Please note: I decided to turn this into a running blog of Epcot changes, as I sometimes do, rather than an informative one-off post. This is because Disney’s plans for the future of Epcot and the parks multiple, major project have changed over time. It is natural for a major Disney park project to evolve over time and the pandemic most certainly has changed things up for the company since the initial announcement.
Update 5/5/22: Disney just gave us a ‘State of Epcot‘ of sorts. Here is a quick rundown of what is done in the Epcot overhaul, what is still to come and what seems to have fallen off the master plan.
What Epcot changes are done:
If you are at the entrance of Epcot and looking at Spaceship Earth, pretty much everything to the left is done with the exception of a refurb going on now at Guest Relations, which will be located next to Connections Café and directly outside the exit of Spaceship Earth. More specifically, Space 220, Connections Café and Eatery and Creations Shop are completed and open. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is currently in preview mode and will be officially open at the end of May.
Additionally, some of the hard and landscapes in the area have been overhauled and Spaceship Earth now sports an amazing new set of exterior lights that can be programmed to reflect the Epcot event of the season.
In World Showcase, the new Remi attraction is done and open and the old Odyssey restaurant building is no longer a preview center (psst Disney, can we PLEASE turn this back into a restaurant?). Also, the temporary Traveler’s Café Starbucks shop is now closed in favor of Connections Café, which features Starbucks products.
What Epcot changes are in the works:
The majority of work in the area formerly known as Future World is the center area and the parts bordering on the Seas and Land pavilions. Construction on the Moana-themed Journey of Water attraction is well underway and looks to be something we may see opening in late 2022-early 2023.
What Epcot changes have changed:
In this new round of updates, we did find out that plans for the new ‘World Celebration’ area have changed. The original Dreamers Point space seems to have been replaced with a new CommuniCore Hall and CommuniCore Plaza which are buildings that seem to rebuild on the old CommuniCore footprint and rekindle some of the 80’s Epcot nostalgia. Here are the new artists rendering of the area here:
What hEpcot changes have been canceled:
So, I don’t believe this is official, but at this point, we can safely assume that whatever the Mary Poppins attraction in the England pavilion was going to be, is no longer. Also, the Spaceship Earth refurb is indefinitely paused. I suspect we will see the Spaceship Earth refurb happen before we see anything related to Mary Poppins in Epcot, but that is total speculation at this point.
That’s all for this round of updates. We are getting there folks! There are noticeably less construction walls in Epcot these days and I can tell you first hand that everything new that Disney has opened at Epcot has been amazing. I am an 80’s Epcot purist, and had a ton of skepticism about this overhaul after watching landmark attractions like Horizons, World of Motion and the original Imagination ride replaced by significantly inferior rides, but I do have to give Disney their due. They’ve hit on each of these transformations thus far.
More to come as the Epcot construction continues. Be sure to check back here soon!
Original Post 9/21/19:
With so much of Disney’s attention (and pocket book) focused on updating and adding to the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios in the past decade, it was only natural that eventually they would set their sights on Disney World’s second-oldest park, Epcot. They have now done just that and to say that they are going all-in on park updates would be an understatement. There is a ton of construction activity happening at or planned for Epcot over the coming years and it can be very difficult to keep track of it all. Here is a full rundown of all the upcoming Epcot changes from now into the future….
Please note: You can get much more detail about each of the new and updated Epcot attractions by clicking on their link, which will pull up our in-depth directory listing.
Future World Changes:
First off, I should note that the section of Epcot that is not World Showcase will no longer be called ‘Future World’ as it will now be broken into 3 new ‘neighborhoods’: World Celebration (the center of the former Future World), World Nature (everything to the right of Spaceship Earth when approaching from the entrance) and World Discovery (everything to the left of Spaceship Earth).
Here is a break down of what is changing in each of the new neighborhoods:
As you enter the park, and the World Celebration neighborhood, you will eventually be gazing upon a much different sight. Spaceship Earth remains, but much of what surrounds the iconic attraction will be reimagined. The Leave a Legacy structures have already been removed and the entire area will be overhauled with a focus on bringing more planters and vegetation to the former concrete jungle we have grown accustomed to. A nice addition will be the new Epcot fountain, which in concept drawings, appears to be very similar to the one that used to greet visitors in the park’s early days.
