Epcot Update: December 2018

Yesterday, we visited Epcot as construction on the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ratatouille attractions continues, and the park gets ready to ring in 2019. In this post, we’ll share some photos, plus a final look at Christmas and the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays.

Despite the lack of updates, we’ve been to Epcot more this holiday season than any other park at Walt Disney World. Often, this is just popping in at the end of the night to stroll around World Showcase while the delightful background music (which is the same 28 minute loop used for Lights of Winter). It makes us nostalgic, and that soaring music is perfectly at home in Epcot.

Of course, we’ve also been visiting a lot for the farewell run of the earth-shaking the Peace on Earth finale/tag of IllumiNations. That tag has been inconsistent throughout December, after a low-level shell went into the FastPass+ viewing area.

Since then, that effect has been cut entirely, and other pyro has been cut on some nights–supposedly a matter of erring on the side of caution when it’s windy. While there are alternative theories as to why the Peace on Earth tag isn’t as spectacular as in past years, I’m inclined to believe that straightforward explanation.

As a result of its unpredictability, photographing the show has been difficult. I’ve been trying some different angles, attempting to stockpile unique photos before IllumiNations: Peace on Earth goes away forever. The holidays have been busy, so I haven’t had much of a chance to do that.

Here’s one from the parking lot outside Epcot.

This is a terrible location for watching IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, as 95% of the pyro is low level and doesn’t clear Spaceship Earth. However, the Peace on Earth tag is much higher, with about 75% of its pyro visible.

The above photo is actually from the beginning of IllumiNations, shot partially before the fireworks began to capture the lights on the Christmas tree.

During IllumiNations, the Christmas tree is not lit. In the past, I’ve taken some artistic liberty with this and merged two photos together for fireworks plus Christmas lights. I’ll do the same with this set, but haven’t had the time yet.

Hopefully I’ll get everything edited in time for a huge IllumiNations tribute at some point in 2019.

This photo illustrates how the Christmas tree looks during IllumiNations.

It also underscores the challenge of setting my camera and fisheye lens on the ground, in a puddle to shoot the show. It was a big gamble, as anyone standing in front of or to the side of me would be in the frame.

Aside from the finale and very beginning of the tag, I really lucked out–people steered clear of me. Perhaps that wasn’t “luck” so much as me loudly growling at them like a rabid wolf. I guess we’ll never really know.

We also had the chance to see a handful of Candlelight Processional narrators this year, most from behind the seating area since we have no interest waiting in line and the dining packages are pricey.

As noted in our John Stamos: Our All-Time Favorite Candlelight Processional Narrator post, he was our favorite.

Fast-forward to yesterday morning, when I rope-dropped Epcot through International Gateway to take some construction photos.

You know, as one does during Christmas and New Year’s week.

Progress continues on this side of the Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure show building.

There’s also noticeable work on the path that will lead guests back to the attraction entrance. I wonder if they’ll reclaim some land from the waterway so the path doesn’t have massive congestion issues.

A look at the framework for the Skyliner entrance. This reminds me of the entrances to the underground stations of the Paris Metro designed by Hector Guimard in the early 1900s.

Tough to say whether the finished product will resemble those iconic entrances, but the Art Nouveau stylization would certainly give them some flair.

You could say I intentionally chose a foggy, overcast morning to showcase just how well the Guardians of the Galaxy show building blends into the sky.

It wouldn’t be true, but you could say it.

Even with ideal conditions, this thing still sticks out.

This ride better be the coolest thing ever (and I have every expectation that the substance of the ride, in isolation, will be awesome), because it is “costing” Epcot a lot of thematic integrity, and in more ways than one.

A look at both the color scheme–a mix of go away green and blend-in blue–and the new ascent structure added to the show building from the monorail station.

You can just see the tip of the coaster track being laid in the ascent. It’ll be interesting to see what the ‘show’ is during that scene. We’re guessing a screen tunnel.

This work has been ongoing around World Showcase Lagoon for at least a few weeks now.

Unclear what’s happening, but it’s widely-believed to be infrastructure work for the IllumiNations replacement (the permanent one).

Around Future World, temporary fencing is being added to provide overflow New Year’s Eve fireworks viewing.

If you’re going to be at Walt Disney World the next couple of days, we’d strongly encourage you to read our Tips for New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World post.

Work is underway on a permanent meet & greet location inside ImageWorks that will be home to Wreck-It Ralph characters.

On a different note, here’s a look at some merchandise:

Walt Disney World is really going hard on the ‘special color’ and novelty mouse ears, and I really can’t blame them. These are hot sellers.

You’ll also notice that some Christmas merchandise has been marked down. There’s more around MouseGear that has been discounted. Some good stuff and decent prices, but we’re going to take our chances with the outlet in a week.

That’s all we’ve got from Epcot for now. In just a few short weeks, Festival of the Arts will begin (Epcot’s best event), so we should have another update around when that happens. Until then, we’ll probably have the usual “holiday hangover” of Christmas decorations staying up a bit past their prime.

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Will you be celebrating New Year’s Eve at Epcot? What do you think of construction progress shown in this update? Thoughts on the go away green/blend-in blue mix for the Guardians show-building? 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!

5 Responses to “Epcot Update: December 2018”
  1. Jo December 30, 2018
  2. Ears December 30, 2018
  3. Jonathan L December 30, 2018
    • B December 30, 2018
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