018. So I was there in January when I everything was really starting to turn for me to make the move. So it has special meaning to me because of that. And I've had so much fun there with friends just like posing for the different photo ops that I'm sure we're going to touch on. And then as I've gotten to know some other people who know the artists, just understanding that

aspect of it so much more makes me appreciate it in a whole different way. And then of course, I know we're going to talk about Disney on Broadway, which is like my favorite.

Serena (04:16.586)
Yeah, it's such a fun festival. I think a lot of it has to do with when it happens because we have two things going for us. We have a lower crowd season that's coming after the busy holiday season, so that's always like a nice little shift for us. And then the fact that the weather is really nice. And some of the other festivals happen when it's really warm. And sometimes some of the, especially the savory foods, the hot foods, it's...

It's not as fun to go around and enjoy them when it's like 95 degrees. So the combination of that just means like it's a really enjoyable festival to visit.

Lou Mongello (04:55.105)
Yeah, I think you made a great point about the accessibility of the festival, especially whether you're a local or whether you're coming to visit, because it is not quite as crowded and the weather does absolutely play a factor. It's hard to really enjoy like a hot bowl of pho when it's 112 degrees outside. And I think I think also, too, what I've, you know, food and wine used to be my favorite festival because the first word in it was food.

Serena (05:14.418)
It really is.

Lou Mongello (05:23.809)
But it's almost become overwhelming, right? There's so much to try and do and eat in food and wine, where some of the other festivals, and I think especially this one, is this wonderful symphonic balance of not just food, but especially here, the blending of the performing arts and the visual arts, which I think for a lot of people too, offers educational opportunities and introductions to

Serena (05:27.094)
Yeah.

Lou Mongello (05:51.465)
either types of art or artists that they've never seen before, watching the art being created right in front of them. And certainly for things like the Disney on Broadway concert series over the American Gardens Theater. It is this fantastic opportunity to see such talented performers from varying different, not just shows, but the types of music that perform and the way they perform and an opportunity to see them without actually having to go to Broadway.

Serena (06:19.946)
Yeah. And that's, I mean, that in of itself, to me, being a Broadway lover is worth the admission ticket in of itself because these guys are, I mean, many of the performers are performing right now on Broadway. Like they're currently starring on Broadway. You're going to spend at least $100 a ticket to go in and see them do their thing. And this is just like a nice little bonus thing that you get to see them perform in a very easy, accessible

concert venue while you're enjoying everything else. Like to me, that is just like the coolest thing.

Amanda (06:56.97)
Absolutely. And I love just the whole different aspects of art that I know we're going to touch on. It's a different way to celebrate our love of Disney. And I know flower and garden, the topiaries are kind of that, right? So this is a way to have the chalk art or the paintings or hearing your favorite Disney tunes. There's all these different types of art and it touches us, I think, in different ways. Plus, we're in the park. So win-win.

Lou Mongello (07:25.281)
Well, I think you hit on a great point about it sort of touching us all in different ways, because I think this festival is a great example of, you know, Food and Wine Festival is that's it. Like, that's really where the focus is. We're here, again, I talked about sort of the different arts that are showcased, but there's also a lot of other things to do. I think this is a very, I think all the festivals are starting to become this much more.

much less of a passive experience and almost an interactive one if you want it to be. So you have the culinary arts or you have 20 or so food studios, including, you know, classic favorites and new ones every year. You have it's almost they've sort of started to gamify the food experience with the wonderful walk of colorful cuisine where you sort of get a culinary prize for trying some of the food items. We talked about the performing arts, not just.

the Disney on Broadway concert series, but the visual art in performance, there's the art-defying gravity shows, there are artists who are live painting, some of them dancing while they're painting throughout the day. And then with the visual arts, you have more than 100 artists over the course of the festival, which runs from January 12 through February 19. Again, a relatively short-ish festival, but you have, excuse me,

works by Disney and then guest artists showcased around the lagoons. There's live art demonstrations, which I really love, and an opportunity to not just have your purchase signed by the artists, but to get to meet and chat with them as well. And you can participate too. I love things like the interactive activities. We'll probably talk about the paint by numbers, mural, but for other people too, you know, like Spaceballs, it's about Moitjentai. Like they love...

the merchandise and there's a lot of exclusive festival themed items you can learn to draw on the Animation Academy. There's a scavenger hunt, the passport, the app. And I think they all really sort of blend to make this a festival that you can. Look, I don't think you can and should try and do it all in one day, but it gives you reason to come back over and over again, whether it's to try something new to eat, try something new to participate in, or even just see your favorite artists or.

Lou Mongello (09:44.797)
a different performer on the Broadway series.

Serena (09:49.374)
Yeah, I totally agree. I think I love it. You use the word interactive. I feel like they've really leaned into that at this festival. There's a lot you can do and there's a lot that you can do that does not involve extra money, which I think is really nice. There's like there's a lot. We counted seven free things that you can do like that, you know, just enjoy as you're going around the festival. And I just think I think that's nice because there's a lot of families that aren't wanting to like.

necessarily drop a ton of money as they go around. They've already gotten there and they just want to enjoy the park and kind of what they've already gotten access to. So I feel like this festival, there's just so much that you can do that doesn't require any more purchase.

Lou Mongello (10:33.237)
That's a really, really good point because you can do things that don't require money so that you can save money to buy your water bottle, your lugs backpack, whatever, whatever your sort of festival purchase might be, and I know we're going to touch on those. But I really wanted to approach this festival a little differently. In the past, I've tried to do live walkabouts, which is impossible because by now, with so many boots by the time I get about halfway.

Serena (10:42.431)
Mm-hmm.

Lou Mongello (10:59.861)
I've just hit maximum density and just nothing tastes good anymore. We've done the best of the best, our top 10, which ends up being top 100 anyway. And I thought it would be fun and different. We'll see how it plays out to talk about some of the superlatives of the Epcot International. I keep on calling it Flower Festival of the Arts, and we're just going to jump right into it and.

Serena (11:03.41)
Mm-hmm.

Lou Mongello (11:25.813)
We will see how this goes. And of course, I think we need it's important that we start with. I know it's Festival of the Arts. We're going to start with the culinary arts first. Amanda and then Serena, tell me what is the most let's just lead with the big gun. What is the most flavorful dish, right? The most flavorful, delicious dish that you've experienced that served at the food studios.

Amanda (11:51.582)
Well, I think the chorizo and potato empanada that was at the Vibante, Vivido and Canto kitchen, Cochina, it was very popular, uh, food kitchen, number one, and it had this turmeric aioli and it, the chorizo had a lot of spice to it. Um, it was a plentiful portion. I thought it was very flavorful, very good.

Serena (12:17.058)
It's so hard to pick one. Yeah, it's so hard. This is like really hard. I think, okay, if I think flavorful, I tend to go savory when I think of like flavor. And so the grilled marinated skirt steak, I don't know if you guys had that, it's a sandwich and it had caramelized onions and mushrooms. There's like a blue cheese fondue sauce, like drizzled over the entire thing. And then it's on a grilled French roll. Oh.

Lou Mongello (12:18.825)
Yes sir.

Serena (12:46.322)
It was just so good. And the combination of like, I'm not a huge blue cheese fan, but like with the savory like the beef and the caramelized onions and then having the blue cheese be like, um, like a sauce almost over the whole thing. Yeah, that was really good.

Lou Mongello (13:03.021)
This is where I made my first mistake because at that booth, I went for the pork sandwich and I should have just gotten them both, but I was trying to, it was like I literally, as soon as you sort of walk into World Showcase, it's on the first booth to the left. I forget what booth it's called. And I was like, all right, Mangello, you cannot do what you do every single year, which is get everything on the menu because you're five booths in and then you're done.

Serena (13:04.93)
and I'll see you next time.

Serena (13:11.554)
Mm-hmm.

Serena (13:19.34)
Yeah.

Lou Mongello (13:31.813)
I had the pork, which was okay. But this year for me, there was like a standout. Like there was one I was like, this is it. I'm making my mark. And this is actually going to be an indicator of some of the other responses on my list. Some booths in the past are sometimes hit or miss. You never know what you're going to get. Is it relatively pedestrian? Does it not maybe meet the expectation? When I went to China.

Serena (13:51.89)
Mm-hmm.

Lou Mongello (14:01.237)
and I had the char siu. See now I'm torn. I'm torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool. It's an old music. Because I loved everything on the menu, but because I'm going to hit this later on, I really liked the, I liked the char siu pork bun here. It was $8.50. The bun was like soft and moist and the pork just fell apart and it had this.

Serena (14:07.574)
Hahaha

Lou Mongello (14:27.293)
savory and sweetness to us with sort of the crunch of the pickled onions on top. You know, they looked at me funny when I walked back and I'm like, I'd like seven more please. And they're like, where's the rest of your family? I'm like, no, this is just, this is just for me. I came in at 850 and I really, really liked the combination of flavors as well as textures of the char siu pork bun.

Serena (14:51.938)
And now I'm wishing I tried that one. Turn, now I gotta go back.

Amanda (14:54.462)
I know it's on my list. I know.

Lou Mongello (14:55.477)
We got to go. We have to go back, Kate. Just like Jack from Lost. We have to go back.

Serena (14:59.926)
I know, right? I just looked it up. Craftsman's Courtyard is the one that I was, where that sandwich was. I had to look that up, yeah. Yeah, I need to try that China one.