As mentioned, Spaceship Earth will remain (thankfully), but will get a refurbishment in the future. The ride’s narration, music and story will change. The new story will follow a ‘story light’ that will bring the experience to life. Details on the Spaceship Earth refurb are still a bit scant and we don’t have timing for the project yet, so stay tuned on this one.
The area behind Spaceship Earth is getting a complete overhaul, much of which has already started. The large fountain, Starbucks, Club Cool and both Innoventions structures are closing and being removed. In their place will be significantly more vegetation, green spaces and a new festival center structure.
Immediately behind Spaceship Earth, will be Dreamers Point, which will be a somewhat elevated area that will overlook the World Celebration neighborhood. A new statue of Walt Disney will be featured in Dreamers Point along with a forest-themed space and a new fountain.
A new three-story structure will be constructed in World Celebration. The multi-function structure will serve as the central hub of Epcot’s various festivals throughout the year, similar to how they use the Wonders of Life pavilion currently. The top floor of the new festival center structure will be used to view the new nighttime show. Total speculation, but to me, this area has ‘desert party’ written all over it.
World Discovery is the area with the most ‘wow factor’ changes. Disney is finally addressing it’s long-shuttered Wonders of Life Pavilion, which has mainly served as a festival center since the pavilion’s attractions closed in the late 00’s. The pavilion will be completely re-imagined into a new Play Pavilion, which will essentially be an interactive city under the existing dome structure.
At this point, Universe of Energy is long gone and the new Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster, Cosmic Rewind, is well into its construction. This new marquee attraction will surely be a desired Fastpass+ reservation for years to come.
Test Track and Mission: Space are not going anywhere in the foreseeable future, but we are getting a new space-themed restaurant, Space 220. Construction of Space 220 is well under way and the restaurant is slated to open at some point in winter 2019-20.
From what we currently know, this is the area that is least likely to change. As mentioned earlier, the Innoventions structures will be removed, so the approach to World Nature will be dramatically different. It will be a much more open and green area and will feature the new Moana-themed Journey of Water area, which will be an exploration trail to the larger part of the neighborhoods.
Despite the rumors, The Seas Pavilion is not slated to change, nor will The Land. Although, the previously announced Awesome Planet film will debut in the old Circle of Life area of The Land in early 2020 and Living with the Land recently received a minor update.
That brings us to one of the biggest surprise of the Epcot announced changes: the Imagination Pavilion. The surprise is that they are planning on doing anything to the Pavilion. Or at least, they haven’t announced any changes yet. This unpopular and underutilized area was a prime candidate for change, but Disney has been silent thus far about it.
World Showcase Changes:
While Future World is seeing a complete reimagination, the focus of the changes to World Showcase is more about augmenting existing pavilions with new featured attractions, updating existing ones and adding a few new dining options. I’ll quickly go through each of the pavilions to spotlight their changes:
The change in the Canada Pavilion is a relative minor one compared to some of its neighbors. The pavilion’s long-running ‘O Canada’ CircleVision 360 movie recently closed and will be replaced by a new state-of-the-art CircleVision movie titled ‘Canada Far and Wide.’ The new movie is set to debut in January 2020.
So the UK Pavilion is slated for one update, but it is a big one. While we don’t have a ton of info, but there is a Mary Poppins overlay coming to the pavilion in the future. A section of the area will be themed to resemble the movie’s iconic Cherry Tree Lane and there will be a new Mary Poppins-themed attraction coming in the future. We don’t know timing and don’t even know what kind of attraction (show, ride, etc) it will be yet, but stay tuned. This will be a big upgrade for the currently quaint, but unexciting pavilion.
When it comes to World Showcase upgrades, the France Pavilion was the clear winner this round. Their is a ton changing in this area. First up is the new Ratatouille-themed ride. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, similar to the ride currently running in Disneyland Paris, will be an immersive ride through the perspective of a rat in old Paris. This ride is slated to open in summer 2020.
Additionally, the France Pavilion is getting a new restaurant and a new show. La Creperie de Paris will be a quick and table service restaurant featuring a menu from renown chef Jerome Bocuse and is scheduled to open in summer 2020. The new show will be a Beauty and the Beast sing-along experience. It will run in the same theater as ‘Impressions de France‘ and will share the space with the iconic film. The sing-along should debut in January 2020.
There are no major changes slated for the Morocco Pavilion as it has already seen a number of updates and additions over the past few years.
