Prior to the trip, we received an email about reserved seating for Disney Vacation Club members at the Disney on Broadway Concert Series. I had signed up for this, thinking we may or may not use it. In any case, it’s really nice to see DVC offering more membership perks, small as they may be, like this.
We aren’t particularly big fans of the concert series at Flower & Garden or Food & Wine. It’s not that we dislike the concerts–we appreciate that they offer something for other guests, and live music is always a treat. It’s just that a lot of the acts don’t really appeal to us.
They should–it’s a decent amount of classic rock, which is my favorite genre of music–but many of the acts (there’s no nice way to put this) don’t put on the same show they once did. More contemporary performers still sound good, but that’s relative since a lot of that pop stuff doesn’t appeal to me in the first place.
In any case, we decided to give the Broadway show a chance and we were blown away. Even though it was only two performers, this duo was still in their prime, and the life they gave to some of these Disney soundtracks was impressive.
The performance made me want to see a Disney show on Broadway (something we’ve never done), so I suppose the synergy goal was also accomplished. What was most surprising about the concert was the level of energy. It certainly wasn’t high energy, but it also wasn’t as low-key as I was expecting.
In just about every regard, the concert was perfect. My only complaint was that it wasn’t longer, but I suppose that’s a good ‘problem’ to have!
My parents left as soon as the concert was over; they probably would’ve left earlier if we didn’t have the reserved seating, so that worked out as a nice carrot to get them to stay out a bit later.
From there, Sarah and I headed to back up to the Odyssey to check out the galleries in the Festival Center. These were incredible. Most of my favorite Disney concept art is by Herb Ryman, so it was really something to see some of these pieces so large and up close. Previously, the largest size I had seen a lot of these pieces was in coffee table books, and this was totally different.
It was also nice that several pieces of concept art were on sale at the Art Festival as posters or via Art of Demand. We ended up splurging on a framed canvas. Our home decor is otherwise devoid of Disney (save for a calendar), and we felt this was a nice way of reppin’ EPCOT Center in a tasteful way.
We also “had” to try some more of the food available at the Festival of the Arts (for the sake of research, of course), so we grabbed a few different things at the Odyssey, and then moved on to the marketplace booths we missed in World Showcase.
After this, we decided to grab a spot for IllumiNations. We left the Odyssey at 8:30 p.m., and assumed it was too late to score a good photo spot for the fireworks. Having a backup in mind, I decided to head up to the Mitsukoshi Department Store second level, which is one of my favorite IllumiNations spots, but also (typically) pretty popular.
To my surprise, there were only 4 people up there. In my recent experience, this location has been filling up earlier and earlier. The joys of visiting in off-season, I guess!
Following IllumiNations, we made the slow stroll out of World Showcase. One of the things I dislike about watching IllumiNations from Japan is that you can’t walk the entirety of World Showcase once it’s over. By contrast, if you watch in the Canada or Mexico (or thereabouts), you can head the opposite way and enjoy one of the most pleasant experiences in all of Walt Disney World: the ‘IllumiNations Post-Show Stroll.’
Here are some photos from the stroll…
If you’ve never done this post-show stroll, you absolutely need to do it. Experiencing World Showcase all lit-up at night, devoid of crowds will make you look at it differently–and appreciate it more. Readers ask us about this a lot, and it’s easy to do this…
Because World Showcase restaurants usually take ADRs until ~5 minutes before IllumiNations starts, there are guests finishing dinner until around an hour after IllumiNations ends virtually every night of the year. This means that you can easily wander around Epcot after park closing without security directing you towards the exit. (You aren’t breaking any rules and buses won’t leave you.)
After leaving World Showcase, we made our way through Future World before finally heading out.
As I said at the beginning, it was an exceptional day at Epcot. The nostalgia levels were at dangerously high levels, but so too was the substantive quality of the experience. For me, that’s when the Walt Disney World experience really hums. I still view Walt Disney World as my ‘home’ resort, and a big part of that is predicated upon sentimentality. At the same time, I’ve felt at times that the quality of the experience has been slipping for the last several years. That was definitely not the case during this day at Epcot. I know it was only a temporary event, but wow was it a good one. We’re now trying to find an excuse to go back during Festival of the Arts next year…
Did you get a chance to experience the Epcot International Festival of the Arts? Dined at Via Napoli? Had a chance to enjoy the ‘IllumiNations Post-Show Stroll’? Any thoughts on other topics we’ve covered in this installment of our Walt Disney World trip report? Share any questions, tips, or additional remarks you have in the comments!