Epcot Pre-Festival Update: January 2019

We’re back to “Diet Epcot” during the week leading up to Festival of the Arts, one of Walt Disney World’s newest and best special events. In this update, we’ll take a look at the kiosks going up around the park, construction, new merchandise, and other stuff.

As a quick refresher, there are currently several projects under construction at Epcot. The “big” attractions are the Guardians of the Galaxy hybrid coaster being built in the old Universe of Energy space and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure trackless dark ride in France.

Work is also underway on the Space Restaurant in Future World, Disney Skyliner gondola transportation at International Gateway, new Signature Restaurant in the Japan pavilion, and infrastructure for the nighttime spectacular that will debut in 2020 after Epcot Forever.

Despite all of this work—with more to come—Epcot doesn’t feel like an active construction zone. Walls are a relatively uncommon sight, and that will probably remain the case throughout the first half of the year, as it’s now seeming less likely that the Central Spine project will commence in the near future.

Let’s start this update outside Epcot, with a look at a beautiful winter sunset over Crescent Lake:

Inside the park, this didn’t look nearly as impressive, especially up towards the front of the park.

Not that it’s germane to the topic of this post, but I’ve found Crescent Lake is one of the best areas of Walt Disney World for sunrises and sunsets.

Let’s start with a look at the booths up for the Epcot International Festival of the Arts:

The booths for the Epcot International Festival of the Arts are ready to go…in large part because they’re all just Festival of the Holidays booths with the signage swapped out (and many of those were Food & Wine Festival booths prior to the holiday event).

On the topic of Epcot’s Festival of the Arts, are booth by booth reviews akin to what we’ve done for other festivals of interest? We’re still on the fence about how we’re going to approach this event–despite it being our favorite Epcot festival of the year, it’s (by far) the one with the least reader interest.

Rather than emphasizing the food, which we think is hardly essential to enjoying the event, we might make a point of doing posts about the entertainment and artistic components, with only ‘best of’ and ‘worst of’ lists for food.

This is ultimately just us thinking out loud a bit, but we would be receptive to feedback about elements of the event that might be of interest to readers.

Excavator work is being done on an island in World Showcase Lagoon between the Japan and Morocco pavilions.

It’s unclear why this is being done, but it’s a safe bet that it relates to the permanent IllumiNations replacement (not Epcot Forever!).

That work is a recent development as of the last couple of weeks, but the work pictured directly above has been ongoing throughout the last couple of months.

In addition to this, there’s also an area cleared backstage behind the Africa Outpost that we’re assuming also relates to this. It’s too early to say definitively what purpose that area serves, but the word on our mind is drones. We’ll see if that ends up being accurate.

Progress on the Signature Restaurant in Japan.

We’ve said about all we have to say about the Guardians of the Galaxy construction for the moment, but here are some new photos:

The Guardians of the Galaxy ride is still over 2 years away, and we’re soon going to get to the point where there’s no visible progress to discuss, save for whatever’s happening with the old Universe of Energy facade.

We’re assuming that soon enough, that’ll be re-enclosed, and we won’t have much to talk about there, either.

Here’s one of the Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure show-building looking pretty much the same as it did last month.

There was actually quite a bit more progress back by International Gateway, but I was racing around trying to get sunset photos and didn’t even think to stop for a quick shot, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Even when there’s little else to discuss, we can always count on a new window display at the Art of Disney store in Future World.

This one is for Mickey’s 90th birthday celebration. While it seems like this whole Mickey shindig is being done after the fact because no one had a better idea for a 2019 promotion, we’re still glad it’s happening. Minnie and Mickey Mouse are instrumental to Disney’s legacy, and they’ve been historically underrepresented in the parks. Beyond that, seeing all of the Minnie and Mickey art and designs is cool.

There’s a lot of new merchandise for Mickey’s 90th, and it seems like new items are appearing by the day.

Merchandise is another topic we’re debating posting about more. The big hurdle is that, to be honest, we often have zero clue what’s new and what’s not. We’re also apprehensive about doing short posts with ~100 words and only a few photos with one product line.

So rather than covering items right as they’re released, we’d probably do a merchandise round-up with things that may or may not be new. Add to that some relevant (or not) commentary for a more substantive, but potentially untimely, post. (Does this potentially sound like something you’d enjoy reading/looking at?)

Although a photo of the wait time for Spaceship Earth may not be the best way to illustrate, off-season has returned to Epcot. We’re expecting a spike in crowds once Festival of the Arts starts, but not so much in wait times.

Overall, it’s a great time to visit Epcot. With the cooler temperatures, lower crowds, and Festival of the Arts, this is unquestionably the best time of year in the park. As much as we love both “Diet Epcot” and Christmas in the park, we’ve really been looking forward to this January-February stretch. We’ll probably come up with some excuses for more updates from Epcot these next couple of months, so stay tuned for that!

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Any feedback on the merchandise and food booth questions asked above? Excited for the start of the 2019 Epcot International Festival of the Arts? Thoughts on the prep work being done for the IllumiNations replacement? What about Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster, Disney Skyliner, or other Epcot projects? 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!

34 Responses to “Epcot Pre-Festival Update: January 2019”
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