Lou Mongello (15:09.853)
Yeah, and yeah, I have a feeling after this, we might have to do a follow up. Wait, why don't we do a follow up on like a Wednesday night live show? We'll go back and we'll hit some of the ones that either we talked about or that we missed or that somebody who listens might suggest that we do. It's just an excuse to get together and eat. That's all. So I think that this festival is all about creation.

Amanda (15:15.486)
Oh.

Serena (15:15.724)
Wait.

Serena (15:28.518)
Yeah, I love that. That's literally my two favorite things.

Amanda (15:30.484)
I'm there for it.

Lou Mongello (15:37.657)
creativity and creation, not just in the performing arts, but here in the culinary arts as well. So give me your most creative culinary delight, the most innovative, the most unique dish at the festival, because I think some of, some of the food items are actually little works of art in both their design and presentation.

Serena (15:39.905)
Mm-hmm.

Serena (15:58.986)
They really are.

They really are. Like the presentation is beautiful. And you think about that they're mass producing these in this little like kiosk. I'm amazed at the presentation that they can kind of achieve with us. So I think for me, I have to pick one, something from the deconstructed dish because it's so unique. And the whole idea of these dishes is they are deconstructing at something that's very sort of traditional that everyone's had. And they're giving a completely new take on it by.

pulling it apart and each piece is separated. And then the presentation is beautiful too. So they have two big main ones. One is a deconstructed BLT and the other one is a deconstructed key lime pie. And they are both just gorgeous. Like I always end up taking a million pictures of them before I eat them because they're so pretty, but I have to go with those.

Amanda (16:58.906)
Mine's one of probably the most popular items and it's been around for several of these festivals and it's the sushi donut at Goshiki. I mean, I've never seen one anywhere else have either of you. And I've seen the way they do it in the kiosk with the molds that they're forming the rice and then how they layer the salmon and the tuna and the shrimp, cucumber, sprinkle the sesame seed. Now this year, I didn't get my soy sauce packet.

Serena (17:06.497)
I love that one too.

Lou Mongello (17:08.409)
Ha ha ha!

Serena (17:11.581)
Mm-mm.

Amanda (17:28.58)
I like a lot of soy sauce, that's okay, but they drizzled instead some eel sauce and wasabi aioli and sriracha aioli was good. So I still enjoyed it a lot this year, I just would like a little more soy sauce.

Lou Mongello (17:41.933)
So I love the sushi donut because I love sushi and I love donuts, so it's the perfect marriage for me. But I think it, right. But I do, I will say, and my love of Japan and the festival, the pavilion and the kiosk goes far and wide and deep. But I think the sushi donut for me is more Instagram and less flavor. So I really tried to find something that was the perfect marriage of the two. I think you can have a dish that's visually stunning,

Serena (17:46.226)
Yeah, what's not to love?

Amanda (17:48.078)
Yeah.

Amanda (18:04.62)
Yeah.

Lou Mongello (18:12.221)
deliver on in terms of taste, I sort of knocked it down off the list. That being said, Serena, you and I just bonded because I think the deconstructed BLT is the presentation is beautiful. So let me let me step back. When I first heard about deconstructing, like, wait a minute, I have to work to put my food together. It just sounds like a lot of effort for me. However, the deconstructed BLT with that. Juicy, grizzled like.

Serena (18:33.134)
Mm-hmm.

Lou Mongello (18:41.369)
fatty pork belly and that onion bread pudding. I could just, I could eat it all day, every day. If it was a health food, I would be in Adonis. The watercress espuma, the tomato jam, it looks beautiful on the plate. The marriage of flavors and textures, I think is absolutely perfect. This comes in, and this is over, you'll find this over by Test Track, over at the deconstructed dish. And this comes in at...

725, which I don't think is a bad price for the size of the portion that you get. I will say to the deconstructed key lime pie is beautiful. Like I saw other people with it and I wanted I didn't want to be weird and be like, can I take a picture of your food before you start eating it? But I didn't try it just because I was saving my I would save my appetite for later. All that being said, which dish for you?

Serena (19:26.018)
Hehehe

Lou Mongello (19:37.79)
Well, let's take sort of the taste and the flavors out of it, because I think some of.

The food presentations are just visually stunning. And I'll almost dismiss how they taste. I'm also not a sweets guy, so I lean towards savory. What is the best visual feast? Like what is like the most beautiful, Instagrammable, whatever you might call it, item on the Festival of the Arts menu this year? Amanda and then Serena.

Amanda (20:05.866)
I mean, so many of these could just fall into so many different categories, right? But I'm going to go with one that I first tried last year, which was the rainbow cake with the freeze dried Skittles. Uh, that's at the Odyssey Pavilion coming in at five 50. And it did taste great too, except I could do without the freeze dried Skittles, but I just love the rainbow layers, how it looks. If you get a good background, especially it's a beautiful photo and

It just, to me, epitomizes the whole festival.

Serena (20:38.09)
is really good. That one's really good. I think that one goes up high on the Instagram list. I think that the… Gosh, it's hard. So there's a smoothie. There's so many good ones. There's a smoothie that they have at the Vibrante, the booth that's like inconto-themed and it's… I'm trying to look. Is it coconut and passion fruit, I want to say? Or is it mango?

Lou Mongello (20:53.421)
Ha ha ha!

Amanda (21:05.658)
Yeah, you're right. This passion fruit. Yeah.

Serena (21:07.142)
It's so delicious, but it comes in a super cute little cup that says Festival of the Arts on it. And it's like a great souvenir. So you kind of get like, I love things that are like two for one sort of thing. That's a really cute and it's a drink. So it's very unique and different, but it's kind of fun to have like a fun theme drink that's not alcoholic. So that one's great for kids too. I think that one's like really fun and super cute. And I also love the

Lou Mongello (21:20.141)
Right?

Serena (21:35.69)
the sort of the traditional palette cookie that you paint. Yeah, like it's just, it's very art festival. It's very fun. There's a lot of sort of interactive foods like that. And I think that those are very artsy and kind of represent the festival to me.

Lou Mongello (21:53.229)
So I have a bit of a challenge with this one, not because of picking one, but because I can't pronounce any of the words that I need in order to do it. I need you to go to France. And if you are French, if you are from France, if you can spell French, I apologize for the pronunciation of every single word I'm about to butcher. In L'Art de Cuisine Francaise, it is the

Serena (22:04.418)
Hahaha

Lou Mongello (22:22.993)
Malo on noisettes? I don't know what it is. It's basically it is a molten chocolate cake with hazelnut crunch on top and this mango raspberry coulis. It's new this year and it looks like especially when you cut the chocolate cake and it starts to sort of ooze out. If you've been on Disney Cruise Line, if you've been to Palo, think that, but sort of just oozing out onto the plate. And the way it's designed is it looks like as the chocolate oozes out,

that there's a trail of flames behind it. Flames. From the side of my face, there's a trail of flames that are red and orange and yellow that is gorgeous. Like, it's this very, very cool visual picture that I think might be like one of the most spectacular dishes just because of how impressive it is when it comes out. And there is almost that little interactive because once you break the cake and the chocolate starts to ooze out,

the picture that's coming together on the plate starts to almost make a little more sense. This comes in at $9.25. This is also new as well, but really, really just impressive on the plate. I didn't get a chance to taste it, but I did get a chance to look at people walking out with it, and everybody's sort of doing their selfies on Instagram with them because it is that cool. It is definitely a visual feast.

Amanda (23:49.45)
Excellent, I have to try that one.

Serena (23:49.666)
That's awesome. Yeah, I didn't try that one either. So now we gotta go back and try that one too.

Lou Mongello (23:53.769)
I hope you're keeping a list of all the things that we need to try when we go back. And France has a lot of really good stuff in it this year, too. A lot of new stuff, a lot of a lot of really new stuff in France. Some people like that, some people don't. But let's talk about what's new, right? What is the single best new food item this year? Again, there's this wonderful balance of bringing back the classics that we all know and look forward to and love and then introducing new flavors and new profiles into

Amanda (23:56.422)
So many.

Serena (23:56.833)
I know.

Oh, so much, so much.

Lou Mongello (24:23.285)
some of the kitchens. So Serena and Amanda, what is your best new food item this year?

Amanda (24:31.794)
I actually went with one that Serena already mentioned, which was the grilled marinated skirt steak at Craftman's Courtyard. I actually didn't get a chance to try it yet. I'll be going back a lot, but I see it's very, very popular and that's definitely on my list. So good choice, Serena.

Serena (24:52.81)
Yeah, that one was really good. I think that, I think this is new, but I also need to go back and double check, but the Hummingbird cake, was that their last year?

Lou Mongello (25:05.457)
You know, I had the same... Let me just take a quick look. I don't remember it either. It doesn't say that it's new, but I think the way that it's presented is new. I think they had Hummingbird cake, but I almost remember it being in sort of like a small ramekin as opposed to the way it's prepared this year.

Serena (25:07.538)
I don't remember it.

Amanda (25:09.706)
I don't remember it either.

Serena (25:21.95)
Mm-hmm.

Serena (25:25.758)
Maybe that's why it feels new because I feel like I would have remembered it. I mean, I'm a huge fan of hummingbird cake. If y'all haven't had it, it's like a cross between what, like a banana bread and a pineapple cake, I guess is kind of like that blend and Art Smith, of course, has the ultimate. I mean, if you want the true hummingbird cake experience, you need to go to Homecoming and get the hummingbird cake there. But this one is really, really good. And I just love, I don't know.

flavor combination to me is the best.

