When you think of Disney Parks, the first things that come to mind are probably staples of The Magic Kingdom: rides like The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the trinity of Mountains (Space, Splash, and Big Thunder). But it’s rare to find someone who initially conjures up imagery of anything from Epcot, the Walt Disney World park that’s spent decades struggling to define itself. But with Disney parks chairman Bob Chapek recently announcing that the next generation of that park would become “more Disney” than the current iteration, that long struggle may be coming to an end.
At today’s Epcot D23 presentation, Chapek took the stage and gave us some more insight into the renovations that are planned for the park. Here’s what we learned.
New Epcot Lands
When Chapek too the stage, he made the new vision for Epcot loud and clear. Epcot needs more attractions for the whole family, favorite Disney stories, and more shade. As part of their plan to achieve this, they are embarking on the “biggest transformation of any park they’ve ever accomplished.” This new Epcot will be “more Disney, more family more timeless and more relevant,” focusing on the “power of hope, possibility and wonder.” While emphasizing that everything is rooted in Epcot’s legacy of authenticity and innovation, Disney proceeded to announce sweeping changes to the park.
First of all, the “Future World” section of the park is undergoing a massive renovation, being split into three new “neighborhoods.” Epcot will now consist of the original World Showcase, but also World Celebration, World Nature and World Discovery. Here’s more:
Epcot will be unified with four neighborhoods that each speak to important aspects of the world and its people: World Showcase, World Celebration, World Nature and World Discovery. These neighborhoods will be filled with new experiences rooted in authenticity and innovation that take you to new destinations, where the real is made fantastic in a celebration of curiosity, hands-on wonder and the magic of possibility.
And here’s what you can expect in each neighborhood.
World Discovery will feature “stories about science, technology and intergalactic adventure come to life.” among these is the Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster, which now has an official title: Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Here’s what we know about it now:
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewindwill be the first “other-world” showcase pavilion at Epcot. The adventure starts in the “Galaxarium,” a planetarium-like exhibition that explores the similarities and mysteries of the formation of Earth’s galaxy and Xandar. You will be invited to learn more about the treasures Xandar has to share – until the moment when the Guardians of the Galaxy arrive, and adventures across the cosmos ensue. The attraction will feature a new innovation from Walt Disney Imagineering – a storytelling coaster that rotates 360 degrees to focus your attention on the action, including the first reverse launch on a Disney coaster.
The previous announced companion restaurant to the Mission: Space attraction also received an official name, Space 220, along with new details:
An expansion of the Mission: SPACE pavilion, the new restaurant Space 220 will be a culinary experience featuring the celestial panorama of a space station, including daytime and nighttime views of Earth from 220 miles up. You’ll board a special elevator for a journey to a space station that is home to an incredible dining experience. Along the way, viewports will give you a real-time perspective as you travel high above the planet. Once you arrive, you’ll enjoy fantastic meals and drinks while taking in views that are truly out of this world. Opening this winter, Space 220 will be operated by the Patina Group.
Disney also released new art and new details for the PLAY! pavilion, replacing the long-dormant Wonders of Life pavilion:
The PLAY! pavilion will open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World. In this digital metropolis, you’ll discover an interactive city bursting with games, activities and experiences that connect you with friends, family and beloved Disney characters – both real and virtual – like never before. As part of this new pavilion, you’ll have the chance to help legendary fashion icon Edna Mode on her quest to rid the world of uninspired style, or make a splash competing in a water-balloon fight hosted by Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby.
The World Celebration neighborhood “will offer new experiences that connect us to one another and the world around us.” This area will include the iconic Spaceship Earth, which is getting an overhaul:
The iconic Spaceship Earth will remain a voyage through time as the journey transforms to reflect the power of storytelling to unite the human experience. New narration and an entirely new musical score will focus on the moments and ideas that define our story. You will follow a magical “story light” that brings the entire experience to life in dynamic ways, giving each scene energy and beauty that ties the entire journey together.
This area seems like it’ll be the heart of the park, emphasized by a new pavilion:
A new pavilion will be the perfect place for live events, and the home base for Epcot’s signature festivals. It will provide a stunning elevated view of the entire park and an ideal spot to witness Epcot’s nighttime spectacular. This beautiful three-level structure will have one of the most remarkable architectural designs at any Disney park, featuring a plaza level, a middle expo level, and a park that sits in the sky on the top level.
The area is getting the most noticeable cosmetic overhaul – it looks a lot more beautiful and it has a lot more shade:
Epcot’s entrance plaza will be transformed with new experiences that connect us with the world, welcoming you with a reimagined fountain, new pathways and sweeping green spaces that beautify the entryway. The design will pay homage to the origins of Epcot.
The World Nature neighborhood “is dedicated to understanding and preserving the beauty, awe and balance of the natural world.” This are will include existing attractions like Soarin’, but will introduce the Moana-themed nature trailer Journey of Water:
Journey of Water, Inspired by “Moana” will be the first experience inspired by the hit Walt Disney Animation Studios film. This lush exploration trail will invite you to meet and play with magical, living water. The water will have a life of its own – just like Moana’s friend, the ocean – and you’ll learn about the importance of the natural water cycle.
The Land pavilion will also debut a new movie next year:
The Land pavilion’s new film, “Awesome Planet,” which showcases the beauty, diversity and dynamic story of the planet, will debut in January 2020.
The United Kingdom pavilion in the World Showcase section will soon be home to a new Mary Poppins attraction, but the details remain under wraps. Here’s what we do know:
The United Kingdom pavilion will welcome the first attraction inspired by Mary Poppins. You will step in time down Cherry Tree Lane past Admiral Boom’s house, then enter Number 17, home of the Banks family, where your adventure will begin.
The World Showcase lagoon will also host note one, but two brand new nighttime shows, with the limited Epcot Forever paving the way for HarmonioUS:
In 2020, following the limited-time run of “Epcot Forever,” the new “HarmonioUS” will debut as the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park. It will celebrate how the music of Disney inspires people the world over, carrying you away harmoniously on a stream of familiar Disney tunes reinterpreted by a diverse group of artists from around the globe. “HarmonioUS” will feature massive floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, lasers and more.
In addition to the already-announced Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, the France pavilion will also receive a new Beauty and the Beast sing-along adventure. The Canada and China pavilions will each receive a new film: Canada Far and Wide and Wondrous China.
In other words, Epcot is about to become a whole new park.
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