Epcot is the last park for our April 2019 Walt Disney World construction updates & photo reports. Tons of work is already occurring in both World Showcase and Future World, but we’ve recent updates have covered most of the visible work on those major projects. Instead we’ll focus on the re-routed International Gateway entrance and other random things.
Of course, we’ll also take brief looks at construction progress on the big projects: the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Mission: Space restaurant, Japan restaurant, Play Pavilion, and more.
Additionally, Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival continues through early June. (See our 2019 Guide to the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival if you’re planning a visit.) Even though this has another month to go, we’re pretty much “done” with it and ready for some Diet Epcot. On the plus side, Epcot still looks great with so many flowers in bloom…
Before we get to the re-routed International Gateway entrance and other meat of the construction update, here are some random photos of Epcot at its finest, along with commentary…
The top photo and next couple photos are all of the same sunset.
It was one of those rare occasions when the sky looked much better facing away from the sun.
I was lucky to get the faces of the Anna and Elsa topiaries perfectly illuminated by the setting sun, some nice clouds behind them, and no one behind them (at least not noticeably so).
A rare trifecta.
This cake from Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe was our reward after chasing the sunset.
In case you missed it, we covered the pre-Easter version of this cake in our Guide to Easter at Walt Disney World. Post-Easter, a cosmetically different but substantively similar version has appeared. We highly recommend it.
Back to the landscape photos, here’s one of the Lady & Tramp topiaries in Italy.
This looks like a relatively simple shot, but to get Spaceship Earth perfectly positioned behind them, I had to shoot through a small gap in the fence that prevents drunk guests from falling into the canal.
A ton of tinkering with various apertures and angles went into the photo above, and I’m still not happy with it.
I find photos like this–or detail shots that don’t feature any park icons at all–increasingly satisfying to take. Sharing photos on social media is all about “playing the hits” and a mindless snapshot I’ve taken of Cinderella Castle will be more popular than something that’s actually good, but that gets boring and tedious.
Some ‘fresh ideas’ probably need a bit more time to ripen.
There’s a good photo idea somewhere in the Peter Pan topiary image above, but that’s not it. (In my defense, a sign and a trash can really constricted the angle here, and using a tripod wasn’t possible.)
This tucked-away area in the China pavilion has a treasure trove of texture and detail, but it looks sort of flat and lifeless here.
I’ll revisit this before park closing and try to capture some kinetic energy in the scene.
If you’ve never done the post-show stroll, I’d encourage you to read that post–it’s my favorite thing to do at Epcot.
Moving on to construction, we have the obligatory photos of the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster.
Not much visual progress to report here.
The building still isn’t fully enclosed, but I’m not sure this bears any further discussion since not much looks different than last month.
From the monorail station (with a zoom lens), you can see some of the track inside, which is neat.
Nothing to report at the old Wonders of Life, future Play Pavilion.
I’m more than half expecting that we’ll never see any visible progress. One day they’ll install a marquee and the next day it’ll just be open.
Visible progress continues on the Space Restaurant, it has been moving quickly as of late. An opening this year seems unlikely, but early to mid 2020 is definitely on the table.
Mission: PLATES (the unofficial name of the untitled space themed restaurant) is one of the more low-key Epcot projects about which I’m most excited.
Back in World Showcase, work continues on another restaurant in the Japan pavilion.
Announced last year, this is expected to be a high-end steakhouse.
There’s a pathway being built that could serve as the entrance.
Most, if not all, of the restaurant itself is expected to be in an area that’s currently backstage.
Here’s some progress on the facade of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (the taller white area to the right) along with the street leading to it that’ll feature new dining and retail.
It’s impossible to say what’s happening inside that giant green show building, but we’re still betting on a 2020 opening for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
Here’s a look at the International Gateway project from the UK-France bridge.
The walled area expanded tremendously yesterday, with the bag check and turnstiles having to move to accommodate.
From the other direction, here’s a step-by-step walk-through of what it’s like to enter through International Gateway now.
Walkways are pretty cramped, but given the low usage back here, there’s really not much issue with this.
While there has been no official confirmation, the safe money is on this being an expansion to the existing security stations and turnstiles at International Gateway.
The Skyliner is going to bring an influx of guests to this entrance, and the existing infrastructure simply cannot handle the increased guest numbers.
Here you can see bag has moved in front of the ticket booths, and a wall has gone up where bag check used to be.
The exit is also right here.
When these walls first appeared a few weeks ago, we figured this project would be done in halves.
That now appears to be incorrect, as the entirety of what used to be the turnstiles and bag check has been pushed over.
The turnstiles have moved forward to what used to be empty space beyond the entrance.
To the left of the metal fence is the exit.
This obviously isn’t an ideal set-up, but as far as temporary solutions go, it’s pretty good.
Crowd-flow is fine and there are 8 (if I recall correctly) turnstiles under the tents–including a Passholder line! Not too shabby.
With Easter over, Flower & Garden Festival winding down, and the slowest time of the year (“Diet Epcot”) about to begin, now is the perfect time to start this turnstile expansion project. This gives Walt Disney World about 4 months to get this done before the popular Epcot Food & Wine Festival begins (or 5 months until Epcot Forever). Depending upon the scope of the work, that could be sufficient.
What do you think of the current state of Epcot and its construction projects? Have you had the chance to enjoy Flower & Garden Festival yet? Looking forward to the Japan steakhouse or Mission: Plates? Thoughts on the work for Guardians of the Galaxy or Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure? 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!