Disney's Imagineers Share Epcot Updates

October 28, 2022, 5:11 PM · The final pieces of Epcot's transformation will open in late 2023, Walt Disney Imagineering said today.

In a post on WDI's Instagram, Disney said "We look forward to the opening of these new areas - including CommuniCore Plaza, CommuniCore Hall, and Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana - to guests in Late 2023!"

The post also included some fresh looks behind the construction walls in what used to be the Future World section of the park.

Making Epcot rockwork
Photos courtesy Walt Disney Imagineering

Epcot construction

Over the past few years, Epcot has expanded its France pavilion in World Showcase to Remy's Ratatouille Adventure and transformed the former Universe of Energy pavilion near the front of the park into Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind - the park's first roller coaster. Walt Disney World also refurbished the park's entrance, removing the old Leave a Legacy sculptures and bringing back the iconic fountain that stood in front of Spaceship Earth at the park's 1982 opening.

But the work at the heart of the park will transform the area behind Spaceship Earth into a new World Celebration land, with the area to the east renamed World Discovery and that to the west renamed World Nature. World Celebration will include the new Communicore Plaza and Communicore Hall, while World Nature will be home to the Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana walk-through attraction.

Creative Portfolio Executive Zach Riddley from Walt Disney Imagineering talked with us earlier this year about all the changes that have been happening at Epcot.

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Replies (13)

October 28, 2022 at 7:21 PM

A far cry from what was announced back in D23 2019. Not as bad as Tomorrowland 1998, but it’s still a disappointment of what could have been.

October 28, 2022 at 9:02 PM

Late 2023…smh.

October 29, 2022 at 3:51 AM

It's going to be gorgeous when it's complete. Looking forward to the 100th anniversary celebration ... And then on to the Coco, Encanto and Villains lands.

October 29, 2022 at 8:08 AM

As to Tommowland, if they just changed back the voice over of the TTA to the older retro one and upgraded the tunnel exhibits, I would be content. I know. Off topic.

October 29, 2022 at 8:49 AM

It’s going to stick out like a sore thumb, like it doesn’t belong, like the barges. Nice transformation, Disney.

October 29, 2022 at 11:25 AM

Orlando tourism has reason to be optimistic in 2023. With 'TRON' opening in the Magic Kingdom park, World Discovery, World Nature, World Celebration and 'Journey of Water' opening at EPCOT, 'Pipeline' opening at SeaWorld and a new Minions attraction (which may also open in 2023) at Universal Studios Florida, there's a lot going on at the Orlando parks.

October 29, 2022 at 12:18 PM

TH ... I admire your optimism, but I have a feeling 2023 could be a tough one for the local parks.
The covid 'must-go-on-vacation' hype will be coming to an end. As it is now actually. The parks are nowhere close to being as busy as they were this time last year.
Then the cost of living increases, inflation, fears of a recession will be at play, meaning there may not be as many people thinking about a vacation next year?

The attendance trend is definitely down, will it continue into next year? .... as always, only time will tell.

October 29, 2022 at 1:22 PM

@Mako (*The mad inventor of "coaster shorts") if that happens, I hope a slowdown is short lived. It would be devastating if economic and social conditions remain on a downward glidepath. Especially for a theme park operator that's currently investing billions and billions of dollars into a brand new park.

October 29, 2022 at 1:44 PM

@ Mako: I think you may be right.

My wife and I had an ‘ultimate’ trip booked for September 2020 involving a stay at Universal Orlando, 14 nights at Disney then a 3 night Disney cruise. Obviously Covid put paid to that so we assumed we would rebook once things were ‘back to normal’. But here we are and we are looking at our options thinking we probably wont book again. It’s not that we don’t love what we see - there’s so much fabulous new stuff that we know we would absolutely adore - but the costs have gone through the roof, to the extent that it’s just way beyond what we can afford any longer, and the ‘accessibility’ of everything has gotten so much more complicated and less enjoyable. Genie sounds like a nightmare, the need still to pre-book parks, the inability to simply decide on the day where we want to go, the lack (still) of the Disney Dining Plan (which was generally free for us UK types) - that all makes it a ludicrously expensive and massively constricted holiday. We’re now thinking of doing Disneyland for a few days and combine it with something else. I have to face the truth that unless I win a lottery I may never get back to Disney World :(

October 29, 2022 at 2:18 PM

David ... I agree, so many hoops and hurdles to jump thru/over, is also a big downside for many people.

