Last year it was confirmed that Disney had some big plans for Epcot, but with no specifics to go on, fans were left to speculate about what could possibly be in the works for this park.However, with plenty of permits being filed and only a few days to go before the bi-annual D23 Expo event happening, we’re pretty sure that these two projects are not only going ahead, but will transform Epcot as we know it.
A new attraction in future world
One of the leading theories was that Disney was planning on building a brand new attraction in the Future World area of the park, potentially replacing Ellen’s Energy Adventure inside the Universe of Energy with something based on a Disney IP like Guardians of the Galaxy or Tron.
This speculation remained just that for nearly a year until last month when local news source WFTV reported that The Walt Disney Company filed a permit application with the South Florida water management district that covers 1.2 million square feet in the Future World area of the park, including the Universe of Energy attraction building itself and the area directly behind it. And now, the Orlando Sentinel reports that another permit has been filed in regards to this unannounced project that covers this exact same area.
According to the report, this latest permit seeks approval to reconfigure an existing canal to “to provide a more contiguous area for possible future changes to parking capacity and back of house areas within Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center,” according to a report included with the permit. The project also includes creating two dry retention areas for water treatment at the park “where future construction is planned”. This is certainly a big development, and seems to signal that whatever Disney is planning for this area is kicking off soon, potentially as early as later this year. However, this isn’t the only secretive project in the works for Epcot….
2. Mission: Space and the mysterious refurbishment
Looking more towards the present day (and not 2-3 years in the future), it looks like one of Future World’s most thrilling attractions could be getting quite the update in the near future. Back in April it was announced that Mission: SPACE would be closing for a nearly two-month refurbishment this summer, and now, in the middle of the busy summer travel season, this Epcot mainstay is officially closed to guests. This refurbishment is a little bit unusual as it involves the closing of all ride bays, which is something that hasn’t happened in many years, and seems like a signal that some big changes are coming to this attraction.
Because of the somewhat unique nature of this refurbishment, it has been speculated that guests who board this attraction after it reopens later this year could potentially find new storylines, simulations, and video to experience after the refurbishment, which is a change that has been rumored for quite some time.
And while this may seem like an intriguing idea, the success of such a big change for this attraction will largely depend on how Disney implements this new concept. We’ve got a lot more about this attraction’s refurbishment (and more information about what shape these new “missions” could take) here. And while we have plenty of theories about changes happening inside this attraction, we won’t have to wait long to find out what is going on, as this attraction is scheduled to reopen in just a few weeks, right after the D23 Expo concludes next month.
3. A new transportation option
Though it STILL hasn’t been announced, construction has actually started already on Walt Disney World’s as-yet unannounced gondolas project, which will connect Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, and Disney’s Pop Century Resort through a series of elevated, closed-cabin gondolas. According to official documents, it looks like there will be six individual loading and unloading stations for the gondola system, serving the aforementioned four different destinations.
Right now the current theory is that Epcot’s gondola station will be built near the rear of the park, potentially in one of the World Showcase expansion pads or even near the International Gateway entrance. Of course we won’t know for sure where this station will be until Disney makes an official announcement, but again, with construction already well underway and the D23 Expo only a few days away, we’re expecting to hear something VERY soon in regards to this project.
How do you feel about all of these changes around Epcot? Will they help turn this park’s current attendance misfortunes around? Or are more major changes required?
-Originally published in Theme Park Tourist, June 23, 2017 by Amanda Kondolojy
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