So what's really happening with Epcot?
Over the past few weeks, the rumor mill's been working overtime churning out wild stories about what's happening next with Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Guardians of the Galaxy is taking over Mission Space. Guardians of the Galaxy is taking over the Energy pavilion. Tron Lightcycle Coaster is taking over Test Track. Tron Lightcycle Coaster is taking over the old Wonders of Life pavilion. [Insert Pixar property here] is taking over the Imagination pavilion.
After introducing Frozen to the Norway pavilion, it's a simple exercise for Disney fans to match the remaining World Showcase pavilions with recent Disney animation franchises set in those countries... or someplace that could pass for those countries.
Heck, for Disney fans, playing the Epcot rumor game is as much a pastime as playing Pokemon Go. Pick a rumor — or make one up! — then throw it up on Reddit for karma, your blog for pageviews, Facebook for likes, or Twitter for retweets. And if you're a real pro at the game, you probably do all those.
But what if you're not into playing games but just want to plan a family theme park vacation? What if you just want to know what's really going to happen with Epcot?
Here's the not-so-secret scoop: Something will happen, but probably not for a while. So it's not worth holding off on a Walt Disney World visit to wait for the next big change at Epcot. Besides, Disney World's got plenty of new stuff coming in the next few years at its other theme parks.
Which is why we believe that Epcot will have to wait its turn for any big new additions or changes. The park did get a couple of significant changes for this summer, after all. Soarin' got its third theater and a new show. And, as we mentioned, the Norway pavilion got that Frozen overhaul, with Maelstrom becoming Frozen Ever After, and the Royal Sommerhus meet-and-greet providing a new home for Anna and Elsa.
If you look at the current decade, the Magic Kingdom got its big project with New Fantasyland, which opened in phases between 2012 and 2014. Disney's Animal Kingdom is the midst of its big project, with its nighttime expansion starting next year and Pandora The World of Avatar opening in 2017. Disney's Hollywood Studios is next after that, with Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land under development, as well as new a new parking lot entry and exit.
So that leaves Epcot.
At this stage, it appears that Walt Disney Imagineering is spitballing ideas for how to refresh Epcot, with the expectation that major construction will begin at Epcot once Star Wars Land is nearing completion at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Disney would like to have a steady stream of major new projects at Walt Disney World to promote over the next decade, so that the resort isn't caught out with no new rides for years in a row, as it was in the years before the New Fantasyland project. A couple big Epcot projects would fit nicely on that schedule after the Disney's Hollywood Studios lands open.
That timeline gives Imagineering a year or two to firm up plans for what those projects will be. During that time, leaks from Imagineering HQ in Glendale, Calif. will keeping prompting "telephone" games that eventually make their way into Internet rumors. That said, though, Disney's been establishing some patterns with its recent theme park projects and until we see some evidence otherwise, we should expect those patterns to continue at Epcot.
Most importantly among those, Disney now seems focused on promoting and extending its film franchises when developing new theme park attractions in the United States. So it's hard to imagine Disney breaking that pattern by developing new non-fiction attractions not tied to an existing Disney franchise or developing anything based on original fictional IP. Bringing Frozen to Norway wasn't a one-off. It's the future of Epcot, barring the Disney board picking a successor to CEO Bob Iger who decides to switch course from Iger's franchise-focused strategy for the company.
(Fat chance of that happening.)
Also, Disney has shown that it is willing to invest the money to build new attractions from scratch, instead of relying solely on overlays and refurbishments of existing attractions. Frozen-style overlays are the solution when Disney feels like it needs to get something into the parks fast. But for big Epcot projects following the DHS lands, expect new construction — most likely following the demolition of some existing pavilion or pavilions.
