Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Disney confirms major transformation at Epcot and rumors are flying

Posted By on Tue, Nov 22, 2016 at 3:52 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO VIA DISNEY
  • Photo via Disney
At the Destination D fan event this past weekend, Bob Chapek, the Chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts, announced that Epcot would be receiving “a major transformation” that would help transition the park into being “more Disney, timeless, relevant, family-friendly” while keeping the original vision alive.

Chapek stated that the design team was told to “dream big” with what they wanted to do to third oldest Disney park in the world. No other details were confirmed by Disney, but this announcement does line up with strong rumors that we’ve been reporting on for months.

Future World would likely see the biggest changes. Initial budget rumors pointed to Epcot receiving roughly $300-400 million of a $3.5 billion green lit for updates across Walt Disney World. It now looks like Epcot will be receiving two to three times that initial budget.

A big part of that increase is likely due to aging infrastructure that needs to be replaced across the theme park. Many of the buildings scattered around Future World date back to the park’s opening in 1982. While some of these buildings have been remodeled over the years, no uniformed update has taken place across the park.

The rumors for Future World range from small updates to entire attractions being replaced.

Entrance plaza updates should include removing the "Leave a Legacy" tombstones, uh, columns and a major overhaul to the entrance fountain. The former Innoventions buildings are rumored to be gutted with all wiring and plumbing in the buildings being replaced. The Starbucks will likely see an expansion, and The Electric Umbrella counter-service restaurant will be downsized and given a new menu update. Mouse Gears, one of the largest gift shops at WDW, will be replaced with a new gift shop.
Future World East has plenty of rumors to choose from. The strongest involve an indoor Guardians of the Galaxy-themed coaster replacing the Universe of Energy. Guardians have been rumored to be coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios replacing the Tower of Terror similar to what is happening to California’s Tower of Terror.

Chapek confirmed that GotG will not be replacing the DHS Tower of Terror. Track pieces have been spotted at Vekoma's (the likely ride manufecturer) plant. The track does have a stricking resemblance to renderings found on a Disney patent from a few year's back.

The former Wonders of Life pavilion will be replaced, though the rumors on what will replace it have been sporadic at best. Mission: Space has been rumored for some time to be getting an update, the scale of which various according to who you talk to. Rumors range from a complete demo to a simple update to the visuals on the ride. Test Track will likely not receive any noticeable updates.

In Future World West the updates won’t be as extreme. Small updates are expected at all the pavilions but the majority of the focus will be on the Imagination pavilion. The strongest rumor, but one that has died down in more recent months, involve a new multi-attraction pavilion all themed to Pixar’s Inside Out. Another rumor involves a steampunk version of the Dreamfinder that may be tied to the fictional Society of Explorers and Adventurers (S.E.A.) that has connections to the former Adventurer’s Club and various Disney rides worldwide.

Over in World Showcase, we’ve been hearing very strong rumors of the Ratatouille ride currently only at Disney Studios Paris being built in the France pavilion. The pavilion does include a nearby expansion pad that would mean little impact on guests during construction.

Another rumor, though not nearly as strong, involves a replica of Hong Kong Disneyland’s Mystic Manor. Both Ratatouille and Mystic Manor involves trackless ride systems similar to the Antarctica at SeaWorld Orlando. Mystic Manor in Hong Kong does have a strong connection to the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. Chapek has confirmed that S.E.A. will be gaining a larger influence in Disney Parks in the coming years.

Other rumors regarding World Showcase involve an update to Mexico’s Gran Fiesta Tour that would involve an overlay of the attraction themed to Pixar’s upcoming film Coco. Set to be released in November 2017, Coco is largely inspired by the Mexican holiday Día de Muertos. New attractions and meet-and-greets may also be coming to Canada, the United Kingdom, The American Adventure, Germany, and Japan.

Rounding out the rumors is a loud rumor of a major update coming to Illuminations, possibly before WDW's 50th Anniversary in 2021.

None of these projects have yet to be confirmed by Disney but Chapek promises “a whole strategy to make Epcot more fun and friendly for families.” What that means, at this point, is anyone’s guess.

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