Walt Disney once said Epcot “would always be in a state of becoming” – it is a place that changes with the times. Epcot HAS to change because the “technology of the future” portrayed in its attractions is not only already here, some of it is outdated. Last weekend at D23, the biennial gathering of Disney fans in Anaheim, California, huge announcements were made about what’s next for Epcot.
Two years ago at D23 we were told that Epcot would be the next park to receive a massive overhaul, after adding Toy Story Land (2018) and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (2019) to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Now we know what else is in store, and surprisingly no new country for World Showcase was announced. Some of the announcements put a timeline to projects and attractions that had been previously announced, and others were all new, and very exciting.
Since its opening on October 1, 1982, Epcot has been a park with two areas Future World in the front and World Showcase in the back. The new Epcot will consist of four neighborhoods that each speak to important aspects of the world and its people: World Showcase, World Celebration, World Nature and World Discovery. These neighborhoods will be filled with new experiences rooted in authenticity and innovation that take guests to new destinations, where the real is made fantastic in a celebration of curiosity, hands-on wonder and the magic of possibility.
World Celebration will offer new experiences that connect guests to one another and the world around them.
- The iconic Spaceship Earth will remain a voyage through time as the journey transforms to reflect the power of storytelling to unite the human experience. New narration and an entirely new musical score will focus on the moments and ideas that define the story of humanity. Guests will follow a magical “story light” that brings the entire experience to life in dynamic ways, giving each scene energy and beauty that ties the entire journey together.
- A new pavilion will be the perfect place for live events, and the home base for Epcot’s signature festivals. It will provide a stunning elevated view of the entire park and an ideal spot to witness Epcot’s nighttime spectacular. This beautiful three-level structure will have one of the most remarkable architectural designs at any Disney park, featuring a plaza level, a middle expo level, and a park that sits in the sky on the top level.
- Epcot’s entrance plaza will be transformed with new experiences that connect guests with the world around them, welcoming them with a reimagined fountain, new pathways and sweeping green spaces that beautify the entryway. The design will pay homage to the origins of Epcot.
- As guests exit Spaceship Earth, they will discover a breathtaking new view of World Showcase from Dreamers Point. World Celebration will also feature a new statue celebrating the legacy of the original dreamer, Walt Disney, plus beautiful natural environments and global design elements filled with Disney magic and surprises, including a wishing tree in an enchanted forest and a story fountain celebrating the power and music of iconic Disney storytelling.
In World Discovery, stories about science, technology and intergalactic adventure come to life.
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be the first “other-world” showcase pavilion at Epcot. The adventure starts in the “Galaxarium,” a planetarium-like exhibition that explores the similarities and mysteries of the formation of Earth’s galaxy and Xandar. Guests will be invited to learn more about the treasures Xandar has to share – until the moment when the Guardians of the Galaxy arrive, and adventures across the cosmos ensue. The attraction will feature a new innovation from Walt Disney Imagineering – a storytelling coaster that rotates 360 degrees to focus guests on the action, including the first reverse launch on a Disney coaster.
- An expansion of the Mission: SPACE pavilion, the new restaurant Space 220 will be a culinary experience featuring the celestial panorama of a space station, including daytime and nighttime views of Earth from 220 miles up. Guests will board a special elevator for a journey to a space station that is home to an incredible dining experience. Along the way, viewports will give guests real-time perspective as they travel high above the planet. Once they arrive, guests will enjoy fantastic meals and drinks while taking in views that are truly out of this world. Opening this winter (2019), Space 220 will be operated by the Patina Restaurant Group.
- The PLAY! pavilion will open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World (2021). In this digital metropolis, guests will discover an interactive city bursting with games, activities and experiences that connect them with friends, family and beloved Disney characters – both real and virtual – like never before. As part of this new pavilion, guests will have the chance to help legendary fashion icon Edna Mode on her quest to rid the world of uninspired style, or make a splash competing in a water-balloon fight hosted by Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby.
World Nature is dedicated to understanding and preserving the beauty, awe and balance of the natural world. It will include The Land and The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilions.
- Journey of Water, Inspired by “Moana” will be the first experience inspired by the hit Walt Disney Animation Studios film. This lush exploration trail will invite guests to meet and play with magical, living water. The water will have a life of its own – just like Moana’s friend, the ocean – and guests will learn about the importance of the natural water cycle.
- The Land pavilion’s new film, “Awesome Planet,” which showcases the beauty, diversity and dynamic story of the planet, will begin welcoming guests in January 2020.
World Showcase will continue to be a celebration of culture, cuisine, architecture and traditions – infused with new magic.
- The United Kingdom pavilion will welcome the first attraction inspired by Mary Poppins. Guests will step in time down Cherry Tree Lane past Admiral Boom’s house, then enter Number 17, home of the Banks family, where their adventure will begin.
- In 2020, following the limited-time run of “Epcot Forever,” the new “HarmonioUS”will debut as the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park. It will celebrate how the music of Disney inspires people the world over, carrying them away harmoniously on a stream of familiar Disney tunes reinterpreted by a diverse group of artists from around the globe. “HarmonioUS” will feature massive floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, lasers and more.
- In summer 2020, the France pavilion will offer even more for guests to discover, including the much-anticipated attraction Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, where guests will shrink to the size of Chef Remy and race through Gusteau’s restaurant on a wild adventure.
- Summer 2020 will also see the debut of a delicious new restaurant in the France pavilion, La Crêperie de Paris, offering both table- and quick-service options featuring a menu from celebrity chef Jérôme Bocuse.
- Also in the France pavilion, the classic Impressions de France film will be joined by the new “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along,” debuting in January 2020 and directed by Don Hahn, producer of both the animated and live-action versions of this tale as old as time.
- “Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360” will debut in January 2020 in the Canada pavilion with new scenes and a new story.
- In the China pavilion, “Wondrous China” will take guests on a spectacular journey across the country, filmed and presented in a completely seamless 360-degree digital format.
Guests will be able to visualize these exciting plans for Epcot when doors open Oct. 1, 2019, for Walt Disney Imagineering presents the Epcot Experience in the Odyssey Events Pavilion. They will discover engaging and interactive exhibits that showcase the relentless innovation, energy and excitement driving the park’s future throughout this unprecedented period of transformation.
Mom Maven’s Thoughts on the changes to Epcot
I am very excited about everything that was announced at D23 for Epcot. This park has needed a lot of love and attention for the last decade and it seems there is finally a cohesive plan in place. It does seem to hint that the end is near for the Imagination Pavilion and my friend Figment but nothing was officially announced either way.
My plan is to be at Epcot on October 1 for the first showing of Epcot Forever. Now it looks like I’ll be visiting Walt Disney Imagineering presents the Epcot Experience as well.
What I’d really like to know are your thoughts on the upcoming changes. What excites you? What doesn’t? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.
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