That doesn't mean we might not see another franchise overlay before that, though. Think of the timeline again. Pandora's coming next year to Animal Kingdom. But if Toy Story Land isn't going to be ready for 2018, it's conceivable that Disney would decide to drop another Frozen-style overlay in Epcot to fill the gap between Pandora and Toy Story Land for its 2018 promotions. That decision would need to come by the end of the year, so WDI would need to be ready within the next couple of months to move a plan from the spitball stage to actual blueprints. But remember that those plans might never actually come to development, should Disney end up feeling comfortable that Toy Story Land will be ready by 2018.
Then we start the same process in anticipation of Star Wars Land being ready for 2019, or not. Again, if that construction is good to go, there's no need for an overlay. If not... well, maybe there would be.
Assuming all goes well for the two new lands at DHS and they meet their (as yet publicly unannounced) construction deadlines, we are looking at 2020 — at the earliest — for any major new construction projects at Epcot. And it's entirely possible that Disney will choose to give Star Wars Land a couple of years to carry the promotional burden for the resort before moving ahead with any major new capital project. That puts new Epcot projects off until 2021, or until the park's 40th anniversary in 2022.
So there's your context. If things are not moving as planned over at Hollywood Studios, Epcot might be getting a franchise-based overlay of an existing pavilion in 2018 or 2019. But if the DHS lands are opening in those years, some entirely new pavilion or pavilions likely will be replacing an existing Epcot pavilion or pavilions in 2020 or beyond.
And all of this is off the table, of course, if the economy tanks or international tourism to Central Florida continues to decline. But if tourists keeping coming down to Orlando, Disney fans should expect something new at Epcot within the next few years. We just don't know exactly what yet. And, we suspect, neither does Disney.
ROFLMO, so essentially what you are saying is that for nigh on 20 years (which is what it will be in 2021) all that Epcot is going to is an overlay of Maelestrom and a new Soarin Video ! The sooner Iger goes the better.
Epcot needs so much work that multiple pavilions must be updated. They need at least $1.5 billion. Attractions must be added to the country pavilions. Epcot is just the oddest park around and completely neglected. Holding on to the sponsorship model ruined many attractions. The park is simply Disney's World in Walt Disney World.
Tron Lightcycle would be an exciting addition to Epcot, and a clone, so it wouldn't cost as much as building something from scratch.
i never understand why they have to take out an attraction to put another one in with all that Soave they have. Like why would you take out test track and put tron ? Why can't we have both ? I've seen google maps Disney stop being cheap you have room.
So basically you saying something is coming but you don't know what when or really even if.
I think that although people moan about the world showcase pavilions getting new rides themed to pixar/disney ip's it is not necessarily a bad idea. Disney world is aimed at families, and if you have families with younger children then they do not just want to walk around the huge circle of world showcase as for them it can be a bit boring. But by having more rides and shows in some pavilions then it would be a lot better. The next thing epcot would want to do is to put the ratatouille ride in the France pavilion, maybe a new country pavilion between china and Germany as there is quite a big gaping maybe a Luigi from cars inspired ride for Italy. This would help to make the area a big more fresh and up to date.
The problem with WDW (and to a lesser-extent at Disneyland), is that the castle park is by far the most popular theme park of the property. So to spread crowds around and make sure a family doesn't "skip" a park on their expensive vacation, management would rather spread things around and bring the other parks' offerings closer to what the Magic Kingdom offers.
Epcot needs a great dark ride. While Frozen might be a good one I want to see something like Horizons and the original Journey Into Imagination. Something original and not tied to an IP. But this is Disney so we probably buy won't see anything like that.
Why does everyone keep talking about a Guardians of the Galaxy, it is a Marvel franchise so it cannot be used at DisneyWorld.
Bringing more baby carragies to EPCOT just messes it up for me. Already Frozen has brought so many more that I have cut back on my visits to EPCOT.
So basically I gather that no one likes the other cultures at Epcot. My kids love going around the world and visiting all the different countries. I agree that they should refresh each pavillion but Just making it a place for more stimulation overload because kids are bored isn't correct either. For all those that take your kids put of school for your Disney vacations what are you going to use as your educational factor?
