The Carson family, from Mt. Laurel, N.J., color wooden Mickey Mouse frames. Photo courtesy of Disney.

The Carson family, from Mt. Laurel, N.J., color wooden Mickey Mouse frames. Photo courtesy of Disney.

Today through Sunday, November 10, Downtown Disney is being transformed into an open-air art festival known as Disney’s Festival of the Masters. This is an annual event that is right there with the Epcot Food and Wine Festival on my Disney bucket list. Throughout this 3-day event, you’ll be able to see and purchase work from more than 130 award-winning artists, as well as artwork from Disney Imagineering and the Yellow Shoes Creative Group.

Going beyond the artwork itself, the artists and imagineers will be available for meet and greets and demonstrations throughout the weekend. The festival is not limited to visual arts – performance artists from La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil will demonstrate their skills as well. Several venues, including House of Blues, Bongos Cuban Café, Raglan Road, and Splitsville, have live bands scheduled to play.

Chalk artist Lori Hughes, from Galloway, Ohio, sketches vibrant colors into her artwork Nov. 9, 2012 during Festival of the Masters at Downtown Disney. Photo courtesy of Disney.

Chalk artist Lori Hughes, from Galloway, Ohio, sketches vibrant colors into her artwork Nov. 9, 2012 during Festival of the Masters at Downtown Disney. Photo courtesy of Disney.

This event would be a blast for adults at Downtown Disney without kids, but what about families like ours? Of course Disney has the kids covered too!

Michaels craft stores are a co-sponsor of the event, and are hosting several “Make it take it” craft stations. Kids can also contribute to the Children’s Chalk Art display, work on a massive Lego sculpture and help create a Lego mural.

One of the defining characteristics of Autism is a tendency toward narrow interests. For all of my kids, at least to some degree, it’s art. Put a bare expanse of sidewalk and a bucket of chalk in front of them, then just stand back and watch the magic happen. If your ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder – a broad term that encompasses the wide range of abilities and characteristics of autism) kid is into art, Disney’s Festival of the Masters could be a great experience. Not only can they get their hands dirty creating artwork both to take home and to display in the Children’s Chalk Art display and Lego masterpieces, but they can practice their social skills by interacting with the artists. Most artists are more than happy to connect with art lovers, regardless of their age or ability.

If you’re in Walt Disney World this weekend, don’t miss Disney’s Festival of the Masters! Check out DisneyFestivaloftheMasters.com for show schedules and event details.

Have you been to previous years’ Festivals? Share your thoughts on the event in the comments.