Walls now surround much of the hub in Epcot’s front half. Luckily, the park has the blessing of size to handle construction more gracefully than other Disney World parks.
Saturday marked the final day of operation for several areas of the park, including Club Cool, the surviving portions of Innoventions, the Fountain View Starbucks location and the Fountain of Nations. As documented by sites like Touring Plans and BlogMickey.com, walls and planters now block access on one side of the drained fountain, allowing guests to pass only on the side where the MouseGears merchandise shop remains open.
No rides are closing as part of this phase of Epcot’s overhaul, but the changes didn’t go unnoticed. A small but dedicated group of Innoventions fans gathered Saturday to say goodbye to the space that once housed corporate exhibits showcasing new technology.
The end of an era. Thank you to every single person who came out to share these last moments with us. This event was just absolutely bittersweet. To the cast members, the guests, everyone. Thank you again.
Innoventions will live on forever. pic.twitter.com/GeibYLCuQj
— Innoventions Fanbase (@Innoventions_) September 8, 2019
With work on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios now complete, Epcot now has the most active construction zones of any Disney park. This new construction within Future World adds to the more than half-dozen active projects around Epcot, including the construction of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and the reimagining of the park’s entrance plaza.
According to Bill Zanetti, a founding member of the University of Central Florida’s Entertainment Management Advisory Board, Epcot is more than capable of handling all this construction while remaining a functioning theme park.
“Epcot will operate just fine, as they have been preparing for this construction for a while,” Zanetti told Orlando Rising. “I expect guest impacts to be minimal aside from it feeling slightly more crowded when leaving the park.”
There was a much more obvious impact on guests’ experience at the Studios. Between 2014 and 2017, that park shut down seven attractions to make way for Galaxy’s Edge, Toy Story Land and the still-under-construction Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. So far, the Epcot overhaul has only required the permanent closure of one ride (Ellen’s Energy Adventure in 2017) while other attractions will be brand new additions, such as the Ratatouille ride in the France pavilion and the “Moana”-inspired Journey of Water.
Another key difference is Epcot’s size. According to Theme Park Tourist, the actual park covers 200 acres — nearly double the size of the Magic Kingdom — which means a few construction areas can go more easily unnoticed.
“Epcot has the most amount of pure walking space of any Walt Disney World theme park,” Zanetti said. “Disney’s Animal Kingdom may be a larger park, but Epcot wins for the square footage of open pathways. I don’t expect you to feel like you’re in a giant construction site for the entire day, though you will probably feel like that when you first enter the park because of the new entrance enhancements. After you’re in the park, you should be just fine.”
That theory will be tested by later stages of Epcot’s overhaul. Disney has already confirmed it will be retooling Spaceship Earth and adding a three-level events pavilion in this area of the park. World Showcase will see more work for the vague Mary Poppins attraction coming the the United Kingdom pavilion. Then there are the rumored projects, such as an update to the Journey Into Imagination ride and a new Brazil pavilion, neither of which have been confirmed by Disney.
Zanetti declined to speculate on whether more Epcot changes will be announced and completed in time for 2021 — the 50th anniversary of Disney World expected to be heavily promoted by the company.
“It should be an exciting couple years for Walt Disney World,” he said.
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