Judging by this timeline Robert, do you think the next attraction addition to Epcot will be Ratatouille? It makes sense the way Disney works now. They've already spent the money to develop the ride. It's franchise based. I wouldn't be complaining to get the ride. It actually fits as an addition to the France pavilion, and from what I've heard it has massive capacity which Epcot surely needs.
To sum up this article. Nothing. Nothing is happening at Epcot.
Quick fixes to manage the crowds at Disney World:
A few very reputable 'insiders' on other respectable sites, who have correctly predicted everything going back to at least Expedition Everest, have stated that the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction in the current Energy pavillion has been green lit and is definitely a go. I'm not sure what you've heard about this, but since these few people have 'predicted' everything accurately for many years, one assumes they are well connected.
Arendale may be fictional but the source material has Norwegian connections. I'm not saying it's the greatest choice to include Frozen there but there is at least a reason.
I hold faith that, if the right amount of time and thought goes into an overhaul of Epcot, that Disney goes back to the basics, and re-establishes itself to the founding principles of the park.
The only thing I've heard, and this was from the Ride & Show Director of Epcot (had lunch with him as he turned out to be friends with a friend of mine) is Mt. Fuji at the Japan pavilion. The show building is back there but was never used. Now this was last year he said this to us so plans may have changed. Let's see if it does get announced.
For the Energy Pavilion, take out Ellen and install Peter Pan-type flying vehicles through the same show scenes to simulate the flight of a Pteranodon. Put the Tron coaster somewhere in Future World. Return Imagination to Dreamfinder and Figment in some form (No Inside Out please) Add a Swiss pavilion with Matterhorn bobsleds. Add the Ratatouille ride to France. Take It's a Small World out of Magic Kingdom (replace it with a Tangled dark ride), and place it in the area between World Showcase and Future World. Put Carousel of Progress where Wonders of Life is. There, done.
I have a few comments:
I don't know about the Mt. Fuji rumors. They already have a mountain roller coaster with Everest and rather like Japan a quiet pavilion.
Yes I'm sure Disney is going to go back to the plans for a rollercoaster from 1965 for a new ride at Epcot in 2018? Come on! If you've read the article and paid any attention to Disney over the last few years you would know that almost everything they are doing these days is related to their IP's -- it's literally their Corporate strategy to leverage their IP across all the platforms of the company (Studio, Consumer products, parks and resorts).
FYI, Height Test balloons were spotted this morning near Future World.
"But if you are going to replace Ellen's Energy Adventure (please!), then make it something educational and fun."
"Anything both educational and fun is only suitable for an 8 year old. Sorry, what we loved from Epcot of the past was a great memory that doesn't exist anymore. Edutainment doesn't work in today's society."
BG: It's difficult to design and has a shelf life that's even shorter. You disagree because you just want it, but there's plenty of science and discovery museums that can do the job for the few patrons that want to seen it. Disney doesn't need to be in this business or more accurately, non-profit. Epcot looks the way it doesn't because the sponsorship model is over. Disney is the corporate sponsor and as the sole sponsor, it will design and market the attractions with its IP.
I understand wanting Ratatouille in France, and as Robert always says - Impressions is fantastic (and dare I say, underrated), so I'm not sure how they would add the Paris attraction to what they've already got.
"Future World is where the real money needs to be spent."
As I say, I'm fine with Disney taking down Imagination and Ellen DeGeneres. I agree that those are REALLY bad.
TRON: Lightcycle Power Run takes over Test Track
Would love to see a Mystic Manor too but not sure of the space issues (that requires a lot of room to work) but would be a nice fit somehow.
"...international tourism to Central Florida continues to decline..."
First thing Disney needs to do with Epcot is rename Future World. There's nothing futuristic about it.