Amanda (25:58.45)
I agree with you and I love how they did the icing as kind of a coating too and it didn't overpower the rest of it. It was very good.

Serena (26:02.483)
Mm-hmm.

Yeah.

Lou Mongello (26:05.825)
I cannot in good conscience say that I'm not a sweets guy based on how I devoured the hummingbird cake. It's the cream cheese icing and that caramel sauce and that and I think what's new this year too is sort of that sort of warm pineapple compote that is it is almost a slightly just deconstructed. But I loved how it almost it wasn't too sweet. It wasn't overpoweringly sweet, which sometimes you could get right. You hear bananas and pecans and

Serena (26:12.051)
Hahaha.

Serena (26:21.652)
Yes.

Lou Mongello (26:35.277)
caramel sauce and pineapple, you think it could be overwhelmingly sweet and it wasn't. And actually it was a really nice compliment to the duck and dumplings, which I also I don't think is new this year, but I think is I think the presentation might have been slightly altered. So I think that was a nice sort of combination of items to have. For me, I there was almost sort of no there was no sort of doubt in my mind. This is going to go back to my love of Japan.

Serena (26:46.986)
I don't think it is.

Serena (26:51.35)
Yeah.

Lou Mongello (27:05.245)
in Japan, they have a new Wagyu bun and it's a steamed Bao bun with American Wagyu beef with this green shiso sauce sort of drizzled around the perimeter. It's not on the bun, which is really nice. You can sort of dip a shiso sauce is almost like a it's like a mildly citrus type of sauce. But again, I like Bao buns and I cannot lie and I

Serena (27:27.97)
Yeah, me too, anything. It's so good.

Lou Mongello (27:31.133)
It was just, and the day that we were there, like it was a little cool out, so it sort of was perfect. You can, it's also very shareable. Not that I would share it, but you can break it apart and share it. But there was, I love the amount of filling of the American Wagyu beef and how it sort of the sauce starts to sort of seep into the bun, which is nice and warm. That's nine seventy five. I would do that again all day, every day, because I think that's ten dollars, like really, really well spent.

Serena (27:35.295)
Mm-hmm.

Amanda (27:39.758)
Thanks for watching!

Serena (27:58.462)
Mm-hmm. Absolutely.

Amanda (28:00.326)
I enjoyed that immensely. Yeah. And I shared a bite. The person only took a bite, which was great.

Lou Mongello (28:06.77)
That's what you got to do. You have to find somebody to walk around the festival with that doesn't like a lot of foods. So they take one taste, they're like, nah, not for me. And then you just finish off what they started. But you need to wash all these down with something. So what is the most refreshing beverage? Alcoholic, non-alcoholic. What for you is most refreshing? Amanda and Serena.

Serena (28:15.788)
Right.

Serena (28:28.258)
My refreshing, like refreshing beverage that I just thought was so much fun and so tasty is the Rainbow Hard Cider Flight. And that is at the, um, the, in the Odyssey Pavilion there. And it is, it is so good. I love the fact that it's a little cider flight. I'm trying to remember all the flavors. I think it was cherry, pineapple, and let me look it up now. But it was delicious. There's three of them. It's a pretty good size one that

Ciders are pretty like, they're pretty tame, you know, it's, you're not going to like, it's not, this is very entry level in the alcohol category. But I thought it was just really fun and really tasty and I like the way it's presented and the price was really good. It's, yeah, it's because it was $10, which is not bad at all. And it's, and it gives you three different kinds and a pretty good size too.

Lou Mongello (29:16.307)
Mm-hmm.

Lou Mongello (29:23.353)
And there's a rainbow beer flight as well too, right? I'm not a big beer person, but I know there's the cider flight and the beer flight.

Serena (29:25.654)
There is.

Serena (29:29.506)
Mm-hmm. Yeah, but they're very fruity and fun.

Amanda (29:29.954)
Hmm. I mean, yeah, that's nice. I like those beers. Can't go wrong with France, the frozen French martini, which is of course, Grey Goose vodka and little champagne, pineapple, orange and grape juice. 1525. So it's a little bit that's typical for the French martinis, but very refreshing.

Serena (29:44.316)
Mm-hmm.

Lou Mongello (30:00.165)
I am not a big drinker, alcohol wise. I mean, give me a nice little cup of sake with my sushi and I'm perfectly happy. However, when I went, I'm going back to China again. When I went to China and ordered everything on the menu, because I'm a thorough researcher, it's not for me, it's for you, they have a Silk River Hard Lemonade with vodka. This is what got me. Lavender Coconut Syrup and Lemonade at $13.75.

It was delightful and it was the perfect. What I love about this is it paired perfectly with all the other things that I ate in China. Trust me, I'm coming back around to China one more time before we're done here today. It was sweet, but not overpoweringly. It complimented the savory wonderfully and it didn't have a heavy sort of alcohol taste or sort of bite on the other end.

Lou Mongello (30:59.573)
almost like a sugar rim on the little glass, but it was perfect to sort of sip along with your meal and then sort of it left a really nice sort of finish on your palate, which is why I like that one. And I do believe that China has one that is a non-alcoholic version as well. Let me just quickly double check that there's, it is pretty. Yeah, it's called the painted panda and,

Serena (31:20.234)
And that one's a pretty drink too. It's like pink, pretty.

Lou Mongello (31:30.179)
No, I'm sorry, I take that back. They do not have a non-alcoholic. They might be able to make it non-alcoholic. Well, again...

Serena (31:35.242)
The other drink that they have is not light and refreshing. It is like very spirit forward, that butterfly blue one where it's like, it does have lychee syrup, but it has rum and like pea flower infused liqueur or something in that. That's definitely a little bit stronger. Not that I know that from experience.

Amanda (31:59.982)
Ha ha

Serena (32:03.485)
hahahaha

Amanda (32:04.035)
Hahaha

Serena (32:07.323)
haha

Lou Mongello (32:08.282)
I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to do that.

Lou Mongello (32:23.305)
a dessert that you felt was just artistically beautiful, whether it was delicious or not as well, but one that sort of really struck you.

Serena (32:31.97)
Oh yeah, the one at Deco Delights. I don't think that they're new, but I think that they did have them separate or similar ones separate and they've put them together in one offering. So it's a trio of mini desserts, which I really like because the whole point of going to the festival to me is to try as many things as you can. So I like the fact that each one was, it was mini size, maybe two to three bites each. The presentation of them is absolutely beautiful. It's very, very beautiful.

I'm gonna see if I can find the exact descriptions on if you guys have them.

Lou Mongello (33:07.733)
It's the chocolate tart. It's a vanilla bean cheesecake and straw rain mousse. It's new this year. It's very inexpensive. Like it's only five and a quarter. And I think you're right. It almost looks like it's fake. It almost looks like it is like, and I mean this in a good way, like artificial, like designed little pieces of art because of the way that they are arranged on the plate. They're super, super colorful. Again, makes for great.

Amanda (33:08.343)
I, yeah.

Serena (33:16.907)
Mm-hmm.

Serena (33:21.945)
Yeah.

Amanda (33:22.54)
Mm-hmm.

Lou Mongello (33:37.289)
Instagram photos as well. And I know somebody that had it and said they tasted, you know, the important thing, too, is that they taste good as well, not just that they make for, you know, a pretty social media post.

Serena (33:47.042)
Mm-hmm. They are. They're really good.

Amanda (33:50.838)
The line there was so long, but that was on my list for sure. And it certainly seemed very, very popular that, and then of course, Oh gosh, parrot with that. Very nice. We need to go back with Serena. And the other dessert that I think is the most beautiful is the deconstructed key lime pie.

Serena (33:57.762)
They also have an expressive martini there too. Just saying. Goes along really well. And. Ha ha ha.

Lou Mongello (34:02.327)
You can definitely see how Serena spent her day.

Serena (34:14.411)
Mm-hmm.

Amanda (34:14.758)
I just love how that is plated, how colorful it is, just the way it's all portioned, and then of course how it tastes.

Serena (34:23.126)
I would love to watch them. I don't understand how they do that key lime. It's like in a swirl, but it's very, very soft. So I don't know how they get it in a perfect swirl. And it's like standing up vertically on the plate. I don't know how to, it's beautiful.

Lou Mongello (34:41.493)
Yeah, you know, the pastry chefs and the dessert chefs, I mean, they're really, there's not just a science in terms of baking, et cetera, but there's an art that comes to it. Over Marathon Weekend, we were cheering over at the Boardwalk to get there at some ungodly hour and the pastry chefs are in there and I'm watching them literally use a tweezer to individually place certain items and dots and candies on it and every single piece.

is an actual work of art, which is why I chose from Pop Eats, the Rock the Dots White Chocolate and Orange Moose with Vanilla Bean Chiffon Cake. It sounds like nothing. However, you get this beautiful square plate with this, you know, the way they sort of design, it's almost like a Jackson Pollock painting on top. But there's a little there's a little Minnie Mouse on the plate as well. And I think that there's something fun and festive. Again, I talked to somebody who had it. She said it was, you know, it

Serena (35:19.507)
Mmm.

Serena (35:29.887)
Yeah.

