Disney World confirms site for Epcot's new space-themed restaurant

May 9, 2018, 10:55 AM · Walt Disney World today confirmed the site of its new space-themed restaurant in Epcot's Future World that it announced last summer at the D23 Expo in Anaheim.

The restaurant, which is yet to be named publicly, will go into a new building to be constructed on the space between Mission: Space and Test Track. Here's the Google Street View of the site:

Disney's concept art of the table service restaurant shows a semi-circular dining room, dominated by "windows" looking out into space. Whether those will be animated windows or static images remained to be seen.

Disney also revealed that the restaurant will be operated by Patina Group, which operates 13 other restaurants at the Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts, including Tutto Italia and Via Napoli at Epcot. No word yet on an opening date.

Walt Disney World is in the midst of a major construction boom, with the new Star Wars: Galaxy's edge land coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios next year, and a Star Wars-themed hotel arriving next to that park at some point after that.

In Epcot, Disney is building Paris' Ratatouille ride in the France pavilion and building a new Guardians of the Galaxy-themed roller coaster in the old Universe of Energy pavilion. At D23, Disney also dropped new concept art for a reimagined entry plaza for the park, which is planned to include new hotels at the park's entrance. The Epcot overhaul is a phased project, with the first phase expected to be complete by the park's 40th anniversary, in 2022.

Replies (36)

May 9, 2018 at 11:26 AM ·

Novelty can only go so far, especially if they are going to charge premium prices, which is the norm for most EPCOT restaurants. The Coral Reef used to be the one of the most coveted ADRs in WDW, but their quality has slipped and the uniqueness of eating next to an aquarium tank has worn off. The same will befall this restaurant if Disney/Patina cannot maintain high standards and an interesting, seasonal menu. I'm not sure if anyone was asking for this in Future World, but it sounds like we're getting it.

I'd much rather see Disney focus on fixing Imagination, Innoventions, and reworking Wonders of Life than constructing another building for an unnecessary restaurant (especially in the light that hotels and more table service restaurants will be located steps away at EPCOT's front gate).

May 9, 2018 at 11:28 AM ·

Dining in the exciting realm of the Willing Suspension of Disbelief. Such an unusual concept. I'm looking forward to seeing more specifics, but I still think I'd prefer to go to one of the fine dining locations in World Showcase. What I keep waiting for is the attachment of an IP to this concept.
Will it be purely science based, or will we occasionally see Wall-E and Eve jet by?

May 9, 2018 at 12:42 PM ·

I am more intereted in dining locations like California Grill. A beautiful dining room that doesn't take away from the amazing food coming out of that kitchen. These heavly themed and tacky concepts do not interest me in the slightest. IF the food is not high quality than no thanks. To that end... looking at all the other gimmicky restaurants at Disney World I can't think of a single one that I've enjoyed dining at.

May 9, 2018 at 12:02 PM ·

@Rob - That's what I think is really weird about this, especially now that they've identified the location, between 2 non-IP bound pavilions. Clearly a restaurant like this would be a perfect fit for the Star Wars Hotel or even something inside Galaxy's Edge. Even if they put this inside Energy/GOTG or next to the new attraction it would make logical sense. If they wanted to leave it unbound to IP, why not use vacant space within Mission: Space, which is what everyone assumed when this concept was thrown out there. As a stand alone building between 2 established pavilions, this really becomes a head-scratcher.

Will they force an IP in there (Marvel, Star Wars, or Pixar) that is incongruous, or will they leave it unbound? Putting GOTG in Energy, really changes the tone of Future World (way more than adding Nemo to Living Seas), but does it allow Disney to break all the rules with this, or do they have an obligation to maintain the reality/plausibility that Future World has always represented?

May 9, 2018 at 12:06 PM ·

It is just a simple way of getting Star Wars into Epcot without any major overhaul. Quite clever when you think about.

May 9, 2018 at 12:14 PM ·

I don't think they're putting Star Wars in here. Aside from souvenirs, Star Wars at WDW has been limited to DHS and Disney Springs. Star Wars characters don't appear anywhere in the other parks, not even in nighttime shows and parades. I think trying to wedge Star Wars into this restaurant would not only be disingenuous to the spirit of EPCOT (granted GOTG has already broken that), but would undercut whatever they decide to do with Galaxy's Edge and the Star Wars Hotel, unless this is considered an alternative if a similar restaurant at the Star Wars Hotel was exclusive to hotel guests ONLY.

