The weekend before Thanksgiving saw this year’s east coast D23 event come to life at the Contemporary Resort Convention Center at Walt Disney World. Well over one thousand of the biggest fans of all things Disney showed up to celebrate the parks, the movies and the legends of Disney Imagineering, and to hopefully be present for some big announcements. We weren’t disappointed. One of the major topics of discussion in several sessions was the upcoming debut of Pandora in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. You can read our article on the Pandora details along with newly released concept art by clicking here.
The other big news had to do with two big rumors that have been circulating for some time now, one regarding Tower of Terror and the other an overhaul of Epcot. Bob Chapek, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman, addressed both and offered news that is sure to thrill most Disney fans.
The first rumor Chapek addressed was that Tower of Terror would be getting a Guardians of the Galaxy makeover. This rumor gained traction as the same makeover was not only announced for the California Adventure version, but construction began almost overnight. However, Chapek put to rest any lingering rumors or fears that the same would happen at Hollywood Studios by stating rather definitively that changes were not in the works in Florida.
The second rumor picking up steam over the years was that Disney was planning a complete overhaul of Epcot similar to the reimagining of California Adventure. Epcot, particularly Future World, is in desperate need of a reboot that will bring the park fully into the 21st century and provide some sort of cohesive theme. Chapek confirmed this rumor and stated that he had, “instructed Imagineers to dream big” when it came to a redesign of Disney World’s second park. He also assured fans that the reboot of Epcot would be true to the original vision of Epcot.
Disney is currently working full steam on its update of Hollywood Studios and the Epcot reboot is early in its initial design phase. As such, the announcement was understandable very short on details. We will be watching closely over the coming years for more announcements and lots of details. In the meantime, below is a related article from two of our writers, Mike and Jamie, on a few things that need to be done to help fix Epcot.
RELATED ARTICLE: Top 7 Things Disney Needs to Do to Fix Epcot
by Mike & Jamie Sylvestor
Have you heard the latest Epcot news? It has been confirmed by Bob Chapek (Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts) that Epcot will be undergoing an overhaul in the foreseen future. Mr. Walt Disney himself had a vision that Epcot would be a utopian inspired functioning city that would serve as an model for change for urban areas around the country. Walt’s vision for the city of tomorrow inspired the learning park that became Epcot. While Epcot has been and still is one of our favorite parks, we are excited to hear that it will be getting an overhaul that is said to keep true to the original Epcot vision Walt set in place. So, what’s next for this Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT)? Check out these 7 things we believe Disney needs to do to fix Epcot.
1 – Cohesive Theme for Future World
Epcot truly feels like two separate theme parks with Future World and the World Showcase. While we love the differences in the two areas of the park, we find that the World Showcase has fluent and obvious theme – representing the 11 countries through entertainment, music, food, and shopping. The World Showcase just makes sense and flows. On the other hand, Future World has become somewhat of a hodge-podge of themes. The attractions seem to jump around from on theme to another, as well as restaurants and shops. Disney prides themselves on cohesiveness, but this has been lacking in Future World and is our first hope of improvement for Epcot’s overhaul.
2 – New Headliner Attractions Needed
The newest attraction at Epcot is the Frozen Ever After ride which took the home of Maelstrom. Frozen fans LOVE this attraction and while we feel like it’s a fun ride, we don’t consider it a headliner attraction. Soarin’ has a new film and again is amazing, but not necessarily a headliner. Epcot needs that attraction that folks can’t get enough of – such as Hollywood Studio’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Toy Story Midway Mania; Animal Kingdom’s Expedition Everest or Kilimanjaro Safaris; or Magic Kingdom’s Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train and Space Mountain. We feel like Epcot needs a timeless attraction in the form of a thrill ride as a headliner as well as a family friendly attraction that keep the guests coming back time and time again. In July 2016, rumors were flying when test balloons were seen over the Universe of Energy Pavilion. Rumors have been swirling that this new attraction would feature a Guardians of the Galaxy theme and that the attraction will be a roller coaster based on that theme. We’ll have to keep waiting to see what is coming!
3 – Tech Savvy is a Necessity
If Disney wants to keep Walt’s dream alive that Epcot is the “community of tomorrow”, then technology needs to play a huge role in this overhaul. The latest technology needs to be present in the attractions, the restaurants, the merchandise, and the entertainment. It would be amazing to walk into Epcot’s Future World and truly say – yes, this is the future! A challenging task for Imagineers – but Walt was always trying to accomplish the unimaginable, such as the still incredible Monorail system on Disney property. Bring out the technology!
4 – Updated Spaceship Earth Attraction
We obviously don’t want the Epcot icon (the massive “Epcot ball” that holds the family favorite Spaceship Earth attraction) to go away. We love that this is Epcot’s symbol but will say it needs an overhaul inside. During this attraction, the sequence of communication stops after the creation of computers. We thought by now Disney would have already adjusted and made updates to follow current forms of the history of communication. We expect this ride is a challenge as communication technology is ever changing – but one Disney would find worth keeping current.
5 – Dining Overhaul in Future World
Chances are if you are dining within Epcot, you are immediately thinking of a restaurant located around the World Showcase. With several cuisines and restaurants available, the World Showcase is the place to dine! Unfortunately, Future World lacks a draw for dining. In addition to a couple of quick service spots, Garden Grill and the Coral Reef are the slim choices that don’t always have guests walking away with top reviews. Our recommendation is that better dining options need to be available within the overhaul of Future World.
6 – Embrace the Aquarium
Tucked away to the side in Future World, Epcot offers a massive aquarium known as “Caribbean Coral Reef Aquarium” which holds 4,000 amazing sea creatures within a 5.7-million-gallon aquarium. This is one of the largest man-made ocean environments in the world! With the release of the successful Finding Nemo movie, it was a no brainer for Epcot to bring a family friendly theme to the aquarium by pulling in the attraction, The Seas with Nemo and Friends. Now that Finding Dory is a success, this space could be updated and possibly expanded (much like the Toy Story area at Hollywood Studios). Water family-friendly attractions, character meet and greets, and fun entertainment are just a few ideas. This family friendly area could feature a renovated Coral Reef restaurant with a Finding Nemo / Finding Dory theme. Families would come swimming in “schools”!
7 – Don’t Forget About the World Showcase
We may be touching mostly on the need to update Future World, but the World Showcase could also use some fixes during the overhaul. We would suggest some merchandise changes in the 11 countries, filling in the empty land with new countries, and embracing and expanding Disney’s unique characters from each country – much like Norway and the Frozen characters.
This is just a few ideas of what we feel like Disney needs to do to fix Epcot. We’d love to hear your thoughts? Go ahead and dream big like a Disney Imagineer would!