In 2021 Walt Disney World turns 50, and the Imagineers are gearing up for the celebration. In some cases, this means adding new attractions; in others it means the removal of, or changes made, to classic attractions. Consequently, guests can expect more construction than usual at Disney Parks in 2020. As the most obvious and biggest changes will be at Epcot, this blog will focus on the attraction changes you can expect to see there once the current work being done is completed. Although some new restaurants are coming to Epcot, in the interest of space, this blog will focus solely on the attractions that will debut.
If you have paid a visit to Epcot recently, or if you are planning to go soon, it is clearly in a state of flux. As Future World is undergoing almost a complete overhaul, the work being done is most noticeable there. A number of attractions, shops, and restaurants in Future World are currently closed, some permanently, some temporarily. There is construction every which way you look, some more obvious to guests than others. While it is not always easy to welcome change, I am hoping that the majority, if not all, of the changes will be a hit with guests.
Although as noted above, the obvious construction is in Future World, there is a LOT going on in World Showcase that is, for the most part, hidden from the view of guests. So let’s start in the World Showcase and then work our way back to Future World.
Although total completion is not expected until 2021, some of the work will be ready in 2020 for guests to enjoy. In the Spring of 2020, the temporary nighttime spectacular, Epcot Forever, will be replaced by a more permanent show called HarmoniUS.
This show is said to be a celebration of music from cultures around the globe. According to reports, the show will feature huge pieces that float on the World Showcase lagoon, as well as lasers, fireworks, fountains, and LED panels that were made especially for the new show.
Can’t wait to see something new before Spring? No less than three new theater shows will be debuting on January 17! Let’s start with the Beauty and the Beast Singalong at the France Pavilion. I will leave out spoilers and just give the basic idea of this attraction. The show will be 14 minutes long and will feature five songs from the Disney animated film. Some of the animators from the original movie were involved in drawing for this new one as well.
Mrs. Potts (played, as in the original movie, by Angela Lansbury) is the narrator for the story. As in other Disney attractions based on full-length movies, a shortened version of the plot is explained to the audience. The new animation is combined with some scenes from the original version. Of course, show stoppers such as Be Our Guest, are included, and guests are invited to join in, after all it is a sing-a-long! I do not want to reveal too much but from what I have heard, there are surprises and this show is NOT just a re-telling of the classic Disney movie. FYI: Word has it that Impressions de France will still be playing, it will have a film quality upgrade and will rotate with the new Ratatouille show.
Next for January 17th, the film in the Canadian Pavilion will debut its new CircleVision 3D show entitled “Canada Far and Wide.” Still focusing on the many gorgeous views and interesting events found in our neighbor to the North, this latest version is narrated by Canadian actors/comedians Eugene Levy (American Pie series and many other films) and Catherine O’Hara (probably best known as the Mom in Home Alone, but she’s made many well-received movies). The music has been changed for this newest version of the attraction.
Since we are discussing openings on January 17th I’m going to go over to Future World temporarily. The Land Pavilion will host a new film called “Awesome Planet.” Replacing the environmental film “The Circle of Life,” Awesome Planet is said to be a beautiful film, also focusing on the importance of Ecology. Not animated like its predecessor, this movie showcases nature photography. Earth and all its diversity are the focus, and along with the film, expect to experience some “magical” effects as you watch.
And now back to World Showcase! Although not all of these have an opening date announced, here is what to expect:
- In the United Kingdom, Mary Poppins will (we think) have her own attraction. We are sure that the Pavilion will add Cherry Tree Lane, where the Banks family lived in the classic Disney film. Rumors abound that there may be a dark ride based on the movie as well, but so far nothing definite has been announced.
- In addition to the Be Our Guest Sing-a-long, there is a new ride attraction coming to France. Called Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, this attraction first debuted in Disneyland Paris and was a big hit. Expect to see Gusteau’s restaurant as if you were the size of a rat!
- China will replace Reflections of China Circlevision film with a new and improved 360 degree film. The movie will take you from one end of the country to the other, and uses the latest high-quality digital equipment.
Let’s move over to Future World, where a new and exciting roller coaster is expected to open in 2021. The new attraction, the first Disney ride created from the Marvel series, is based on the movie Guardians of the Galaxy. Called Cosmic Rewind and located on the site of the former Ellen’s Energy Adventure, when completed the roller coaster will be the biggest indoor coaster ever built.
While not exactly an attraction, a new water play area is expected to open sometime in 2021. Located next to the Imagination Pavilion, “Moana: Journey of Water,” is (naturally) based on the 2016 Disney film Moana. Guests will be able to interact with moving water in a natural setting. Most kids love those water areas; it’s such a great respite from the heat and a nice break from walking.
Future World will be undergoing a huge change, and for the most part, will be completely different than what was there in 2019. Spaceship Earth will remain, but the show inside is being revamped. The refurbishment will start in early 2020 and is expected to last two years! Expect to see a new story being told, as well as new music added to the attraction. The focus will still be on ideas that people have experienced throughout history. Some of the old scenes will remain, but many will be changed or updated. As you exit the ride, a new statue of Walt Disney will await you.
The last “big” change will be a re-imagining of the former Wonders of Life Pavilion (most recently used as a festival center during some of the Epcot festivals). Expected to open by 2021, and called the Play Pavilion, it is just what it sounds like. You will find games, activities, and experiences that connect both real and virtually with friends, family, and Disney characters. Donald’s nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, will be here, inviting you to join their water balloon fight, and you will be able to assist Edna Mode in aiding the World in improving their sense of style.
Expect to also see the following in Future World once the work is completed:
- A wishing tree
- A pavilion for live events
- A new fountain termed a “story fountain”
- The front entrance plaza (former site of Leave a Legacy) will be beautified with flowers and other landscaping
If you are visiting in the near future, be prepared for the following permanent closures:
- Electric Umbrella
- Innoventions East
- Nanooze Break
These locations will close temporarily:
- Mouse Gear (This will be relocated to Innoventions East until the regular store is refurbished and reopened)
- Club Cool
- Fountain View/Starbucks (temporary location will be Odyssey House, behind Test Track)
- Character Spot
- Pin Central
- Heritage Manor
- Art of Disney
Additionally, on January 5, the character meet-and-greets in Innoventions West closed, with some moving to other locations throughout the park. Here is what is currently known:
- Mickey Mouse will be available to meet guests in the queue for the Disney-Pixar Short Film Festival in the Imagination! Pavilion
- Minnie Mouse will be meeting guests at the World Showcase Gazebo; Daisy’s meet-and-greet will be relocated to Future World East
- Goofy will be at the Main Entrance near Spaceship Earth
- Joy can be found in the Imagination! Pavilion
- Sadness and Baymax will not be greeting guests during this time
Much (although not all) of what this blog discusses can be seen and heard in the Odyssey House at Epcot, in the “Epcot Experience” exhibit. This 360 degree 12 minute movie immerses you in the new projects coming to Epcot soon. It is a very exciting experience, and the same building has murals and posters of the upcoming changes. This exhibit is temporary, and I highly recommend you checking it out if you are visiting Epcot in the near future. The final date has not been announced.
I am sad to say goodbye to some of the things I enjoyed and was familiar with at Epcot. But I am excited to see what the Imagineers have in store for us with all the new changes coming up.
It’s hard to imagine that Walt Disney World is 50. I am looking forward to the celebration!