Theme Park Insider

What will Walt Disney World do next to transform Epcot?

June 12, 2017, 11:51 AM · The Walt Disney World Resort opened a decade of expansion in 2012, with the debut of its New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. The investment in two new rides, an innovative character experience, and a richly-decorated themed restaurant paid off with an immediate surge in attendance. The Magic Kingdom welcomed six percent more visitors in 2013, followed by another four percent increase in 2014, while other WDW parks gained two percent or less.

The expansion continued this year, at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Pandora - The World of Avatar is Disney's most ambitious new land to date, recreating an alien moon from one of the most popular movies of all time. Coupled with a new night-time show, Rivers of Light, that with Pandora allows Disney to extend the hours at Animal Kingdom, this expansion should lead to another attendance boost for Disney.

Disney's Hollywood Studios gets next, as construction continues for two new lands at what now is Disney World's least-visited park. Star Wars land opens in 2019 and promises to surpass Pandora with its decoration and engagement. Disney will announce the opening date for Toy Story Land at its D23 Expo in Anaheim next month, but based on the current state of its construction, we would expect that opening to happen sometime next spring or summer.

So that leaves... Epcot. With the work on Animal Kingdom now complete, Disney turns its attention to Disney World's second park, which is due for a reported $2 billion-plus makeover that will rival, if not surpass, the scope of construction now underway at Hollywood Studios.

Disney has yet to announce any projects for Epcot, but insiders have detailed plans that will remake the entrance of the park and add new franchise-themed attractions to both Future World and World Showcase. Disney filed its first permit for work on one Future World pavilion, and construction is expected to accelerate in the park as work completes on Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios.

The Epcot project appears to be a three-phase endeavor, at this point. Work will start with the transformation of the World of Motion Universe of Energy (brainfart!) pavilion, currently home to Ellen's Energy Adventure. With star Ellen Degeneres no longer tied to Disney (and her daily talk show appearing primarily on rival Universal's NBC affiliates), Disney has no promotional concerns in dumping what's essentially an homage to fossil fuels. The company has filed a permit with the South Florida Water Management District to modify drainage canals behind the pavilion building, which is the first step in preparing the site for major construction.

So what's replacing Ellen's Energy Adventure? We have been told that most of the shell of the Universe of Energy pavilion will remain, but that the new attraction will extend beyond the current footprint of the building. The plans call for a roller coaster attraction that will run both inside and outside the building, similar to the TRON Lightcycle Power Run at Shanghai Disneyland. And like the trains on Disney's Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, the cars on this coaster will "yaw," twisting around their axis as they fly through the turns on the ride.

We've been told that the theme for this coaster will not be TRON, however. It's going to be Guardians of the Galaxy, as we also have heard that Disney's legal team has reached an understanding with attorneys from NBCUniversal that allows Disney to proceed with attractions based on Marvel characters not represented in Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park. The perpetual licensing contract that Universal has with Marvel does not include an explicit list of included characters, simply referencing "character families." That leaves room for potential confusion, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to be on course to blend all Marvel characters into one big, interconnected family. Character meet and greets are one thing, but Disney wasn't about to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on Guardians-themed attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort without explicit assurances that such developments would not provoke a legal case.

In addition to transforming the Universe of Energy pavilion, Disney has plans to completely change the entrance to Epcot. Say goodbye to Leave a Legacy and the shops around the base of Spaceship Earth, as Disney looks to reimagine visitor's first impression of the park in a way that will rival how Disney transformed the entrance to Disney California Adventure. Spitballed plans have included a new hotel at the entrance of the park, along the lines of what Disney did with Tokyo DisneySea in Japan. While plans of the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster are at step eight on our 10-step guide to judging the viability of rumored theme park attractions, the Epcot entrance plan seems to be somewhere in steps three to five, and the hotel might be no more than a step one. (Or step two, if this is where Disney's thinking about dropping a Star Wars-themed hotel.)

The Epcot entrance transformation might also include the demolition of the Communicore buildings, but I've heard conflicting information from sources on that. One says that they're gone, but another says that it's just the shops around the base of Spaceship Earth that are scheduled for removal. The former Odyssey restaurant also is said to be on the chopping block.

As for World Showcase, Disney's plans call for the installation of a Ratatouille-themed ride in the France pavilion. It remains to be seen whether this will be a straight clone of the L'Aventure Totalement Toquee de Remi ride from Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, a modified version, or something else. While Paris' Ratatouille ride has received generally positive reviews, it's not been the park-transforming hit that Disney had hoped for, so if Walt Disney Imagineering has any plans to "plus" that attraction from its initial installation, I would expect to see WDI make a play to include them here.