Lou Mongello (35:40.221)
was as pretty to look at as it was delicious to eat. And I believe this comes in at, let me just double check again, 525. So I like ones that you're not, it's not a huge investment, right? In terms of wanting to try something new, which is which I like when some of these items come in and around, you know, five, six dollars.

Serena (35:54.561)
Yeah.

Serena (36:01.63)
Yeah, to me if it's like $8 or more, that's like my mental where I'm like, I don't know, anything under that I'm like, yeah, why not?

Amanda (36:12.651)
Hehe

Lou Mongello (36:12.818)
Because it can get, I mean, let's not, you know, let's not kid ourselves. It can get expensive. It's like collecting pins. You're like, oh, it's not a big deal. Pins are only $10, $12. Well, when you have 500 of them, all of a sudden it's an expensive hobby. When you have 500 items at, you know, the Festival of the Arts, it can be an expensive afternoon and evening as well, but you sleep so good too. All right.

Amanda (36:19.847)
Yeah.

Lou Mongello (36:35.185)
Let's go from a culinary perspective. Give me the best of the best of the fest. What is the best overall food studio? So I want you to take another individual item, a drink, but an individual food studio that sort of, you know, from soup to nuts, from appetizer to dessert. What do you think is the one food studio that you just cannot miss?

Amanda (36:58.826)
I'll go with the one that I've eaten all three items already. It's the only one I've eaten everything. We discussed two of them already. It's goshiki sushi donut, the wagyu bun, and then the ichigo Moki, which I, I daifuku, which I think is just such a really, really nice dessert too, with the, um, bean paste and the white chocolate has some strawberry cream and thought it was just perfectly portions and. Just bought.

a few of those items with a friend and sat a little bit away and had a delightful meal in the trees in the bamboo trees there.

Serena (37:37.222)
Okay, so it's really, this is hard. This might be the toughest question I've ever been asked.

So, okay, if I'm gonna go classic, like food festival, like what I would say, like if you could only hit a booth or two, probably Pop Eats, because it's got what I associate as a classic festival of the arts dish, which is the tomato soup and grilled cheese. Festival of the arts tends to have the most cool weather we get here in central Florida, and that is such a delicious.

combination and they have one this year. There's always like one that's very basic and then one that has a little bit of twist of flavor and this year's is pimento cheese bacon and fried green tomato grilled cheese sandwich with and it is Fantastic. It's a decent size portion coming in at 650 and then you can also get that rock the dots White chocolate and orange mousse, which is like really pretty at the same booth. So you get a little sweet you get a little savory

That's probably like my classic festival of the arts dish.

Lou Mongello (38:46.425)
That sounds delicious and I'm famished and I'm tempted to just stop recording and pick the two of you up right now and go to the festival. Usually we record like from the festival and I was like, all right, this time let's sort of just make it about the conversation. I'm like, oh, we should have been at the festival. I love all of your answers, but you're all incorrect. Your answers are absolutely, there is one standout for me and look.

Serena (38:51.24)
And you know what, let's go. Sorry folks, you're not gonna get a whole episode today.

Amanda (38:51.599)
Hahaha!

Amanda (38:57.378)
Hahaha

Serena (39:04.178)
Yeah.

Amanda (39:04.75)
Hahaha

Lou Mongello (39:14.037)
You know, the festivals are interesting because year over year, there are some that you know will constantly deliver. They have the classics, you know what you're going to get. There's some that sort of mix it up and it can be hit or miss. When you go to a booth that is such a surprise because maybe, oh, it was meh one year, it was pretty good one year. And every single item on the menu delivers, as I was inhaling, everything on the menu from the Painted Panda in China.

Serena (39:20.45)
Mm-hmm.

Serena (39:25.526)
Mm-hmm.

Lou Mongello (39:44.213)
I'm shaking my head going, I can't believe how good this is. They have a General Tso's Chicken Shumai, which is 10.75. You get three large Shumais. Shumais are like sort of small, almost like squarish dumplings that have chicken. There's nothing scary about them. It's not super spicy. It's served on a thick-ish slice of cucumber. There's also the Char Siu.

pork bun, which I mentioned earlier. They have sesame balls with red bean paste. And sesame balls are little, almost like, I think you get three golf ball size. They're soft, covered in sesame, and inside they have this warm red bean paste. It's $7.25. And you can almost sort of dip it in this, like a sort of pollock-like decoration of sauce on the plate. It's outstanding.

And that coupled with the lemonade that I mentioned before, or they also have a black and white bubble tea with black tea, milk, chocolate, and black and white bubble pearls, non-alcoholic. I think the Painted Panda just killed it this year. And it's the place that when I'm like, oh, you know, maybe I'll go to the festival again. The place that I want to go to first and know that I'm going to eat and enjoy everything on the menu is the Painted Panda in China. I think oftentimes

Serena (41:05.929)
Mm-hmm.

Lou Mongello (41:12.225)
China's overlooked. Because like, I have a Chinese restaurant at home. You know, we can, we can go to, you know, what's the name of, oh, what's the name of the fast food Chinese restaurant, which is Panda Express. This is not Panda Express. Like it is really, really well done. And two huge, huge thumbs up for the Painted Panda.

Serena (41:15.874)
Mm-hmm.

Serena (41:24.954)
Yeah. No.

Serena (41:33.578)
I definitely got to go there. See, the mistake I made was going towards Canada first. By the time I got around there...

Amanda (41:35.319)
Yes.

Lou Mongello (41:38.977)
Who does that? What did you? Did you have some sort of childhood trauma? Who goes to Canada first?

Amanda (41:45.39)
I'm going to go to bed.

Serena (41:45.682)
Well, look, okay, if I'm doing festivals, I like to go that way because I always want to get to France, which is a big one for me, and the whatever's around Morocco is always really big and then Japan's always big. But that's kind of the direction I go. Now, if I'm going to drink around the world, I'm going to start in Mexico, obviously. But when I'm festival eating, I always go to the right, which I don't know why. That's just what I do. But I ran out of space by the time I got to China. So next time I need to go the other way.

Lou Mongello (42:13.593)
see. That's why if you start so using your logic, if you start going left the way normal human beings do it, you start that way. You're building up right, you're building up to this to this like payoff at the end, you know, you've got like, Morocco and France coming like at the end, you have this sort of finish line at your marathon as opposed to doing it, you know, the wrong way and going from right to left.

All right, Willis, we could talk about food all day, and we have been and we should, but let's just go to for a lot of people. Shopping is a very big part. I'm not even talking about just the art that you can buy, but some of the festival merchandise. What do you think is the best festival merchandise item, the best piece of merchandise that is exclusive to Festival of the Arts?

Serena (42:55.211)
Yeah.

Serena (43:04.494)
So, there's two, but the one is the lug bag. That's the one I bought. So, I would have to say that that's it won for me and I did not intend to even buy anything. I walked in and I saw the bag and I said, oh no, now this has got to come home with me. But lug bags did a collab with Disney for this and they're kind of new to doing this with Disney. It's very exciting. They're not new bags.

doing sort of the branded stuff, which is really exciting. They're very practical functional bags. We always have like the lounge flies and they're super cute, but they're not as like – they're more cute than functional. And lug bags are very, very functional. And I love that the material they're made of, they're wipe off, they're like they have – very roomy. They had a backpack and a crossbody. I got the backpack. It's got figment on it. It's purple and white and it's got Festival of the Arts on it. It's all embroidered. It's really, really beautiful.

I loved that bag. And then the second thing, I know I shouldn't say too, but I have to, is the art piece that they released in print, which was like a beautiful one of Epcot. And it has Mickey and Minnie in their 80s style rainbow silver jumpsuits, you know those ones that were like the iconic.

Lou Mongello (44:22.936)
Mm.

Amanda (44:24.462)
Mm-hmm. Ha ha ha.

Serena (44:24.586)
I still don't understand why Disney hasn't brought those back, by the way. That's like forever my lament. I'm like literally we don't even need a whole new attraction. Just give us them in those throwback 80s outfits. That's like all we want. But that print is like super cute and I think it's like 30 bucks for like a really nice poster size print.

Amanda (44:35.252)
Right.

Amanda (44:44.79)
Hmm. Uh, I also was.

Lou Mongello (44:46.169)
I will say the, the lug bags I was introduced to at Destination D, which I think for a lot of people were, by the way, brilliant lug on giving everybody one of your lug bags, getting them in the hands of people. And I think why they're, they're so practical for the parks and beloved by, it's because they were made by Disney fans, right? They're local people who go to the parks and know what we as fans want. The lug experience that there was at Destination D was like the most popular.

Serena (44:58.134)
So smart.

Serena (45:05.898)
Yeah.

Lou Mongello (45:15.233)
sort of attraction of the weekend and I see why. And this figment bag, which they had sort of given a sneak preview of, was the thing that everybody was wanting and waiting for. And I saw, and now I see why there were so many people walking around with it. And I think that was $59. And it's a convertible bag, right? It's sort of a, it's a shoulder bag and can also be converted into like a belt bag, right?

Serena (45:39.998)
Yeah, it's like a crossbody. So they had two bags. One's like a mini backpack. That's the one I got and that one was 90 with that before any discounts or anything. And then they had the smaller convertible crossbody one that actually has figment on it and it's more of like a smaller mini size.

Lou Mongello (45:58.829)
I'm not sure I could pull it off. I love Figment a lot, but I'm not sure I could pull off the purple cross body. Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha.

