EPCOT Disappointment

November 9, 2015, 12:36 PM

Last Thursday, my dad and I made a one-day trip from Tampa over to EPCOT. I spent a LOT of time at EPCOT at a kid in the '90's, and remember it fondly. I loved the Wonders of Life pavilion as well as Journey Into Imagination, and Spaceship Earth was always on the top of my list.

However, on this visit I came away feeling a bit underwhelmed. Spaceship Earth is still a classic, but the park definitely seems like a shadow of what it used to be. Much of the park is exactly as it was 15 years ago, and some attractions are just permanently closed. Test Track is a nice diversion, but I don't even bother with Mission: Space. Soarin' is nice too, but the line is always way longer than necessary (the addition will help I'm sure). If it weren't for the World Showcase, I don't know what all would be left of interest.

But, more importantly, I don't sense the Disney magic in this park. It seems like a park without a strong identity. I have visited the other WDW parks recently and felt very much like I was on the Disney property, but I don't get the same feeling in EPCOT.

This is not a post intended to take down a Disney park, but I do wonder what others' thoughts are on this park who have visited it recently. Do others feel this way? Am I just spouting a bunch of baloney? And what does EPCOT do to get back on track?

Replies (16)

November 9, 2015, 4:26 PM

EPCOT needs a lot of help. A LOT OF HELP.

November 9, 2015, 7:49 PM

Epcot just needs a little bit more of Disney IP in the future world , for example mission space should get replaced by tron, the whole seas pavilion be changed to a mind pavilion themed to inside out, maybe add a few more countries, and kind of retheme the whole soarin area to an exploration pavilion with UP or something along those lines.

November 9, 2015, 9:11 PM

To me the answer is not to add more Disney characters to the park. Epcot was very successful for many years with almost zero presence of Disney characters. The park was focused on science, technology, and the world. It wasn't exactly the Epcot that Walt envisioned, but it was still very much inspired on his original vision.

Now the park has been open for over 30 years, and while the park has not been stagnant, having a future theme requires more updating than Disney has been willing to spend on its parks. In the late 90s, cost cutting measures made the parks more profitable at the moment, but scarified long term profitability by putting off necessary investment in all of its theme parks, especially DCA, but that's a different subject.

Future World needs to close completely so it can be totally updated. Instead of being focused on the future, it has become focused on science and technology. Future World needs a new name to reflect this, and everything needs to be updated. Add 2 new rides as phase 1 of the new Future World, update all the existing rides, and plan on more new rides for the upcoming years.

The World Showcase needs more attractions, and they should not involve Disney characters. Finally add a Gondola ride to Italy and other abandoned ride concepts that were considered too expensive during the Eisner era, update the films, and expand or add pavilions. Restrict alchool to restaurants to make it a more family atmosphere.

Epcot is a great park but it shows its age. Disney just needs to update it to be as fresh and exciting as it was when it was brand new. Epcot has become the most outdated park because its theme requires frequent updating. One thing I do think the park needs is references to Walt himself. To him Epcot wasn't just another theme park, it was a continuing experiment for testing new ideas and inspiring people. Even though the park is greatly different than his idea, it should still celebrate his vision and evolve to fascinate and inspire a new generation. The parks theme should be about discovery, learning about science and technology, and cultures around the world. It should be about the two things Walt was most passionate about at the end of his life.

November 10, 2015, 6:10 AM

Interesting points Randy. I agree that one of the greatest factors leading to EPCOT's feeling of being out of date is Future World. A decade or two ago, this part of the park was exciting because it dreamed of a future full of promise and updates in technology. However, the future has arrived and the park hasn't changed. As a result, visiting the park feels an awful lot like visiting the future of the past. It would be better to either change the focus to the latest technology of today or to find ways to continue to dream big about what the future has in store.

I actually agree with Giovanny about incorporating more Disney IP. While it is admirable to hang onto Walt's original vision, I feel that at the end of the day EPCOT is another Disney park and should exist for the purpose of bringing people closer to Disney characters. The park could still showcase technology and international culture with these characters. I can't help but wonder how much more I would be invested in Test Track if a Disney character was guiding me through the "testing", or if Mickey narrated my way through the Great American Adventure. Although, that's not the same thing as a fictional place taking over a pavilion, such as is the case with Frozen.

November 10, 2015, 7:55 AM

I'm not opposed to Disney characters at Epcot, but it needs to be done carefully. With the energy theme of Monsters Inc for example, Mike and Sully would be great for an update of Energy Adventure. The Seas is also a good home for Nemo, but I think real fish need to be the star of the attraction. Disney can and should use its characters where it makes sense, but they should not be as prominent as they are at other Disney parks. The focus should be about science and technology, and Disney characters should only be used as hosts.