I wonder, though, if Tokyo Disneyland's upcoming Beauty and the Beast ride might not provide a bigger draw than the Ratatouille ride in this space, given how that seems to be a more popular franchise than the 2007 Pixar film. They're both trackless dark rides, so the ride experience on both would seem to be the similar. The Tokyo ride is scheduled for a 2020 debut.

The France pavilion project appears to be a step or two behind the Universe of Energy project, so I would expect that attraction to debut a year behind the Future World coaster. Taking a guess after reading the tea leaves here, perhaps we could be looking at 2020 for a Guardians coaster, 2021-22 for the Ratatouille ride, and 2022 for the new entrance — in time for the 40th anniversary of the park's opening... and rounding out the resort's decade of park expansions.

Oh, and if your heart is set on seeing the TRON Lightcycle Power Run at the Walt Disney World Resort, don't despair. We've seen that project spitballed to replace the Tomorrowland Speedway at the Magic Kingdom, should Disney decide that it needs another E ticket in that park to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2021.

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Replies (58)

June 12, 2017 at 12:05 PM · They've already built a Beauty and the Beast area in MK, so I want Ratatouille!
June 12, 2017 at 12:13 PM · EPCOT's a tricky one IMHO. I really enjoy the way the park is right now, but realize it no longer appeals to a wide enough audience, and is difficult to keep up with the rapidly advancing pace of technology and our changing world.

The Guardians of the Galaxy attraction at "Universe of Energy" (need a global change there Robert) seems to be a done deal after they filed for reconfiguration of drainage behind the pavilion and nearby parking lot. The word is that this attraction could be HUGE, as in it will not only require the space currently occupied by Universe of Energy, but an additional building behind Wonders of Life. Speaking of which, I know they love having the extra event space that Wonders of Life allows, but they've got to do something with that building.

Getting rid of the Leaving a Legacy is a tricky proposition, because guests paid money to have their photos on those granite slabs conceivably "forever" or at least for the rest of their lifetime (I'm not one of those people that did that, but I would not want them moved if I had invested in the project). Those can't simply be discarded or moved to some back corner of the park. If they are going to change the entry plaza and move some of the shops lining the entry, the slabs could theoretically be moved to the perimeter of a new entryway, but it would still be dicey for Disney to move monuments off to the side, especially the way the current design echos the curves of Spaceship Earth and the current entry configuration. It's a very sticky situation that might be even tougher to solve than putting Marvel characters on the east coast.

I'm still strongly against slapping animated characters as the "icons" for countries represented in the World Showcase. Certainly Ratatouille is set in France, but the attraction needs have more than a geographic connection to the pavilion IMHO. Before Disney touches any World Showcase pavilion though, they need to fix Imagination and Wonders of Life.

June 12, 2017 at 12:23 PM · This is all great! I can already see how a Guardians themed TRON like coaster would be like(maybe with the same story as with California's GoTG:MB, but with the Guardians' escape catapulting us into the building's systems - which would be like the screen-filled and colorful part of the TRON coaster).
There's also that rumor about Disney thinking about replacing Gran Fiesta with a Coco-themed ride(if the movie proves itself successful). I seriously hope they don't do that, since I like that attraction and it is the only place we can find Zé Carioca in Orlando.
June 12, 2017 at 12:38 PM · How about a log flume ride at the Canadian pavilion. Or the never finished Rhine river cruise in Germany. Or an "Escape the Vatican" adventure ride in Italy (who owns the IP rights to Dan Brown's books?) I love the International Showcase, but always felt it needed more rides spread across the countries. They don't have to be E-Ticket rides, either. I've always enjoyed hopping on the Mexico boat ride between multi-layered fruit flavored margaritas.

I'm not sure how a Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster is going to fit into Future World, alongside transportation, the seas, the land, etc;. I thought the idea for redevelopment of Epcot was to bring it back towards having a focus. Is Rocket Racoon going to teach us the importance of renewable resources through hair-pin turns and sudden drops?

I hope Disney is taking the time to figure out how to give Epcot a new vision beyond higher ticket sales.

June 12, 2017 at 12:40 PM · I actually have a bit at "Leave a Legacy" but I won't cry about it being moved as it's rather cluttered and a cooler entrance would be great. I know some moan and groan over "EPCOT shouldn't have themed stuff" and such. But the sad fact is, it's a far different world than in the 1980s or '90s where kids are addicted to their phones and such.

I LOVED the old Epcot. I'd love to see returns of Horizons, World of Motion, etc. But I also realize how things have changed majorly and that old-school way of theme parks won't be as popular to kids today. It's a business and the park has needed some fresh makeover for years. If any park was meant to change and adapt to the times, Epcot was it.

