Epcot is the next stop in our May 2019 Walt Disney World construction updates & photo reports. As the park continues and further gears up for its massive re-imagining, work is underway in both World Showcase and Future World. However, much of this is backstage, and there isn’t a ton of visible month-to-month progress.
Instead, we’ll focus on smaller recent and upcoming changes. Along the way, we’ll also take brief looks at construction progress on the big projects: the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Mission: Space restaurant, Japan restaurant, Epcot films, and more.
We’ll start with Walt Disney World’s official announcement that the still-unnamed space restaurant will open in 2019. Patina Restaurant Group will operate the new restaurant, and they’ve developed a menu featuring internationally-inspired cuisine, over 1,000 bottles of wines, and a wide selection of craft beer.
No other details have been released about what readers here have been calling Mission: Plates (other name cheeky name suggestions are always encouraged in the comments). For those unfamiliar with Patina, they also operate the restaurants in Epcot’s Italy pavilion, as well as the Edison, Maria & Enzo’s, and Morimoto Asia. They’re also behind several restaurants in Downtown Disney at Disneyland (and numerous others in Southern California).
Unlike most other restaurant groups, my impression of Patina is generally very positive, both inside and outside the Disney sphere. With that said, the space restaurant opening this year comes out of left field. Construction has progressed quickly on the building, but I think we’re all anticipating and hoping for a carefully Imagineered and believable environment inside. Even a late 2019 opening seems like insufficient time to accomplish that. Hopefully I’m wrong on this.
Also worth noting is the reality that many recent Walt Disney World restaurant additions have been delayed. This includes several at Disney Springs (the Edison missed its original opening season by over a year), and in hotels. While I’d love to see the space restaurant open sooner rather than later–and I realize there’s a rush to get new draws into Epcot–I really hope it’s done right. In this case, I wouldn’t mind a delay at all.
Speaking of new things coming to Epcot, across Future World, work continues on Awesome Planet, which was announced only a couple months ago. Awesome Planet will deliver an environmental message that will resonate far beyond its final scenes. The film will feature spectacular nature photography, immersive in-theater effects, and space sequences created by Industrial Light & Magic.
The new films slated for Epcot could debut in January 2020 as part of the 2020 Epcot International Festival of the Arts. This includes Awesome Planet, the new Beauty and the Beast Sing-a-long in France, and new Circle-Vision 360 film for the Canada Pavilion. An ‘Epcot Film Festival’ during Festival of the Arts would be a fun and marketable addition.
Moreover, this would give Walt Disney World the ability to space out new offerings to drive attendance. IllumiNations ending is that drive now; Epcot Forever will fill the roll come October; Space Restaurant in December (maybe?); followed by new films in January. My recent track record in predicting opening months has been atrocious, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a push to get Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opened by June 2020.
Moving on to everyone’s favorite topic: infrastructure work!
This temporary ticket booth recently appeared outside International Gateway, presumably because one or more of the permanent ticket windows is closing. You might recall that a maze of construction walls went up here last month around the old turnstiles and bag check area. The presumed goal is expanding all of this to prepare for the influx of Skyliner guests. (On the plus side, the construction wall around the Skyliner station is now down.
One of the two out-of-park smoking areas at Epcot is back here.
Oddly, these smoking areas went from being mostly out of the way in-park locations to being outside the park locations that far more non-smokers will walk past to enter the parks.
Here’s a look at one of the in-park signs at Epcot in what was previously a smoking area.
We’ve already encountered a couple instances of guests discretely smoking on random park benches and (twice) inside restrooms. Hopefully Walt Disney World management empowers front of line Cast Members to enforce the rule.
Our concern is that rule-breaking will become an even bigger problem if guests start seeing others get away with it; why bother going all the way outside the park if the rule isn’t being actively enforced?
Also back at International Gateway, we can see the first testing of this leg of the Skyliner.
From the same area, here’s a look at the facades taking shape in the France expansion. This is moving at a brisk pace, and even though a lot clearly remains to be done, we really wouldn’t be surprised to see this finished in a year or so.
The show building has been fully enclosed for months. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is a trackless screen-based dark ride, with some physical props that would’ve been built off-site.
Here’s a look at work on the walkway that’ll connect the existing France pavilion to the expansion.
This walkway will be more narrow than the path in Mexico that’s a notorious crowd-flow issue. Hopefully since this isn’t a main thoroughfare that won’t be as much of an issue…but it will be the way to access Epcot’s most popular attraction (for at least a year), so there’s that.
Construction also continues on the Guardians of the Galaxy hybrid coaster. Not much else to report on this.
We’re still expecting this to debut at some point in 2021, hence Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure having about a year as Epcot’s most popular attraction.
Work on the new Signature Restaurant in the Japan pavilion.
Again, not much to report here. We’re expecting the entrance here to be pretty nondescript; think Monsieur Paul in the France pavilion.
On the topic of food, here’s the new-ish Coffee-rubbed Pork Poutine with Barbecue Demi-Glace, Fire-roasted Corn Relish and Cheese Curds available for Flower & Garden Festival. I enjoyed this, but prefer the Beef Brisket Poutine. It’s less ambitious, but if I’m eating an indulgent guilty pleasure off the top of a trash can, I might as well go all out.
This poutine was also recently “featured” in our Lovebugs at Walt Disney World post. For those who have asked, the lovebug situation is improving, but there’s probably at least another week or two of it being a thing. (Additionally, May tends to be significantly worse than September.)
We had the chance to watch portions of a couple of Garden Rocks concerts (from the walkway behind the theater), and they were quite enjoyable. From what we observed, seating is now fairly easy to obtain.
As the event winds down, we’re starting to see discounts on Flower & Garden merchandise.
Currently, you can take 25% off drinkware, apparel, and ears.
The entire line of World Showcase Mickey designs (like what’s pictured above) is buy one, get one 40% off.
I like these–simple, but interesting designs.
Heading out, we have construction in the parking lot as Epcot is in the process of transforming its “arrival experience.”
Right now, this isn’t too bad, but it does mean a bit more walking depending upon where you’re going or parked. We’d anticipate this area becoming larger, though. We’ll monitor that (and attempt to get some daytime photos) in the next few months. For now, that’s all from Epcot!
What do you think of the current state of Epcot and its construction projects? Thoughts on the space restaurant opening in 2019, or the new films potentially debuting in January 2020? 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!