I just don't see them doing Star Wars here. What I would be worried about would be astronaut Mickey and Pluto flying around rightfully giggling at guests while they're eating $75 prime rib.

May 9, 2018 at 12:23 PM ·

Fair points Russell.

May 9, 2018 at 12:24 PM ·

It's obvious that they spent some money researching for the windows they will be placing in the Star Wars Hotel. Got to maximize the product. And I don't mind, this restaurant looks like a blast.

May 9, 2018 at 12:32 PM ·

Wall-E with levitating lounge chairs would be the IP tie-in.

May 9, 2018 at 1:01 PM ·

Good one Anton - But if they give you the goggles and the extra large cup of nutrition, there's no need to have any interior design, since everything would be VR with a molecular gastronomy menu.

May 9, 2018 at 1:11 PM ·

Universal = Screen-based rides
Disney = Screen-based restaurant

May 9, 2018 at 1:30 PM ·

Another large table service restaurant to handle the massive crowds Epcot is going to get when Guardians, New Illuminations, Imagination replacement, etc start raking in the crowds. I don't see anything wrong with that.

May 9, 2018 at 2:17 PM ·

I want to see the Internet explode if Disney announces the name for the restaurant is... "Horizons."

May 9, 2018 at 2:23 PM ·

All of these incredible expansions at EPCOT are not only going to draw theme park visitors, they're going to make the WDW resort seem dynamic and exciting. This remarkable restaurant -- along with the expansions at MK, DAK, DHS and DSTP -- will likely increase the number of new DVC subscribers resulting in long term patronage across the property.

May 9, 2018 at 2:25 PM ·

Oh the bitter irony. Disney announces details of what will likely be one of themed entertainment's most exceptional dining experiences on the same day UO announces Emeril's is tanking.

May 9, 2018 at 2:37 PM ·

Inside Mission Space would be cool. It would be sorta the Blue Bayou in POTC if they changed the ride to end at a space station. I think calling it Horizons would be a nice nod, but I get the irony.

May 9, 2018 at 3:10 PM ·

Emeril's closing was announced a long time ago.

I thought the Space restaurant would work better in Wonder of Life building. I guess we have to wait longer to find out what goes in there.

I just hope the restaurant won't do a number of things that I hate about Space and transport. The air pressure is ringing my ears. The food tastes horrible no matter how well prepared. Traveling ruins your taste buds. Your food tastes like cardboard regardless. You get vertigo. The seats are uncomfortably hard. Look like a TV dinner.

May 9, 2018 at 3:43 PM ·

Universal's statement on Emeril's dropped today

May 9, 2018 at 4:27 PM ·

Barry, let's refrain from name calling.

May 9, 2018 at 4:57 PM ·

I, for one, think this is a great idea and really look forward to it. I have had lots of really good meals at Disney, and, while I have been negative here on them about certain things, food has never been one of them. If you don't like the themed places like this, you can go to a different spot, but I love them.

May 9, 2018 at 5:33 PM ·

City walk is doing fine TH who needs Emerils .
Voooddoooo donuts alone is probably making more that emerils ever did , judging by the pink boxes everywhere and queues outside .
I am really looking forward to this EPCOT restaurant , it will help update the futuristic part of the park. That is in desperate need of updating .

May 9, 2018 at 7:45 PM ·

Team Disney Orlando’s research offers FACTS that support this $$$ making expansion.

My nephew is EXCITED to eat here. My niece still prefers Be Our Guest.

May 9, 2018 at 9:40 PM ·

Emeril had two restaurants at Universal Orlando. This is his second and probably last restaurant. Don’t be mean. Wolfgang Puck closed a few restaurants at Disney.

May 10, 2018 at 3:59 AM ·

Unless I am mistaken (and I certainly may be), the restaurants being mentioned at Universal were not run or managed by the theme parks, but by third party vendors. The restaurants in the parks at Disney are run by Disney. Is that true? I know the hotels at UO are run by Lowes and the City Walk are by whoever owns them. This could be why the big name chefs pull out, due to the challenges of getting food suppliers at the necessary quality and volume at those locations. I am sure they charge the theme parks a massive premium, and if Disney runs all its restaurants, then they can negotiate better with the food suppliers in bulk than the individual restaurants can.

May 10, 2018 at 6:20 AM ·

Let's get the facts straight here.

