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Festival of the Masters 2011 (This is NOT about Golf)

Festival of the Masters 2011

Festival of the Masters Logo

Each autumn, Disney hosts Festival of the Masters at Downtown Disney. This event showcases the works of over 150 artists and stretches from the Marketplace to the Westside. Festival of the Masters is considered one of the top open-air art shows in the country and features original and limited edition paintings, photographs, sculptures, pottery, jewelry, and more. And within each category, a number of styles and techniques are employed to bring you a dizzying array of art. To ensure the quality of the pieces to be showcased, all participants must have won first, second or third place, or received "best in show" in a recognized, juried art showing.

This year marks the 36th Festival of the Masters and is sponsored by Michaels, the arts and crafts store. The hours are as follows:

Friday, November 11, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 12, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 13, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Each participant displays their art within a tent -- and row after row of these tents are on hand to dazzle your senses and tempt your pocket book. I snapped a few pictures of the artwork just to give you a sampling of the variety that's available.

Tent - Booths


A close observer might notice that the artwork surrounding House of Blues takes on a funky tone. Here, over thirty noted folk artists showcase their work in an appropriate venue. Be sure to check out the Front Porch Bar performances while in the area.

And speaking of performances, Disney has made sure that there are plenty of musicians on hand to keep you entertained as you drift from one exhibit to the next.


One of the highlights of the event is chalk painting. Located in the Marketplace section of Downtown Disney, talented artists spend hours transforming concrete into fine works of art - only to know that it will eventually be washed away by janitorial when the event is over. This year, more than 100 artists will use more than 3,000 square feet of sidewalk as their canvas. Since I was at this event early Friday morning, I don't have any finished works to show you here, but take my word for it, these talented artists create breathtaking drawings.

Chalk Painting

Chalk Painting

Every year, Disney tries to add new elements to Festival of the Masters and this year they are showcasing artists that specialize in Disney themes. Since my house is decorated in "Disney," this shop was very dangerous for me to visit.

Disney Art Village

Disney Art

Many of these Disney artists are on site and are happy to speak with you and discuss their art. In addition, they will gladly sign any piece you purchase. I had the opportunity to speak with Brian Rood at the Art of Disney shop and browse some of his work.

Brian Rood and his Art

Brian Rood and his Art

A number of booths feature activities for the younger set. One of these is presented by this year's festival sponsor, Michaels. Here, kids can decorate their own picture frame with doodads and thingamajigs and top them off with a set of mouse ears. And the best thing about this activity, the frames are free.

Picture Frame

Another event sponsored by Michaels allows kids to color in panels. Individually, these panels are meaningless, but when added to the mural, a giant picture comes to life. When one mural is completed, another is started.

Coloring a Panel

Mural from Panels

Lego is sponsoring a similar event. Kids are given a small, flat Lego which has been color coded. The kids then add additional Legos to this starting piece as indicated by the colors. When done, their Lego is added to a giant board to help create a plastic work of art. Michaels and Lego are tricky. These uncompleted murals force you to return later to see what part you played in the creation of art.

Lego Piece

Lego Pieces

Lego Art Work

Another activity is sponsored by Sammy Duvall, the group that offers waterskiing and parasailing on Bay Lake. At this booth, guests can purchase and decorate a pair of TOMS shoes with a number of decorations. And for every pair of shoes you purchase, Sammy Duvall will donate a pair of shoes to a child in need.

TOMS Shoes

TOMS Shoes Decorations

Over at Cirque du Solei, face painters are happy to give you a makeover. And outside Disney Quest, artists help you draw some of your favorite Disney characters.

Face Painting

Drawing a Disney Character

Raglan Road used this year's Festival of the Masters to unveil a new, commissioned work by famed Irish artist Graham Knuttel. Mr. Knuttel has created works for Sylvester Stallone, Whoopie Goldberg, Colin Farrell, and Robert DeNiro. His latest piece will hang above the stage at Raglan Road. I was on hand for the unveiling. Mr. Knuttel can be seen on the right. If you like this piece, portions of the painting have been recreated on plates and mugs and can be purchase in the Raglan Road gift shop.

