EPCOT Update: It’s A Festivus Eve Miracle!

We’re back at EPCOT for what can only be described as a Festivus Eve Miracle: the reimagined main entrance plaza featuring the prismatic pylon fountain has been fully unveiled! In this Walt Disney World park report, we’ll take a look at that, construction, and Christmas week crowds.

For people my age, EPCOT has always been the most “relatable” park at Walt Disney World. It started out optimistic and imaginative in the 80s through mid-90s, experienced growing pains in its teenage years, struggled with its place in the world in its thirties, squandered potential, compromised on its ideals, and so forth. Despite all of that, it was always lovable.

This year was supposed to be a transformative one for EPCOT. Like everyone else, its plans were derailed. The Spaceship Earth Reimagining and the Marry Poppins Cherry Tree Lane expansion were scratched. Walt Disney World announced other cutbacks and cancellations, indicating the new Festival Center. Hopefully also like everyone else, EPCOT finishes the year on a strong note with a renewed sense of its trademark optimism…

Early this morning, Walt Disney Imagineering announced that EPCOT Center’s main entrance plaza reimagining has been completed and the construction walls are down, revealing the iconic prismatic pylon fountain in front of Spaceship Earth!

This completes the first phase of EPCOT’s massive overhaul, as the construction walls (sorry, we are not calling those frustrating things “progress walls”) that have lined the front of the park for over a year are now down. Here’s a look…

Reiterating what we shared when the pylons were first installed for those who missed it and/or are confused by the excitement, lifelong Walt Disney World fans are hyped because this is essentially a remake of the entrance plaza and fountain that existed when the EPCOT Center opened in 1982.

These feature prominently in some of Walt Disney World’s most iconic publicity photos over the years, including Card Walker’s opening day dedication and other festivities at EPCOT Center on October 1, 1982. From Walt Disney’s Epcot: The New World of Tomorrow to about a dozen other subsequent official titles, these pylons were prominent in most photos of Spaceship Earth.

Seeing the prismatic pylons back in the fall had me giddy, and that was true once again today as I gazed upon the completed entrance. It’s obviously not a substantive addition that will round out the attraction lineup or miraculously “fix” EPCOT. This evokes a version of Future World that until now exists only in memories.

For many of us, this is something nostalgic, sentimental, and a brief bit of positive news during what has been a bad year. On that basis alone, this project has tugged at the sentimental heartstrings for many EPCOT Center fans, prompting a disproportionate positive reaction and level of enthusiasm.

We are cognizant of the fact that this is an olive branch tossed to EPCOT Center fans, a small thing while the park changes direction in major ways for future generations and to suit the general public’s tastes. However, it’s no secret that Future World has been stagnating for decades, with no clear vision or path forward.

It felt unbelievably satisfying to see a finished Future World project that paid clear homage to the past and was a substantive improvement over its predecessor. I didn’t really even focus on photos–I’ll get those later when it’s not swarmed with others (Disney’s photographers did an exceptional job). Instead, we took it all in, socialized with other fans, and chilled with our homie Olaf. All in all, it was an exciting and emotional day at EPCOT.

We actually have other construction updates from EPCOT, which we’ll run through pretty quickly.

First, a “roofing report” from Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. The metal supports that will hold solar panels are now entirely covered in plywood. There’s also a variety of new scrim and coverings on the facade and in front of the eventual attraction marquee.

Next, after months of nothing happening here post-reopening, the other half of Innoventions West is now being demolished, with only the steel frame of the building remaining. The reason for the delay was presumably Disney’s announcement that the Festival Center would be reworked, which led to rumors that much of the Central Spine plans had gone back to the drawing board, with the remaining Innoventions West building’s future up in the air.

This area of the park is slated to become Moana’s Journey of Water in the World Nature neighborhood. Given that Walt Disney World recently highlighted this walk-through water play area, we’re assuming it’s still slated to be built.

Here’s a look at the first of five floating platforms for “Harmonious” that have been installed in World Showcase Lagoon.

This marks a milestone in the development of “Harmonious” as testing of the onboard show equipment has now begun for the upcoming nighttime spectacular.

Next, a “two-fer” with a look at prep for the next Harmonious platform and also construction near the Italy pavilion across World Showcase Lagoon.

While that construction wall extends the length of the expansion pad, what’s being added is a permanent gelato stand (“La Gelateria”). If this ends up being a country-sized ice cream kiosk, we won’t complain.

For those wondering about Christmas crowds, they actually haven’t been too bad.

We visited a couple of times over the weekend and again on Tuesday, and it definitely wasn’t what we had come to expect from the holidays in terms of congestion.

This was the line for Test Track at around 11 am, with a posted wait of 85 minutes.

Eyeballing it, that was probably dramatically inflated. By afternoon, all three headliners were under an hour.

As I write this at 7 pm, the current wait times for EPCOT are listed above.

If you’re wondering why crowds are so low during Christmas week, we broke it down in yesterday’s Walt Disney World news round-up.

Winnie the Pooh was out between the Land and Imagination pavilions.

His butterfly net has been replaced with a Christmas present and some fun props inside.

Over in the United Kingdom pavilion, Mary Poppins was out for a stroll.

Without question, this is one of the best changes of the physical distancing “era” at Walt Disney World.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was proof of concept for this style of character interactions–and the last several months have forced Entertainment to try it elsewhere, to wonderful results.

Hopefully once things go back to normal, Disney will further iterate and improve this approach. If it’s this strong with guests and characters separated by barriers, imagine how good it’ll be when there are more intimate interactions.

The Waffles Holiday Kitchen is now open and has a couple of excellent options.

(Totally random, but since we didn’t get around to re-reviewing all of the Holiday Kitchens, figured it was worth mentioning here.)

First, the Turkey and Waffle.

It’s a bit pricey, but still recommended. Worth ordering for the novelty of having a waffle made of stuffing, which is actually quite delicious!

Next, the Gingerbread Waffle.

There are two varieties of this–one with crushed candy cane and the other with citrus-cranberry sauce. The candy cane one was quite good, although the dominant flavors were chocolate and peppermint, not gingerbread.

Above is a look at the menu.

The Waffles Holiday Kitchen operates with an inconsistent schedule and only on busier days…but that should be the rest of the year, at this point.

Finally, we close out the day with an evening ride on Living with the Land: Merry & Bright Nights. A fitting end to an excellent day at EPCOT.

A brilliant overlay for our favorite holiday to one of our favorite attractions at Walt Disney World. Starting with the new main entrance plaza fountain was like the perfect appetizer to our day, and concluding with this was like a decadent dessert. Now, to get the main course right…

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!


What do you think about the finished main entrance plaza featuring the prismatic pylon fountain? Optimistic about the future of EPCOT? What do you think of the current state of Epcot and its construction? Excited for this or Moana’s Journey of Water, Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind, Space 220 Restaurant, World Celebration, Play Pavilion, or other projects at EPCOT? Looking forward to seeing EPCOT in person during your next Walt Disney World trip, or dreading visits to the park while it’s an active construction site? 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!

13 Responses to “EPCOT Update: It’s A Festivus Eve Miracle!”
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