‘Sup! Tad here. If you’re in tune with Walt Disney World news like me, you already know that EPCOT has kicked off a massive, historic, multi-year transformation by clearing the Leave a Legacy area last summer. Over the last few years, we’ve gotten many hints and teases of new attractions and experiences coming to the park, and then all of the ribbeting details came out at the 2019 D23 Expo. While some of these highly-anticipated EPCOT changes got off to a hoppin' start — including the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along that opened Jan. 17, 2020 — others were postponed due to COVID-19. Progress is hoppening, as the transformation of EPCOT's entrance fountain was unveiled recently! This sleek, modern fountain pays homage to the geometry of the original fountain but brings in new elements, including the liquid-cooled, color-changing light fixture in the center.
And there's more hoppy news! Several projects received updated timelines at this year's digital IAAPA Expo ... and we got some toadally rad progress pics, including Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind's all-new Omnicoaster vehicles, which will allow riders to rotate 360 degrees while racing through the cosmos!
Here's a full overview of the changes you can expect at EPCOT over the next few years, including the most recent opening estimates and photos. If you'll be heading to EPCOT soon, you can better visualize these plans at the Walt Disney Imagineering Presents the EPCOT Experience in the Odyssey Events pavilion. Stop by for an interactive exhibit that includes a 12-minute film that plays on a loop and hypes up the excitement for the park's future. There are also four fun photo-op stations that represent EPCOT's future, such as the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction.
Read on to learn more about these big changes coming to EPCOT!
Overview of EPCOT’s New Neighborhoods
EPCOT has always been divided into Future World and World Showcase, but we’ll soon be saying farewell to Future World. After its transformation is complete, EPCOT will be unified with four neighborhoods — World Showcase, World Celebration, World Nature and World Discovery — that each speak to important aspects of the world and its people.
World Showcase will continue to celebrate the culture, cuisine, architecture and traditions of countries around the world. Meanwhile, World Celebration will be at the center of the reimagined entrance. The iconic Spaceship Earth is expected to remain. Disney also planned a reimagining for the ride with a new storyline and musical score, but development has since been postponed (thank the Phoenicians). World Nature will be dedicated to understanding and preserving the beauty of the natural world. (The Land and The Living Seas pavilions will be part of this neighborhood.) Lastly, World Discovery will focus on science, technology and intergalactic adventures, including Test Track and Mission: SPACE.
The Biggest EPCOT Changes and Additions
It’s definitely a hoppin’ time at EPCOT, so I’ll break down what’s coming to each of the new neighborhoods. If you want to learn more about other future attractions and experiences beyond EPCOT, be sure to check out my separate post about all of the rad new fun coming to Walt Disney World!
Disney originally announced a brand-new Mary Poppins attraction to be located in the United Kingdom pavilion. However, development for this new attraction has been postponed for now.
Lily and I are most excited for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in France. Similar to the original ride in Disneyland Paris, you are shrunk to the size of Chef Remy and race through Gusteau’s restaurant. A new table-service and quick-service restaurant promise to whip up yummy crepes and other menu items inspired by celebrity chef, Jerome Bocuse. This France expansion has been delayed slightly from its summer 2020 opening to sometime in 2021.
Joining Impressions de France is a Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along show, which debuted Jan. 17, 2020. This 15-minute retelling of the classic animated film also features a twist that adds the point of a view of an unsuspecting hero. We sang, we laughed, and then we sang some more. (Everyone in the theater could probably hear our Dad's off-key croaks.) The new animation scenes flow seamlessly into the classic original ones. (No surprise to hear that the original animators worked on this new sing-along film!)
Now that the Disney Skyliner is open, you can get a sneak peek of the construction as you fly by!
Speaking of shows, “O Canada!” got an upgraded story and scenes under a new name, “Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360." It also debuted Jan. 17, 2020, and plays on a continuous loop. The show features new musical score and narration by Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy. But we're glad to say the "Canada (You’re a Lifetime of Wonder)" song still remains!
Meanwhile, the China pavilion will be debuting a new 360-degree film called “Wondrous China” sometime in the future.
Saving the best for last ... we learned more about "Harmonious," the new permanent nighttime spectacular. It was expected to debut in 2020 after the limited run of "EPCOT Forever," which replaced “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth." With fireworks shows being temporarily suspended at Disney World in the immediate future, we have not heard any updates on when "Harmonious" will premiere ... but there have been some test runs in World Showcase Lagoon recently! During the day, the "Harmonious" barges will operate as fountains in the lagoon. On Dec. 10, the first of five barges was moved into World Showcase Lagoon!
