Epcot Update: March 2019

Epcot is the final stop for our March 2019 Walt Disney World construction reports. A lot is happening here, both in World Showcase and Future World, but despite that, Flower & Garden Festival has the park looking great. In this update, we’ll take a look at construction progress on the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, IllumiNations replacement, Mission: Space restaurant, and more.

As with our March 2019 Magic Kingdom Update, we did morning Extra Magic Hours at Epcot for this report. Unlike Magic Kingdom, we were not able to make it into the park before sunrise. We did, however, arrive way too early and ended up waiting over 30 minutes for security to open. Being stuck outside the park during an epic sunrise would’ve been rough, but “fortunately” it was just clear skies.

The turnstiles did open about 15 minutes before the start of Extra Magic Hours, and began with the normal rope drop scenario of stopping guests at Spaceship Earth. During that time, I wandered around taking photos at the front of the park, paying my respects at the Battle of Brava Centauri war memorial before it’s removed in the near future.

Obviously, I’m joking, but I do intend upon spending significant time around the park entrance to etch its exact details into memory. So much of what I experienced in EPCOT Center as a kid has slipped away, both literally and figuratively. What’s at the front entrance now is nothing particularly memorable, so committing it to memory might be tough.

We still don’t know when this project will begin. When then news broke about the Play Pavilion Replacing Wonders of Life and New Park Entrance Coming to Epcot coupled with the Spaceship Earth 2-Year Overhaul Rumors, my thoughts were that this would all start in late 2019 or early 2020. However, I’m now under the impression that the front entrance redesign will begin much sooner.

As to when, it could start as early as May. Timing-wise, this is post-Easter and would coincide with the slowest time of the year in the park. The “Diet Epcot” summer months have become very light in terms of attendance, so having the bulk of the entrance work occur during that timeframe makes sense.

Meanwhile, Flower & Garden Festival continues through early June. (See our 2019 Guide to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival if you’re planning a visit.)

I don’t think starting construction towards the tail end of that event would be a terrible idea. By the last month, it’s sort of just limping along, anyway.

Between France and Morocco the show building is visible as it’s illuminated by the early morning sun.

As we also reported in our recent Walt Disney World News & Rumor Report, a new counter and table service crêperie featuring the cuisine of celebrity chef Jérôme Bocuse is being built as part of the expansion.

Sticking in this area, a lot of work is occurring by the International Gateway:

While there has been no official confirmation, the safe money is on this being an expansion to the existing security stations and turnstiles at International Gateway.

The Skyliner is going to bring an influx of guests to this entrance, and the existing infrastructure simply cannot handle the increased guest numbers.

Back in Future World, we head inside the Land pavilion, where signage is already up for Awesome Planet, which was announced just last week.

Per that announcement, Awesome Planet will feature spectacular nature photography, immersive in-theater effects, and space sequences created by Industrial Light & Magic. The goal is to stir Epcot guests and deliver an environmental message that will resonate far beyond its final scenes.

I applaud more new films coming to Epcot. I know it’s not what the kids these days enjoy, but Epcot is also a park for older folks such as myself who enjoy the simple pleasures in life like leaning against the wall carpet and enjoying a beautifully-shot documentary or travelogue.

Which brings me to my second point: if they touch that precious wall carpet, we riot. 😉

Over at ImageWorks in the Journey into Imagination post-show, the Wreck-It Ralph meet & greet opened a few weeks ago.

There was some speculation that this “link” tunnel is actually the repurposed rainbow corridor from upstairs ImageWorks. It’s not. (Although the actual fate of that tunnel isn’t much better than being repurposed for a meet & greet.)

As for the Play Pavilion that’s taking over the former Wonders of Life pavilion and will presumably be home to these meet & greets in the future, I doubt we’ll see any visible progress on this at all. It’ll just open.

Personally, I’d love to see the double-helix return here. Sure, it has nothing to do with the new concept, but it doesn’t contradict it, either…and it looked cool.

Of course, we have the obligatory photos of the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster construction.

Not much visual progress to report here.

The building still isn’t fully enclosed, but I’m not sure this bears any further discussion since not much looks different than last month.

Visible progress continues on the Space Restaurant, it has been moving quickly as of late. An opening this year seems unlikely, but early to mid 2020 is definitely on the table.

“Mission: PLATES” (not its real name–one dubbed by a reader in comments) is one of the more low-key Epcot projects about which I’m most excited.

Of course, it’s still a big wildcard at this point. Mission: PLATES could end up being something that blows people away, both in terms of atmosphere and cuisine, or it could end up being phoned in design-wise and having a subpar menu.

I’ll be satisfied if it falls somewhere in the spectrum of Coral Reef and Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. Those are two restaurants I think are underrated from an atmosphere perspective, but don’t fully deliver on the cuisine front.

I guess this is Mickey Mouse head cup is meant to resemble Spaceship Earth.

Not my jam, but I could see it being popular.

Disney’s Riviera Resort merchandise is already for sale on the rack near the Disney Vacation Lounge check-in.

We also popped into the lounge to grab some caffeine. I’m happy to report that everyone was wearing their shoes.

Finally, we watched the JAMMitors getting the spring break crowd hyped up for regular 9 a.m. rope drop. I know it’s not to everyone’s tastes, but I enjoy this group.

That wraps up this Epcot update! We’ll be back next month with another–unless something noteworthy happens prior to then that’s worth a post.

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YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think of the current state of Epcot and its construction projects? Have you had the chance to enjoy Flower & Garden Festival yet? 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!


10 Responses to “Epcot Update: March 2019”
  1. rorosen March 31, 2019
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