With the school holidays just finishing back home, there's been a UK "invasion" the past 2 weeks, but those I've talked too, all say their holiday was booked 12-18 months ago, and they're not sure when they'll be back.

I'm thinking of CA next year, but Disneyland is not on my priority list. Just the same hoops and hurdles as here in Orlando, and for what ??

Plenty of other parks to visit in the area.

October 31, 2022 at 10:27 AM

It's so disappointing that WDI was not able to re-envision EPCOT the way they initially planned. 4+ years of construction that has made the front of the park a complete nightmare is going to yield a result that will be a shadow of what could have been. The park will have been subjected to over 4 years of pain for a walk-through attraction and a small performance stage. Certainly there were challenges from a budgetary standpoint, but it's sad to see such a massive effort and disruption of the park experience end in something where guests may spend 15 minute of their day. Also, it doesn't look like navigation through the front of the park will be improved in any way once the walls come down as the Moana walk through will have meandering paths and choke points that will have guests just as bad off as they are right now trying to get around construction walls and older narrow pathways that never seem to provide the shortest distance between 2 points of interest. WDI had an opportunity to really fix the front of EPCOT, and they had some grand ideas that got Chapak-ed.

I finally got a chance to see HarmoniUS in person a couple of weeks ago, and it just doesn't hit the right chord for me. The use of IP (and some oddly obscure musical choices) to represent different countries of the world is such a cop out, and borderline pandering. Disney has access to world class composers that could have done so much better crafting an all-original score to showcase the power of music around the world. EPCOT has always been about being bold and different from the other Disney parks, and HarmoniUS seems to be capitulation. The barges offer far better visuals than the old globe, but make viewing the show more difficult since the projections are not viewable from obtuse angles (unless you're willing to scope out a spot 1-2 hours ahead of time, you're going to end up with some type of viewing obstruction). I could see what Disney was going for, but the execution just doesn't meet the vision, particularly when other technologies (*cough* drones *cough*) offer far more impressive visuals and more easily applicable to a canvas the size of the World Showcase Lagoon.

I was really impressed with the upgraded lighting package on Spaceship Earth, but it's sad that more than a handful of the lights are already malfunctioning.

When it comes to tourism, I just don't think Disney100 offers the same draw as WDW50 did, and as "revenge travel" begins to wane with rapidly increasing prices, I expect Orlando tourism to start leveling back off. Also, there really isn't that much on the horizon for WDW. While Tron is the one big project left, it's in a park that doesn't need extra incentive to visit, and while Moana will mean the end of construction at EPCOT, it's not the kind of draw that will impact vacation decision-making (nor the new Toy Story restaurant at DHS). With all of the cancelled projects and other blue-sky projects that haven't been officially green-lighted, why would someone who's visited WDW in the past 3-5 years bother to make a pricy trip to the area again right now? The same goes for Universal, particularly for guests planning with an eye towards the debut of Epic Universe in 2025.

October 31, 2022 at 11:57 AM

Russell ... Epic will undoubtedly be a vacation delay for a huge amount of people. And not just Universal folk, Disney will be impacted to, by people waiting for the new park to open.

Tron is in the wrong area of the park to give it the popularity that Guardians has. I can see Tron being a short-lived VQ, similar to Remy. Hopefully this means GotG will retain its VQ status into the new year :)

October 31, 2022 at 12:15 PM

I think Tron is in the right spot thematically (unless WDI could have put it in its originally planned location inside Spaceship Earth), but you're right that its popularity will be limited with Space Mountain right next door. We also don't know what the height restriction will be for the new coaster, but it's almost certainly going to be taller than Space Mountain's 44" (guests have to be 48" to ride the original Tron in Shanghai), which will likely limit its popularity.

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