Epcot Update: It’s the End of Future World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

We’re back for what’s essentially the first part of a ‘before and after’ Epcot update, as we witness what’s essentially the end of Future World as we know it…and I feel fine. In this Walt Disney World construction report, we’ll take a look at the construction walls already up around Epcot, what’s not up yet, plus a quick recap of everything that has been announced for the future of Epcot.

As we’ve said before, there’s a lot on the horizon at Epcot. Much of this is already happening as the park approaches next month’s “big date” when a bunch of stuff permanently or temporarily closes in Future World. With each visit to the park, it feels like we see a new construction wall–no joke.

After two years of feet dragging on the central spine project, it now appears that Walt Disney World is chomping at the bit to kick the Epcot overhaul into high gear. As you probably know, a lot of Future World will be permanently closed on September 8, 2019. See our Closing at Epcot: Club Cool, Starbucks, Electric Umbrella, MouseGear, Fountain of Nations, Etc post for full details as there’s truly too much to list here…

September 8 is Sunday, which is a busy time for Epcot now that we’re in Food & Wine Festival season. As such, we’re anticipating all of those things will be closed come Sunday, but the sea of construction walls won’t go up until overnight after Epcot closes on Sunday, impacting guests for the first time on Monday morning.

Whether this means Fountain of Nations will still be operating come Sunday remains to be seen, but we don’t want to risk that–we’ll be going tonight to say our goodbyes. That’s really the only thing about this whole Future World extinction/overhaul that we’ll miss.

Don’t be surprised if Art of Disney and, more importantly, the fiber optics pavement don’t close this weekend. The stores in this building are now showing “winter” closing timeframes instead of this weekend.

That would make sense if the demolition is going to be done in phases, and would be consistent with the closure for Electric Umbrella (although, again, that building will not be demolished). It would also, at least theoretically, allow Walt Disney World to delay closure of the Innoventions Breezeway until after the busy holiday season. We’ll see whether that happens, though.

As for the “I feel fine” part of that title? While I have a lot of nostalgia for the old EPCOT Center and we made some great memories at some things that still exist, like Club Cool and Fountain View, it’s beyond time for them to go. The current disparate styles of both contribute to the hodgepodge of Future World.

We’re ready to move on with both those things, and literally everything else that’s closing. We’ve been likening this area of Future World to a dead mall, and we really think that’s apt. There are the parts stuck in the past that fizzled out years ago, elements from the 1990s and early-aughts added in a feeble attempt to revive the area, and then the new ‘anchor’ tenant added in what was quite obviously a ‘too little, too late’ move.

With that said, I can empathize with anyone who is upset this weekend about ‘losing’ the old EPCOT, or the version with which they grew up. I’ve grappled with these feelings for years, something I’ve previously covered (and linked to ad nauseam via Why We Can’t Let EPCOT Go post).

Between the release of concept art for Epcot’s future neighborhoods (names I’ll bet are never adopted by the general public–I wouldn’t be surprised if Walt Disney World quietly drops them) and the closure of so many things all at once, it certainly feels like this is a turning point for Epcot. Accordingly, I can understand the mourning. Personally, I just got that out of my system a while ago.

Fountain of Nations - Epcot

Nostalgia and emotion aside, removing Fountain of Nations and not removing Innoventions East feel like the only two potentially ill-advised moves of this overhaul. Even then, we’re willing to take a wait and see approach, observe how things play out and look when finished, and not prematurely judge the project.

The core of what’s currently Future World needs desperate help, and has for two decades. We’re ready to move on, and are cautiously optimistic about what’s been presented for the overhaul thus far.

Speaking of which, above is a refresher of the final-form concept art presented for the new look front of the park. This should help you better visualize what’s going to change as we take a tour of the construction.

Below is a closer look:

In essence, the new three-level festival center and Moana: Journey of Water will replace Innoventions West while Dreamers Point and other place-making replaces the Fountain of Nations. This area will become World Celebration, one of Epcot’s 3 New Neighborhoods Replacing Future World.

Anyway, let’s take an aerial tour of what’s already happening in Future World at Epcot courtesy of the Highway in the Sky, pre-September 8, 2019:

It’s hard to ascertain the progress that has been made at the redesigned tram drop-off and security area since last month, but a bunch of dirt has moved, so there’s that.

As I’ve said before, I really hope security is moved outside the monorail station, and I assume that’ll happen. I’ll probably repeat this several times between now and this finishing, as I’m reminded of this annoyance whenever I park hop from Magic Kingdom to Epcot, which is almost always how I’m doing this updates with photos from the monorail.

Entering Epcot, the other half of the Leave a Legacy monolith removal is now finished.

More importantly, we can see that the pavement has also been removed over here, which suggests that this side will be totally converted to the new park entrance reflected in the concept art, before the other side is walled off (again) and that side is finished.

If it wasn’t clear before, it should be obvious now that this front fountain will remain.

While losing Fountain of Nations is a big blow, keeping this fountain and having the lucite prism pillars reinstalled in front of Spaceship Earth does feel like a small victory of sorts.

The same type of exterior work we saw last month continues on Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.

I haven’t had much in the way of positives to say about this attraction, but I actually do like the Cosmic Rewind name.

Even more work is visible inside the old Universe of Energy show building.

At the D23 Expo, concept art was released for the pre-show that’ll happen in this area. It looks promising, and I really hope every effort is made to tie this attraction in with the mission and spirit of EPCOT. Even at its best, it’ll be a tenuous connection, but hopefully it’s better than “Peter Quill visited EPCOT as a kid.”

Continuing around Innoventions East, where there are already a ton of construction walls up, including around these restrooms.

As a reminder, this is the side that’s not going anywhere. It’s tough to tell what’s happening here, as this area appears mostly as trees in all of the new concept art.

Here’s a wide view showing just how much is walled off.

It’s possible that they’re widening the pathway back here, or perhaps all of those concept art trees are being installed! (I’m kidding…although this area could use more trees.)

In a race against the clock, the new wider pathway opened in time for Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival last week.

These wider paths will likely be crucial for crowd flow while Innoventions West is demolished.

Don’t expect any of this to be permanent, though.

These pathways likely serve a short-term purpose and will themselves be torn out (at least in part) once demolition is completed and work starts on the festival center.

Throughout Future World, there are a lot of other random walls up all over the place. Above is one by Guest Relations. There’s another huge area of land being cleared between Innoventions West and the Living Seas pavilion. (Sorry, my photo of that had a ton of glare from the monorail window.)

That wraps up this construction photo update, showing what’s already happening in Epcot. We’ll be back with another update in the next day or two once the rest of the construction walls go up, to show the scope of the current work, and how things are likely to look if you’re visiting Epcot in the next year or more.

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YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think of the current state of Epcot and its construction projects? Are you mourning the loss of Future World and the various things closing this weekend? Looking forward to seeing Epcot transform over the next few years, 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!


29 Responses to “Epcot Update: It’s the End of Future World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”
  1. MC September 11, 2019
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