We return to Epcot for the first of our February 2019 Walt Disney World construction reports. Although our last update from here was only a month ago, a ton has changed. Festival of the Arts is drawing to a close and Flower & Garden is almost underway, plus more visible construction progress has been made on the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, IllumiNations replacement, restaurants at Mission: Space and in Japan, and more.
Aside from progress reports, the primary motivation for our visit was the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, which we haven’t done nearly enough this year. As noted elsewhere, I came down with the flu, then Sarah came down with the flu (total coincidence I assume), and even after a trip to Northern California, we both are still feeling lingering after-effects. Not that you care, just explaining why we haven’t offered as much Festival of the Arts coverage as promised. Nevertheless, we’re going to try to get out for another round of park updates before the end of February.
Specifically, we were at Epcot for the “Art of Figment: Discovering Sparks of Inspiration” presentation in the Odyssey by Jason Grandt. Unfortunately, due to the seminar displaying rare/unpublished concept art, photography was not allowed, so you’ll just have to take my word that this seminar was excellent. We’ve done several D23 events that revolve around Epcot and have focused on Journey into Imagination, and it’s always surprising that each of these presentations manage to find something previously unseen to showcase.
I remember the same feeling with the Sorcerer’s Hat in DHS and Epcot Wand above Spaceship Earth, both of which now seem like distant memories. (Somehow it seems the parks are still ‘hungover’ following the Millennium Celebration, which brought with it all those monstrosities.)
Anyway, moving along to the substance of this update…
Rather than arranging this update by subject, I’m going to take you along with my for a stroll around Epcot, presenting the photos in the order shot. It’ll be like you’re right there with me!
Start by going into the shower (fully clothed, obviously) because it was raining when I took this photo of the Elsa topiary up in Norway ahead of Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival.
Well known as the bringers of good fortune (maybe?), the troll topiary brought with him the end of the rain.
Totally random, but I’ve always appreciated this troll for being a bit goofy and having a facial expression like he’s just seen a ghost. Give me “Weird Disney” over “Disney IP” any day.
I take a photo of this construction progress for the 2020 World Showcase lagoon nighttime spectacular every time I visit Epcot, even though I can’t ascertain much visible progress.
It’ll be interesting to watch just how much this expands, as there’s supposedly a lot of infrastructure work to be done.
This photo was shot through the torii gate in Japan. It’s basically just a zoomed in version of the photo at the top of the post.
Progress on this island is much more evident than the one pictured immediately above it.
Exterior walls for the Signature Restaurant being added to the Japan pavilion are up.
Don’t expect a ton of visible construction on this plot–part of the restaurant will be housed within the existing structure of the building here.
Obligatory shot of the Guardians of the Galaxy show building from across World Showcase lagoon.
That crane to the building’s left was quite active throughout our visit, as you’ll see later in the update.
This wall has been up off to the side of the France pavilion for about a month now.
I love that Walt Disney World is expanding with a new arcade behind the pavilion rather than just shoehorning the entrance and queue for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure over here, but I’d anticipate that this narrow dead-end walkway will be a huge bottleneck.
From back by International Gateway, you can see the concrete for the new area starting to go vertical.
I love the France pavilion, and am really looking forward to the pavilion being larger.
It was probably easier to notice while walking, but the facade for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is starting to rise above the existing architecture of France.
This is accurate to the concept art originally released for the ride, and should blend with the existing architecture when finished. If the concept art is entirely accurate, the ride facade will also feature mansard roofs slightly higher than those in front of it.
Disney’s Riviera Resort is peeking out from behind the Germany pavilion.
This super-zoom photo is probably a bit deceptive in terms of the degree to which the resort is visible. Also visible on the right edge of the frame is Wyndham Bonnet Creek, and I’m guessing most of you have never noticed it while strolling around World Showcase.
The flower tapestries between Future World and World Showcase are fully installed and looking great.
Sorry, but I can’t bring myself to post the more iconic across from Journey into Imagination. The sky was overcast in that direction and there was no monorail in the frame…even if this is a construction update, I just cringe when looking at that shot.
When I first saw the crane lifting these, I thought they were the industrial lab drums like from Breaking Bad or something.
That’s probably not accurate. Maybe they’re HVAC ducts?
While the Space Restaurant (a reader once left a comment called “Mission: PLATES” and I love that name) has been under construction for a while, it has gone vertical fast.
For next month’s update, I’ll have to do Test Track and get an overhead look at the progress. This is one of the more low-key Epcot projects about which I’m most excited.
It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, comes of Colortopia in the future. There’s about a 99% chance it’s only still open because Walt Disney World has a contract with Glidden and that sponsor doesn’t want to prematurely end the deal. If that partnership runs into 2021, could we see a Colortopia exhibit in the Play Pavilion?
Over the years, Innoventions has had some solid exhibits that were easy to overlook because the location itself wasn’t all that inviting. Sum of All Thrills was popular (and good), but things like the Great Piggy Bank Adventure were also good–and important. (Then again, perhaps it’s not in Walt Disney World’s best interests for guests to learn about responsible financial planning.)
Overall, there’s a lot happening right now at Epcot, with even more on the horizon. We’ll be back with another report soon at the start of Flower & Garden Festival, along with another update after that, which will (hopefully) offer some new perspectives on the Space Restaurant and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, plus whatever else happens between now and then.
What do you think of the current state of Epcot and its construction projects? Excited for Flower & Garden? Looking forward to the restaurants in Japan or at Mission: Space? 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!