The silver lining is that this means Tower of Terror at Walt Disney World is definitely safe, and also that this new attraction in Future World will use the existing facade of Universe of Energy, so it should at least aesthetically fit within Future World.
Here’s Walt Disney World’s official announcement for this addition:
“Epcot’s brand new E-ticket attraction will be based on the rockin’ and action-packed world of Guardians of the Galaxy and is the next step in how guests can encounter these characters at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Epcot just may be the perfect place for a Guardians-inspired attraction – Peter Quill (aka Star Lord) actually visited Epcot as a kid! (Note: This new attraction will replace the current Universe of Energy attraction, which will close August 13).”
I still maintain that the most logical place for Guardians of the Galaxy is in Rock N Roller Coaster, but given that the actual options were Universe of Energy or Tower of Terror, I’m glad Universe of Energy is the attraction to get the axe.
3. The Land Pavilion Updates – The Land is a pavilion that flies under the radar when it comes to rumors, and that’s likely because Soarin’ gave the pavilion a shot in the arm when it was added, and the rest of the pavilion has been able to fly on auto-pilot since.
However, Circle of Life is woefully outdated, and needs a replacement 5 years ago. As much as I love it, Living with the Land could also use a light refresh, particularly to its dark ride scenes. Likewise, the main atrium could be re-imagined to make it feel less like a mall food court and a more inspired place. All of these things are likely to occur in a moderate-scale refresh to the pavilion.
Post-Expo Update: While nothing was confirmed at the D23 Expo, it seems that these changes are still on track to occur, and likely part of the comprehensive re-design to Future World. There are also updates on the table to refresh other pavilions aesthetically, so the Land is not unique in this regard.
2. Brazil – Why this has not happened yet really boggles my mind. If anything on this list is a no-brainer, it’s the addition of Brazil to World Showcase. Sure, there have been political and economic crises, but they are nothing that should give Disney pause from a PR perspective. The United States and Brazil enjoy a good relationship, and Brazil hosted a largely successful (debt aside) Olympics last year that exposed millions of people to the country’s natural beauty and culture.
Most importantly, Brazilian visitors have historically been a significant and lucrative demographic for Walt Disney World. While this has cooled a bit during Brazil’s current economic woes, the country still is #3 in terms of foreign visitors to Orlando, and #1 in terms of countries without World Showcase representation.
Moreso than Spain, a Brazilian pavilion would be a license to print money for Disney. Its dining offering would be popular, and merchandising would be profitable (Disney already sells some of this stuff without even having the pavilion). Long-term, I think having a people-eater attraction in the Brazilian pavilion is a logical decision, but getting this pavilion open (like, yesterday) as soon as possible is also the right move.
Post-Expo Update: This remains hot topic in the rumor mill and despite no official announcement at the D23 Expo, sources indicate that this is still coming. Sources and permits suggest this will occupy the plot of land next to Germany (where the miniature train is located) and is very likely to be opened before 2021.
If Brazil is built without an attraction (likely the case) and construction is started by early 2018, having the pavilion finished well by 2021 for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary and the big relaunch of EPCOT seems realistic. If you want a look at what was pitched to Brazil for the pavilion, there’s some rough Brazil concept art here.
Beyond adding a family-friendly attraction to World Showcase, the other good news here is that this is an actual expansion of the France pavilion, and not just a replacement of Impressions de France (no word yet on that film’s future, but we expect it to be safe).
I have mixed feelings about this one. Paris is one of the supporting players in Ratatouille, and if ever an animated film were a good fit for World Showcase, it’s this movie. The concept art looks strong, and the expansion of France is a big win, as the pavilion could use more area to explore. All of that is a big plus.
My biggest concern is that I don’t think the Ratatouille attraction is that good. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a good attraction, but it’s not that good. Not as good as the reported $100+ million price tag for the version in Walt Disney Studios Park, and not the kind of wow-factor E-Ticket World Showcase deserves. Even assuming that cloning this would “only” cost $50-75 million now that R&D is done, I still think Ratatouille: The Adventure isn’t worth it. In a world of finite budgets, that money could be far better spent elsewhere in Epcot.
Hopefully, changes are made, as Ratatouille: the Adventure looks like an amateurish version of a Universal screen-centric attraction at WDSP. With the lessons Disney learned with Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure in Shanghai (and its flawless integration of screens), I’m confident a reconfigured version of the Ratatouille dark ride could be significantly improved-upon for Epcot.
This just scratches the surface on the changes that are possible for Epcot. We didn’t even discuss the many aesthetic alterations likely, from a redesign of the Entrance Plaza to a removal of Innoventions, and other redesigns. A lot is certainly being considered for Epcot right now, and it cannot come soon enough. In all likelihood, we’re looking at a condensed timeline for all of this, with some of the major investments in Epcot beginning immediately, and really kicking into high gear once the expensive work in Star Wars Land is completed.
That would put the earliest of these projects (the major ones, at least) opening around 2021, with some smaller projects potentially opening before then. The goal is to have all of this done in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, which Disney promised at the D23 Expo would be a huge celebration.
While that might seem like a long time to wait, some of the smaller scale refreshes and changes can be completed prior to then–and even 2021 is not that far away in terms of Disney’s construction timelines (most of this is going to be done sooner than we originally predicted!). Epcot has needed investment for a long time now, but I’m willing to be patient if the reimagining of Epcot is handled with care and respect for the vision of EPCOT Center.
What do you think about these potential changes? Any of these that you’d like to see–or not see–occur at Epcot? Any other rumors or potential changes you hope are on the horizon for Epcot? Any questions about these rumors? Hearing from you is half the fun, so if you have any insight into these changes or speculation to add, please share in the comments below!