Commissioned art by Graham Knuttel

Plate with Graham Knuttel Art Work

I have only mentioned a few of the activities on hand to entertain everyone in the family. There are far too many to talk about in this article. In addition to activities, food and drink booths have been positioned along the walkways, including a station for beer, wine, and champagne.

Festival of the Masters is very popular. I suggest arriving at opening if you want a hassle-free experience. As parking at Downtown Disney can be a nightmare, I usually park in the lot behind Cirque du Solei as spaces are easier to obtain in this area. Then I meander my way across Downtown Disney, enjoying the exhibits. When I reach the far end of the Marketplace, I take the boat back across Village Lake and I'm at my car.

I have to be honest, I've been attending Festival of the Masters for twelve years and I've never purchased a piece of art from one of these vendors, yet I wouldn't miss this event. I look at this weekend as a chance to experience some stunning artwork in a festive atmosphere - free of charge. And while I'm there I have lunch at one of the many restaurants, visit some of my favorite Downtown Disney shops, and listen to the live music. Not to mention, enjoy the chalk art which always blows me away.

I know that many of you plan your Disney World vacations around Epcot's Flower & Garden Show or the Food & Wine Festival. Maybe next year you might want to consider a trip that encompasses the Festival of the Masters. This event is definitely worth your time and you can easily spend the better part of the day enjoying the art, participating in the activities, and eating. Since I live locally, this event is a "must do" on my calendar.

The previous post in this blog was Ghirardelli -- Downtown Disney.

The next post in this blog is Yacht Club Resort - Part One.

Comments (20)


Thanks for this report! I don't feel like this event is promoted by Disney as much as the Flower and Garden Festival or Food and Wine Festival. I have never been to visit during its time. I will have to plan that now! I feel so stupid - when I first started hearing about this event, I thought it was a golf event! Haha.

Jack's Comment:

You are correct. This event is not promoted as much as the Flower and Garden Show or Food and Wine Festival. This is probably due to the fact that it only occurs over one weekend rather than multiple weeks. But it is worth seeing.


Hi Jack!

I agree with Rebecca... I thought it was about golf and almost didn't read the post! Glad I did and it looks like a great time to be in Downtown Disney! My vacation is so close now I am days away from checking in and allears is keeping me sane til we get down there!


Jack, any thoughts by Disney to expand this to encompass more than a weekend? It seems like it could become very popular and as good a draw as the food and wine festival. For those of us who live on the "other coast", it seems a shame to happen only on one weekend. Thanks as always for a professional posting!

Jack's Answer:

I'm not privy to any inside Disney plans so I really can't answer your question. However, one problem I see is that the artists must commit to the show. Most of these individuals do not live locally and have other show and events to attend. But I agree. One weekend is hardly long enough.

Jenny Sperandeo:

Hi Jack! I didn't even know this existed. I would definitely love to attend in the future!


Thank you for doing this blog!! We were in WDW for the Festival last year but missed out this year since we just returned to New York on Wednesday. The sidewalk artists are my favorite--they are incredibly talented and were more than happy to let you walk around to take pictures and share little tid bits of information about their work. And I agree...the Disney themed art is very dangerous :)

cathy mullen:

Hi Jack,
As I read the blog and saw the photos it reminded me of the PA Arts Festival they have every July in State College,PA .

My husband would love this art exhibit so I'm glad we haven't been at DW when this is going on because he would talk to each artist for hours.(LOL) He does this when we attend the festival at Penn State so now he goes with another artist friend and they spend the whole day there enjoying the exhibits.


hey jack
i had never heard of the festivle of masters before this article and now i am glad i know about it because art is something that i like a lot. Now i have another set of dates i need to attend disney world. What is the price range of the different pieces that you saw? Can't wait for your next blog and as always keep up the great work.

Jack's Answer:

The art exhibited here is quality. You might be able to find a few smaller pieces for around $100, but most costs several hundred to several thousand.


I agree with previous posts, I have always thought this was a golf event. I have never really taken the time to read about it because I thought it was golf. Good thing my favorite blogger wrote about it or I might have never known. Thanks Jack!


You have become in something like a mind reader to me...I live in Chile, so the closest to WDW is read All ears and your blog.

I read all over twitter and facebook about the Festival of the Masters not having a clue about what was that, only discovering that was at Downtown Disney...

