Walt Disney World has quietly announced a slew of closures for Epcot as Future World prepares for its massive Central Spine Redesign that was announced at the last D23 Expo. In this post, we’ll take a look at the news of the closures, interim plans, and some of the past rumors about changes coming to Epcot.
Interestingly, none of this news comes from an official Walt Disney World press release or announcement on the Disney Parks Blog. Instead, individual pages on DisneyWorld.com were updated with refurbishment notices, like this one for MouseGear: “As part of the ongoing transformation of Epcot, Mouse Gear will move to a temporary home this winter while its current location is reimagined.”
Subsequent to that, the @WDWToday twitter account has been inundated by questions regarding the closures, and has provided additional details clarifying and elaborating upon what’s happening–and when. We’re guessing that Walt Disney World plans to make a splashier announcement about the future of Epcot at the Parks & Resorts panel at next month’s D23 Expo, but here’s what we know so far…
Character Spot, Innoventions East, Colortopia, Nanooze Break, Club Cool, Electric Umbrella, the Fountain View Starbucks, Art of Disney, and the Camera Center underneath Spaceship Earth will all close at various points later this year, with the earliest closures beginning in September.
As part of the ongoing transformation of Epcot, Innoventions East (which only means the Colortopia and Nanooze Break exhibits at this point) is scheduled to close on September 8, 2019. The final date of operation for this area will be September 7. Note that Innoventions West has already ceased operations.
For many Walt Disney World vacation planners, Character Spot is the biggest closure on this list. It will also close on September 8, with all of its characters relocated to new, temporary, or existing meet & greet locations throughout Epcot. Our assumption is that the permanent replacement for Character Spot will be the Play Pavilion, but that’s simply a guess.
Electric Umbrella will close at a later date, with its official DisneyWorld.com page stating, “As part of the exciting transformation of Epcot, Electric Umbrella is scheduled to close this winter. New dining options will be available in the future, featuring a variety of food and beverage selections.”
Fountain View is another closure without a set date, but we’re guessing it’ll happen on September 8. Per DisneyWorld.com, “As part of the ongoing transformation of Epcot, Fountain View featuring Starbucks will relocate to a temporary location in late Fall.” September 8 is when Fountain of Nations closes, which is the biggest loss for me, personally. I really hope something comparable will be added to Future World elsewhere.
Club Cool will also close on the same date, but Walt Disney World has indicated that its “elements will be incorporated into the new offerings as part of Epcot’s evolution!” Pin Central will also close in September, and will operate temporarily from the Camera Center (which itself will close to become a new home for Pin Central).
Nearby Art of Disney is another September 8, 2019 closure. Its official page indicates that Heritage Manor back in the American Adventure will become the new home for Art of Disney offerings. There’s no indication on Heritage Manor’s page as to when (if at all) it will close to transform into the temporary Art of Disney store.
Phew, that’s a lot of closures and relocations in Epcot’s Future World on September 8, 2019 with even more to follow beginning in the winter! (Hopefully we didn’t miss anything.)
Even though it’s going to be sad saying goodbye to some longtime Epcot favorites, much of that is for what we remember, not these areas of Future World as they exist today. There’s not much love lost for Pin Central, those Innoventions exhibits, or the mid-1990s incarnation of Electric Umbrella.
The original EPCOT Center is gone, and has been for a long time. It’s tough to completely say goodbye (see our “Why Can’t We Let EPCOT Go?“ post for our perspective on that), but it’s beyond time for something new. Only the loss of the Fountain of Nations stings here.
In piecing all of today’s announcements together, the only one of these closures that does not appear to be permanent is MouseGear. That location is “only” being re-imagined, and appears that the physical structure will survive whatever else happens. Everything else is far more up in the air. If past rumors are to be believed, many of these other buildings will be demolished entirely. (Save for, perhaps, Electric Umbrella and Innoventions East.)
Thus far, the only confirmed and announced project we have for this area is the New Epcot Entrance & Play Pavilion. As a reminder, the former project is moving along at a brisk pace, with half of the Leave a Legacy monoliths now removed. Everything else is rumor, or speculation upon the concept art at the top of this post, which has almost certainly changed in the two years since it was flashed at the last D23 Expo.
Absent from today’s announcements is the future of Spaceship Earth. As we shared in our 2-Year Spaceship Earth Closure & Reimagining rumor post from earlier this year, there are (or were?) plans for a prolonged closure and overhaul of that attraction, beginning as soon as this fall.
We have zero insight as to whether that’s still happening, and no credible rumors have emerged since then to either add further credence to that project, or to discredit it. As Spaceship Earth is the iconic attraction of Epcot, it would make sense that Walt Disney World wouldn’t quietly list a multi-year closure in a little blurb on its ride page. Expect to know one way or the other as to whether this is happening come the D23 Expo.
“We’ll see what’s actually going to happen at the D23 Expo” is probably the most sensical refrain we can offer right now. In the last two years, a ton of rumors have made the rounds for the future of Epcot, from the now-unlikely (multiple) hotels near the front of Epcot to the reemergence of the long-rumored Brazil pavilion in World Showcase.
Based upon Parks Blog statements last week, it appears Disney is trying to put a lid on the rumor mill ahead of the D23 Expo. As such, we’re not expecting much else to leak out, and are ourselves a bit more skeptical than normal of Walt Disney World rumors. It should be a fun and interesting D23 Expo, that’s for sure!
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What do you think of all these closures at Epcot come this September and beyond? Excited for Future World’s transformation, or sad to see some of these things go? Other thoughts? 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!