"Harmonious" is billed as the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park with massive set pieces, moving fountains, lasers, lights and pyrotechnics. Sounds pretty epic to me! In the meantime, check out the full "EPCOT Forever" show below!
Like I mentioned before, Spaceship Earth will still greet guests near the front of the park, but the rest of the entrance will be entirely transformed. The exterior of Spaceship Earth will have an updated, custom lighting package that interacts with other elements near the entrance too (and makes for a toadally rad nighttime view!). Progress is hoppening, as the redesigned entrance plaza now features a new fountain, new pathways and sweeping green spaces. Once you exit Spaceship Earth, you’ll enter a brand-new area called Dreamers Point. It will have a statue dedicated to the original dreamer — Walt Disney. I’m excited to trek through an enchanted forest that’s home to a wishing tree and a story fountain! Part of EPCOT's entrance fountain has already been put in place (three 4,000 pound pylons were placed in August 2020, to be exact), and is now complete, though the future of Dreamers Point is a little more uncertain.
A new pavilion will be introduced as the perfect place to watch the nighttime spectacular. Also serving as a home base for EPCOT’s signature festivals and live events, this three-story structure will provide new elevated views of the park. The new pavilion's completion date is still TBD.
A major new highlight of the upcoming World Nature will be Journey of Water, Inspired by “Moana.” It’ll be the first experience inspired by the animated hit movie. This walkthrough attraction will feature a lush trail that contains magical, living water elements, including waterfalls, dancing fountains and jumping water. Along the way, you’ll also learn the importance of the natural water cycle. Journey of Water's completion date is still TBD.
Inside The Land pavilion, “Awesome Planet” debuted Jan. 17, 2020. This new film narrated by Ty Burrell showcases our planet and its biomes with beautiful imagery and in-theater effects. Lightning flashes when there's a storm on-screen, and cold air blasts when you visit the tundra. It carries an important environmental message that all frogs should hear — the choices that we make to protect the earth make a difference.
I think we can all say that we’ve been excited for the Guardians of the Galaxy ride ever since it was announced. We learned the ride’s official name — Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind — from the D23 announcements, as well as the fact that it will be the first Disney ride to feature a reverse launch! It’s also coined as a story rollercoaster that will use new technology, allowing the vehicles to rotate 360 degrees (hence its name, the Omnicoaster, much like the Omnimover). That way, you can focus on the action! Guardians was originally supposed to blast off in 2021, but that date has not been reconfirmed. We're crossing our froggy fingers!
The PLAY! pavilion will provide a unique space, including an entire interactive, digital city filled with games and activities. You’ll be able to interact with your favorite Disney characters, both real and virtual. For instance, help Edna Mode with a fashionable quest or compete in a water balloon fight with Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby. The PLAY! Pavilion was expected to open in 2021, but that target date has not been reconfirmed.
Tad to Ground Control ... Have you ever wondered what it'd be like to dine in space? I have ... and now we'll be able to find out what it's like inside Space 220. This space station-themed restaurant will be located next to Mission: SPACE. Board an elevator and look out of the special viewports to get a real-time perspective, like you're actually traveling into space. The restaurant will have panoramic daytime and nighttime views of Earth — 220 miles above. Space 220 was originally supposed to launch in 2020, but it's looking like 2021 is more likely.
What’s Leaving Due to the EPCOT Changes
World Showcase will remain mostly the same, only adding new experiences or revamping old ones. Since Future World is facing a more significant makeover, a few spots will be closing temporarily or shutting their doors forever.
- Innoventions East
- Nanooze Break
- MouseGear — now open at old Innoventions East location
- Club Cool
- Fountain View featuring Starbucks — a temporary Starbucks location is in World Showcase Plaza.
- Character Spot
- Character promenades, featuring Mickey & friends, the princesses and Anna and Elsa, are now taking place around World Showcase
- Joy and Winnie the Pooh can be found in the gardens next to Journey into Imagination with Figment
- Alice and Mary Poppins can be found at the gazebo in the U.K. pavilion
- Art of Disney — now open at The American Adventure
- Heritage Manor
Which one of the many EPCOT changes are you the most excited for? Share your thoughts on EPCOT's transformation in the comments below.