Epcot Construction Update: Prismatic Pylon Party!

We’re back at EPCOT for another post-reopening photo update. I know what you’re thinking: again?! We’ve already done almost as many reports from here as all other Walt Disney World parks combined. In fairness, a lot has been changing here. Future World is under construction. World Showcase is hosting Taste of 2020 Epcot Food & Wine Festival. It’s the only park open at night.

There’s also been some bad news from EPCOT. Spaceship Earth’s Reimagining and the Marry Poppins Cherry Tree Lane expansion in the United Kingdom have both been delayed indefinitely or cancelled. Walt Disney World announced other cutbacks and cancellations, indicating it will “take a different approach” with the new Festival Center. Walt Disney World will cut park hours in the fall, impacting Epcot disproportionately.

Being an unabashed old school EPCOT Center fan, my reactions to this news haven’t always aligned with newer or more casual Walt Disney World fans. (A couple of the cancellations aren’t even “bad news” in my view.) However, you can always count on EPCOT Center fans to have exaggerated or amplified reactions to any change, good or bad. That was true with those projects, and is once again the case today. The difference is that this is unequivocally good news–something that had longtime fans squealing with delight…

EPCOT Center’s iconic prismatic pylons have returned to the fountain in front of Spaceship Earth!!!

That sentence is either going to have you elated or confused, with probably zero in between. For those perplexed by our enthusiasm, here’s a look at what has us so hyped:

Longtime EPCOT Center fans are on cloud nine because these are the three lucite pylons that stood atop the entrance plaza fountain in front of Spaceship Earth when the park opened. Basically, we’re partying like it’s 1982!

These feature prominently in some of Walt Disney World’s most iconic publicity photos over the years, including Card Walker’s opening day dedication and other festivities at EPCOT Center on October 1, 1982. From Walt Disney’s Epcot: The New World of Tomorrow to about a dozen other subsequent official titles, these pylons were prominent in most photos of Spaceship Earth.

If you don’t see what all of the fuss is about, that’s totally understandable. They’re obviously not a substantive addition that will round out the attraction lineup at EPCOT.

Like so many things about the park and Walt Disney World as a whole, the prismatic pylons tug at the sentimental heartstrings for some fans. They evoke feelings of nostalgia for a version of Future World that now exists only in memories.

In short, these lucite structures are a symbolic thing both literally and figuratively.

You either get it or you don’t. No big deal if you don’t–you’re not “missing” much. A huge deal for those who do, though.

Although there was a ton of excitement among EPCOT Center purists at this reveal, it wasn’t really a surprise.

Back when the Play Pavilion and New EPCOT Entrance were announced last year, this was in the concept art.

However, Walt Disney World has a way of deviating from concept art or reworking it entirely (as we’re almost certainly going to see with the Central Spine Redesign behind Spaceship Earth).

Plus, EPCOT fans have been burned enough to know better than counting our chickens before they hatch.

Surprisingly, the news came without fanfare. No flashy publicity photos or press release, and no Disney Parks Blog post.

Just Instagram photos from an Imagineer.

Here’s what the caption revealed about the installation: “I’m excited to share a first look at the pylons we installed last night as we continue to reimagine the EPCOT main entrance fountain, which has anchored this area since the park opened in 1982.

“Our design team took special interest in looking back to the original geometry for inspiration and infusing new features with a little bit of added magic to bridge the past, present and future of EPCOT. These majestic pylons also draw your eye upward toward the sky and perfectly frame views of the iconic Spaceship Earth attraction. I can’t wait to reveal the completed look for this fountain later this year!”

I’m cognizant that this is an olive branch tossed to EPCOT Center fans, a small thing while the park changes in major ways for future generations of visitors.

Much of that is unavoidable. It’s no secret that Future World has been stagnating for decades, with no clear vision or path forward. Stuck in the past, but in an awkward way with many of its memorable and iconic attractions already gone.

With all of that said, I’m over the moon about the return of the prismatic pylons. It’s such a simple thing, but one that brought me so much happiness yesterday. It might seem patently absurd to be gushing about a few pillars behind a construction wall, but at a time with an endless supply of unpleasant news, I will take it!

The prismatic pylons also give me a sense of renewed optimism that the team of Imagineers leading the EPCOT project will do the delicate balancing act of both appeasing EPCOT Center purists and creating a reimagined park with mainstream appeal. Here’s hoping for the best!

We actually have a bunch of other construction updates from EPCOT, which we’ll run through pretty quickly.

First, “roofing reports” from both Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and the Play Pavilion.

While we’ve been arriving at EPCOT too late to actually see any of the work in person, my powers of inductive reasoning (read: comparing photos I took on different days) reveal that crews have been working on both projects.

In the case of Cosmic Rewind, it also appears that work has resumed inside the old Universe of Energy building.

Over at Space 220 Restaurant, work has resumed outside the entrance building that’ll serve as the courtyard for guests approaching from Mission Space.

Presumably, the big green building that houses the restaurant will be concealed by trees or a tunnel, as the conceit here is that you’re boarding a special “space elevator” that takes you 220 miles above earth.

Back in World Showcase, there are signs of life in the China pavilion.

Not only has House of Good Fortune reopened, but we observed action inside of Nine Dragons. Still no word on when that’ll returned, but we’ll keep an eye out.

Okay, this was not meant to be a construction photo–it’s simply a shot I captured while running around distracted by the golden hour light.

However, you might notice the red crane peeking out of the right side of the photo. That’s working on Harmonious, which has resumed. We keep seeing this from the road and Skyliner, and I keep forgetting to take pictures. No word on when Harmonious will debut, but my bet is Fall 2021.

For those wondering about crowds, they were pretty minimal from the time we arrived in the afternoon until park closing.

In fact, this was one of the slower evenings we’ve observed at EPCOT since reopening. Almost every wait time we saw was under 15 minutes. Eyeballing the lines, even those were inflated times–most attractions were walk-ons.

At around 8:45 pm, we waited 5 minutes for Test Track.

It’s worth noting here that over the weekend, all four parks at Walt Disney World saw their “heaviest” crowds since reopening. This was likely one last hurrah before local schools went back into session, but expect this trend to continue to some degree. Floridians are making up a disproportionate number of guests right now, and they’re going to be visiting in significantly larger numbers on weekends. Plan accordingly if you’re a tourist–weekdays will be far less busy.

Finally, this cute new shoulder Figment (full price $20). Shoutout to Sarah’s head for the modeling assist here.

Ultimately, another excellent evening in EPCOT. While the news from this park hasn’t been the best for the last couple of weeks, the small but significant addition of the prismatic pylons is something fans are loving. Using our newfound optimism to find other silver linings, the Mary Poppins and Spaceship Earth cancellations give Imagineering a chance to go back to the drawing board for more ambitious incarnations of those projects at a later date, and the reduction of fall hours is better than EPCOT going into seasonal status and closing Tuesdays through Thursdays. We’re excited to see what the future holds for EPCOT, but in the near term we promise to do other Walt Disney World park updates before returning here yet again. (Maybe.)

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Are you joining the prismatic pylon party, or do you not get the hype? Optimistic about the future of EPCOT or think this is a disproportionate reaction? What do you think of the current state of Epcot and its construction? What do you expect to happen with Space 220 Restaurant, World Celebration, Festival Center, Play Pavilion, and other projects at Epcot? Looking forward to visiting Endless Projects: Construction of Tomorrow during your next WDW trip, 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!

18 Responses to “Epcot Construction Update: Prismatic Pylon Party!”
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