Again, I know the purists will scream and howl and I agree they have points as Epcot should be educational more. But in today's theme park world, that doesn't carry the message it once did and the park has needed some change for a long time, provided it's done well.

June 12, 2017 at 12:40 PM · I actually have a bit at "Leave a Legacy" but I won't cry about it being moved as it's rather cluttered and a cooler entrance would be great. I know some moan and groan over "EPCOT shouldn't have themed stuff" and such. But the sad fact is, it's a far different world than in the 1980s or '90s where kids are addicted to their phones and such.

I LOVED the old Epcot. I'd love to see returns of Horizons, World of Motion, etc. But I also realize how things have changed majorly and that old-school way of theme parks won't be as popular to kids today. It's a business and the park has needed some fresh makeover for years. If any park was meant to change and adapt to the times, Epcot was it.

Again, I know the purists will scream and howl and I agree they have points as Epcot should be educational more. But in today's theme park world, that doesn't carry the message it once did and the park has needed some change for a long time, provided it's done well.

June 12, 2017 at 12:41 PM · A picture of my grandmother that has now passed away is on the "leave a Legacy" so......
June 12, 2017 at 12:41 PM · Robert, you reference a change to the World of Motion pavilion. I believe you mean Universe of Energy.
June 12, 2017 at 12:41 PM · Wasn't "The World of Motion" the ride preceding Test Track?
I'd rather they put more money into Future World than World Showcase. It's in more need of an update then the festival mall that houses in World Showcase almost year round.

I hope the Guardian ride isn't going to be "educational" and not about the future of anything. It will be old very fast.

June 12, 2017 at 12:51 PM · If the Epcot remake will really cost $2 billion, I suspect that there is more to it than what Robert's sources are saying so far. That's very pricey for two new rides and a new entrance.
June 12, 2017 at 12:56 PM · Holy canole, Batman! *RIP Adam West*

Hey, do you guys know that in Leaving a Legacy, you can find NSYNC? It's on the right side, about eye-height (5'10). Maybe the first or second row in. I learned that when I was training at the front entrance. This is where I say "bye bye bye", right?

As for my first reaction to the whole shebang, I am floored. Absolutely astounded, as I don't pay attention to their permits, water drainage plans, etc. Except for what I read here, of course.

Getting Guardians to replace Ellen, and expand the footprint is a huge deal! I am not surprised that a deal was worked out to use characters not already in IoA. Not surprised, but still relieved. I think with as popular as that franchise is, people won't really care too much that there's no Spider-Man or Captain America or Iron Man.

Can I assume that any EPCOT front entrance hotel project would be considered a deluxe resort? I can't even fathom how that would work, and no, I haven't checked DisneySEA's hotel in the same configuration. I'd love to see plans for this, and get it moving up the TPI viability index!

When it comes to France, I absolutely vote for Ratatouille for the same reason Russell just said - there's already a presence at Magic Kingdom that's pretty substantial. Sure, there is a Harry Potter land in both Universal parks, but they're set in different places. If France DID go the Beauty & the Beast route, they'd have to go with Belle's hometown. And thinking about it, France is already sort of laid out in a way that would accommodate that. But then what the heck would the attraction be? Reading books in a library?

Great opportunity to plus the Paris version, which I haven't experienced, by the way.

Maybe I'm forgetting something, but $2b refurbishment/expansion at EPCOT would blow my freaking mind, and would get me thinking seriously about moving BACK to Orlando.

THCreative is probably having a seizure right about now.

June 12, 2017 at 1:04 PM · Wow, I brainfarted that pavilion reference. Yeah, I knew what I meant... I just typed the wrong thing. Fixed.
June 12, 2017 at 1:04 PM · When I was working at Epcot during the millennium celebrations. Guest buying Leave a Legacy were informed their picture was only guaranteed to be there for the next ten years.
June 12, 2017 at 1:13 PM · $2 billion+ sounds like an awful lot of money for just two rides (one a replacement) and a rethemed entrance. Surely there has to be substantially more on the table to justify that price tag, no?

And I'd be curious to hear what Robert thinks the arrival of something like GOTG in Future World means for the theme of that section of the park. We know that current Disney doesn't care very much about making sure that attractions fit the theme of the lands they occupy, but something that will so blatantly just be a thrill ride (likely without even cursory attempts to be "edutainment") feels like it will require Disney to reframe Future World's mission statement, or rename it altogether.

June 12, 2017 at 1:17 PM · My understanding is all this is for the 50th they want all the parks ready to celebrate its like Dland 50th and 60th where both parks celebrated
June 12, 2017 at 1:47 PM · In a post about Epcot, there's no discussion about Imagination makeover or the rumored Space update. Epcot is just in horrible condition.

