In my years of Travel Planning, I’ve worked with a handful of families that choose to only do two or three parks instead of all four… and many times the park left out is Epcot.
And that saddens me, because I love Epcot so very much. It’s a huge park full of history and culture, various festivals with lots of great experiences (and eats!), some fantastic thrill rides, and for me personally, I love meeting Joy and Sadness, found only in Future World. But I can understand some families with small children who think it’s a bunch of country museums and a big ball.
But if you think that way — I urge you to give it another chance. And here are 9 reasons to do so…
THE NEW ENTRANCE
Currently, as you walk into Epcot, you’ll be walking past and through the Leave a Legacy monuments, large structures with pictures of guests who purchased spots many years ago… over 550,000 of them, by the way. The contract guaranteed at least 10 years, and as the last of these pictures have fulfilled their contracts (and Epcot stopped selling these photo spots in 2007). The rumor was these would be completely removed, but Disney has confirmed they will actually just be relocated to a nearby spot. This will open up the walkway area, which will feature more greenery, easier sidewalks and a new fountain. Disney says, “This will pay homage to the original park entrance with a fresh take on classic elements”
NEW PLAY PAVILION
Like other parks, Epcot is made up of various lands, or here, “Pavilions”. The Wonders of Life Pavilion closed in 2007, and has been mostly underutilized. This will now be re-imagined as a “play pavilion”. Disney says it will be, “bursting with interactive experiences, your favorite Disney characters, hands-on activities and engaging entertainment when it opens just in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort!”
“This innovative, new pavilion is beyond anything we’ve ever created and is completely unique to Epcot,” said Zach Riddley, portfolio executive, Walt Disney Imagineering. “Built on the power of play, it introduces an immersive and interactive ‘city’ where you can explore, create, and interact with some of your favorite Disney characters. This is an experience worthy of our bold vision for Epcot – and another signature element of our transformation.”
THE REMY RIDE
Announced at Destination D last year, the Ratatouille attraction to be built over in the France pavilion will officially be called “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure”. It’s billed as a new “trackless” ride system similar to the attraction over in Disneyland Paris. Guests will be able to shrink to Remy’s size and scurry to safety in a dazzling chase across a kitchen with the sights, sounds and smells of Gusteau’s legendary Parisian restaurant. (late 2020)
SOMETHING’S THERE THAT WASN’T THERE BEFORE
As in, a new singalong that wasn’t there before! Also coming to France in Epcot, a new “Beauty & the Beast” sing along, produced by legendary Disney animator and creator Don Hahn. Will it be a straight sing-along, or will it be a hilarious version like “Frozen” over in Hollywood Studios? I’m hoping for the latter. (late 2019)
EPCOT YOU’RE A FIREWORK
With apologies to Katy Perry… TWO new shows are coming to Epcot for night-time entertainment. Not at the same time, however… one will replace “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth”, and will remain for several months until the newer permanent show replaces that in 2020. IllumiNations, which has been dazzling Epcot guests since October 1999, will have its final bow this fall, when “Epcot Forever”, comes in. This new show will feature epic fireworks, lasers, lighting and even, as Disney tells us, special effects kites. I need a special effect kite. And it will feature lots of classic Epcot music! And in 2020, an even bigger, even better Epcot show will debut and settle in for good.
Also announced recently, Epcot will see a new restaurant go in the area between Mission:SPACE and Test Track, and it’s unique as it will “invite guests to travel to space for an amazing dining experience in the stars.” What does that mean? Well, the details are scarce now, but one can imagine the windows will feature incredible “views” of outer space, Earth, other planets and beyond. Either way, I’m ready!
AND OF COURSE, THE GUARDIANS COASTER
Of course, the big news everyone is watching is the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster being built as we speak. Ellen’s Energy Adventure was closed in 2017 and removed completely in 2018, as a new ride building is going in. Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products Chairman Bob Chapek has said the ride will be unlike anything guests have experience before, as “On most coasters, the vehicles point straight ahead throughout the ride. But on this attraction, each individual cab will be programmed to direct your eye to the story happening around you.”
Expected to open in 2021, the coaster will be one of the world’s longest, and it will be inside a building so large that FOUR Spaceship Earths could fit inside of it.
THE DISNEY SKYLINER OPENS SOON
For over a year now, Disney has been working to build and complete a brand new gondola system that will allow guests to move from to and from resorts like Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach and Pop Century, to and from both Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Most of the towers have already finished, and Disney has just started testing their new gondolas along the lines. The cars themselves will be adorned with favorite Disney characters, and it’s expected to open sometime later in summer or fall.
FINALLY… JUST A RUMOR
I call it here. In the upcoming D23 convention happening this summer, I predict that Disney will announce at least one, if not two new pavilions in Epcot. Would it be Brazil? Spain? Greece? Maybe even Puerto Rico… but I predict we’ll see a new pavilion announced and even opened by late 2021, ready for Epcot’s 40th anniversary!
What are your thoughts? What are you excited about?