EPCOT Overhaul News: CommuniCore Construction Continues Crawl to Completion
Walt Disney World has shared an update, of sorts, about the multi-year transformation of EPCOT. Along with that, we have new construction photos of CommuniCore Hall & Plaza, plus commentary and opening expectations.
This follows the other news about EPCOT’s New Nighttime Spectacular & Disney100 Anniversary Celebration in Late 2023. With EPCOT wrapping up its overhaul, the park will play host to the 100 Years of Wonder Celebration and a new nighttime spectacular, among other things, while also have new dedicated meet & greet spaces.
Work on the unnamed nighttime spectacular will start in a little over a week, as construction crews begin removal of the Stargate and Water Tacos following the final Harmonious performance on April 2, 2023. The new nighttime spectacular promises to be a dazzling display of music, pyrotechnics, lasers and lighting; the show will feature an original composition and evocative selections from the Disney songbook, all woven together to remind us that we are more alike than different.
Turning back to the front of EPCOT, the park will also see completion of the new World Celebration neighborhood in Late 2023. As the hub of the park, it will feature different gardens that change with the seasons. It will also be home to the new Communicore Plaza and the new Communicore Hall, the latter offering a place to meet Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.
World Celebration will also anchor the park’s renowned festivals. It is also where guests will discover Dreamers Point, an inspiring overlook showcasing a statue of Walt Disney called “Walt the Dreamer.” Walt Disney World has also implied that Moana’s Journey of Water will open in Fall 2023; as we cover in our latest Moana’s Journey of Water Construction Update, that walk-through could quietly debut months earlier than that.
As for World Celebration, this area that’s still behind walls will provide a park hub divided into several different gardens, with a central planter based on the five-ring EPCOT logo, according to Walt Disney World.
Filled with seating and shade, World Celebration will be a space to connect with one another and the nature around you in this lush new area. Each of these gardens will have their own identities, and they’ll change along with the festivals throughout the year.
At night, the gardens in World Celebration will take on a whole new life. They’re designed to be enjoyed in the round, where lighting immerses you in the nighttime experience that will evolve through the seasons.
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.
When CommuniCore Hall opens in World Celebration in Late 2023, it will be the center of festival programming throughout the park. CommuniCore Hall will be a flexible exhibition and gallery space, offering a variety of experiences that highlight art, live music, food – complete with a demonstration kitchen – and more.
It will also be home to a new character greeting location called Mickey & Friends (not the parking structure). You’ll be able to meet Mickey Mouse and some of his best pals in this colorful space. This is a purpose-built location that’ll likely be similar to the old meet & greet space in Innoventions.
CommuniCore Hall will also be the home of an exhibition space that will change with each festival throughout the year. One possibility pictured above is imagined for EPCOT International Festival of the Arts.
Walt Disney World claims that the architecture plays with light, shapes and reflections, and was designed by Walt Disney Imagineering to “celebrate the legacy of EPCOT and the original CommuniCore buildings.” Sure thing, Bob.
In fairness, 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.
See our post about CommuniCore Hall and Plaza Coming to EPCOT for more ‘color commentary’ about this venue. No other specifics have been shared as to the meet & greets coming to the World Celebration neighborhood of EPCOT.
With those details out of the way, let’s take a look at new construction photos of the Giant EPCOT Dirt Pit™️ and Communicore Hall as of Spring 2023. I don’t have enough to say about this to inject commentary between each photo–I’ll have some brief parting thoughts at the end…
My first thought, when watching work from the monorail, is that a lot still remains to be done. Moana’s Journey of Water is nearly completed, but everything else looks like it’s several months from being finished. Late 2023 is still ~6 months away, but it’s going to be a race against the clock to have this opened by October 2023. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas seems more likely, which seems like an odd time to kick off the Disney100 Celebration.
That’s if you look at the construction without any knowledge of how long it’s taken to get the project to this point. When I browse through my photos from late 2019 or early 2020, they aren’t that much different than these. If anything, CommuniCore Hall is still a few months from looking how Innoventions did in late 2019 before its demolition began.
Ultimately, I’m just ready for this all to be over. Once everything is finally said and done, it’ll have been 4 years that the central spine of EPCOT has been torn up and behind construction walls. That’s a ridiculous amount of time to have the main corridor of the park out of commission. The pace of the project has been too slow from the outset, but it’s only gotten worse post-reopening. But at least it was going to be ambitious at one point, overhauling a park that had been stagnating for far too long while adding unique architecture and interactive features.
