Epcot Update: Food & Wine Prep Begins, New Restaurants & Construction

As we continue our July 2019 Walt Disney World construction updates, we leave Hollywood Studios and head over to Epcot. This photo report focuses Food & Wine Festival preparations, World Showcase’s new and upcoming restaurants, and other new topics.

We’ll set the scene for this update with our big blunder in starting it out, which was walking to Epcot from Disney’s Hollywood Studios after finishing our last photo update. This was 100% my idea, as I wanted photos of the Skyliner turn station and to check out the summer menu at BoardWalk Bakery. It was also 100% a bad idea. On the plus side, Daisy Duck and Minnie Mouse were outside in their Cape May Cafe costumes for some reason, so we got sweaty photos with them. It’s the small victories.

There’s a lot happening at Epcot right now, so we’re not going to rehash much. After what feels like 6 consecutive months of virtually the same nothing-new views of the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster show building, we’re skipping that. Ditto the Space Restaurant and upcoming films, where there’s no visible progress…

Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival (read our Ultimate Guide to the 2019 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival) begins at the end of August, but the Global Marketplaces are already going up around World Showcase. This seems earlier than normal, but I could be completely mistaken.

A couple of weeks ago, Walt Disney World released menus for the event, with some noteworthy additions like the Alps and Appleseed Orchard. We have cover all the food and drinks, along with photos from last year in our Menus & Food Photos: 2019 Epcot Food & Wine Festival post. That’ll be updated in early September with new photos of everything.

Here are photos of some Global Marketplace booths:

As you can probably see from some of those photos, Epcot was dead. That’s been true for the entire summer; Epcot definitely sees the biggest dip in crowds this time of year.

On the same afternoon that Disney’s Hollywood Studios had several attractions with triple digit wait times, Test Track and Frozen Ever After both peaked at 40 minutes. Most wait times were in the 15-20 minute range, including Soarin.

As we’ve discussed at length, most notably in our (updated for 2019) Summer Is Not Peak Season at Walt Disney World Anymore post, summer attendance at Walt Disney World isn’t what it once was.

We can quibble over the reasons for this phenomenon, but one thing is indisputable: Epcot has seen the biggest drop in summer numbers. I can’t think of any explanation for that aside from the lack of a seasonal festival.

While the current slate of attractions certainly leaves something to be desired, Epcot’s attendance woes are mostly confined to summer–the one time of year when there’s no festival. As fans, we sometimes deride the seemingly year-round festival at Epcot, but the reality is these events are what’s drawing crowds, and the one thing propping up attendance numbers until much-needed new attractions start opening next year.

Speaking of new attractions debuting next year, here’s a look at the facades going up in France around Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.

It’s cool to see these buildings taking shape, and I’m really excited to see an expansion of the France pavilion. Honestly, I’m more interested in everything else than the ride itself. (Although I do think it’ll be a decent addition for Epcot.)

My one concern remains congestion getting into and out of this area.

Above is a look at the progress on the pathway that’ll connect the existing France pavilion to the new area. This pathway looks really narrow, and like a potential chokepoint for crowds.

Looking the opposite direction, here’s the current progress on the new International Gateway entrance and gondola station (we’ll have a new Skyliner update with many more photos later this week).

I have my doubts that this will be done by the end of September when the Skyliner is slated to officially open.

Back in World Showcase, here’s a look at the new Takumi-Tei Signature Restaurant that’s now open in the Japan pavilion.

I’m cautiously optimistic about this restaurant. The tasting menu sounds like Epcot’s spin on kaiseki, albeit presumably a diluted version of that. If that’s the case, this would be an excellent addition to Epcot in keeping with the spirit of EPCOT Center.

We know many have quibbled with the price points, and those concern us, too. However, it’s also pretty easy to drop $100-300 per person on kaiseki in Kyoto–it’s not exactly an inexpensive meal. If the tasting menu is even on par with mid-range kaiseki, it’ll be worth the money for the experience.

Currently, our plan is to dine here for Sarah’s birthday. If we do that, I might just leave the camera at home as it’d be nice to just enjoy the expensive experience, and I’m not sure how many of you actually care about this restaurant, anyway. Alternatively, we might give the restaurant a couple more months to get past any early growing pains. Monsieur Paul’s summer menu is also tempting.

Continuing on to American Adventure, here’s a look at World Showcase’s next restaurant: Regal Eagle’s Distinctly Patriotic Smokehouse: A Salute to All Foods, But Mostly Barbecued Meats ~ A Sam Eagle Craft Drafts & BBQ Joint.

No word yet on when this is opening, but we’re looking forward to it. There’s almost no way it’s not better than Liberty Inn.

Moving to Future World, we start with Sunshine Seasons. This used to be one of our absolute favorite restaurants at Walt Disney World, but has slid in quality in the last year or so.

One of the big downgrades is the bakery. They used to serve (at least) double the number of items as pictured above.

There’s a lot of pathway work occurring as you head to Journey into Imagination.

I love this path and don’t really see any downside in widening it–hopefully this leads to less congestion.

If you haven’t already, get used to the sight of walls in Epcot.

While most of the construction thus far has been confined to the far perimeters of the park–something it can be difficult to ascertain sometimes from these photo updates–we suspect that come September, Future World is going to feel like an active construction site.

In case you missed it, the why and what of this is covered in our Closing at Epcot: Club Cool, Starbucks, Electric Umbrella, MouseGear, Fountain of Nations, Etc post. You should definitely read that if you haven’t already, as all of this has been officially confirmed and announced by Walt Disney World.

It’s worth noting that there are several other rumored projects that have yet to be announced by Walt Disney World. We expect to know one way or the other about these things come next month’s D23 Expo in Anaheim.

Sentimentality and nostalgia being what they are, we’ll miss a lot of the things that are about to close. The Innoventions restrooms (speaking of which, does anyone feel like a scene from Stranger Things 3 might’ve been shot in them?!), the hallway above, Club Cool, etc.

However, these are necessary growing pains, and Future World is desperately in need of a redesign. About the only loss that I’ll actually mourn in the long term is Fountain of Nations. I really hope that finds a spiritual successor in Future World’s reimagined design.

Finally, we arrive at Epcot’s front entrance. As covered last month, the Leave a Legacy removal is now half-finished. Interestingly/oddly, work on the other side hasn’t even started yet. Walls are not even up.

We’ll monitor that and everything else about to start happening at Epcot in the next few months, and keep you posted with regular updates. For now, that’s all from Epcot!

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!

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think of the current state of Epcot and its construction projects? Have you dined at the new Takumi-Tei restaurant? Thoughts on the future of Future World? Excited for Regal Eagle’s Distinctly Patriotic Smokehouse: A Salute to All Foods, But Mostly Barbecued Meats ~ A Sam Eagle Craft Drafts & BBQ Joint? 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!


25 Responses to “Epcot Update: Food & Wine Prep Begins, New Restaurants & Construction”
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