I wonder what Disney traded with Universal. If I was Universal, I would have traded for at least one Marvel family for future development for Disney to get Guardians. The guarantee would not have any costs and deadline until development and construction.

The Energy building is huge. The permits show another new building being constructed immediately behind the Energy building. So what will they do with Wonders of Life? Then there's the empty Odyssey Center.

Almost every World Showcase country needs a new ride. They can do it.

I enjoyed watching the Ratatouille ride on YouTube, but it definitely needs to be improved slightly. It needs a better beginning and ending. Needs more WOW!!! Also, I'm not so sure I liked being as small as a mouse. They should make people regular sized and then converted to tiny sized and back again. Try the Avatar method.

The Communicore buildings sit in a space large enough to be an entirely new land. They should consider having a land within Future World. Move away from the Industrial buildings look. They need a true kid's area. A play area with some nicely place spinners. They can fit in the Leave a Legacy slabs here.

I wonder what's next after Disneyland completes Star Wars Land. Rumored is Fantasyland will get a major makeover to include a Frozen ride. It's a top priority. Then Marvel Land, and finally Tomorrowland. My hope is they don't leave Tomorrowland looking that way much longer. At least do some stopgap work like removing the People Mover tracks, removing Astro Orbitor, and upgrading the Main Street hub area. Just clean that whole area up.

June 12, 2017 at 1:44 PM · Also not mentioned, the aesthetics of the land need dragging out of the 80s, along with the awful Cricle of Life film it houses.

The seas with Nemo is the definition of shoe-horned in, but has much potential. That whole pavilion needs a rethink too.

I also thought Illuminations looked very badly dated this spring...especially when put against Happily Ever After.

We avoided th entire imagination pavilion too. I find it criminal that an attraction that encourages us to use imagination lacks any of it.

I kind of love Epcot but there's so much wrong I don't think $2billion is enough here

June 12, 2017 at 2:19 PM · First things first. Rename "Future World", as there's nothing futuristic about it. "Discovery World" is fine. Second, do something about the Odyssey Restaurant. Two cheap things to do that will immediately improve Epcot. Not sure about Guardians of the Galaxy. That seems like Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom would be a better fit. Next fix: Do something about Communicore - or whatever it's called now. It's a huge waste of space. Install an actual attraction into those buildings. Perhaps one that spans the two buildings. Perhaps loading/unloading for a slow moving PeopleMover like ride that circles the entire Epcot park?
June 12, 2017 at 2:44 PM · Everything here has been reported before. I am cautiously skeptical about all of this. I say "cautiously" because I once lambasted whispers that Dwarf Mine Train was going to bump Pixie Hollow out of Fantasyland.
June 12, 2017 at 2:53 PM · Well, as much as I would like to see Disney preserve the original theme and purpose of EPCOT, I think that ship has long since sailed. So if they're going to turn EPCOT in another IPLand, then here's what I'd love to see:

World Pavilion:

Mexico: Coco redo of the boat ride (provided the film is good).
Norway: Already taken care of.

China: Mulan Meet-and-Greet and maybe an enhanced 'flying theatre' showcasing the history, beauty, and splendor of China a-la Impressions du France.

Africa: Lion King...something? I don't know. Is this even a necessary land anymore considering its presence at AK?

Germany: Bring back Snow White's Scary Adventures!!!

Italy: Install some nice Venetian gondola system and maybe a showcase on the art and architecture of Italy with a heavy emphasis on Rome and the Vatican.

America: Keep it as is. Maybe resurrect the old Sleepy Hollow attraction which was kicked around during development of The Haunted Mansion.

Japan: Give me some Ghibli. A Totoro or Spirited Away ride would be fitting and give something the kids could enjoy in the World Pavilion.

Morocco: Aladdin Musical can be resurrected here. That, or a suspended dark-ride 'flying carpet' system (in vein of the Arthur and the Incredibles ride) based on Aladdin.

France: I'd like to see the Ratatouille ride. But a Beauty and the Beast ride wouldn't be bad either

England: Bring back Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Or maybe resurrect those old Mary Poppins ideas WDI was kicking around some decades ago. That, or a Brave attraction

Canda: I got nothing...maybe a hockey exhibit..