What’s discouraging is to go through 3 rounds of redesigns and end up with this. It seems incredibly short-sighted to build something roughly equivalent to what they tore down (minus the symmetry) and like a tremendous amount of money and several years have been wasted for a difference amounting to “more trees!” and “one fewer fountain!” This is going to be around for decades to come, and looks wholly unambitious and uninspired. Whatever, though. It’s not like this is the park dedicated to the spirit of human innovation and imagination. Oh wait.
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What do you think of Walt Disney World’s plans for CommuniCore Hall and Plaza? Think this will all actually be done by Late 2023? 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!
It looks like the World Celebration of Walls is doomed to have its schedule stretched out past October 1 as part of the spending shift out of Fiscal Year 2023.
In honor of the title of this post, I would give the final result a C, if I can throw in the removal of the 90s-era tarp blight with the additional trees and the “sit with Walt Disney and watch kids run around” statue. The execution, on the other hand … just leaves a final feeling of failure.
I am so over this. I can’t believe the scaled down plans and it’s taken 4 years! Do you recall the timeline on the DCA overhaul? We were there fall 2011 when the entire front of the park was closed but it was ready to go by June 2012. It couldn’t have been more then a year or 2?
The pace of redevelopment is just shameful for the team that should be the best in the business.
When this mess is finally over, can they quietly just close Imagination and make it an updated version of the original. I mean how hard could it be. #freethedreamfinder
Spot on for everything, Tom. I’m going to focus on the positive: “Work on the unnamed nighttime spectacular will start in a little over a week, as construction crews begin removal of the Stargate and Water Tacos following the final Harmonious performance on April 2, 2023.” So glad to see that lake blight go! As for the Pit of Disappointment, at this point, I’m just ready for it to be done. Anything in addition to a clear walking path will be a bonus. And I don’t even need the bonus. We visited in November, December, February, and March and it really looks like the construction progress is going backwards.
Agreed! I am so very sick of having to walk all the way around those stupid walls. The most beautiful park is currently the ugliest and no one seems to be in a hurry to fix that. They truly should be embarrassed over this
I would hate to be a marketing employee tasked with the job of writing, a compelling, flowery, and exciting description for this new, lackluster, and boring stuff these newer imagineers are coming up with in an attempt to get guest excited about what is basically a park/walkway.
I’d also hate to have that job, and agree to that extent.
With that said, the “newer Imagineers” are not to blame here. There were MANY much more ambitious and creative plans for EPCOT (two versions of which the public actually saw!). WDI is far from infallible, but they are absolutely not the problem with the EPCOT overhaul.
You’re absolutely right. I should remember that the imagineers brought us Guardians, Rise of the Resistance and many other great things. They can only do what they are allowed to do. It’s just frustrating, I love Epcot and what it stood for. It’s sad that it was neglected for so long and that the plans have all been scaled back.
It is a $#%#$% park and some fountains! How do you take so long to build something?
This is like a real life mirror of the dirt pit in Parks and Recreation.
The thing that bugs me the most, they screwed up the symmetry of the park.
I just hate what they are doing to Epcot (aside from Guardians, it is awesome).
Didn’t they just rebuild Stargate and the Water Tacos in 20/21, the only maintenance opportunity they took advantage of during covid? I admit, I’m not on top of the in-the-know of current events at WDW. Our Jan ’21 resort stay the Stargate was in the process of being rebuilt and our Jan ’22 they already had it back up with fireworks, at midnight no less (I have pictures). I think another terrible design outcome is that Moana and anything else built in that area blocks out photo ops with Spaceship Earth (little one calls it the big golf ball). That would be like building a Coca Cola paid sponsorship experience building/ride in the middle of Main St at MK, blocking the princess castle. I think its time to cull the pencil pushers and Imagineers of current times. They’re the ones “who don’t get Disney” along with the Bobs and Josh.
This project is a colossal failure and the wait was NOT WORTH IT.
All this reminds me of the part on the Imagineering Story where they show Bob Iger looking at the redevelopment plans for DCA and he says something to the effect of “We spent more money trying to fix it than we would’ve if we had just done it right in the first place.” Well, Disney clearly still hasn’t learned that lesson.
But hey, some cool episodes of the Mandalorian definitely make up for it!
To say that this design lacks ambition in comparison to the prior multi-level design is a massive understatement. This shrieks of balancing a significant percentage of pandemic-related losses with one slash of the pen.