Emeril's Tschoup Chop located at the Royal Pacific Resort announced that it was closing last summer, and ultimately closed early last fall.

Emeril's (Lagasse's signature steak-based restaurant at CityWalk) officially announced yesterday that it would be closing after months of rumors. This restaurant was one of the first tenants of CityWalk when it opened in 1999, so it's been a fixture for nearly 20 years. To say this is "ironic" is just typical trolling from TH, who seems to overlook the bevy of originals from Downtown Disney that have been long gone or have tried to reinvent themselves multiple times (Planet Hollywood anyone??). Also, I'm not sure how the announcing of a specific location for a restaurant INSIDE a theme park (one that was already announced last year) offers any irony to the closing of a restaurant at an entertainment complex that has been rumored to be ending its run for a while now.

To be clear, almost all of the table service restaurants at Disney Springs AND CityWalk are managed/operated by 3rd Party restaurant companies. However, this new space-themed restaurant is an increasingly common (and what I think is becoming disturbing) trend of farming out operation and management of in-park table service restaurants to 3rd Party companies. It does seem that Patina has a very strong relationship with Disney, and will work with Imagineers to ensure the menu remains authentic to the concept and is managed to Disney's standards. However, it should be noted that when this opens, there will be almost as many sit down restaurants in EPCOT operated by 3rd parties as there are by Disney. It's a disappointing trend that devalues the experience and strength of the Disney Culinary team.

May 10, 2018 at 8:22 AM ·

Anton M.: "Wolfgang Puck closed a few restaurants at Disney."

THC: True story. But then a new Wolfgang Puck restaurant (as well as the new Jaleo restaurant) is under construction at DSTP. Very exciting!

May 10, 2018 at 9:07 AM ·

...and it will be exciting to see what CityWalk puts in Emeril's spot (a very visible location BTW). Maybe Universal can do something Disney was unable to do, and get Jose Andres to develop an original concept, instead of replicating his successful tapas concept for the 5th time. I'm within a 45 minute drive of 3 different Jaleos (as well as 7 other JA concepts), so call me unexcited by this particular development as well as another generic Puck restaurant.

May 10, 2018 at 9:29 AM ·

I know, right?! Along with the new Jaleo and Puck restaurants the new addition to CityWalk will likely be exceptional. DSTP and CityWalk are now and always will be exceptional experiences for locals and vacationers.

May 10, 2018 at 9:26 AM ·

And by the way a NEW Jose Andres would be great at CityWalk! It's fantastic the way so many exceptional culinary talents are increasing their presence at the theme parks. From back at the opening of EPCOT when Paul Paul Bocuse, Gaston Lenôtre and Roger Verge opened their restaurant in France, thru Emeril's arrival at CityWalk and Todd English at the Dolphin. The continued work of Wolfgang Puck. The arrival of Chef Morimoto, Art Smith and Rick Bayless at DSTP. It's very exciting that there is a trend wherein the theme parks are not resting on their laurels and becoming dependent soley on the vision of their in-house culinary teams.

May 10, 2018 at 10:27 AM ·

It's everywhere now TH, and frankly it's getting out of control. Tourist destinations are being littered with these restaurants from celebrity chefs instead of home-grown talent. Look at Las Vegas. If you're not a celebrity chef, you can't get the time of day from a hotel/casino, developer, or property owner. It's really sad that cities are unable to develop and praise their own talent and highlight cuisines unique to their geography. Now we have Disney and Universal with lists of internal culinary talent a mile long following the same played out celebrity concept template.

Obviously business must be good if they keep building more and more restaurants in these tourist centers, but I would really like to see at least a small focus on local talent and cuisines instead of constantly relying on heavy hitters that rarely touch these tourist outposts far from their home bases. It's certainly a step up from the Bubba Gumps, Rainforest Cafes, and Planet Hollywoods of the world, but I would really like to see both Disney and Universal be more bold instead of playing it safe with redubs and carbon copies of successful eateries from other cities.

I find it sad that parks are devaluing their home grown culinary talent in favor of these celebrity chefs that are only licensing their face and cookbooks for a paycheck. Both chains (and even Sea World/Busch Gardens) have incredible in-house talent that when given the chance to shine would bring far more credibility and authenticity to their respective resorts. If I worked on the Disney Culinary Team, I'd be pretty upset that they continue to farm out concepts to outside companies. Moves like this will continue to degrade morale within the individual teams, and quash any creativity from the experienced leaders that may have amazing ideas beyond these carbon copy celebrity concepts. Supporting these celebrity outposts at Disney Springs and CityWalk is like supporting the cloning of rides around the world. Yes, it makes good business sense, but from a fan perspective, it's diluting the product and reducing the influence/impact of creative people inside the companies. I'm honestly surprised TH that you would actually support the outsourcing of restaurants over developing, encouraging, and utilizing in-house talent.