So one more time...thanks a lot for sharing the info with the less-lucky people who travel all over to Orland throw your blog!! :D


Hey Jack, I'm looking for the results of who won Best of Show and 1st,2nd,3rd in their respective categories. My mother has competed since the inception of the Festival of the Masters, but this year is the first she was not able to be in or compete. Interested in who did, who won. Do you know the results or of a website that would list such information. Thanks, JOY

Jack's Answer:

In past years, the Orlando Sentinel has posted the winners, but I searched online today and wasn't able to find any announcement. Check tomorrow and see what you can find. I'm not aware of any Disney publication carrying this information.

Ava Owens:

Hi Jack,
I also thought it was all about golf! Thank you for the great post. I always learn something new from you. Now this event will have to go on our list of things to do. Thanks again!


I wanted to mention this in case it might be helpful to someone: Several of the Downtown Disney TS restaurants set up outdoor kiosks to serve small portions of their food for you to enjoy while you walk through this event. But, at least in 2010, you had to pay *cash* for these treats (no credit cards or other cards). I would have enjoyed a lot more food, if I'd had more cash!


I also thought this was a golf event, but chose to begin reading, because you wrote it. I missed this event by one week. We have something similar here in my neck of the woods - South Florida; every February one of our local communities puts on a Street Painting Festival and it is truly amazing what these artists do.
Again, thanks for the info, look forward to your blog!

Another great blog about a semi-obscure part of "the World".

I wonder if Disney doesn't promote it as much because it would seem to be promoting an art fair/sale - and people could grumble about Disney already being expensive.

I realize it is at Downtown Disney and is free to attend, but the Flower and Garden & Food & Wine festivals do not cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to partake in their wares.

Just a thought....

Keep up the great work - and nary a typo could I find. :D



Thanks for the article and all the great pictures. For the longest time I thought the Festival of Masters was about golf and never paid any attention. I figured out the truth just last year, but after we had already booked our vacation for right after it was finished. One day I will be able to enjoy this "mystery" of Disney!



Jack - love your postscript change to the title! heehee

Greg Highfill:

Hi Jack,

With everything that I've been up to lately, I did manage to take my father over to the Festival of the Masters. It was quite a workout for me pushing dad in his wheelchair but it was a lot of fun, and I got to meet David Doss, a watercolor artist that does charming Disney beach scenes.

Dad and I ate lunch at the House of Blues, which I had never experienced, and that was fun and entertaining.

I was probably there at the same time you were, but as you know, it seemed to get crowded fairly early. It was a great show this year and the weather was super, for me at least.

Haven't checked in for a while, so I'm glad that this week's blog was something I had some experience with.

Keep up the great work,


Dan Turk:

Jack! Great to see you writing again. My girlfriend and I hit up the Festival on 11-11-11, seemingly only an hour or so behind you (judging from crowds, completeness of LEGO portrait, etc). We felt this made the perfect afternoon activity before heading to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. I'm still using an ECV for the long days as my ankle's still hurting, but I love being back at Disney and fully expect to run into you someday.

Take care, and thanks again for all the posts while I was laid up - and for sharing your similar story to mine.

Dan Turk

Cara Richards:

Hi Jack

I've only realised that our next trip the 'World' this November will be when Festival of the Masters takes place, so re-read your article to swat up on what to expect. I have to say, I'm really looking forward to it. I've had an opportunity to attend before, so I've made a special point of pencilling this in to our itinerary so I can ensure we spend some time admiring the artwork and enjoying the atmosphere.

Portsmouth, England


Jack, absolutely love your blog - I read it every chance I get. We're planning our 15th trip to WDW later this year.

Just a correction re: the Sammy Duvall booth, with the TOMS shoes. Sammy Duvall doesn't donate the shoes, TOMS does. TOMS is a one-for-one company, meaning for every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS gives a pair of shoes to a child in need.


Their worldwide "One Day Without Shoes" is April 10... a day to raise awareness of the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child’s life by going without shoes.

My 19-year old son is a huge TOMS fan, and loves spotting TOMS shoes as we walk through WDW, knowing that for every pair he sees, a child in need has received a new pair of shoes!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 11, 2011 2:00 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Ghirardelli -- Downtown Disney.

The next post in this blog is Yacht Club Resort - Part One.

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