Serena (46:03.426)
I mean, I think if you tried hard enough, you know. Ha ha ha.

Amanda (46:06.55)
Like purple might be your color. Uh, I think just traditionally this festival has always had just such fun merchandise because it's usually very creative and colorful and I actually had on my list was the purple lug backpack and it sold like hotcakes, of course. So if you do see it, grab it because you probably won't see it next time you're there. Um, I also love just some things that they take a twist on to make more unique

Serena (46:31.082)
Yeah.

Amanda (46:36.544)
be something as simple as a coffee mug, which how many of those do you see? But it was, this one was a little taller, almost like a little paint can. And then it had on the backside of it, some like purple paint dripping over the edge, you know, so that just makes it more special for the festival. So I like looking for things like that.

Serena (46:56.738)
That one was really cute.

Lou Mongello (46:59.229)
Much like the fact I'm not a sweets guy, I'm also not really a merch guy as well. However, I am a Figment fan and I love the fact that we've seen this over the last summer of years, this slow progression of the return of Figment in a very big way, right? Sort of reestablishing himself as the official or unofficial mascot of this park. And this year, I really see so leaning heavily into

figment merchandise. One of the items that I saw that was very popular, it's interesting because I wish I could sort of bring my grandfather back from the dead and be like, listen, nowadays we buy water in bottles for like seven dollars in the park. You'd be like, what? You just drink out of a hose. I would also say we also buy bottles to hold the water in at fifty five dollars for a water bottle. But the corksical water bottle is was very it's beautiful.

Serena (47:31.851)
Mm-hmm.

Serena (47:47.606)
Hehehe

Lou Mongello (47:59.357)
and super, super popular. Right? Again, if you have a DVC or an annual pass holder, you get the discount on the water, the Festool water bottle. The thing that stuck out to me as I walked through some of the merchandise shops was, again, sort of being attracted to the thing. There's a really cool Festool of the Arts baseball cap with figment on it, sort of classic figment with the rainbow. It's simple. I think it's unisex. I think anybody could wear it. And it came in at like twenty seven or twenty nine dollars. Again.

Serena (47:59.623)
Mm-hmm.

Lou Mongello (48:28.689)
Not sure I could pull off the look, but I dig the simplicity and the nostalgic essence of Epcot that is in the Fingment baseball hat.

Serena (48:40.51)
Yeah, I think you hit it right, the nostalgia. The merchandise this year really hit a lot of nostalgia in the design and the sort of retro. I think that's why I really liked it.

Lou Mongello (48:52.053)
You know, the next one I have on my list, I think, I think you guys could probably just sit back and relax because I think we all have the same answer. If there was sort of this, I'm like, well, is there like this must have like the one thing that you need at the festival? What is it? Am I wrong to say that it's the Figment popcorn bucket?

Serena (49:14.014)
It's got to be it's got to be the imagination pavilion one. Yeah.

Amanda (49:14.09)
You're not wrong. Yeah.

Lou Mongello (49:15.273)
It has to be. It is, there's a lot about this, right? So one, there was a figment popcorn bucket last year that had like six, eight hour waits to get, which you go do you, you go do your thing. Like kudos to Disney finally going, hey, wait a minute, we've got this mobile order thing. Why don't we sort of leverage that for merchandise as well? You are now able to use the My Disney Experience app. You go to,

Amanda (49:37.631)
Yeah.

Lou Mongello (49:44.573)
order food, click on the Epcot section, you can order the figment popcorn bucket, which is $30. Right. But it this I think unlike other popcorn buckets. And my other question is, where do you people put all these popcorn buckets? Like I just don't I just have the room in my house or sort of mental head space to put all these buckets. But this is it is almost like a little piece of like art, right? It can sit on a table because it's

Serena (49:50.85)
$30, yes.

Serena (50:11.188)
It is.

Lou Mongello (50:13.037)
the crystal pavilion and there's figment, who cares about the popcorn, right? It's the figment inside with the little rainbow and it lights up. Like you can sort of display this on a shelf, not as a popcorn bucket as part of a collection, but almost as a little relatively simple piece of art. But I love being able to bring the pavilion from Epcot into your home. I may and I'm clearly I'm on the fence of actually going out and buying one of the popcorn buckets.

Serena (50:39.974)
You should get it. I got it. I have it sitting on my coffee table here. It's actually really cute. And what sold me is the light up. I didn't realize it did a light up too, but when I saw that, I was like, oh no. It's actually really, really cute. And it is, it's the pavilion. And who knows how long we'll have that pavilion, but I love that we have this beautiful representation of it. It's more art than popcorn bucket.

There's not even a whole lot of popcorn space inside of it, but we don't care because it's just so cute.

Amanda (51:14.706)
It is beautiful and it's very retro. Like you were saying a lot of the merchandise theming is, and I really want to know who uses those for popcorn. I mean, I just would not, you can never get it clean.

Serena (51:17.696)
Mm-hmm.

Lou Mongello (51:24.633)
Look, I think people will be screaming like, don't let popcorn touch my popcorn bucket. Like, get that stuff out of there. I mean, it comes filled in plastic bags of colored popcorn, but you really sort of want to get it out as quickly as you can and just put your bucket on display.

Serena (51:28.895)
No.

Lou Mongello (51:41.721)
I think people would be like appalled, like, who's eating popcorn out of your figment? Popcorn, what's wrong with you, man? That's like going counterclockwise through World Showcase, who does that? In terms of other merchandise, and there might not be anything, but I was wondering, was there a most unique, which I know is a contradiction to, but is there a unique marketplace find, something that was beautiful or special or a unique sort of piece of...

Amanda (51:52.512)
Hahaha!

Lou Mongello (52:11.153)
art or fest or festival merchandise that you found in any of the marketplaces or shops.

Amanda (52:17.578)
I'm going to cheat a little bit on this one, Lou, maybe. I know we haven't talked about much yet, the artists and the actual art, but I think what can be unique is whatever is appealing to you and to not be overwhelmed by some of the price tags on display or that you ask and go for a postcard that is around $7 and you can frame it or buy a few and create a little collage, but it's, you know.

Hopefully everybody can afford a seven dollar postcard and it's just a way to take it home with you especially if you're traveling don't want to ship or take a massive piece of art home. You can take that postcard with you.

Lou Mongello (52:57.113)
That's great. I love that. I love that.

Serena (52:59.79)
That is great. I think you have to go with art on this one. There's unique market… There's some amazing things for sale. So if you really want to… I mean, if you want to really splurge, they have these incredible sculptures. They're Disney sculptures that they've created into tables and they're super intricate made out of resin and metal and then they put a glass top on and there's one that's like the entire…

It's a branch of a tree with all of the dwarfs along, like in the high-ho scene, like all sculpted and made into this giant tall like entryway table. You know, if you really just want to get something that's just crazy unique and cool, you can go that route. I, like you, I love the postcards and the prints that you can get because a lot of these artists, they sell their things on DisneyFineArt.com.

and you can go on there, you can get them at any point, but they're the actual canvas prints. So they're pretty pricey because they're the real thing on canvas and all that. But if you want to get them at the art festival, that's about the only place where they will sell a print, like a matted print that you can get in. And they're like between $25 and $50, depending on the size you get and the artist. And that's a very reasonable…

price tag for something that you could pop into a frame. And I've gotten, I usually get one every year and that's usually like my must have souvenir for the art festival.

Lou Mongello (54:34.305)
So I love both of your answers and I agree with you 100%. I think one of the things about the festival that I love is, is the educational opportunity to be introduced to art. You don't have to sort of, you know, jump in with both feet and buy something that is hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in order to start displaying something that you just love. And I think a postcard and a little $5 frame from, you know, the dollar store or Five Below is a great way to sort of bring a piece home.

It doesn't have to be an original, it doesn't have to be signed, it doesn't have to be on a canvas. But it's a way to start dipping your toe in the water, getting more comfortable, seeing what you like, artists that you like, styles that you like, and sort of building your own canvas and collage on your walls. And, man, I know you and I both know Melanie Jones, who is like the Disney arts expert, in my opinion. I think last year, was it? I think last year she and I did a live, I think you guys either did a video or a live.

this year from the festival. And she, I love how she talks about how you sort of find your own way, right? You find your thing that you like, and then you can slowly start to graduate up from maybe the $7 postcard becomes a $35, you know, eight and a half by 11. Then maybe you move up to, you know, a print or an artist's proof. And then if you really love something, you can sort of go, you can go big if you want. And I love the fact that there is something for everyone of

you don't have to be an art expert to enjoy and appreciate art. Right? That's what this is all about. I think it's what you love and what you're comfortable doing or spending and bringing home. But I think if you want to get something that's a little special, it's a great way to sort of remember your trip and your visit to the festival. Let's sort of just stay in this same vein. And again, we could almost do an entire show about...

the art and the artists because there are so many, and especially on weekends, the artists will come and be there. There'll be live painting, there'll be signing, you can talk to the artist whose work you're bringing home. A lot of times they'll draw maybe on the back of the print or the canvas that you buy. Walking through the festival, and I think you have to do yourself a service of going through more than once, was there

Lou Mongello (56:58.101)
What for you is the most impressive art piece, that standout piece of art that you saw on display or for sale that, you know, either it's something that you fell in love with or money, no object you wish you could bring home. What was that thing? And again, the most impressive thing could be that seven dollar postcard or it could be something, you know, a little more spectacular like a carved dining room table and coffee table that's there.

