Inside sources that I trust have confirmed to me that the Play Pavilion concept is now officially shelved for Walt Disney World's Epcot.
The Play Pavilion had been planned to take over the former Wonders of Life pavilion in Epcot's old Future World. Disney never did provide specifics on what exactly guests would find in the Play pavilion, after announcing it in February 2019. [See Disney details a new look and a new pavilion for Epcot.]
"Built on the power of play, [the Play pavilion] introduces an immersive and interactive 'city' where you can explore, create and interact with some of your favorite Disney characters," Walt Disney Imagineering portfolio executive Zach Riddley said at the time. "This innovative, new pavilion is beyond anything we’ve ever created and is completely unique to Epcot."
The trouble with trying something "beyond anything we’ve ever created" is that those Blue Sky ideas don't always end up hitting the budget allocated for them. And thus sealed the fate of the Play pavilion.
Contrary to some reports and rumors, Disney did do quite a bit of work on the Play pavilion before stepping away from the concept. The basic structure of the building has been repaired and reinforced. The roof no longer leaks, and the structure is in good condition to provide a home to whatever new concept Disney might choose to place there.
While the Play pavilion concept art gave heavy "Ralph Breaks the Internet" vibes, there was no IP officially attached to brand the project, which I suspect made its ballooning budget a harder sell for continued support. And before anyone climbs on the "Blame Chapek" bandwagon, may I remind everyone that Disney executives are looking for heavy IP branding in the parks because all the financial and survey data the company collects from its guests is telling them that IP branding is exactly what the public wants?
So if we ultimately get to see the interactive technology that Imagineers were working on for the Play pavilion, it likely will come in the form of new Marvel or Star Wars or Pixar or Disney Animation-branded attractions, rather than something with the generic and - frankly - hard-to-sell branding of "Play pavilion."
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