Brazil pavilion in World Showcase at Epcot? Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge becoming a character meal? A reinvention of Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom? V.I.Passholder Nights at Walt Disney World…for free?! We’re back covering these news and rumors from Walt Disney World in this update.
We’ll start with Artist Point, the underrated Signature Restaurant at Wilderness Lodge. If we had to, we’d bet that Artist Point is the least popular Signature Restaurant at Walt Disney World. You really don’t hear a ton about it, and this is despite our opinion that it’s a strong option in terms of cuisine. Unfortunately, unlike its counterparts like California Grill or Flying Fish, it doesn’t have an iconic feature or convenient location that gives it a high profile and draws guests.
It has been known for a couple of months now that something is up with Artist Point. When the ADR window opened for November 2018, Artist Point surprisingly had no availability. If you try to book something now for the restaurant beyond October 28, 2018, you won’t find anything. To say this is ‘uncommon’ with Artist Point so far in advance would be an understatement. Something is up…
At this point, what exactly happens with Artist Point is anyone’s guess. Our suspicion is that there is backstage (kitchen) work slated to happen, along with a re-imagining of the dining room. This would be consistent with both the California Grill and Flying Fish refurbishments of the last few years, and would take around 6 months to complete.
We’d say at least that much is pretty close to a sure thing. With Wilderness Lodge now having more Disney Vacation Club units, it stands to reason that increasing the appeal and popularity of Artist Point makes sense. There’s also a persistent rumor, originating on the Disboards, that Artist Point will convert to character dining.
That’s definitely a possibility. It’s also possible that character dining will be added for breakfast, with the other meals remaining character-free. Even though it might seem odd to have a character meal at a Signature Restaurant, there’s no reason the two couldn’t co-exist. Artist Point used to have a “Pocahontas and Friends Breakfast” in the mid-1990s, so this isn’t exactly unprecedented.
It’s also possible that Artist Point will lose its Signature status, while adding character dining for breakfast and retaining “normal” table service dining for lunch and dinner. As a Deluxe Resort, it seems unlikely that Wilderness Lodge wouldn’t have a “normal” (character and gimmick-free) table service restaurant.
Next, the upcoming overhaul of Tomorrowland. This is a rumor (or rather, slew of rumors) that has been making the rounds since even before TRON Lightcycle Power Run was announced. It’s a foregone conclusion that something is going to happen between now and Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, it’s really just a matter of what.
As we shared in our recent Summer 2018 Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland Update, there have been new rumors of adding show scenes and a permanent Incredibles narration to the PeopleMover. Other rumors have been floating around for a while: a Wreck-It Ralph VR racer replacing Stitch’s Great Escape (which seems less likely for the moment), a new scene for Carousel of Progress, and an aesthetic refresh to Tomorrowland Speedway and the land at-large.
Late last month, Orlando Weekly published a round-up of these rumors. From what we’ve heard, most of what’s reported there is highly unlikely–but not all of it. The PeopleMover is overdue for an extended refurbishment, but that’s to fix persistent issues with the ride system and its reliability.
Given the attraction’s ridership numbers–and future increases that are sure to come with more foot traffic in Tomorrowland–adding show scenes would be a savvy investment. At a minimum, a few more vignettes or Audio Animatronics (there are a few sitting around in Stitch’s Great Escape!) to avoid complaints from families that it’s a boring transportation “ride to nowhere” might be a good move.
Aside from that article, we’ve heard absolutely nothing about moving the load/unload and queue areas for the PeopleMover, and that seems highly unlikely to us. Stranger things have happened, but that would be a huge project that would consume other valuable real estate in Tomorrowland. We’d be shocked if that occurs.
Brazil in Epcot is another rumor we’ve reported on numerous times, and we ranked it the #2 rumor for Epcot ahead of last year’s D23 Expo (behind only Ratatouille: Kitchen Kalamity, which already had permits filed at that point). Even after it was not announced, we received indication that it would still be happening, and that a lot that would be coming to Epcot was not revealed at the event.
Since last summer, we’ve continued to hear a flurry of Epcot rumors, some of which contradict one another. As we noted in our Epcot Summer 2018 Update, we’ve heard that those plans for Epcot that were not announced–or not greenlit–are in flux. Throughout all of that, the one constant has been the Brazil pavilion. Despite an official announcement, we have yet to hear anything suggesting that it’s not happening.
The latest reliable rumor comes from WDWMagic, where it’s being reported that the Brazil pavilion will have a $450 million budget, with the country’s government picking up $250 million of that cost. The information comes from a financial breakdown of upcoming additions and changes to Epcot.
Per this poster, the breakdown also includes Journey into Imagination 4.0. While we haven’t seen this financial breakdown ourselves, we have spoken with someone else who mentioned a line-item cost breakdown for Epcot’s re-imagining that listed some staggering amounts…the basis for this rumor would seem consistent with that line-item breakdown.
(As for Journey into Imagination, we haven’t heard anything reliable about it since Frozen Ever After stole its overhaul budget a few years ago. We’re more than ready for Journey into Imagination to receive an overhaul, but it’s highly unlikely that’ll occur by Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary.)
Back to Brazil. If you want a look at what was pitched to Brazil for the pavilion, there’s some Brazil concept art here. There have been some rumblings that a competing concept (or two) exists or existed for the pavilion, but we have not heard anything firsthand about what these other proposals might entail.
The Brazil pavilion would be located behind the miniature train set at the Germany pavilion. The first sign of the pavilion’s existence would be backstage land clearing, and there are several structures that would need to be relocated before construction of the Brazil pavilion could begin.
Even without a sponsor, a Brazil pavilion seems like a foregone conclusion. Funding from Brazil’s government likely only ensures an attraction for the pavilion, and greater opportunities to promote tourism to Brazil. We’re frankly a bit shocked that an attraction-less pavilion has not already been built solely at Disney’s expense.
As we’ve said before, a Brazil pavilion makes perfect sense and could be quite lucrative for Walt Disney World. Brazilian visitors are a significant demographic for Disney, with the country being the #3 foreign market in terms of visitors to Orlando–both #1 and #2 are already represented in World Showcase.
A Brazil pavilion would have popular dining offerings, as Brazilian guests would seek out familiar cuisine–just as American guests do. Walt Disney World already sells Brazil merchandise even without having the pavilion, but having dedicated retail space for Brazil-themed items would also be beneficial.
While these events are free to valid Annual Passholders, attendance will require advance registration…via email link.(DUN DUN DUN!) For those of us APs who don’t receive Walt Disney World emails (for unbeknownst reasons…perhaps we simply are not the chosen ones via the Email Claw), that could pose a problem.
We’re expecting these events to be a somewhere between evening Extra Magic Hours and Disney Vacation Club Moonlight Magic events in terms of quality and “specialness.” Expect there to be special photo ops and perhaps a few rare characters, but probably not free food, exclusive fireworks, or ultra-low crowds. A nice perk for those already in town, but nothing around which we’d plan a trip to Florida.
What do you think about this Walt Disney World news? Any of these rumors you hope do or don’t come to fruition? Any questions? Hearing your feedback is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!