The sad thing is that the multi-level pavilion would’ve paid for itself over time. The space for fireworks dessert parties and other special events would’ve been incredibly lucrative–and directly generated revenue. Everything else about it would’ve been more of a draw that made EPCOT a more appealing park.
That’s to say nothing of the plans that were shelved even before that…
I echo your thoughts on all of this. At this point they could pave the dirt pile over and I be happy just not having to walk past the construction walls. It’s still pretty darn amazing what Roy Disney and company did from 1966 to 1971, and what current senior leadership manages to do in the same amount of time.
Looks like the multi-story storage building going up, quickly, in our downtown area. Its construction makes me wonder what happened to the wind building codes of a decade ago. All for a facility with all the charm of a hotel ballroom/exhibit area?
It seems like the Epcot reimagining strategy has been, “drag out the torture so long that they’ll forget to be angry when we finally stop the pain.” (Leave a Legacy?) With two essentially dead, massive pavilions, (that’s not a real Imagination ride), a convention center food court telling us to make Connections, and an endless maze of black construction barricades, it can be hard for even the most devoted Epcot fan to keep spirits up. The thing is, Disney has shown that they can still deliver when they decide it’s worthwhile. Guardians, which sounded so alien, (pun intended), to the Future World mission, is an amazing attraction, with a queue that, weirdly, manages to feel a little more “old Epcot” than a couple of the remaining, watered-down opening day pavilions in Future World. Space 220 feels like a restaurant that would have fit perfectly into the original park. Even Ratatouille, which is a ride I could happily ignore forever, added a beautiful Parisian courtyard that does not detract from the original pavilion. As disappointed as I feel by everything currently planned for the Great Dirt Pit, I wonder whether it wouldn’t feel like a lovely, tree-lined cut through, benevolently refusing to distract from an amazingly imagineered, emotionally inspired, Journey Into Imagination replacement, a Spaceship Earth with a technologically innovative finale, and an experience as engaging and interactive as the Wonder’s of Life used to be. One can dream! (Cue the Horizons theme…)
Up until Cosmic Rewind, the EPCOT overhaul had the perfect combination of Imagineering’s top talent and people who were passionate about the park. To be sure, they had mandates from on high that they had to work around, but that’s why/how we got things like the clever queue for Cosmic Rewind and other details that offered nods to the past.
The problem with this project has always been management. If Imagineering were given more creative latitude and there were less meddling from above, the end result would’ve been so much better. (To be fair, Cosmic Rewind going over-budget and the whole closure didn’t help, but the problems started before both of those things happened.)
EPCOT was supposed to be about learning. All I’ve learned is that the passage of time has brought less intelligent exhibits/rides.
Agreed on all counts. Is this the best Imagineering and Disney upper echelon can come up with? Not only would Walt proverbially roll over in his grave, so would Mary Sklar and all of the other Imagineers of yore who were more dedicated to the dream than the current lip service platitudes being given. Don’t worry though, if any Imagineers don’t like what they’ve been stuck with as to the limits on any projects, they can always be offered a one-way trip to Florida to live at a “new campus. Or, as a long time Imagineer and personal friend of mine did as another option: quit after decades of dedication at Disney and go over to Universal. Sad indeed. Maybe for the next project they’re allowed to do there’ll be a budget increase to “design” yet another teacup ride.
Years just drift by…
I wonder if they’ll close Epcots Festival World Showcase (by UK pavilion) in favor of this structure?
World ShowPlace has a tremendous amount of flexible special events space. It’s essentially a colossal in-park convention center. This is intended to be the more everyday, public-facing version of that.
I’m so used to ignoring and avoiding this whole area . . . meh. Zero interest or enthusiasm to check this out. Looks totally lame.
I think this could all be saved with a magical fountain, a giant inflatable rainbow, and a Power Rangers villain. (But I am possibly the only person in the entire world who hears the opening chords on Fantasmic and thinks Splashtacular is about to begin.)
Although I am not actually joking about the above, all this new center makes me do is sigh. You normally get to pick two out of the trifecta of ‘cheap, fast, or good’ and somehow Disney is only barely managing one of those (cheap. Maybe.) I literally cannot draw from my own databanks what standing in the center of Epcot was like…but if it has already been this long I personally would rather wait longer for something that the next generation will find memorable.
Or, failing that…just turn it into a hotel.
I have no clue what the CommuniCore incarnation of this overhaul plan is going to cost, but this entire transformation was very far from cheap.
Aside from the end result being unambitious and taking forever, my biggest complaint about the EPCOT overhaul is how much has already been spent with so little to show for it.