Epcot August 2019 Update: Pre-Festival & Pre-Announcements

Epcot is first up for our August 2019 Walt Disney World construction updates. In this photo update, we’ll take a look at progress on the new park entrance, Leave a Legacy and fountain removal, work on the old Universe of Energy building, and preparations for Food & Wine Festival.

Between the beginning of Food & Wine and promised D23 Expo Epcot announcements in a couple weeks, there’s a lot on the horizon at Epcot. Much of this is already happening as the park approaches next month’s “big date” when a bunch of stuff permanently or temporarily closes in Future World. (See our Closing at Epcot: Club Cool, Starbucks, Electric Umbrella, MouseGear, Fountain of Nations, Etc post for full details.) 

In a way, right now is both the calm before the storm and a race against the clock to get things finished before Diet Epcot “ends” and the busy Festival Season begins. There’s a lot of work currently underway that presumably has an August 29, 2019 drop dead date, and other projects prepping to take full flight on September 8, 2019…

We’ve been wanting to bring you an aerial update with beautiful overhead photos of Walt Disney World for a while. You loyal readers deserve nothing but the best!

Unfortunately, I’ve been advised that chartering a helicopter costs “money” whereas the Highway in the Sky is every bit as good (debatable) for aerial construction views and, this part is crucial, totally free

As we approach Epcot, the full scope of the entrance project construction is made apparent.

This is just a small view of the work being done here. This area is massive, far larger than I realized.

This “aerial” view was actually taken after exiting the monorail, but looks at this construction zone from the opposite perspective. Suffice to say, it’s huge. On par with the work that was done at Disney’s Hollywood Studios during the height of its entrance construction. Thankfully, there’s no Bus Stop Half Marathon here.

My big hope with this project, and something I assume will finally be accomplished, is that the bag check is moved outside the monorail station. Being able to park hop between Magic Kingdom and Epcot (in both directions) without having to go through security again would be huge.

Entering Epcot, here’s a current look at the Leave a Legacy monolith removal. We covered the end result on the other side about a month ago in our “Epcot Update: Now with 50% Fewer Tombstones!

You’ll note that I’ve referred to them by their proper name–monoliths. Out of respect to the fallen, I will no longer joke about this being a war memorial honoring those lost in the Battle of Body Wars. I now realize this is a solemn, sensitive topic and is no place for my feeble attempts at humor.

As you can see from the photo above, the construction walls here now also encompass both the entrance planter and frontside fountain.

If the concept art Disney released earlier this year is accurate, it would appear that these will both be reworked, but not replaced. That could explain the careful removal of bricks on the fountain above.

Regardless of where we all stand on the Leave a Legacy monoliths, I feel like we can (maybe?) find a middle ground when it comes to this entrance…

I think moving the Leave a Legacy photos to a location outside the park–even after Disney’s contractual obligations to those who purchased these have been satisfied–is a fair move. Those who purchased photos still can see them at Epcot, but the monoliths can go.

This monolith removal allows for Epcot’s entrance to become a more lush and vibrant environment, one that should make Future World feel more vibrant and alive. This is crucial in establishing a first impression and setting the tone the moment new guests enter the park.

Even setting aside what Leave a Legacy evoked in some minds, elements of Future World (beyond the entrance) have had a ‘dead 90s mall’ vibe for a while–many regular fans perhaps haven’t felt this because Future World is so familiar to us. This new entrance should be a first step in reversing that, and helping restore some of EPCOT Center’s sense of optimism. It’s not a huge, substantive change, but it’s still an important one.

Continuing on our Highway in the Sky tour, we bounce to the other monorail window (excuse the reflections) for a look at the latest progress on the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster.

We’ve gone from the bulk of the work occurring on the giant show building to a flurry of activity on the old Universe of Energy building.

This will serve as the entrance, queue, pre-show, and load area for the new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction.

Although there’s a lot happening here, there’s not a ton to see. Looking inside the building, it no longer looks bare, but it’s tough to ascertain what’s being built in there.

Bouncing to the ground for a moment, here’s how construction looks on the ground.

Pretty similar to how it has looked for nearly two years now.

However, work is also now visible on the roof of the Universe of Energy building.

It’s unclear to me what’s happening up here, but you might recall that the solar panels were removed from the Universe of Energy building almost exactly a year ago.

Concept art for the new Guardians of the Galaxy exterior shows it with solar panels, so we’re assuming these are returning at some point.

Either way, this is more activity than we’ve seen around the Universe of Energy building since last October.

Next, we have the old Odyssey building, which has been slowly transforming into the Festival Center for the medium-term, as the Play Pavilion is taking over Wonders of Life and the reimagined Future World (presumably with a permanent Festival Center) is still a few years away.

The latest development here is a new lighter coat of paint to the exterior of the building.

The next big project we approach from our Highway in the Sky photo tour is the Future World West pathway widening.

Calling this a ‘pathway widening’ really downplays what’s happening here…

There’s the new wider pathway, and simultaneous to this, the Next Eats Festival Area (which includes some of my favorite booths) has gone up.

This pathway long has been a source of frustration for me, as it’s incredibly easy to get stuck in a slow-moving herd of humanity. Hopefully it being wider remedies this.

That’ll be nice, but I think the bigger motivation for doing this now is because in a few months there will be walls around Innoventions West.

That could mean this will be the main route for accessing the Land and Journey into Imagination, which would obviously mean increased foot traffic. Without a wider path, that’d mean serious congestion.

Back on the ground, there’s the third component of this project, which is a permanent structure that’s being built over by Refreshment Port.

I have no clue what this is, but if I had to guess, I’d say restrooms. The ones at Refreshment Port are frustratingly small, so that would make sense. Of course, it could be something different completely. Either way, I wouldn’t expect this structure to be finished by the time Food & Wine Festival starts in a couple of weeks.

The pathway widening, on the other hand, should be finished by the end of August. Perhaps not the path leading to World Showcase, but the one within Future World should wrap up by then.

Even though it appears that a lot of work remains to be done, there’s really no way around it finishing by August 29, as that’s when those Next Eats booths will open.

Continuing with the areas of Epcot we can’t see from the monorail, we have our latest look at the unnamed restaurant that should be called Mission: Plates.

Disney has stated that this restaurant will open in 2019. As we discuss in our New Walt Disney World Restaurants Coming in 2020 post, we think that’s highly unlikely. I mean…just look at it.

It didn’t really make headlines or receive a warm farewell, but O Canada!, the long-running World Showcase Circle-Vision 360 movie, closed earlier this month to “receive upgrades.”

These upgrades will include at least some new footage and an updated projection system. During the closure, the theater will be used to house an indoor Food & Wine festival marketplace.

Speaking of Food & Wine, more booths continue to go up around World Showcase. If you’re planning on attending this event, consult our Ultimate Guide to the 2019 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

Some noteworthy additions like the Alps and Appleseed Orchard (above). We have cover all the food and drinks, along with photos from last year in our Menus & Food Photos: 2019 Epcot Food & Wine Festival post.

This is probably our last in-park update before Food & Wine begins on August 29, 2019. We have quite the crazy day planned, starting at the crack of dawn for the debut of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and continuing to Epcot for opening day of Food & Wine, and more. I’m already physically preparing my stomach for this challenge, and mentally preparing for a full day of Florida weather in August. We’ll have live coverage here, so you can join in the “fun.” It should be a blast! 

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think of the current state of Epcot and its construction projects? Are you looking forward to seeing Epcot transform over the next few years, or dreading visits to the park while it’s an active construction site? 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!


15 Responses to “Epcot August 2019 Update: Pre-Festival & Pre-Announcements”
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