Epcot Pre-Festival Update: August 2018

We’re back to “Diet Epcot” during the last week before Food & Wine Festival kicks into high gear, one of Walt Disney World’s most popular special events of the year. In this post, we’ll take a look at the global marketplace kiosks going up around the park, new merchandise, and other stuff.

As a quick refresher, there are currently several projects under construction at Epcot. The “big” attractions are the Guardians of the Galaxy hybrid coaster being built in the old Universe of Energy space and Ratatouille trackless dark ride, which will be an expansion to the France pavilion. Work is also underway on the Space Restaurant in Future World and Skyliner gondola transportation behind the park near the International Gateway entrance.

Despite all of this work–with plenty more to come–Epcot doesn’t feel like an active construction zone. Walls are fairly sparse, and the most noticeable ones are for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival ‘zones’ in Future World, which will be coming down next week…

Sunshine Seasons has received another round of menu updates since our last visit. Nothing particularly extreme, and if you’re not a regular of the restaurant, you might not even notice the differences, many of which are simply tweaks to existing items.

We’d highly recommend the Asian salad, which had great flavor. The tuna was fresh, the noodles were refreshing, and the dressing provided a slight kick.

We would highly recommend avoiding the so-called deep dish pizza, which is basically just what’s served at PizzeRizzo, but in a different shape. Not nearly as dense and heavy as deep dish should be.

Moving along, we checked in on Journey into Imagination on our way to the upstairs ImageWorks DVC lounge. I’m pleased to see a new style of Figment plush, which is a nice improvement over its predecessor. I’ve noticed the eyes of the new character model for Figment closely resemble the best (or rather, my favorite, design from the late 1980s/early 1990s).

The plush is still low quality as compared to what used to be sold (and as compared even to current Walt Disney World character plushes). Figment deserves much better, but at least baby steps are being made.

Some other not-new Figment items, including some of the (many) items that remain from EPCOT’s 35th Anniversary.

I’m a big fan of the Figment hat. As far as novelty hats go, this is a good one. It’s well-designed, compact, and has a classy style. Perfect for casual Fridays at the office.

Among the DVC merchandise near the exit of the Journey into Imagination gift shop, there’s a Moonlight Magic shirt with Figment on it.

Some of the EPCOT35 merch from last year. I really liked portions of many of these designs, but each felt like “too much” to me…

In general, I’d love to see subtler Walt Disney World designs. I don’t mind sharing with the world that I’m a Disney geek, but I’d rather not scream it to anyone within my general vicinity via a loud shirt.

Judging by the fact that there’s still plenty of these items on shelves–and some found their way to the outlets–I’m guessing others agree.

From just outside the exit of Journey into Imagination, Flavors from Fire–the greatest Epcot International Food & Wine Booth–is ready to make its triumphant return.

Here’s hoping it can live up to its debut year legacy.

Also from the area of Journey into Imagination, you can see work progressing on more of the Future World F&WF booth lineup.

In most cases, these global marketplaces look like they’re almost ready to go. I’m half-surprised management doesn’t “soft open” them for the next week to help buoy food & beverage sales. (Joking aside, we’re not expecting a soft opening.)

Here’s the fan-favorite Canada global marketplace.

Another booth ready to roll next week.

One thing that’s really noticeable about these booths without people crowding around them is the quality of them.

They’re nicely-integrated into World Showcase, and generally look good even if they add some clutter (and crowds) to the walkways.

This is not a Food & Wine Festival booth. It’s the interim Norway bakery while work continues on Kringla Bakeri og Kafe.

Still no clue when the real thing will reopen. Walt Disney World has only provided the vague end timeframe of “summer,” which is quickly slipping away.

We skipped over many/most Food & Wine Festival global marketplaces, but we think you get the idea.

Behind our final booth, you can see construction on the Guardians of the Galaxy show-building in the distance.

Here’s a closer look. Barely peeking over the trees is the Wonders of Life pavilion, and the Guardians structure towers over that.

Even though it’s a construction photo, it slightly pains me to be posting a scene with a *gasp* empty monorail track.

There, fixed that for you.

And another look, this time from the monorail station. You can see the monorail track on the lower portion of the frame.

I don’t know why I didn’t take any photos of the Guardians of the Galaxy structure with Spaceship Earth or something else in the frame for better scale, but it’s huge. I also don’t like the photos I shot of the Ratatouille trackless dark ride (it started raining and I was in a hurry), but here it is, anyway:

Other than that, not much to report from Future World. As we shared in our “Disney News & Rumors: Mary Poppins & Wreck-It Ralph Rides, CineMagique’s Return, New Refillable Mugs” post, the status of the Epcot Central Spine Redesign remains up in the air, and has possibility slipped to a 2023 completion date.

The last we heard was that there were multiple competing concepts for how the Epcot Central Spine re-imagining would occur, which is why only vague concept art was shared at the D23 Expo last year. We have no clue whether that 2023 date is accurate (we hope not!), but it does come from a credible source.

Overall, it was another quiet visit to the park. However, it wasn’t quite as “Diet” as our July trips to Epcot, and the park will likely be bonkers the next time we do one of these updates, as once the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival starts, Epcot doesn’t really slow down again for the remainder of the year. Assuming we survive the marathon days of snacking in Florida’s summer humidity, we’ll report back with plenty of Food & Wine coverage starting next week, so stay tuned for that. I’ll also get some better construction photos in between the eating sessions.

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!


Excited for the end of Diet Epcot and start of Festival Season? Thoughts on the gigantic Guardians of the Galaxy coaster show building? What about Ratatouille, the Skyliner, or other Epcot projects? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

7 Responses to “Epcot Pre-Festival Update: August 2018”
  1. Jamie O. September 4, 2018
  2. Jeffrey Barbieri August 29, 2018
    • Tom Bricker September 1, 2018
  3. wwcpd August 26, 2018
    • John Kazmaier August 29, 2018
  4. MaxBuffMelvin August 26, 2018
  5. Diane Yarosz August 26, 2018

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