Amanda (57:26.782)
I'll give a plug to my first Disney fine art investment, actually. So Stephen Fishwick, who actually will be there in February, he's not there yet. And he's one of the artists that will paint on stage, which I first when I heard that I'm like, well, who wants to watch that? But then I watched him and Trevor Carlton doing it. My goodness, you talk about just energetic and fun. And also they're there. Exactly. It's a

Lou Mongello (57:51.381)
It's a performance. Like, it's a performance. Yeah.

Amanda (57:56.896)
amazing in like 15 minutes, which I don't even understand how that's possible. But Stephen Fischwick has such a great story. And then he does these paintings and at the end of the paintings, he takes paint and he kind of just flicks paint onto the paintings. And that would be the point that I'm like, oh my gosh, I'm going to completely mess this up, but no fear. And that's what partly what makes them so special. So last year I did purchase a Minnie Mouse painting from him.

And I love it.

Serena (58:28.334)
That's so cool. Yeah, it is amazing to me that they can not only paint but like paint in real time Like fast enough where you're actually seeing it kind of come together in front of your eyes I have so many artists that I love that I've like I always look for their work there Noah fine art is one of my favorites and he has he has a bunch of really neat ones But he really has a lot of throwback stuff one with Walt in it that I just love

There's some people that I don't know that I'll remember all of the pieces, but I always look for things that really reflect Disney World because I just think that that's really cool to get pieces that actually have the place that you're visiting reflected in it, whether it's Epcot, there's one I've got that's like all of the World Showcase, you know, all of the pavilions represented in one piece. But I love what you said, Lu, about

how art doesn't have to be something that you overthink or you get too hung up on, is this the cool piece or the must have thing? That shouldn't really come into play like it does with merchandise may run on popularity, but art is so subjective. It should be what calls to you and what will be something that you can put up in your own home and will make you happy. Will give you that little spark of joy every time you look at it.

That's the beauty of this and that I love that it comes, when you come to the festival, you can get all of these pieces at such a nice entry level price. So you can start that collection. It's just what a fun way to bring all of those happy memories into your home.

Lou Mongello (01:00:08.597)
Yeah. And I think starting the collection sometimes is fun too, whether it is a character like an artist that you like, you know, Melanie Jones. I don't think, let me double check. No, there is no larger Beauty and the Beast fan on the planet than Melanie Jones. And I keep telling them like, Melanie, you just have to open up your home because I can only imagine the art that you have on your walls and scattered throughout your house.

Amanda (01:00:23.431)
Hahaha.

Lou Mongello (01:00:34.421)
There were two artists this year that really stood out to me as I was going. And by the way, I agree with you about Noah. The only thing more beautiful than Noah's art is Noah the man. Like he's just the nicest like person on the planet. But there was two that stuck out. Dave Perillo has one of the marketplace stalls and has this incredible, unique take on attraction posters. So I love the fact that it calls back to the parks, but it's something different than

Serena (01:00:47.199)
Yeah.

Lou Mongello (01:01:04.353)
the attraction posters that we've seen over the years. But this year, the thing that really stuck out to me, and this may be me going back and actually picking up, you know, it could be a postcard, it could be something. His name is Tom Matuszek, and he's a self-taught artist who became a Disney fine artist back in 2016. And he uses geometric shapes to create Disney characters. He's got a spectacular Cheshire cat.

but he has a Wally on display. And I love the movie Wally and I love her for many reasons, but I love how this character that does not speak a single word, has no facial expressions, is able to emote in just sort of, is quoting his lenses, his eyes, and sort of the way that the flaps above the move. He has a piece of Wally that there's an expression that in Wally's eyes that is just...

It's beautiful and it's mesmerizing. And I think it's really sort of the piece that stuck out to me. And I found myself sort of walking back to time and again, and actually if you go to www.radio.com, one of our writers, Tierra Tanner, wrote an article, has some of his art up there and had a conversation with Tom. So you can learn more a little bit about some of his work. I'll link to that in the show notes. But yeah, I think.

you know, especially for this festival. I love how it's just a great introduction to learning about art, learning about the artists and the process, and starting to maybe create your own collection. And the third point on the triangle are the performing arts. I think under sort of the umbrella of entertainment, there is so much about the festival that is entertaining. And I think entertainment is a very, pardon the intentional pun,

very broad stroke of the brush because the artists who are painting is entertaining. Some of the chefs who are putting things together is entertainment. But talking specifically about the Disney on Broadway performances, was there any one that either you saw that was the most spectacular or maybe the most anticipated? I know, Amanda, you are a huge, like, live theater and Broadway fan and

Lou Mongello (01:03:27.745)
aficionado and for you this is one of the big draws to this festival.

Amanda (01:03:32.378)
I mean, I lived in New York City for 15 years, so I love Broadway. But I think Serena, you probably saw them to that first night was Casey Levy and Patty Mirren, who originated the roles of Elsa and Anna and Disney's Frozen on Broadway. And they said something that struck me that I hadn't realized was that they were the first female duo to perform at the festival. It's always been a man and woman performing together. And of course, people were excited to hear them sing frozen songs. And

Serena (01:03:57.699)
Mm-hmm.

Amanda (01:04:02.252)
one song that was added to the Frozen musical after they left the musical. And it was fun to hear that. And I love when they pull out these obscured songs that you might not know if you haven't had a chance to see these musicals, the national tour. And then they sang from other Disney musicals and also some, you know, Greatest Showman and a few other surprises. I know, but they just have such good rapport, you know? And I'm very much looking forward

Serena (01:04:22.218)
Greatest showman, that was so cool. I was dying.

Mm-hmm.

Amanda (01:04:32.432)
I saw her and L. Stephen Taylor last year because she originated the role of Mary Poppins on Broadway, also played Belle in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, and they are friends. He played Mufasa in Lion King on Broadway. They both are Florida natives. So they last year had this such fun banter on stage. So I'll be seeing them again January 28th.

Serena (01:04:54.85)
There's so many good ones. There's a lot of Florida locals. So Michael James Scott, he's from Orlando and he is currently Jeannie on Broadway. And again, I just think that's so cool to be able to see him come back to his hometown and perform each year. And he's just a fantastic showman. He just, the energy that he brings just is just, it's so infectious and isn't he fun?

Amanda (01:04:56.462)
I know. Yeah.

Amanda (01:05:12.16)
Yeah.

Amanda (01:05:22.795)
Mm-hmm.

Lou Mongello (01:05:23.991)
He has it turned up to 11 all the time.

Serena (01:05:26.314)
All the time. I'm fascinated by him. He's just so much fun to watch and everything he does. I love following him on social media too. He's just a blast. I always look forward to him. Josh Strickland is another one of my favorites. He comes every year. I'm always looking to make sure that he's gonna be back. And he's the original Tarzan on Broadway. He originated that role and still continues to play it here and there, different touring times. And his voice is like...

Amanda (01:05:36.718)
Mm-hmm.

Serena (01:05:55.622)
insanely good. Ashley Brown, I love too. I will say though, I don't even think it matters to that you have to like look at the schedule and be like, let me make sure I get a good one. Like just if whatever day you're there, go to the concert. There's three every night. They are, it's what, 530, 645, and 830, I think it is. Eight. And you just, you will not be

Amanda (01:06:19.687)
8.

Serena (01:06:24.778)
disappointed and it's only like usually about a half hour show and they're just, they're so good and I've yet to see anybody that didn't blow me away.

Amanda (01:06:28.45)
Mm-hmm.

Lou Mongello (01:06:35.349)
And to a certain degree, don't be concerned about where you sit. The theater is intimate because of its size. And I think it's intimate because of the way that the performers respond to and almost interact with the people who are there. And I think to your point, it is an obscure, meepulse quote, it just doesn't matter, right? Unless you are specifically going to see a particular performer or, hey, I love the music from Mary Poppins. I want to see music for Lion King.

Serena (01:06:38.943)
Yeah.

Lou Mongello (01:07:05.141)
I think it's an incredible opportunity if you are a fan of either Broadway or just a fan of Disney movies to hear these songs performed one live and in person, but often arranged a little bit differently, right? Because they are the Broadway performances. It is a wildly different experience than hearing it on your run, watching the movie, whatever it might be. And there is...

there is something special about live theater and live performances and the energy that is brought through. And I think you're right. It doesn't matter if you're vacationing. Make sure you see at least one, right, or make sure you have that experience. And if you are local, again, it's this reason. And I know there's a lot of people that will go not for the culinary arts, but just because they want to see all the different performances. And the fact that it's included with your admission is just a bonus. And

Amanda (01:08:02.092)
Yeah.

Lou Mongello (01:08:02.337)
You know, you'll see sometimes the lines get very long and yes, they do have dining packages. If you want to make sure you get a good seat, you don't want to wait on line before you want to be closer to the front. For me, my answer is it doesn't matter. Right. Like I know a couple of the performers by name, but it's who's going to be there, right. The night that I'm there because you don't know what the set is going to be or, Hey, I love the music from Mary Poppins. I want to make sure I catch that. Or I want to try and see as many different ones as I can.

But I think this festival too, we talked about this earlier on, is not just a passive watching, listening experience. It is an interactive festival, I think maybe even more so than many of the others. And there's a lot of interactive art experiences. What do you think is the best of the best? A booth or exhibit that best engages guests in the creative process?