June 12, 2017 at 2:57 PM · While I welcome changes to Epcot (it sorely needs it), I still feel sad that it's all IP based. I have no problems with most IPs in parks as long as they're used well (for example, the Guardians ride replacing ToT at DCA was executed beautifully IMO), but Epcot isn't just another park. Disney's parks used to be individually themed, but now they're all just extensions of each other. Animal Kingdom still feels like Animal Kingdom to me, even with Avatar, and Magic Kingdom still feels like Magic Kingdom. But, Hollywood Studios and Epcot are starting to sound like they'll essentially be sister parks in regards to content. I was unimpressed with Epcot when I was little, but as a teen and as an adult, it became my favorite park, which is why it's hard to see it in such terrible shape and in the middle of an identity crisis. What will set it apart from other parks if it doesn't adhere to its theme? Does it even have a theme anymore? Bring on the fun experiences for Epcot, but please do so with the right mindset (will the new Guardians ride teach us anything about technology? Will the new France ride teach us about France? Does the Frozen ride tell us much about Norway?).
June 12, 2017 at 3:05 PM · I got something for your Canda, Blake. Another A. :P
June 12, 2017 at 3:08 PM · I'd love to see what kind of new entrance Disney could cook up, but I do ponder about Leave a Legacy. I'm pretty sure that Disney can't close that until 2027, or risk the necessity of refunding all those purchases.

While I was initially against adding IPs to World Showcase, I'm sick of seeing nothing terribly interesting in that half of the park. If Beauty and the Beast were to go to Epcot, that'd mean the movie would be represented at 3 of the 4 parks. That might be a little overkill (then again, Frozen has the same count too). Therefore, I'd lean towards taking the Ratatouille ride.

I used to love the Ellen ride, but it has quite literally turned into a dinosaur. I was really disheartened to see that the Ellen AA had been permanently removed last year. Bring on Guardians of the Galaxy.

Lastly, Epcot should never get a spinner or any other flat ride. Ever.

June 12, 2017 at 4:00 PM · There's an Africa pavilion at Epcot? How have I missed that?
June 12, 2017 at 4:05 PM · What will Disney do to fix Epcot? As little as possible. Whatever Disney does will be designed to sell more toys.
June 12, 2017 at 4:05 PM · It's not really a pavilion...more of a small transition area to mitigate the awkward space between China and Germany
June 12, 2017 at 4:51 PM · A rollercoaster?! Cheap, cheap cheap, and for thrill riders only. The beauty of Disney is it has many attractions that the family can ride.
June 12, 2017 at 5:27 PM · Am I the only who notices Africa isn't a country? Why is there a continent mixed in with the countries? That has always bugged me. Lol.
June 12, 2017 at 5:27 PM · I think it's funny how you all refer to an E-ticket ride. I still have some. But how many people have to look that up...
June 12, 2017 at 7:03 PM · I'm surprised no one has asked: Does this mean "Impressions de France" will go away?
June 12, 2017 at 7:41 PM · I think it'd be cool to have another country at the World Showcase...maybe Greece (imagine the awesome food!!!) or Australia (I know, it's a continent), or Brazil...?
June 12, 2017 at 11:36 PM · @ Blake

As much as we all love those classic rides, they would simply turn world showcase into Fantasyland 2 and Epcot into Magic Kingdom 2. I know that has already happened to a certain degree with 3 Caballeros and Frozen but I would hope it doesn't spread to every pavilion. Disney needs to be creative and not just lazily plug in their cartoon characters into the pavilions (they have 3 other parks where they can do that). If they can build Everest, Mystic manor and Journey to the Center of the Earth there's no reason why they can't create fresh experiences for Epcot and keep it focused on the older demographic. As a 2nd choice I would much rather they use their live action films (such as Beauty and the Beast or Jungle Book). My 3rd choice would be Pixar (Ratatouille, Big Hero, UP). Leave classic animation to Magic Kingdom. Any way Epcot is Disneys most unique park and I hope it can stay that way.

June 13, 2017 at 2:10 AM · Like MikeW, I am a fan of EPCOT Center (that was the official name at its opening). Of course, Horizons was my favorite ride (it is the future we should have built...). However, and like MikeW, I understand the need to change things and have Epcot out of its identity crisis. I just hope for the best... and that the "golf ball" - sorry, Spaceship Earth - will survive. Not necessarily the ride, but the building itself. So iconic and the Spaceship Earth theme is so relevant now.
June 13, 2017 at 7:34 AM · They removed the inscribed pavers we paid for at the Magic Kingdom entrance, so I'm sure Leave a Legacy will suffer the same fate...
June 13, 2017 at 7:43 AM · I would be really surprised if they cloned the Ratatouille ride as Disney wouldn't want to cannibalize European visitors to DLP. Remember, European vacations to WDW are part of their key profit centers; they'd want those people to want to keep going to DLP for the 'exclusive' ride with the rat.

Having said that, I wouldn't be surprised if they cloned or re-skinned several of the Shanghai Disneyland rides for the EPCOT redo. Since WDW isn't dependent on long-term Asian vacations at WDW for their profits, one could easily imagine several of those rides making their way to Epcot, in one form or another.

