Earlier today Disney announced several changes coming to Walt Disney World’s Epcot. The park’s main entrance will be redone, changing the ‘Leave A Legacy’ entrance to something more reminiscent of the original Epcot entrance. Disney also announced that the Play Pavilion will be taking over the Wonders of Life building as Future World’s newest pavilion. In this post, we’ll break down a few more details and add in our commentary on these new announcements. For Disney’s full release, click here.
Starting with the entrance, the Leave A Legacy photos will be moved outside of the park to make way for a much greener, lush entrance. The entrance will include new pathways, additional flowers and greenery and a reimagined fountain. As you can see in the concept art above, the sight lines appear to be far more open and the entrance as a whole looks visually appealing.
Moving on to the Play Pavilion (I’m not sure that this will be the official name once it comes on-line), the new area will be designed as a city full of interactive attractions, characters, and entertainment. The Wonders of Life Pavilion has sat dormant (outside of being a festival center every now and then) for years so this isn’t replacing anything, more just using previously unused space. Nestled in between the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster and the new space restaurant opening later this year, Future World East will look entirely different come 2021 – the announced opening date of both the coaster and Play Pavilion.
Along with these two announcements, Disney also announced plans for a preview center (my early guess is that this will be in The Odyssey) that will open later this year. This center will show concept art and updates on all of the projects that are going on throughout Epcot. Disney also reconfirmed that Epcot’s central spine will be undergoing changes, which was announced a year and a half ago at D23 Expo.
Not all of Disney’s updates and additions can be winners but this one is! I’ll start with the entrance because that’s what I’m most excited about.
I can’t claim to have known Epcot Center and all of its former glory. Having not visited Disney World before the 2000’s, I missed out on many of the things people rave about when it comes to the early days of Epcot. While I adore Epcot Center’s mission and theme, I wasn’t able to experience it personally and that includes the original entrance. All I’ve ever known is the Leave A Legacy entrance. While Spaceship Earth is iconic and breathtaking, walking through what looks like a memorial to get there is not ideal. Getting rid of the tombstones in favor of a new entrance is a win.
I’m a fan of lush, open concepts in theme parks. That could be why Animal Kingdom’s aesthetic is a favorite of mine. The concept art of Epcot’s new entrance looks open and full of color, with water features and gardens. All of it leads to the icon and I couldn’t be more excited for it.
I don’t have any bones to pick with the new entrance. My one question/concern is when are they going to complete this entrance? There is no mention of this in the Disney release. Time is short to have it ready for Disney World’s 50th anniversary, although it is possible if they start soon. I think it’s more likely that they will wait until the Guardians coaster and Play Pavilion are up and running before doing any major work here. Time will tell.
Speaking of the Play Pavilion, I am less excited about this addition but still optimistic. The way this pavilion is described makes it seem full of exhibitions and hands-on activities. This fits Epcot’s ideals well. Where that somewhat falls apart is the integration of Disney characters but that bridge has been crossed years ago and there’s no turning back with the current Disney higher-ups.
I do think adding characters into this pavilion in a way that fits interactive attractions that are both fun and somewhat educational is possible. I’m not sure that’s what they are going for here but I’m hopeful it is. The concept art of ‘the city’ looks interesting and pretty similar to something out of the latest Wreck-It Ralph movie. It also bears a resemblance to the concept art for Zootopia Land coming to Shanghai Disneyland.
There are obvious differences but all of this is leading me to say that the Play Pavilion’s art looks futuristic and will fit in with Future World from an aesthetic point of view. I’m hopeful that the characters and IP’s chosen to go inside will fit in nicely to the overall theme behind the pavilion. This could also lead to condensing the amount of characters throughout Epcot into one spot so that they won’t infiltrate the Land or Imagination Pavilion or maybe World Showcase won’t be as IP-heavy in the future.
Overall, I think Future World East is shaping up to be a strange mishmash of pavilions with Guardians, followed by Play Pavilion, followed by outer space, followed by Test Track. It should make for some fun attractions but the fit is what worries me. By itself, I think Play Pavilion is one of the more interesting of the Epcot announcements. As a whole, I’m far more worried.
The preview center coming to Epcot is a good and smart idea. There’s so much going on there, and about to be even more construction to give people headaches, that it will be nice for park goers to get to see what will happen when those constructions walls disappear.
I’m also happy to hear that the Central Spine project is still on. Innoventions is a disaster at this point and those buildings will likely be gone in the next five years. Play Pavilion could be reminiscent of the early Innoventions if done correctly. I’m eager to see what Imagineering comes up with to fill in the gap from Spaceship Earth to World Showcase.
Epcot has already started one of the biggest makeovers we’ve ever seen for a theme park. With a new nighttime spectacular, new and updated World Showcase films, a new dining experience in the Japan Pavilion, the Space restaurant opening and more set to debut this year alone, the park will look entirely different in the next five years. Today’s announcement was another step in that direction, although this step was a lot more enjoyable than some others.
What do you think of these latest Epcot announcements? Let us know in the comments below! Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our Disney World Trip Planning Guide to help you out. If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney, you can subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!