CommuniCore Hall & Plaza Opening at EPCOT in Summer 2024

Walt Disney World has officially opened the World Celebration neighborhood of EPCOT, which will be home to CommuniCore Hall and Plaza starting in Summer 2024. This is the reimagined core of Future World and scaled down festival center that was previously announced but shelved. This post shares concept art, what’s being promised, and our commentary. (Updated March 26, 2024.)

EPCOT is now unified with four neighborhoods, each speaking to important aspects of the world and its people: World Showcase, World Celebration, World Nature and World Discovery. These neighborhoods are filled with new experiences rooted in authenticity and innovation that take guests to new destinations, where the real is made fantastic in a celebration of curiosity, discovery and the magic of possibility.

The news of four “neighborhoods” in EPCOT are nothing new. Nearly 7 years ago at the D23 Expo Parks & Resorts panel, the company announced the overhaul of Future World and flashed concept art on screen. Three years ago at the same event, Disney released new concept art and a color-coded “map.” That map remains accurate since it was simply a colored overlay of the then-existing EPCOT. Then at the start of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, the three new neighborhoods at the front of the park officially replaced Future World.

For a while, we’ve been in the dark about Walt Disney World’s current “vision” for EPCOT’s transformation, as plans were put on hold and changed without new concept art being released for World Celebration (known “lovingly” around these parts as the Giant EPCOT Dirt Pit™️). More recent announcements shed light about what’s still planned for Epcot and what isn’t, along with new concept art for this area, now known as CommuniCore Hall & Plaza.

Here’s the latest on CommuniCore Hall and Plaza, followed by our commentary…

March 26, 2024 Update: EPCOT’s Flower & Garden Festival is now roughly half over, and progress continues on CommuniCore Hall and Plaza. Walt Disney World has already revealed that CommuniCore Hall and CommuniCore Plaza are delayed. Although the World Celebration Gardens are now open, CommuniCore Hall and Plaza will not debut until sometime in 2024.

Up until now, the big question has been: when in 2024? Well, the wait is almost over–the walls in the center of the park are about to come down. Walt Disney World announced that CommuniCore Hall and Plaza will officially open on June 10, 2024. With this, the new limited-time show, “¡Celebración Encanto!” with Mirabel and Bruno will run several times throughout the day on the CommuniCore Plaza stage.

We’re still fairly convinced that an as-yet unannounced EPCOT Summer Festival will run from June 10 through September 2024, with much of the event focused around CommuniCore Hall and World Celebration. This would bridge the gap between the Flower & Garden and Food & Wine Festivals, both of which are likely to be shorter this year, while also celebrating global summer festival traditions.

CommuniCore Hall will be surrounded by serene views and exciting experiences. The coolest mouse around will be ready to greet guests once the new character spot Mickey & Friends debuts. And as work wraps up on the exterior, we now know that the Mickey & Friends meet & greet location will offer a Genie+ Lightning Lane, too.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the ‘conceptual evolution’ of World Celebration. Previously, the heart of World Celebration was going to be a multi-level festival pavilion, shown below in concept art from the D23 Expo in 2019:

As you might recall, Disney announced that the company would “take a different approach” with the multi-level Festival Center in World Celebration right as the reopening process started. This was originally announced at the last D23 Expo, with a variety of concept art released about the space. (For those skimming this post, the above concept art is NOT what is being built anymore.)

Here’s another angle:

This multi-level festival pavilion was described as follows: “the perfect place for live events, and the home base for Epcot’s signature festivals. It will provide a stunning elevated view of the entire park and an ideal spot to witness Epcot’s nighttime spectacular. This beautiful three-level structure will have one of the most remarkable architectural designs at any Disney park, featuring a plaza level, a middle expo level, and a park that sits in the sky on the top level.”

Below is the new concept art, from that same angle:

There are minor changes throughout, but the most noticeable ones are to the festival pavilion itself, which is noticeably less vertical.

Now called CommuniCore Hall, this space is a new outdoor multi-use facility and events space, bringing international festivals to the center of the EPCOT experience. According to Walt Disney World, CommuniCore Plaza and Hall will be the first fully purpose-built location with EPCOT festivals in mind.