With regards to TRON, if they were to port that (and they should,) it would have to be linked to Test Track (inarguably the 'proof of concept' for the TRON ride, yes?) Or, to put this another way, it would be nuts to have two different pavilions featuring the TRON blacklight grid thing competing with one another.

I would expect that when the plans for the EPCOT redo finally surface, they will focus on three and a half things:
1. A fairly comprehensive overhaul of Future World, as really, nearly everything there is quite long in the tooth.
1 and a half. A way to unify Future World into one, seamless, "land" experience, much like the Potters and Avatar. Perhaps the overarching theme is a visit to Nova or whatever that planet was in the first GOTG movie.
2. A way to expand the existing pavilions to include country-appropriate IP. I would expect that this would be done relatively inexpensively, much like they did with the re-skin of Maelstrom into Frozen. They will certainly add some rides here, but since World Showcase "works" as a well-themed shopping, dining, and drinking experience, one can't imagine that they'd mess with that too much.
3. A way to create permanent, dedicated, themed spaces that help with EPCOT being a festival/event park. Right now, Disney is using old pavilions and temporary structures to do this. I would expect that EPCOT would want to add at least one more festival per year, and they could really use the dedicated space because the UK tent thing is just cheap. If it were me, I'd actually solicit big convention events to come to EPCOT.
2.

June 13, 2017 at 8:19 AM · What they really need to do is to spruce up a few things around Future World, and do what Daniel says above. EPCOT is unique in their park dynamic, and is kind of an oasis in the hustle and bustle of lines and rushing around. You can take it easy, get a Gusiness and listen to music, then go watch a 360 degree movie without a line followed by a nice meal. I do not think it needs a major overhaul, and to do so would be a mistake.

What Disney really needs to do in Orlando, and this would solve many issues, is make a fifth gate. Bring Mystic Manor and Center of the Earth, and even add a few thrill rides (but being Disney, nothing too extreme). If they make it an explorer's theme, they could have some walk through areas like Tom Sawyer's Island.

While they have all this money, if they can do it with the Matterhorn, let's go ahead and fix the Yeti too, okay?

June 13, 2017 at 8:42 AM · When I first went to EPCOT Center the place was 100% Edutainment. It was neat, but you felt sort of as though you needed to stand up a little straighter and tuck your shirt in.

Since then that feeling and focus have eroded. Which is regrettable in a way. So the new plans are calling for IPs and thrill rides. I can see Disney trying to turn it into a new more edgy place with a Universal Studios-type hip vibe. Appealing to older kids and young adults would serve a certain Disney demographic.

Remy would work quite well in France as it would support the pavilion restaurants. I like the idea of putting "Snow White's Scary Adventure" into Germany. Or maybe the Snow White walkthrough from Shanghai Disneyland?

All the same, I'm going to listen to "It's Fun to Be Free" on my headphones now...

June 13, 2017 at 8:51 AM · I don't mind IP as long as it fits the theme. Things like the Meet the Robinsons and Phineas and Ferb would fit well at Epcot. And I'd like one long ride (boat or something else) that goes through all of the countries.
June 13, 2017 at 9:15 AM · Honestly, I think porting Ratatouille to WDW would be a mistake. It's a fine ride, and stands out in a continent fairly lacking in top-shelf dark rides. (Symbolica hype begins now though, btw.) But no matter how Disney frame it, visitors to the Orlando market are going to expect something that rivals Spiderman, Flight of Passage and the various Potter experiences - and I'm afraid Ratatouille just isn't that ride.

We all remember the disappointment that followed Seven Dwarves Mine Train, and I fear they'd take a similar blow - but at a significantly higher cost. (The whole Ratatouille expansion supposedly cost somewhere in the region of $250 million. French construction labour costs are admittedly higher, but a hefty sum no matter how you rebalance it.)

And even in Paris, it was generally well-received, but didn't catch fire with the public - attendance actually dropped the year it opened, barely returning to previous levels the year after.

It's also really been suffering from technical problems of late. Which is understandable given it is a technically complex ride, but still likely to give pause to the executives with their fingers on the button.

The obvious World Showcase solution that you're all ignoring is to pick up A Bug's Land when it gets kicked out for DCA's Marvel expansion, put the emphasis on Heimlich... Voila, freebie Germany pavilion expansion. Still makes more sense than Arendelle.

June 13, 2017 at 10:16 AM · I agree with Joe that Phineas and Ferb could be a great addition to Epcot somewhere. In my experience, it has great cross-generational appeal and Disney could really do anything it wants with it. Inside Out is a great addition as well.
June 13, 2017 at 10:43 AM · Phineas and Ferb already kind of exist at EPCOT with the Agent P scavenger hunt game (designed for kids, but can be great fun for adults too). You can also meet and greet them at DHS occasionally. With the show no longer in production though, I doubt you'll see any further application of those characters in the parks.

