We return to Epcot for our latest round of updates on construction and the various Walt Disney World Christmas happenings. This visit coincided with the start of Festival of the Holidays, the food element of which we’ve already in pretty granular detail here.
Actually, this “visit” was several trips to the park, some of which were only in the evenings so that we could enjoy IllumiNations: Peace on Earth for its farewell season. Our first time viewing the holiday tag this year we scored a last-minute FastPass+, which I don’t think we’d ever done before. We always forget just how earth-shaking the “Peace” on Earth finale/tag is until seeing it again, and…wow. Suffice to say, you can expect a surplus of Epcot updates this holiday season.
In this Epcot update, we’ll cover construction progress on the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster and Ratatouille trackless dark ride, plus a few other random stops in World Showcase and Future World. We’ll also cover some loose ends in terms of the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays…
We’ll start this update entering through International Gateway, where work on the Skyliner gondola station remains ongoing. The major recent gondola update of late is that Walt Disney World officially confirmed that the gondolas would not have air-conditioning.
We addressed this rumor at length in our last Disney Skyliner Gondola Update, and why the lack of air-conditioning didn’t really bother us. It wasn’t really even a rumor at that point as air-conditioning isn’t a feature in this model of gondolas by Doppelmayr, which is the manufacturer of Walt Disney World’s gondola system.
As noted in that post, we’ve ridden in a lot of gondolas, including environments hotter and more humid than Central Florida, and the lack of air-conditioning has never been an issue. In fact, we’ve never even ridden in gondolas equipped with A/C.
It still baffles me that this outrage is a thing, but whatever. I’ve chosen plenty of ‘hills to die on’ that probably strike other Walt Disney World fans as odd choices, so to each their own. (I still think the difference here is that most people who are upset don’t fundamentally understand gondola systems.)
We will do another full Skyliner update soon, as there’s a lot more to report on with regard to construction progress, the anticipated opening season of the gondolas, and more.
For now, here’s a look at the interesting new art on the Skyliner gondola station outside the International Gateway entrance to Epcot:
I really like this art, but I’m torn on its location. Murals and public art installations are common in Paris, but I’ve never seen anything on classical architecture. Just strikes me as an odd juxtaposition, but perhaps I’m nitpicking (again).
Equally as important to me, some weathering has been done to the canopy of the Skyliner station, making it fit with the other buildings a bit better.
Speaking of art, the Christmas window displays in gift shops throughout Walt Disney World are masterpieces. I’m not even kidding.
If you pass them by without second thought, you’re really missing out. A lot of them, including this one at World Traveler by International Gateway, feature ‘classic’ Disney character designs.
Also in this area, we have a view behind the current France pavilion, which will become the arcade leading to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
It’ll be interesting to see how this, presumably narrow and dead-end corridor works with the influx of guests trying to experience the only E-Ticket attraction in World Showcase. I love the idea of expanding the France pavilion, but I wonder if there will be crowd-flow issues.
A view of the Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure show building from across World Showcase Lagoon.
I’d say this was shot intentionally at sunset for a ‘realistic’ view of how the human eye will see it, but that’d be a lie. On 3 different days, I forgot to get this photo during the day…and instead I have 3 night sunset/night views.
We need to start a section in these Epcot updates called, “Where in the (Future) World is the Figment Figure…and What Is He Wearing?” That’s not at all weird or anything.
As for the first question, he’s perched high above the displays at MouseGear. As for the second question, a Santa Claus suit! I’m betting this is the pet project of someone who works at Epcot, and they have a lot of fun with it. Judging by social media, we fans also have a lot of fun with this.
In my case, I have a lot of fun photographing the Figment Figure for “WIT(F)WITFF…AWIHW?” (an acronym that rolls right off the tongue). I still have about 20 unedited photos of Chef Figment from unique angles shot during Food & Wine, and I spent way too much time in MouseGear trying to do the same.
In other quasi-Figment news, there’s this new EPCOT mug at the Fountain View Starbucks.
I know there’s more collectibility in the ‘Starbucks x Disney’ collaborations or crossovers or whatever, but I wish this were just a straight-up Disney mug. Starbucks’ “thing” is the You Are Here mugs, and I wish they’d just leave it at that. I don’t need to show off my affection for two Fortune 500 companies on the same mug.
Holiday Storytellers, which we cover here, are now appearing throughout World Showcase.
Our absolute favorite is Sigrid, who shares Norwegian Christmas traditions and lore about Julenissen, the gnome, who appears and mischievously interrupts the storytelling. Don’t miss them.
I passed on photographing the sunset to see Sigrid and Julenissen because I enjoy them so much…and because the sunset looked like it’d be a dud.
I caught the waning light after they were done performing. Looks like I misjudged that one. Whoops. (Of course I sat down in the front row to watch the Storytellers, so I couldn’t really leave during the performance, even as I saw the color exploding behind me.)
More Christmas/holiday quick hits…
I love this view. Also, to be entirely honest, I love Epcot’s Christmas tree. I know it’s one of the older trees at Walt Disney World, but I like the classy design representing the countries.
Standby lines for Candlelight Processional have been ridiculous. We know people who waited two hours and missed the cut. Every year, there are more dining packages sold and fewer standby guests admitted.
For what it’s worth, we hovered around American Adventure, waiting for the performers to enter, at which time a rope was put up and guests were allowed to stand behind the seating area. Obviously, we were pretty far back, but we had a front row rope view that required a (roughly) 5 minute wait. Something to consider if you don’t do a dining package and don’t want to camp out in line.
Did we mention that the Peace on Earth tag to IllumiNations is awesome? Because it is.
Finally, here are some looks at the Guardians of the Galaxy show-building, first from the magical walk through the parking lot, then from across World Showcase Lagoon:
It’s difficult to tell from the photos, but they’re starting to enclose the building. It appears the lower exterior panels go away green and the upper ones are sky blue (or the more euphonious ‘blend-in blue’).
Ultimately, it’s highly unlikely that this structure will have any themed artifice on it (and we’re thankful for that), but it’s interesting that they appear to be using a mix of blend-in blue and go away green. Given the height of the structure, this makes sense, I just don’t think I’ve ever seen the ‘mixed’ approach. As with the Soarin’ theaters, the portion of the building visible from across World Showcase Lagoon will likely be blue since much of it will be above the tree line and set against the sky.
That’s a wrap for this update from Epcot. We’ll report back in early December with more from the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, as well as photos of the age-defying John Stamos narrating Candlelight Processional, among other things.
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Will you be experiencing the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays this year? What do you think of Epcot’s Skyliner station? Thoughts on the go away green/blend-in blue mix for the Guardians show-building? Will you be purchasing the new Epcot Starbucks mug? 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!