May 10, 2018 at 10:48 AM ·

I wish they would utilize the Odyssey restaurant. It makes me sad every time I pass by it because I had great memories of going there as a child. I know it's used for convention/event functions, but I would love to see it up and running.

May 10, 2018 at 11:07 AM ·

Sadly, I think the kitchen in the Odyssey has been turned into an equipment storage area. Granted it was during the EPCOT F&W Festival, but I peeked in there through an open door, and what used to be a fully equipped commercial kitchen had a few prep tables, a handful of hotboxes plugged in, and a bunch of other equipment that had problem tags taped to the front.

The Odyssey is in an odd spot in the park for a restaurant given the proximity of the World Showcase, but I was always perplexed why they bothered to maintain yet another special events space (in addition to the Showplace Pavilion, Wonders of Life, American Adventure Lounge, and Future World Corporate lounges).

It really doesn't make any sense why Disney feels the need to build an entirely new building for this restaurant. Maybe they have a longer play in mind here here with an eye to a revamped Future World layout, but on the surface, this announcement is very strange.

May 10, 2018 at 12:06 PM ·

Wait ... There's evidence that there is currently a degradation of morale within the Disney and Universal culinary teams and it's been directly linked to the addition of restaurants at places like DSTP that are owned and operated by outside restauranteurs? Where can we find documentation of this trend?

May 11, 2018 at 1:18 AM ·

TB: You can find it on the plates at any of the restaurants within the parks that Disney operates. The culinary teams either have low morale or just aren't good.

May 11, 2018 at 5:02 AM ·

Russell, I agree with the celebrity chef assessment. Without naming names, I ate at one on a business trip and it was downright awful. They are basically chains with a name slapped on. I see no reason for a theme park to court a celebrity chef for anything inside a park. The only reason it is done outside the park is marketing. Inside the park it should be all about fun. I will give three examples, and the food is not superb, and in two examples it is only fair, but everyone should try them: Three Three Broomsticks, The Sci-Fi Dine in Theater, and the German restaurant in EPCOT. In my opinion only the German restaurant has good food, but if you cannot have fun in those restaurants, I feel sorry for you. The Moroccan restaurant is always a great place to eat at EPCOT, and is generally forgotten. The thing is that they have unique THEMES that make them fun. The celebrity chef restaurant and the places at the shopping areas, you can go to anywhere. I cannot find any restaurant near me where I can watch terrible b-movie trailers at a drive in while drinking a milk shake.

May 11, 2018 at 6:40 AM ·

That's not what I said TH. I said that if I worked on the Disney Culinary Team, I'd be pretty upset that Disney continues to go the celebrity chef and the 3rd party operation/management route for concepts instead of trusting in their in-house talent. I even draw a comparison to Imagineers that may feel slighted if cloned/off-the-shelf attractions were constantly turned to over original concepts and attractions designed in-house. It can't be good for morale to constantly see your work and passion farmed out to 3rd party vendors (I've personally been in that situation before and have seen the affect it has on a talented team first hand).

I did not say that it was happening, but that it's possible it COULD happen, and that Disney is perhaps undercutting and minimizing their in-house talent by constantly turning to outside firms/vendors, especially for products INSIDE the theme parks. TH, as someone who, as I understand it, has worked on the creative side of theme park design, how would you feel if your work was overlooked, ignored, or reduced in favor of turning to outside companies and firms?

It would be one thing if Disney didn't already have an enormously successful and established culinary team or one that was overworked and spread too thin to operate and manage these new eateries. However, I don't think that's the case, and Disney is instead trying to get more bang for their buck by piggybacking on name recognition and celebrity instead of relying on the talent and creativity of their in-house talent. Disney built an empire based on their internal creativity and talent, yet they have increasingly looked outside their organization to develop and execute projects. I work for a very large engineering firm and it constantly bothers me when I see our business leaders choosing to look outwardly for solutions that could be more efficiently, economically, and effectively solved using internal staff. I would not be surprised that some within Disney feel the same way when decisions like this are made.

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