Disney has been misfiring with their TV shows of late. They gave Miles from Tomorrowland a huge push for a show that was mostly underwhelming. Milo Murphy's Law (from the creators of Phineas and Ferb and starring Weird Al) is decent and in production for a second season. The 8-12 age group is something Disney Channel has long sought to capture, and aside from Star Wars Rebels, they continue to lose big time to Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.

June 13, 2017 at 10:52 AM · Ben,

I don't understand how you can say that a Heimlich attraction makes more sense than Arendelle. The only resemblence to Heimlich has to Germany is his accent. Everything else in A Bug's Life is geared towards "bug culture"--whatever that is. Furthermore, the nondescript setting lends me to believe that it takes place in an American farmland/prairie setting, probably California's farm lands or perhaps vast farmlands as found in the plains of Kansas/Nebraska/Iowa.

It also goes against your theory that you need a marquee e-ticket with thrills to compete. If Frozen is any indication, it's proof that you don't need a high-tech, high-thrill attraction to bring in guests. A strong IP works just as well. To this end, Ratatouille probably isn't the best IP to work with Disney is ONLY looking for turnstile throughput. They'd be much better off with a Beauty and the Beast attraction as that IP is considerably stronger than Ratatouille and has the added benefit of the recently released live-action film.

Regardless, this notion that every new attraction in Orlando needs to be on the same level as HP or Pandora I think is short-sighted and very un-Disney. While Pandora and HP certainly upped the ante in terms of thrill and theme, Disney doesn't just cater to teens and adults. It's one of their strongest characteristics and what has lead to their continued success. I'd actually argue that Disney's staple is the long, slow, high-capacity, elaborate dark ride. This is their format. Most everything else Disney does is either in response to competition from Universal (see Avatar/SWL/GotG), or truncated thrills where high-intensity is sacrificed/mitigated by heavy themeing.

The most well-known and discussed attractions in the history of Themed Design have been the large-scale Disney dark rides. PotC, The Haunted Mansion, It's a Small World, and to a lesser extent attractions like Horizons, Spaceship Earth, Journey Into Imagination, and the classic Fantasyland Dark Rides. This is what Disney does best so adding more of these, I think, is the best route for EPCOT to go, at least as far as the World Pavilion is concerned.

June 13, 2017 at 11:14 AM · The day they added Nemo was the start of the decline. For me, Epcot has no room for Disney/Pixar characters. They can saturate every other park and part of WDW for this.....which they do. I would much rather they completely redesign Future World with a host of thrill attractions, jettisoning the educational messages and leaving World Showcase to simply be that - a showcase for each nation represented. No gimmicks, no IPs, no silly "en-vogue" characters and banal "meet & greets". Add a couple of new nations. UAE or Saudi Arabia? Russia? Brazil? Switzerland with an updated Matterhorn? Add more high ended specialist retail associated with each nation. For Future World, get rid of everything other than Spaceship Earth and Test Track then replace them with things which will blow our minds!!
June 13, 2017 at 11:29 AM · I would like to see the following;

Wall-e attraction about the environment and it conservation.

Inside out attraction about the human brain.

Moana attraction fitted in to the world showcase highlighting the pacific islands.

Mulan show in China

Port the Disney Land Paris Ratatouille ride in to France.

I'm not sure our Scottish cousins would appreciate a Brave themed attraction in England. Mary Poppins would make more sense.


June 13, 2017 at 1:31 PM · I'm a big fan of Tomorrowland, the pretty underrated movie, and I like it's air of optimism, and the evolution of technology, pulling us way back to the 19th century with Edison, Verne, et al, through the present and into the future. If the world history of technology, and even the arts, could be shared in an exciting way, that would be a huge educational accomplishment. And potentially a lot of fun. Steampunk is still with us, and since I may never get to Tokyo DisneySea, I'd love to see an iteration of Journey to the Center of the Earth in Orlando. Could the Imagination pavillion take something from the Tomorrowland movie? Could the world of art be presented in an exciting and seductive way like the 3 minute flash cut film presented to Classical Gas on the Smothers Bros. show? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viyufRQKlto
If the goal is to stimulate fresh ideas and concern for the planet, then that might give the planning a meaningful direction.
June 13, 2017 at 3:10 PM · So WDW is turning slowly but steady into movie park 1, 2, 3 and 4 with other confusing theme's in the mix. It's so disappointing that the original vision (not the city but what it was when the park opened) is thrown out of the window for Movie Marketing Merchandise.