The World Showcase is the last place a Disney character should be found. A meet and greet is one thing, a ride is another story. I hope Frozen dosen't last for too long, but knowing how slow Disney has been isn't the greatest sign it will be go men in 10 years, unless they open a better one somewhere else. If it remains popular, the Frozen land being built at Disney Sea would be great for Hollywood Studios, and Norway could be given back its Epcot home.

November 11, 2015, 11:52 AM

Unless they can bring back Horizon and the original Journey to Imagination Epcot is so loss. I know this is not popular, but the IP brand for rides is the future. But unlike the band-aid of pasting Pixar onto the rides isn't it. I have a feeling Star Wars will be part of the future of Future World, because Brad Braids Tomorrowland didn't win over the box office to save both Tomorrowland and Epcot Future World to remain ip free and be more original. I see a lot of Marvel too to help Epcot Future World. Maybe we get a Marvel Horizon ride. World of Showcase problem for me is Rides! That area NEEEDs Rides! I'm not alway's looking to the next meal or shopping center when I got to a theme park and that's what showcase is. If one IP I wish Disney will get to help World of Showcase would be a Mr Toad 2.0 ride or a James Bond attraction on the UK pavilion. Those Bond movies are so international with the traveling he does, it could be easily shared with the other courntry pavilions.

November 11, 2015, 2:40 PM

The main problem with Epcot is the fact that it is greeting quite old with not many new refurbishments. What Epcot needs is for Disney to pump more money into it to improve it like they did with california adventure or new fantasyland.
Albeit though, Epcot is still a very good park as it is different mainly because of the showcase. Future world is still quite good though, test track and soarin get huge queues and are some of the best rides at disney world then there is mission space but that's is about as good as it get. Spaceship earth is allright though it needs a big refurbishment as it is getting dated, that goes the same for the universe of energy ride aswell, all it needs is to be refurbished and redone to bring it up to today's ideas of tommorow. The seas pavilion is good, and the finding memo ride is quite fun, obviously when finding dory comes up, hopefully it will be updated. Living with the land is also decent but could do with a couple of updates. Finally, Figment- that's about enough said. No, I do like the figment ride but it isn't up to the standards of a good disney ride, what they should do is just get rid of it and put the iron man expo in there with the iron man experience ride from Hong Kong. Also to improve future land, they should put in maybe a tron themed land where horizons used to be to kind of update the whole park, and also it will be good to get a roller coaster in Epcot.

Moving onto world showcase, personally, I think it is really good, as I really enjoy it when I am there as it is something different. However there are still something's that could be redone, for example they should really make more rides for each pavilion ( I'm not really fussed about this but I think that more rides based on ips will be better for epcot) first of all I would copy the ratatouille dark ride from paris and put it in the France pavilion, then maybe a Peter Pan ride in london to name a couple. This would really help epcot to become a great park again.

November 11, 2015, 3:26 PM

The truth is, I don't think Epcot needs a large amount of intellectual properties to succeed as a park. In the 1980s, Epcot was a sucsess without overloading on attractions off of Disney films and properties.

It is true that Epcot does need a DCA-style rebuild from almost scratch, but it doesn't feel like properties like Tron, Iron Man, Pixar, ands Frozen really fit into the message of the park. It should be an almost IP free park focusing on education and entertainment, with a few exceptions.

November 11, 2015, 3:31 PM

I'd be happy just to see Disney lose "Leave a Legacy" and create a more inviting entryway into the park.

Edited: November 12, 2015, 2:11 PM

Epcot is a hot mess and needs a ton of improvement.

What so many of you "back to future" folks are forgetting is that when Epcot was more successful it was the only alternative to the Magic Kingdom for theme park fans in the Orlando area. Now it has to compete with 4 newer parks for patrons with two of those parks (USO and IOA) already far superior to Epcot and the other two (AK and DHS), once they are upgraded, soon to outshine Epcot too.

So, forget about holding the line. Add more IP of any type and bring in the costumed characters. Do a total makeover of Future World even to the extent of re-naming it, so Disney doesn't have to constantly fight the never-ending battle of trying to update the future. And for the sake of everything that is good, add some rides and attractions to World Showcase to make that trek around the lake worthwhile! Plain old movies and a few animatronic characters do not a theme park make!

And to echo Robert, the only "graveyard" in Disney World should be at the Haunted Mansion. "Leave a Legacy" just leaves me depressed.

November 12, 2015, 3:08 PM

Epcot needs an expansion or something like Animal Kingdom and DHS are getting. Future World needs to be updated, and there needs to be something to do in the World Showcase besides walk and eat.
Oh, and replacing Maelstrom with Frozen was NOT a smart move.