Here is an Epcot change you don’t have to wait for! The new Takumi-Tei restaurant opened in the Japan Pavilion in July 2019, bringing a new signature dining option to park visitors. Thus far, the reviews have been very good for this new table service restaurant.
The American Experience:
The American pavilion is getting a restaurant switch. Gone is the quick-service burger restaurant Liberty Inn and coming soon is a new table service restaurant Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue. As you can probably tell from the name, the new restaurant will feature a BBQ menu. It is scheduled to open at the end of 2019.
There are no major changes slated for the Italy Pavilion as it has already seen a number of updates and additions over the past few years.
There are no major changes slated for the Germany Pavilion as it has already seen a number of updates and additions over the past few years.
Similar to its Canada counterpart, the China Pavilion is getting a CircleVision 360 movie update. ‘Wondrous China‘ is scheduled to replace ‘Reflections of China‘ in the future. ‘Reflections of China’ is still running as of the day I’m writing this and there has been no debut date announced for ‘Wondrous China’ so stay tuned!
There are no major changes slated for the Norway Pavilion as it has already seen a number of updates and additions over the past few years.
There are no major changes slated for the Mexico Pavilion as it has already seen a number of updates and additions over the past few years.
Wait what?!? A Brazil Pavilion?
No, there has been no official announcement of a new Brazil Pavilion for Epcot. Aside from the lack of updates to the Imagination Pavilion, Disney not announcing the long-rumored Brazil Pavilion was one of the biggest non-announcements of D23 2019. Rumors of negotiations with Brazil on a new pavilion have persisted for years and World Showcase certainly has the space for it, so keep an eye out for some sort of new pavilion announcement in the future.
Other World Showcase Changes:
For decades, countless visitors wandered the pavilions of Epcot without realizing there were two park entrances. Unless you were staying at one of the Boardwalk-area resorts or looking to take a leisurely stroll or boat ride over to Hollywood Studios, there really wasn’t any reason to know about the park entrance in World Showcase.
The anonymity of the International Gateway, located between the UK and France pavilions is about to disappear real quick as the new Disney Skyliner opens for business. The new resort gondola system has a station right at the International Gateway and passengers will be entering the park through it. In anticipation of the influx of gateway traffic, the entire area has be redone. Where there once was a very small gate area, we now will see a much bigger park entrance. This construction has been underway for some time and appears to be close to completion. One can imagine the bulk of the construction will conclude before the September 29, 2019 Skyliner launch date.
The Odyssey Pavilion
The object of much nostalgia among longtime Epcot park-goers, if you have only been visiting Epcot over the past twenty years, you may not even know what the Odyssey is. Located between Test Track and the Mexico Pavilion, the Odyssey building originally housed the popular Odyssey Restaurant until 1994. Since then it has been more of a utility building for cast member and various festival-related purposes.
The utilitarian nature of the Odyssey building will be amped up over the coming years as Disney is installing a new preview center in it to give visitors a more visual representation of all the changes coming to Epcot. The title of the preview center will be ‘Walt Disney Imagineering presents the Epcot Experience‘ and is slated to open in October 2019.
We’ve also heard that the Odyssey building will house the temporary location for Starbucks while its existing shop is demolished and a new permanent home is constructed.
New Fireworks Show
Another monster change for the park will be the change in its nighttime spectacular. The long-running Illuminations show concludes on September 30, 2019 and will be replaced by an interim show titled Epcot Forever in October 2019. In 2020 (no exact date announced yet), Epcot Forever will be replaced by a permanent nighttime show, HarmonioUS.
So there you have it, all the upcoming Epcot changes we currently know about. There is much to be excited about as we head into Disney World’s 50th anniversary (2021) and Epcot’s 40th anniversary (2022). As always, pretty much everything Disney announces is subject to change, so be sure to check back regularly for updates on Epcot’s transformation.
Disney Park(s) in this Post:Epcot
- Walt Disney Imagineer shares a ground-level look at Journey of Water Inspired by Moana, August 19, 2022
- New Details Revealed About the Transformation of EPCOT, May 6, 2022
- EPCOT Center Ground Symbol, Light-Up Pavement, and CommuniCore Name Returning to Please Fans,
- Future World is No More, “Neighborhoods” Have Now Replaced 1982 Land at EPCOT, September 28, 2021
- Work on ‘Moana’-Inspired Journey of Water Site Progresses at EPCOT, September 26, 2021