Serena (01:08:45.79)
Mm-hmm.

Serena (01:08:59.17)
So there's a couple. One I think that's really cool to have is the animation class that they do. It's only certain hours, so you need to check your schedule and see when it's going to happen because it's typically earlier in the day before because it's held in the same place where they do the Broadway concerts. So you have to come up a little earlier, make sure you're around over by the America Pavilion.

earlier in the day and they do it several times a day and it's an animator teaching you how to draw a character. And what better way to celebrate Festival of the Arts than making your own art? I just think that's so cool. And they used to have those. I mean, they still have it in Animal Kingdom. You can go every day and go over to the conservation station and they will have somebody teaching you how to draw characters. They used to have it in Hollywood Studios. But it's nice to have it at this festival. I just think it's really a fun thing to do and free.

and then you have a souvenir to bring home.

Amanda (01:09:57.626)
I really liked the kids chalk art experience and they need to bring one for adults. Because talk about retro, I had flashbacks of like drawing the hopscotch, you know, but we would play when I was a kid. But you don't see that, I think these days as much in New York City. There was a lot of chalk art in different fashions, but I think that it's just so great to encourage kids to do that and to have a place to celebrate it.

Lou Mongello (01:10:03.415)
Yes.

Lou Mongello (01:10:27.829)
Yeah, like you Serena, I had the American Gardens theater lessons that happen every day. I was able to participate one time this year. And look, you know, it may be joking about not being a sweets guy and not being a merchants guys. I have zero, zero artistic ability. Excuse me, my stick figure has not evolved very much from like kindergarten to now. I used to get the back of comic books. You guys are too young to wrap.

And I would try and draw like Tippie the turtle or the little pirate and send it in like so I could learn how to be an artist. And, you know, they just they didn't even bother just they were just laughing at what I said. And however, this year I went when a buddy of mine, Lon Smart, who's an incredibly gifted artist and animator was there and I drew figment. And I'm actually like not that embarrassed to show you like what my figment. It looks remotely like a figment. But every week there's a different artist.

Serena (01:11:17.81)
Yeah!

Lou Mongello (01:11:24.297)
you know, friends that we've had on the show before. Ron Kohi is going to be there. Brian Blackmore, who's retiring this year, is going to be there. Alex Mayer, all of whom are just gifted artists. And I love the process, right? I love the explanation of what you are doing and why and looking a little bit sort of behind their mental curtain of how and why they do it this way. And the way Lon was explaining it, I think that's why mine almost kind of looks like a figment, because I understood.

why I was making this line and what it represented. And it was not, you know, the horrific monstrosity I was expecting it to be. So, yeah, I really like I really like that as well. All right. Couple more quick. We'll do this sort of lightning round almost style. We talked about how I think this. This festival, maybe even more than any, is such a family friendly festival. I think sometimes people hear.

food and wine. Well, my little kids won't like it. There's nothing to do. I think there's a lot for parents and kids and adults and kids at heart to do. What did you find was the most or the best family friendly activity at the festival? Something that families could do together or that kids can do on their own.

Serena (01:12:39.478)
I think the paint by number mural, I just think that's like timeless. I think all ages enjoy that. You know, it's nice because it happens every day. I think it's 10 to 5 p.m. So once it gets dark, you won't have it. But there's four different murals that they lay out and they give you a little paint pot and a brush and give you a number of squares that you can do and everyone fills it out. And by the end of the day, it's a full mural that everyone collectively has painted.

And it's just something that everyone can do and enjoy. And I love too that when you go do it, they give you a bookmark of the completed mural. So you can see what it's gonna look like, but it's also another nice little free souvenir.

Amanda (01:13:23.098)
This is not free, but the figments brush with the master scavenger hunt. It's 9.99 and basically you're paying for the prize you get at the end, even if you don't complete the scavenger hunt, but you get a little map and you're looking for different works of art that have figment creatively in them. My favorite is the dragon in blue. I won't say where I found it, but I think it's just creative. And the scavenger hunt aspect is good for families too, because it keeps kids wanting to go to different pavilions and not just being like,

I'm bored. Let's, let's just leave. You know, they want to keep going, keep going. And that benefits all everybody.

Lou Mongello (01:13:56.438)
Right.

Lou Mongello (01:14:01.109)
Yeah, I think that's I agree with you. And there's that sense of, you know, discovery. The kids have a sort of a vested interest in what they're doing and this wanting to get to the next pavilion and looking and then that sense of discovery and the reward that they have found. And even if you don't buy the scavenger hunt, as you're going through, you might sort of see something that's painted on a wall somewhere. And there's a little sort of a little bit of joy, I think, that comes with it. But but Serena, I agree with you in terms of the interactive mural. I posted a reel on Instagram. I was very, very nervous.

I really don't have any artistic ability and I felt that there was a lot of pressure. You really can't screw it up too bad, which is good for me because it is such a broad canvas. But, you know, you sort of feel like you're leaving your little mark on Epcot. You're leaving something behind and you contributed to something that is part of the festival. Fortunately, you don't have to worry about that pressure all the time because I also think there are some great photo opportunities that are scattered through the festival as well. There's some create your own, there's beautiful topiaries.

Serena (01:14:33.186)
Haha.

Lou Mongello (01:14:58.977)
But I think there are some wonderful picturesque and Instagrammable photo spots, some of which are specifically designed and crafted for the festival and some that maybe you found on your own. So Serena Amanda, what do you think is the best photo op, whether it's one that's put there for you for that specific purpose or that you sort of discovered on your own?

Amanda (01:15:23.606)
Uh, mine this year that I saw that I have to go back and take is the tea time with penguins, which is out of Mary Poppins. That's my favorite Disney movie. And I was like, I'm so excited.

Serena (01:15:38.23)
Yes, that one's so cute.

Lou Mongello (01:15:38.265)
And that's new this year, right? That's new. And that's over, that's on the walkway in between... I'm gonna keep calling it Future World and World Showcase, correct?

Amanda (01:15:40.511)
Yeah.

Amanda (01:15:48.703)
Yes.

Serena (01:15:51.162)
Yeah, yeah, those, they call them, I think, jump in the painting or maybe that's just what I call them. These photo ops that are taking like famous paintings or famous art and letting you sort of jump into the picture and take the photo, which I think is fun. My favorite as far as like, I always feel like the end result of the photo is hysterical is the one that's always by the America Pavilion and it's George Washington on his...

Amanda (01:15:58.147)
Hahaha!

Lou Mongello (01:15:58.745)
Ha ha ha!

Serena (01:16:18.982)
on the riverboat. Have you guys seen this one? And you need like three or four of you, ideally. Ideally, it's about, it's halfway around. So hopefully you've had a couple cocktails because then the photo is going to really be entertaining. And everyone grabs an oar and acts like they are rowing the boat and George Washington's up front, you know, looking out over the horizon. And it just makes for a hysterical photo because it's just, it's complete ridiculousness. And I'm always here for that.

Amanda (01:16:21.054)
Yeah.

Amanda (01:16:29.086)
I'm sorry.

Lou Mongello (01:16:29.989)
I'm sorry.

Lou Mongello (01:16:48.921)
I love these as well. And the one that I see, you know, I think a lot of people, one that's easy to do and is their favorite is Edward Munch's The Scream, where I always feel really stupid because I feel I look more like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone than I do actually sort of recreating that picture. So I usually will avoid the embarrassing photo that somebody else would actually take. I don't think it's here. I didn't see it this year. I used to love.

Serena (01:16:58.922)
Yes!

Amanda (01:17:13.806)
Thanks for watching!

Lou Mongello (01:17:18.285)
There was a Renoir, I love the classics, right? I love this, because again, I think this is a wonderful opportunity for adults and kids to be like, well, who painted this? Where did this really come from? And be introduced. But there was a Renoir, the luncheon of the boating party, which I think is a beautiful piece and I loved the layered sort of dimensional aspect of it. I think this year, if I had to pick...

Serena (01:17:29.172)
True.

Serena (01:17:40.736)
Yes.

Lou Mongello (01:17:47.481)
Pick one. Actually, wait. So that's probably my favorite one. That's probably my favorite one this year. The one that's not there anymore was the The Birth of Venus by Botticelli, which is a beautiful piece. It has, you know, the piece itself is very significant in terms of art and what it represented. Maybe it was a little risqué-ish, right? It was semi nudity-ish, like.

Amanda (01:18:17.038)
I'm sorry.

Serena (01:18:17.579)
Ha ha!

Lou Mongello (01:18:18.041)
in the painting, that's not why it's there for, which again at the time, you know, it usually... But it was sort of the first kind of like secular painting to sort of include that level of whatever. But that's, so I think, so I think yeah, the boating party is probably, and I think that's over, I think this year it's over by the international gateway. Sometimes these move around from year to year.

Serena (01:18:20.914)
Yeah. I mean, the important bits are covered, but technically.

Amanda (01:18:25.538)
Hey.

Serena (01:18:43.759)
Yes. There's also the one that's in Mexico where it's Frida Kahlo and it puts her eyebrows on you. That's another good one after a couple margaritas. It's a fun one there.

Lou Mongello (01:18:49.637)
Yeah.

Amanda (01:18:54.923)
Ha ha ha!

Lou Mongello (01:18:58.765)
What now listen you guys are pros, you're locals, you're experts and you know you have your festival passport which I love. You have the My Disney Experience app. You have all these guides. You have people. But what do you think is sort of what's your hidden gem? What's the best hidden gem that overlooked that less publicized attraction or experience at the festival this year?