Edited: November 13, 2015, 1:41 PM

EPCOT the World Showcase is popular, especially during food and wine fest. The Journey into imagination pavilion desperately needs a redo, a prime expample of minusing versus the plussing Disney is famous for. The limitations of sponsorship are the root cause of many dated aspects of EPCOT. When sponsorship works well for instance Siemens for Spaceship Earth, you get a quality project. As sponsorship languishes World of Energy and whatever is happening with Imagination Pavilion is the result. Keeping current is a cosntant battle.

November 13, 2015, 12:55 PM

C'mon, Bob. Are you saying that Disney can't keep Epcot relevant because they lack sponsorship money? Why not blame the real culprit in the problems at Epcot - Disney?

The five major problems with Epcot are:
1. It was designed as a Frankenstein's monster of a theme park,
2. It's expensive to keep up with the future - especially when you don't want to spend any money,
3. It seriously lacks the IP that Disney consumers expect from their Disney parks,
4. After the Magic Kingdom, there are two theme parks better than it in Central Florida, and when the upgrades to AK and DHS are done, there will be four theme parks better than it in Orlando, and
5. Worst of all, Disney has been flat out cheap when it comes to making investments in this park.

Sponsorships can't solve these problems; only Disney can.

November 13, 2015, 2:53 PM

I'm not understanding some of the hate....Epcot (it's no longer all capital letters) is still a wonder. World Showcase at night (especially during Food and Wine) cannot be beat. That said, there are some things Epcot can do to improve and to gain the shine it once had:

1. Incorporate the Walt Disney TV program/model/set/etc about Walt's original Epcot plans right up front, and truly make this "Walt's Park." Take it out of Disney Studios and put it where it belongs: Epcot. Make an entire Entrance Pavilion from it. Use it to create a "Main Street" type entrance for Epcot.

2. I'm with Robert -- LOSE the horrid Leave a Legacy. If people complain, give them a refund for their contribution to this ridiculous, ugly eyesore. This is where the Walt's Epcot Main Street should be.

3. Change "Future World" into more of "Land of Discovery" or even "Walt's World's Fair," or something like that. I agree that trying to always update "the future" is just setting yourself up for failure. See what Tomorrowland did at Magic Kingdom. They did it right, by creating a more fanciful version of tomorrow.

4. LIMIT the original Disney IP, using it only where appropriate....so many people keep saying "just add more Disney characters." Whatever happened to the good ole' imagination and ingenuity that created the original Space Mountain, Big Thunder Railroad, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Small World, and all the other ORIGINAL attractions that did not require a cartoon character to make it interesting. We need more of those (Expedition Everest being the best recent example!). I'm not saying don't include Disney IP, but do it sparingly. And to the person that suggested an Inside Out theme for the Living Seas -- um, have you ever been there? It's already been re-themed to Finding Nemo. Expect some good promotions for Finding Dory.

5. DO DO DO replace the attractions that are permanently closed with something else. The Wonders of Life Pavilion is just BEGGING for a new attraction(s)....go ahead and use Disney IP there But make sure it's GOOD IP, and not some fly-by-night film that dies away in one year.

6. Add a country. Maybe two. Epcot would get ALOT of attention with new countries, especially if they're done right.

7. Bring back a night-time parade around World Showcase....the Millennium celebration parade was wondrous! Loved it...use your Disney characters here -- especially considering there are so many international characters now, including from the films Moana, Jungle Book, Alice thru the Looking Glass, Finding Dory, not to mention the existing gems with international casts, such as Aladdin, Brave, Ratatouille, Three Cabelleros, Lion King, Mulan, Frozen, and more.

8. Innoventions should go away, because like we said, it's just too hard to keep up....make it more of a "Discovery" zone, with more fun stuff. Or even celebrate all the great inventors from the past...all the way back to....as far back as we can remember. I'd love that. And create an attraction there. Maybe even showcase the best from the World's Fairs of the past...since Epcot is sort of a world's fair, go with that theme fully.

9. And whatever you do, DO NOT limit the alcohol to just the restaurants...drinking around the world (for good or ill) is a real draw for lots of adults who enjoy Disney immensely without kids. Sure, Epcot needs to feel completely Disney, but it can also be the place where adults LOVE to play.

November 21, 2015, 1:05 PM

Totally agree with J. Dana.

November 22, 2015, 4:00 PM

Well, "Frozen Ever After" should be an upgrade to the struggling park. "Soarin' over the Horizon" will be an upgrade as well. Disney should bring the ratatouille ride from Disneyland Paris, and insert it in the France section of the park.

I still love "Spaceship Earth," and "The American Adventure," but I agree, the park is dated. Since they are building the Frozen ride, maybe they could make the area into a Frozen Themed land? Similar to the one being constructed in Tokyo Disney Sea.

A Frozen theme land, Including the Frozen ride, the new Soarin'c and the Ratatouille ride would be a good start to augment Epcot.

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