The new concept art shows the gardens and locations that will go into the space behind Spaceship Earth on guests' way to the World Showcase lagoon.
A new CommuniCore Plaza outdoor stage and CommuniCore Hall multi-purpose building will take about half the space formerly occupied by CommuniCore West, while The Journey of Water Inspired by Moana walk-through attraction will take the remainder.
Here is an aerial overview of the Moana attraction.
As well as a ground-level view of the gardens that will occupy the center of the plaza.
Finally, here is Disney's concept art of the CommuniCore Plaza stage.
CommuniCore Hall will host a Mickey meet and greet as well as demonstration kitchens and other functions now often spread across the park during Epcot's various festivals.
Today's concept art officially puts to rest the original concept of a multi-story event space building that Disney announced at the D23 Expo back in 2019. Disney also did not mention today anything about the Play Pavilion in World Discovery, though local construction sources say that project is proceeding.
After this morning's presentation, I spoke with Walt Disney Imagineering's Zach Riddley, who went into more detail about the changes.
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I'm still not sold on the glorified splash pad wrapped up in Moana theming, especially near the core of what was FutureWorld. I do like the shift to more organic designs and natural landscapes across the front of the park, but an expansion of the legendary jumping fountains at the Imagination Pavilion seemed like a much better way to integrate water into the redesign than jam another IP into a park that has been taken over by IPs.
I get the feeling that the mixed reviews of HarmoniUS may have impacted designs for the observation tower. Also, since the addition of LEDs to Spaceship Earth and the overwhelmingly positive reception of that redesign, Imagineers realized that the sightlines of the EPCOT icon should not be disrupted, certainly not by a gaudy concrete tower that exists ONLY as a revenue generator.
I'm curious to see how Disney uses the new Communicore Plaza Stage and whether it replaces the American Gardens theater for most performances in the park (and allowing for the World Showcase theater space to be reutilized).
Hopefully the spaces in the new Communicore Hall will be available for the EPCOT F&W Festival. Disney has not released any specific details about the Festival aside from the dates, but I think the hope is that the event will return to pre-pandemic norms with the typical demos, special events, presentations, and exclusive meals that supplemented the kiosks around the World Showcase. Given that the Wonders of Life pavilion is gutted right now and cannot serve as the Festival Center anymore, the Odyssey is the only "flex" space in the park right now that could be used if the new spaces are not completed by the fall.
I'm not surprised at all by the hush surrounding Play Pavilion. It sounds like Imagineers are having a tough time figuring out what to do with the space as technology advances as fast (if not faster) than they can come up with ideas. It's similar to the problems Disney had with Innoventions, but at least the costs of those attractions were shared with sponsors. The front of EPCOT could use some more mid-level attractions, especially stuff for guests to do near Guardians, so the Play Pavilion represents an important addition that Disney needs to get right and complete soon.
@Russell: that is an intriguing question about the Communicore stage being used for future (no pun intended) artist performances. The American Pavillion is such a centralized and spotlighted location that it would be hard to see Disney jettisoning it, unless the space were to say, oh I don’t know, be “reImagined” into a pay-for-premium-seating spot for HarmoniUs.
Side note, I haven’t been to Epcot since Nov ‘19 so I
naturally assumed based on the location that the new Space: Mission to Mealtime (my rejected submission for naming rights) building was an overlay / refurb of the Odyssey. So Space is a new, separate building?
Space 220 is a completely new building between Mission Space and TestTrack. The Odyssey is still there, and as far as I know is the only large permanent flex space in the park aside from various portions of different pavilions (like the 2nd floor of the American Adventure, old corporate sponsor lounges in the 80's era pavilions, and the World ShowPlace Events Pavilion, which is a semi-permanent tent).
There is zero chance that stage is meant to replace American Gardens Theater, that is basically a bandstand equivalent to what you would find in Canada and the UK.
I think i agree with you here. I must have glossed over the original picture of the concept art
Why did they even tear down Innoventions if they are replacing it with essentially the same thing and some trees/fountains? What a waste of money. 3 years and waiting for this...
I actually like the way this looks with the flowing path and mixing elements of nature and tech nicely. Looking forward to it and better than some other concepts.
So...whatever happened to that Spaceship Earth refurb?
Who wants to lay down money to enter a park that has a bunch of empty space and trees? I could go to any park in any city and get that for free. When I go to a Disney park I want it jam packed with experiences I cannot get anywhere else. What even is this.
@stevenz: "I wanted something live, something that could grow, something I could keep plussing with ideas, you see? The park is that. Not only can I add things but even the trees will keep growing; the thing will get more beautiful every year." - Walt Disney
You want a jam-packed Disney park? Allow me to introduce you to a little place called “Anaheim.”
More shade in an Orlando theme park? I'm all for it.
@Robert, yes exactly. Anaheim's parks are packed with value. That's what I want for my money.
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Epcot has long been a beautifully manicured park and it seems that the Imagineers are now leaning more into a more organic, natural flow with the gardens and landscaping rather than some of the more tightly arranged and pruned garden spots. I think this evolution can work well, especially as the park evolves from the once educational retro-Future World to the more natural and open-ended iteration it is becoming. It will also serve as a more elegant transition from the look and feel to the front of the park as you move to the World Showcase in the back. It still looks beautiful and I can’t wait until it reaches completion.
@Robert: appreciate you making us all eat our veggies before giving us our “Cosmic Rewind” steak!