Serena (01:19:23.826)
it's a hidden gem but my favorite thing, my must do thing every time I go to Festival of the Arts is to see the Rainbow Connection on Spaceship Earth. Like that's the, that is, I, if I don't see that I have not been to the Festival of the Arts and I love that they bring it back every year and it does one of my all-time favorite Disney songs and it's just so beautiful and I love that you can just hang out up there.

Amanda (01:19:33.582)
That's it.

Lou Mongello (01:19:35.425)
Yeah.

Serena (01:19:51.41)
in the evening because they start them after dark and they just rotate. I think there's like four of them now that they will rotate. So just go and like get a little, find a little bench or a little area to sit and just take that in and that is like one of my favorite things to do. I will spend about an hour up there, honestly, just watching them rotate and play to me, they are just so magical. Oh, absolutely.

Lou Mongello (01:20:13.589)
maybe crying a little bit. Maybe because Serena had 16 cocktails too, so she's overly emotional.

Amanda (01:20:16.102)
Oh, don't joke. I mean, yeah.

Serena (01:20:21.554)
That could be happening, yes. I don't know. Oh, Kermit just gets me.

Lou Mongello (01:20:23.321)
I'm sure there's a lot of I love you guys happening for Serena at the end of the day.

Amanda (01:20:28.03)
That's exactly, I know, that's what I was thinking though. It's like hidden in plain sight. And the thing I really love now that World Celebration Gardens is open is you can watch it there, or you can watch it from the other side where that's where you only used to be able to watch it. And they're kind of different experiences because of the way.

Serena (01:20:33.454)
Mm-hmm.

Serena (01:20:41.57)
true.

Amanda (01:20:46.442)
of the lighting and the design now, World Celebration Gardens. And I saw so many people as it was going on, just hanging out in different seating areas and World Celebration Gardens and just, you know, taking it all in. And then you go on the other side as you're leaving. And of course I had to sit there for like 20 minutes to see two different shows. That's the other great thing. They each last like three minutes, but they're playing every 10 minutes. Just make sure you watch it before Harmonious because they don't play anymore after Harmonious.

Lou Mongello (01:21:14.649)
But it's such a great way to end your day and sort of escort you out of Epcot. It is, you know, it is sort of that wow moment at the end, right? It's the wow moment when you see, you know, Cinderella cast on the way out. It's the fireworks at the end, but it is, that's what I think that does. It sort of really punctuates your evening. Just brilliant in the fact of incorporating the lights the way that they did. I'm going to cheat because I think my best hidden gem is the same and the thing that

Amanda (01:21:17.536)
Yeah.

Serena (01:21:19.004)
Mm-hmm.

Lou Mongello (01:21:43.833)
we're sort of all kind of referring to, which is what my last question was going to be, which is, what is the most relaxing spot at the festival, right? Sometimes we are so caught up in schedules running from place to place, worrying, I was almost going to call it fast passes, worrying about, you know, ADRs or worrying about, you know, our lightning lanes that the introduction of world

Lou Mongello (01:22:13.509)
stop and relax and unwind a little bit. So for me, my best hidden gem is making sure you take time and moments to have those relaxing spots. And for me, it's the new World Celebration Garden, which we talked with this on another show relatively recently, I think, as time is going to get better and better, not just because it's going to sort of

be grown in more, but I think our understanding and appreciation of how and to best use and enjoy it. So I did like a little mini meet of the month last week and I loved it. Like I love just sort of having this place to sit and relax. I love the fact that there's places to not just recharge your phone, but recharge yourself. I love how each of the quadrants is themed accordingly to

Serena (01:22:59.311)
Yeah.

Lou Mongello (01:23:09.041)
what is behind them, right? So for example, that world nature, which is it's not as inspiration garden, but it's that quadrant that's nearest to world nature has those sort of tall metal like structures. It's beautiful at night, right? Very different experience. Actually total nerd moment. If you look at the metal, sort of like tree like structures, if you look at the cutouts, they are the same shapes and dots and triangles from the old

Serena (01:23:30.792)
Yes.

Lou Mongello (01:23:39.445)
Interventions logo. So I love that sort of callback and there's a few of those throughout there. And if you look, the garden closest to connections is sort of an extension of that interior space. And there's like, where you go offers you a different experience, right, whether you want benches or Adirondack chairs, whether you want tables that, you know, sort of picnic-like tables that you can gather around or high-top tables that maybe you want to do a little bit of work or just

watch the world go by. I really, really like what it's brought in and sort of quote the imagineers when it opened. It's, you know, it's putting the park back into the theme park. And as locals, I think that's one of the things that we've always been able to enjoy and appreciate is this is our park. It's our place that we go. And I think now that experience and that invitation to just sit back, relax and enjoy the environment that you're in and the people that you're with.

That's really what this is an invitation to.

Serena (01:24:41.434)
Yeah, I totally agree. I think they are a nice addition. I think we'll enjoy them kind of year round too.

Amanda (01:24:47.914)
Like you said, Lou, I love how there's different types of seating. And it really was great for you to have a meetup. But if I'm going by myself too, there are the individual seats, which sometimes when you're solo and you're walking around and there's a bench and there might be room on the bench, but you're like, how close does that family really want me to get to them? You know, it's nice to have this option of being able to just kind of have my own spot and where I can charge devices. There were a lot of places to plug into.

Lou Mongello (01:25:05.691)
Right?

Lou Mongello (01:25:17.657)
That being said, I'm also, because I have to, Ketsura Grill, that upper level seating area by the bamboo, is still my favorite place in all of Walt Disney World.

Serena (01:25:25.176)
Absolutely. If you really want to escape and have some nice shade in the music there, it's very tranquil.

Amanda (01:25:33.01)
I still really love the, I mean, it's more crowded now because people are going back to Ratatouille, but that pathway that's overlooking the water and the skyliner now, you know, the benches there.

Serena (01:25:41.579)
Mm-hmm.

Lou Mongello (01:25:44.809)
I think we all have sort of our spots, right? These places that we just love to go and go back to. And, you know, whether it's wandering the streets of, you know, Morocco or, you know, relaxing with a cup of green tea and four pounds of sushi up in Japan. Don't judge me. We do have our spots. Was there anything that we missed? Do you have any of your own superlatives that you wanted to add to our list?

Amanda (01:26:13.43)
I think that we've covered a lot. I'm sure there's more, but yeah.

Serena (01:26:20.19)
Yeah. Oh, absolutely.

Lou Mongello (01:26:20.345)
I'm sure somebody's screaming at their phone or their iPod or whatever. How did you people leave out? But that's why I want to hear from you. I want to hear your thoughts. Our friend who's sitting sort of around this virtual table at World Celebration, eating and sharing our Festival of the Arts experience. I'd love to know from you, what is your favorite part of the festival? What is the thing that you look forward to most? What is the thing that you keep going back to? You can...

Amanda (01:26:22.931)
Yeah.

Lou Mongello (01:26:47.657)
Let me know or let us know and be part of the community conversation a few different ways you can come. I'll post this question over in the clubhouse at www.radio.com slash clubhouse or you can call better yet call the voicemail from the festival at 407-900-9391. That's 407-900-WW1 and I will play your answer on the air. Serena from Living by Disney, Amanda from meandthemagic.com. I appreciate you both.

so, so much for being here. And I'm not kidding. Like, let's really talk offline about maybe getting together on a Wednesday night and going back to the festival, sharing some of the things that we talked about and making sure Serena gets home safely, obviously. All right. Last question. Where does this festival rank for you? Where does this, how does this Festival of the Arts rank among all the others?

Serena (01:27:22.86)
Yeah.

Serena (01:27:27.538)
Yeah.

Amanda (01:27:30.401)
Let's make it happen. I think we got about four Wednesdays left. So yeah.

Serena (01:27:33.927)
Yeah, I'm down.

Amanda (01:27:41.474)
Solid number two.

Serena (01:27:43.245)
It's my top. Yeah, what's your first one?

Amanda (01:27:46.758)
Oh, flower and garden.

Serena (01:27:50.034)
Yeah, it's my favorite. It's my favorite. It's number one for me. Although Festival of the Holidays is climbing over the last year or two.

Amanda (01:27:50.603)
Yeah.

Lou Mongello (01:27:56.542)
It's right.

Lou Mongello (01:27:59.869)
Yeah. And I think weather has something to do with it. The food has something to do with the music and the atmosphere. I know it's my list sort of jumps around. But I think for me, right, I think because I think Epcot is shining brightest during Flower and Garden in terms of the plantings, etc. I really come to love Festival of the Holidays. And this festival, too, has really sort of grown on me and what we can learn and see and do. And of course.

Serena (01:28:02.866)
Mm-hmm.

Serena (01:28:17.483)
Yeah.

Lou Mongello (01:28:29.131)
Again, Amanda and Serena, thank you guys so very much for being here. I will I will see you at the festival.

Serena (01:28:35.638)
Bye-bye.

Amanda (01:28:36.462)
Thanks, Lou.

Lou Mongello (01:28:37.945)
I'm starving by the way. I'm famished. I'm absolutely famished.

Serena (01:28:41.595)
I know it's hard to talk about all this food. Now I have a whole new list where I need to go back.

Amanda (01:28:41.735)
always.


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