The second thing I'd love to see Disney do with Epcot - and it never ever will do - is to get rid of the corporate sponsors. My biggest complaint about Epcot from the get go, was all the corporate sponsorship. Ok, now we're going to ride the Exxon ride. Now the GM ride. Now the Nestle ride. It was all so in-you-face. The point of a Disney vacation is to get away from the real world, not have it shoved down your throat.
I admit, I'm one of those that cringe at the Frozen overlay of the old Maelstrom ride. For many reasons, the least being that I can't stand anything Frozen. But I want all the Disney movie/franchise tie-ins gone. At least for one dang park, can't Disney restrict themselves to original attractions? Something not tied to existing IP. I'm also one of those old die-hards that see everything that's been changed at Epcot has been for the worse. It's amazing how much better all of the original attractions were compared to their replacements. World of Motion for instance, is head and shoulders better than any of the various Test Tracks. It had humor and whimsy. It had scads of animatronics. It was a fun attraction. Test Track is boring.
From a post by Anon Mouse,
Inside Out would be great in the old Life and Health pavilion along with a new thrill ride based on Fantastic Voyage. That can be designed using the same technology as the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey ride or as a dark ride with some water flume or mild roller coaster elements.
So ... nothing new at Epcot until I'm too old to enjoy going there anymore.
I may be wrong, but I think new Epcot attractions may be coming faster than some people think. Something to consider is that Epcot likely will not be adding entirely new immersive lands, but will instead be adding individual attractions with a small surrounding area possibly sharing the theme. It would not be a stretch for Epcot to have Ratatouille or Tron, if those are indeed coming, ready for 2019 even if construction doesn't start until after next summer. With the number of Universal projects under development, I also don't think WDW will have any off years in the near future. Without any inside information, I'm going to say this: look at the other three WDW parks. If none of them have anything major opening in a given year, it is probably a safe bet that Epcot will have something. Epcot's 40th anniversary is coming in 2022, and from the little I've heard Disney would like to have at least three new attractions at the park between now and then.
I think Epcot has alot of potential for the future in terms of exapansions. Lets start by saying what is safe. I believe Spaceship Earth, The Land, Nemo and Test Track should all be safe, as those are all big draws in the parks. Everything else should be heading for a major overhaul. I would actually rename Future World to Discovery World as it would open the door for more potential ideas.
DisneyFanFDWK - Just to add to your lineup: I always thought Canada would be a perfect location for a log flume ride, that goes through the wilderness of Canada. Past Moose, bears and beavers, through mines, logging camps.
imagine this: germany expands into the outpost area of the corner and a new snow white attraction finds its way to WDW. a more themed meet & greet for her and the dwarves, and you cut through the wine cellar to open up to the back area which could be the dark forest. The UK pavilion guts out the twinnings garden and gazebo stage and expands further into the Boardwalk entrance with an Alice hedge maze or dark ride. boom.
Reviving Body Wars and adding another simulator with Zootopia isn't going to appeal to anyone. Zootopia is better suited for Animal Kingdom.
Good idea B Goodwin. I always felt like every park needs that log flume ride for hot summer days.
The Ferrari Hypercoaster could be fun except it quite extreme for a Disney park, plus it requires a sponsorship or license, which just isn't going to fly in today's Disney. And it might conflict with Disney's agreement with GM for Test Track. I would agree an Inside Out Dark Ride would work, but not in the Wonders of Life building. It might be better in the Imagination building although I prefer it to be razed to install a log flume ride in Canada. Thus, Inside Out should replace the Universe of Energy.
Before any major new attractions/upgrades, Future World Central / Innoventions Plaza needs an upgrade/beautification. The signs for Mouse Gear, Electric Unbrella, and Club Cool look bad, as do the tarps/poles, the pin station, the Starbucks that wasn't designed to blend in like the ones at every other Disney park, etc. The general appearance of FW Central stands out as far below the aesthetic quality of perhaps every other place at WDW. I hope they start making improvements to it long before the larger projects get off the ground.
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