It was the second gate to open at Walt Disney World, but the original concept for EPCOT was the driving force behind Walt Disney’s decision to build the resort. It’s now been almost 35 years since EPCOT Center opened and the park is sadly being left behind by a world where the pace of change makes the original idea for Future World obsolete, while at the same time making the cross-cultural exposure of World Showcase even more important.
Disney has given its Imagineers license to take a swing at updating the park for a new generation. Yes, more of Disney’s intellectual property will be involved, but all at the service of meeting EPCOT’s goal of educational, inspirational, experiential entertainment.
We know that Guardians of the Galaxy is moving into EPCOT’s Energy Pavilion. Ellen’s Energy Adventure closes on the 13th to make way for that project. That same day two new versions of Mission:Space will open, eventually that pavilion will add a restaurant where guests go into Space and dine with a view of the earth rotating below them.
We also know that Ratatouille is coming to the France pavilion. It looks like it will just be the ride though, no new restaurant was part of the deal not to upset the pavilion’s existing tenants. But there are a lot of other projects that are still in various stages of go or no go. Here’s what we’re hearing.
The China pavilion will get an upgraded seamless 360 film, most likely destined to end up at Shanghai Disneyland, so we know they’ll put some care into it.
The Mexico pavilion will very likely get a Pixar Coco overlay. It’s unclear if it’s just some new exhibits and a meet and greet or a complete redo of the Grand Fiesta Tour boat ride. The ride as it exists now with the Three Caballeros is popular, Coco is a perfect fit for the pavilion, so who knows.
The long rumored Brazil pavilion appears to be moving closer. There has been concept art spotted in the wild a few years ago, which can be a sign that a pavilion is at least being tested with focus groups. I see this as less likely than the Spain pavilion owing chiefly to the troubled economic and political issues in the country of Brazil. But it would be popular if it happens.
If you haven’t heard the Walt Disney Animation Studios film “Gigantic” has been pushed back to a 2020 release date. That’s mainly due to the film’s composer duo, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, remaining laser focused on getting the stage musical production of Frozen to Broadway. That means the EPCOT Spain pavilion that was planned to debut with the film, will have to wait until Frozen’s in its final form. Which might be at least couple more months.
So in Disney’s eyes, there is now a budget for a new ride in EPCOT, but no new pavilion to put it in.
There are a couple of possibilities being bandied about. My favorite, is the idea of finally building that Mary Poppins attraction for the United Kingdom pavilion, possibly using the AA’s that are getting evicted from the Great Movie Ride this weekend. The question is will they break ground soon, or wait until Mary Poppins Returns hits theaters to approve it. The better the box office does, the more likely they are to build the ride. So, if you want to see it become a reality, tell all your friends to go see the movie when it comes out next Christmas.
If Mary Poppins doesn’t get greenlit, other potential attractions in world showcase include potential attractions for Germany, Italy, or Japan. All of which were built with a future attraction in mind, but that never came to fruition. Italy might be tough, since Via Napoli was built in that general area.
Future World’s ‘spine’ is also due for a massive remake. We saw one potential future in the concept art that was recently released. It would replace most of the original communicore area (what was more recently Innoventions) with nothing but landscaping and a few new buildings. There would also be some dancing fountains and more walkways leading to world showcase.
We don’t have many more details, but it’s believed that a new permanent festival center will be part of this project, freeing up the space of the former Wonders of Life pavilion for another Marvel themed attraction.
Disney’s Imagineers will keep the iconic Spaceship Earth attraction, but they’re itching to give the inside an update too. That graveyard in front of it has to go though.
Some other projects we’re hearing about.
- A refresh to the Imagination pavilion. We keep hearing this, we’ll believe it when we see it.
- Inside Out replacing Imagination. Figment will get some new friends in this version of the attraction.
- A replacement for Circle of Life film at The Land pavilion.
- A ‘Marine Life Institute’ overlay for The Living Seas. It’s practically there already, just needs a few signs. I don’t expect any new attractions, but who knows.
As with all Disney rumors, we don’t give them too much credit until we see a cast member with a shovel breaking ground. But there is a press to get some of this done in time for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary in 2021. So shovels of dirt should start flying shortly and then we’ll know which projects will get the go ahead.
What are you hoping to see at EPCOT as the park gets ready to enter its 4th decade?