Well the Disney California Tower of kitsch was all about energy so I guess that "story" line could be copied to the Universe of Energy. I think it's a great fit now I think about it.
And about that hotel entrance...once side is the view of a magical parking lot and the other side it a giant golf ball. Not sure how much fun that will be.

June 13, 2017 at 4:46 PM · Steve,

Maybe it's time for Disney to resurrect the old Discovery Bay concepts and re purpose them for the Future World Pavilion. It's a concept which is both grounded in history, science, and a little bit of fantasy and seems to match up with EPCOT's original intended goal. Maybe leave the East End of Future World for 'futuristic' attractions and the west end for the Discovery Bay re-skin? They could even redo Soarin' again to make it an Around the World in 80 days attraction.

June 13, 2017 at 7:56 PM · Discovery Bay was done. We don't need it back. The whole steam punk look is outdated. The best example was Tokyo DisneySeas with the volcano that hosted two major rides. They can't shoe horn this into EPCOT. The worst example of Discovery Bay re-skin was Disneyland Tomorrowland 1998. A mere paint job, a new relocated Astro Orbitor, Rocket Rods, and a granite water ball. I think you'll likely get Tomorrowland instead of DisneySea.

I prefer they redo the Innoventions buildings and the fountain as an new separate land that has no limitations in theming. Leave the surrounding pavilions alone although I expect Imagination and Energy to be replaced.

June 13, 2017 at 9:09 PM · I agree about a redo on Innoventions. I picture a theme based on the four elements of water, earth, air and fire lined up with Seas, Land, Space, and Energy. I transforming ride vehicle would float, tunnel, fly, and role through the four areas. If the whole entrance and Energy is changed this wouldn't make sense to me anymore.
June 13, 2017 at 9:40 PM · What about having an inside out attraction to replace Journey into Imagination??
June 13, 2017 at 11:03 PM · In reference to DisneySea...a clone of that park should be the eventual fifth gate at WDW. Hey, a man can dream, can't he?
June 14, 2017 at 7:10 AM · I agree with Yeowser, An Inside Out attraction would be an awesome attraction to replace Journey to Imagination. (If done right with a proper budget) The entire front; middle of the park needs to be updated. Let's just do away with any "Future" World. EPCOT as a park was built to "educate" well, we have Google and Youtube if you want to learn about anything. The park needs to focus on highly themed areas that entertain. Also....for the love of god PLEASE bring back Christmas decorations and lights. The last time I was there it was 1 tree and multiple light poles with wreaths on it.....NOT GOOD!
June 14, 2017 at 9:57 AM · Anton,

Discovery Bay concepts were used in the 98 TL refurb and it was largely a negative. But you're also leaving out the fact that it was also used to create DLP's DiscoveryLand, which is a beautiful and unique land.

There's also many concepts from Discovery Bay which have yet to see the light of day such as the Edison Square portion, the Dirigible Facade and ride which housed The Island at the Top of the World attraction, and The Lost World attraction. Of of these things can still line up well with EPCOT's theme and vision.

June 14, 2017 at 11:29 AM · Blake: Tomorrowland 98 was a direct result of a shoehorn of Discovery Bay. Thus, you're not going to get DLP's Discoveryland until the entire land is demolished and started over.

Discovery Bay won't work with Epcot's Future World because they require complete re-invention. The discovery theme only goes so far and I doubt it will last beyond 2 major attractions. It will also clash with Future World's existing theme of industrial buildings. In fact, Future World has already moved forward with unique themes for each pavilion like Space, Test Track, and Nemo's Living Seas.

Future World doesn't mix with Past World as how I'll define Discovery Bay.

As a footnote, the original Living Seas Pavilion displayed some old scuba diving gear in the queue. This stuff went away after the Nemo remodel. I doubt they will reinvent Nemo as steam punk with the old scuba diving gear. It likely went to Tokyo DisneySeas where they display it in the 20K Leagues Under The Sea queue. Will Nemo then be Captain Nemo the Clownfish?

June 14, 2017 at 11:28 AM · Why make Epcot an expansion of MK??? Why can't it be a park targeting other type of audience? Fantasyland took over MK, then DHS, IOA, USF and now AK. Why transform EPCOT to another fantasyland park???

By the way, that fact that are people suggesting an Aladin Show on Morocco pavilion reforces the reason why Epcot MUST remain educational...

June 14, 2017 at 11:29 AM · Can you speak to the rumors about a new pavilion? I've heard both Brazil and Spain are the leading candidates.
June 16, 2017 at 1:28 PM · IPs in EPCOT is one of the worst moves Disney has done to any of their theme parks.

RIP EPCOT, you were once so great.

June 16, 2017 at 3:27 PM · That golf ball needs to go.

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