CommuniCore Hall will feature a demonstration kitchen and mixology bar to extend the festival programming and allow Disney chefs to share their creations with guests.

It will also feature a new location called Mickey & Friends (not the parking structure) for guests to meet characters. Presumably, CommuniCore Hall is an indoor-outdoor space.

Turning out attention outside to CommuniCore Plaza, which is the outdoor space in World Celebration. This area will feature a large central planter based on the five-ring logo of EPCOT.

Radiating from that will be a variety of gardens, each having its own identity character, with the ability to change and amplify festival themes. At night, controllable lighting evolves based on the seasonal events and is further enhanced by the Beacons of Magic on Spaceship Earth. 

The concept art above shows the way that the gardens in CommuniCore Plaza will change during the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, for example.

This all looks very different than prior concept art. Previously, this area was going to feature natural environments, a wishing tree in an enchanted forest, and a story fountain playing Disney music. Unless that just isn’t mentioned for some odd reason (doubtful), it sounds like the story fountain is being replaced by the planter.

On the outdoor side facing CommuniCore Plaza, it’ll have an outdoor stage for concerts and performances during festival season, which is integral to EPCOT. This looks similar to what previously existed on the backside of the Fountain of Nations, except now at ground level and without as cool of a backdrop.

I don’t care what anyone says, this is definitely an upgrade from the Giant EPCOT Dirt Pit™️! Whether it’s an upgrade from the prior central spine of Future World is debatable, as is whether all of this is “worth” several years of construction walls and a torn up park. Nothing I see in the concept art leads me to those conclusions. Perhaps it’ll all present better in person.

A few things stand out from this announcement. First, what is not mentioned at all. That includes projects were already know were “postponed” indefinitely, like the Mary Poppins attraction and Spaceship Earth reimagining. The status of the Mary Poppins project remains unclear, as former CEO Bob Chapek was asked about it last year and gave an answer suggesting it might not be dead.

Additionally, the Spaceship Earth reimagining will need to be revived at some point, since there are overdue issues with the attraction that will need to be addressed in the not-too-distant future irrespective of the reimagining. The ride needs track work, among other things, and a lengthy refurbishment will be necessary within the next few years. If a year-plus closure needs to happen, it might as well include show scene updates.

Another surprise is that the Play Pavilion also is not included in the announcement. Post-reopening, this project has not been mentioned at all–neither as something that has been cancelled or is proceeding as planned. At first, our assumption was that Disney didn’t quite know how to handle the very hands-on pavilion with all playgrounds and interactive exhibits closed. That’s no longer an issue, so the continued silence around Play Pavilion is curious.

We have no clue what’s up with the Play Pavilion. Our understanding is/was that the project was pretty far along pre-closure, and would’ve had no issues making its planned opening date this year. However, the lack of anything official–or even rumors–makes us wonder whether this mothballed project will come to fruition, or will be “restored” to its status as a festival center.

Ultimately, I can’t say that I’m personally excited about CommuniCore Hall or Plaza. One reason I was previously on board with losing Innoventions and Fountain of Nations was because the multi-level festival pavilion looked incredibly ambitious, and architecturally compelling. Even though it wouldn’t have the same symmetry and clean look of Future World, it looked like a compelling addition.

This latest concept art looks like a knock-off of the previous core of Future World, with Innoventions replaced by a similar but incomplete building and Fountain of Nations replaced with a planter. About the only thing that’s an unequivocal upgrade is the lushness of the area. I’m no “tree expert,” but I feel like that could’ve been accomplished without this entire area engulfed in construction walls for several years.

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What do you think of EPCOT’s newly-announced CommuniCore Hall and Plaza? Is this an exciting development, or underwhelming as compared to the previous multi-level festival center? Looking forward to any of these projects coming to EPCOT? Disappointed about anything that has been delayed or cancelled? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

39 Responses to “CommuniCore Hall & Plaza Opening at EPCOT in Summer 2024”
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