Epcot is next up for our November 2019 Walt Disney World construction updates. In this photo update, we’ll take a look at progress on Regal Eagle Smokehouse and Space 220 Restaurant, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and the razing of Future World.
Let’s start with the holiday season. Now that it’s November, that means Christmas is all around at Walt Disney World, a reality that has been reflected in other recent updates. Not so at Epcot, which won’t start celebrating until the end of the month, on the day after Thanksgiving.
While the staunch “Turkey before Tree” crowd might take solace in this, the delay is simply due to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival running longer than normal this year. Last year, Food & Wine ended “early” in order for Festival of the Holidays and Candlelight Processional to debut on Thanksgiving (which was also a week earlier last year). This year, that’s not happening…
What the 2019 Epcot Festival of the Holidays will entail remains to be seen. Obviously, the Holiday Kitchens and Candlelight Processional are returning. Both are strong revenue generators for Walt Disney World, and as such, are the cornerstones of this seasonal celebration.
DisneyWorld.com’s official Festival of the Holidays page mentions Joyful, but it’s unclear whether that’s accurate given their normal stage has been demolished (and this page also says “check back later for more details about the 2019 festival”). Moreover, on the official press release, Joyful isn’t mentioned.
Holiday Storytellers are also not mentioned on the official page, but this is not out of the ordinary. “World Showcase pavilions will come alive with the sights and sounds of special entertainment celebrating each country’s holiday heritage,” per the press release. We take that to mean Holiday Storytellers, but we hold our breath every year until we actually see the Storytellers. Walt Disney World seldom promotes this offering, and they’d be easy-to-cut entertainment without much fan outrage.
We also are not expecting much in terms of Future World Christmas decorations, in large part because there’s not much space for them. Unless Walt Disney World decks the construction walls with boughs of holly (fa la la la la, la la la la la la), we’ll maybe get a planter or two with photo ops in Future World.
Now let’s turn to construction progress, beginning with a monorail tour of EPCOT.
As we said last month, EPCOT is currently short for “Endless Projects: Construction of Tomorrow.” This should be pretty evident as we circle the park.
Starting with some good news, the new tram drop-off loop is finished and bag check has relocated under the monorail station.
It was so nice not having to go through bag check at the Transportation & Ticket Center and then again at Epcot.
Before going any further, we’re once again going to share the latest concept art for the reimagined Epcot.
It might be helpful to refer back to this as we continue the update, so you can easier envision what these areas will look like in the future.
Entering the park, we can start to see the outline of what will become planters taking shape.
As a reminder, the plan is to totally finish this side, and then once again wall off the other side and tear up the ground there and install planters and new pavement.
A ton of trees have been cleared from between the backside of Spaceship Earth and the former Innoventions building.
The concept art suggests this area will become…more trees. However, masses of trees are often used in concept art to mask backstage facilities, so who knows.
This pathway is in the process of being torn out.
Our guess here is that placemaking will occur over here, with new walkways that are better conducive to crowd flow.
On a sad note, the Fountain of Nations is now totally gone. Of course, we knew this was coming, but it’s still tough to see.
It’s tough to tell from the monorail, but it appears the construction crews are digging well below the fountain here.
Rounding the bend, we come to the future location of trees, a pathway, and Moana: Journey of Water.
More trees have been cleared here, and it appears that concrete framing is starting to take shape on the ground. This area is marked as trees on the concept art, so we’re guessing this is for a new backstage facility, unless Moana: Journey of Water is going to stretch this far over.
Here’s another look at this area. For reference, the Seas pavilion is directly behind the camera. In fact, you can see the top of the Seas pavilion from near Spaceship Earth now because all of the trees have been cleared.
You’ll also notice a temporary steel beam over the backstage road running between the two walls here. We’re guessing this is a height restriction barrier, perhaps in place due to the proximity of this work to the monorail beam.
On the ground and inside the park, we have a look at the repainted Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind building behind the monorail.
This attraction looks like it has a vaguely steampunk vibe (or at least a lot of copper/gold coloring); it’ll be interesting to see how well that’s pulled off. Disney doesn’t exactly have the best track with steampunk in the US parks.
Over at Mission: Space, a wall is up for what likely will become the entrance for the Space 220 Restaurant. This is a logical location for the entrance, even though the restaurant itself is being built backstage closer to Test Track. (No visible progress on that this month.)
As previously noted, the Space 220 Restaurant is being operated by Patina Group, which is behind numerous other Walt Disney World restaurants. Interestingly, a menu has yet to be released for Space 220 Restaurant, despite its opening timeframe having been announced months ago.
Despite Walt Disney World stating over the summer that Space 220 would open by the end of 2019, we’ve been watching construction closely and keep reiterating that this is unlikely. Again, Space 220 Restaurant’s former executive chef left two months ago, so it’s not really as if Patina is scrambling at the last minute to find someone new to throw together a menu.
That they still haven’t hired a new executive chef further underscores the reality that the restaurant is behind schedule. It’s likely that the opening of Space 220 is still several months away, so there’s plenty of time to put together a menu. Of course, it’s still a bad sign if you were hoping to dine at Space 220 before Christmas, but given the current construction progress, that’s unlikely irrespective of the hunt for a new chef.
We just hope the cuisine at Space 220 is actually ambitious, and not just garden-variety dishes but with a mild space twist in presentation and naming. We’re sort of expecting the latter, especially as the view will be the strong selling point at Space 220 Restaurant.
Bouncing back to the other restaurant under construction at Epcot, we have a look at Regal Eagle Smokehouse (also known as “Regal Eagle’s Distinctly Patriotic Smokehouse: A Salute to All Foods, But Mostly Barbecued Meats ~ A Sam Eagle Craft Drafts & BBQ Joint”).
Continuing to International Gateway, there’s a Skyliner status board outside the park. This should really be inside the park, especially given that the Epcot line has been experiencing a lot of downtime the past few days.
Before you exit Epcot, we’d strongly recommend asking a Cast Member whether the Skyliner is operating. (You can also see whether it’s moving from some areas of the France pavilion and the bridge near International Gateway.) If you leave the park only to find out it’s not operating, you’ll have to go through security again should you need to re-enter Epcot to go out the front entrance to the bus stops.
On this particular day, the Skyliner was fully operational, so I had a chance to once again check out progress on Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and the France expansion.
Out of all the construction at Epcot, this is my favorite thing to watch right now. Almost every single day, there’s something new to see as this takes shape in a hurry.
That’s a wrap for our November 2019 Epcot update. We’ll be back at the very end of the month (or very beginning of December) for our next look at the construction progress, along with everything that is–and is not–happening this holiday season in World Showcase and Future World.
What do you think of the current state of Epcot and its construction projects? Looking forward to visiting Endless Projects: Construction of Tomorrow during your next WDW trip, or dreading visits to the park while it’s an active construction site? 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!