Figment is returning to EPCOT and will have a new meet & greet for a limited time. In this post, we’ll share everything we know, plus some commentary and a look at the last time Figzilla appeared in the park near Journey into Imagination. (Updated September 9, 2023.)
This announcement was made during the “A Boundless Future: Disney Parks, Experiences and Products” presentation at last years’ D23 Expo. During that presentation, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro shared the news as part of a brief segment about the future of the new neighborhoods at EPCOT.
Since then, there have been a number of updates on more characters coming to Walt Disney World and the transformation of EPCOT. In particular, we know now that EPCOT will host the Disney100 celebration at Walt Disney World, which will begin on September 22, 2023. We also know that this will coincide, to some degree, with the completion of the EPCOT overhaul and debut of new additions. One such new addition will be CommuniCore Hall & Plaza, home to the Mickey & Friends meet and greet space.
Destination D23 Update: Walt Disney World has announced that Figment will begin meeting guests inside the Imagination Pavilion at EPCOT beginning tomorrow – September 10, 2023!
At the conclusion of the 2023 Destination D23’s presentation, “A Celebration of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro shared that Figment’s meet & greet would finally debut (about a full year after he made the announcement in Anaheim!)
Figment also joined D’Amaro up on stage, showcasing the new-look of the character costume. It’s similar to the fabled Figzilla from the early aughts, but with updates to the character model. While it’ll always be odd to see a gigantic Figment–and I’d much prefer he were joined by Dreamfinder–I’m very happy to see the character return, and can’t wait to meet him.
With that said, I have to give kudos to the team that designed this Figment character. In particular, his face is more consistent with the old school Figment look, and looks very much like a supersized Audio Animatronics figure from the attraction. I can’t wait to meet him in person tomorrow!
Previous Updates: Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts has filed a new permit for the “installation of scenic items” at the Journey into Imagination pavilion. The contractor on the permit is listed as Bungalow Scenic Studios, which is a frequent collaborator with Walt Disney World on small-scale sets for characters and entertainment.
Among other things, Bungalow Scenic Studios fabricated and installed the current meet & greets in the ImageWorks Lab for Ralph Breaks the Internet and Imagination Land for Inside Out. That’s the clearest indication that the work they’re doing in Journey into Imagination is for this Figment meet & greet rather than, say, a complete overhaul and new show scenes inside the ride itself. (It’s definitely not. We’d see a lot of other permits, etc., for any such work first.)
What’s perhaps most interesting here is the timeline. It’s been nearly a year since Disney announced the Figment meet & greet, which is a tremendous amount of lead time for a character addition in an existing space. More recently, Walt Disney World indicated that Figment would appear “later this summer.” The clock is ticking on summer, which would normally conclude Labor Day weekend on the Walt Disney World calendar. They might be going by the actual seasonal calendar for this one, as summer ends–very conveniently–on September 22, 2023 per that.
Walt Disney World has also indicated that a meet & greet with Minnie & Mickey Mouse in their platinum outfits for Disney100 is coming to the Imagination pavilion. Again, summer ends on September 22 and the 100 Years of Wonder starts on September 22, so that would strongly suggest to us that these meet & greets will both debut on or around that date.
We strongly suspect that this was not the original plan. It almost certainly wasn’t for Mickey and Minnie. When first announcing Disney100 at EPCOT, the implication was that CommuniCore Hall and everything else would be done, and the walls containing the Giant EPCOT Dirt Pit would come down, when the 100 Years of Wonder Celebration kicked off. It’s now a near-certainty the new-look EPCOT won’t debut on that date.
Given that CommuniCore Hall holds a brand-new dedicated meet & greet space called Mickey & Friends, the obvious assumption is that Mickey Mouse and his friends–and that includes Minnie Mouse in her platinum dress–would greet guests there. Honestly, between the concept art and logistics, I figured that the Figment meet & greet would also debut in Mickey & Friends, hence the delay between announcement and debut. They were waiting on CommuniCore Hall to open.
These meet & greets (especially Mickey & Minnie’s) instead being housed in ImageWorks strongly suggests CommuniCore Hall won’t be ready by September 22. That much is probably obvious just by looking at the unfinished building and the pace of work, but the timelines also reaffirm it. The whole ‘saga’ of Disney100 at EPCOT, 3-month duration of the event, and what we still don’t know about the celebration and what will or won’t debut during it at EPCOT is all very curious and odd…but also beyond the scope of this post.
As for these meet & greets, I really hope the debuts are staggered. Or even that there’s an AP/DVC preview of Figment in a different location with a temporary backdrop or something. One need only look back to the line for the original Figment popcorn bucket at the beginning of last year, and realize that the return of Figment is a disaster waiting to happen.
Meet & greets are even lower-capacity than the line to purchase a popcorn bucket, there presumably is even more demand for a huggable Figment, and the space where the meet & greet is being added is at the exit to an attraction. There isn’t really much room for a significant overflow queue, and the line for Figment will inevitably block traffic coming into and out of the building. All reasons why Walt Disney World probably wanted to have this in the larger, purpose-built Mickey & Friends.
Suffice to say, it’ll be interesting to see what happens and how Disney manages demand for the Figment meet & greet. While we dubbed this a “disaster waiting to happen,” we mean that in the best way possible. The triumphant return of a Figment meet & greet posting a 5-hour wait time and making the national news (again!) might be an unpleasant experience for anyone in EPCOT on opening day…but the diehards know what they’re getting themselves into and are doing so happily. (No one should shed any tears for the Figment faithful waiting several hours to meet the character. We live for this stuff.)
More significantly, those long lines and their media coverage raises the profile on the fan-favorite character and further increases the odds of Walt Disney World doing something substantive with Figment. We’re still waiting on the long overdue Journey into Imagination overhaul, and demand for this meet & greet could be that one little spark needed to make it happen. Just remember that when you’re standing in a multi-hour line, frustrated and wondering what you got yourself into. Consider your “sacrifice” a public service!
What follows is the original commentary about the announcement at D23 Expo last year…
As long time readers no doubt know, Figment is my favorite Disney character. Always will be. Not because of the current attraction or his personality today, but because of what he was in the original Journey into Imagination in the 1980s through mid-1990s. He was whimsical and inquisitive, funny and endearing.
Figment embodied the best things about childhood curiosity, and resonated deeply with adults who saw a little bit of their kids in Figment (or vice versa), and both kids and adults who saw a little of themselves in the character. The reason for the original Figment’s success is profoundly simple: he showed us all the best of ourselves.
My obsession with all things Journey into Imagination, Figment and Dreamfinder have been well-documented on this blog. In a matter of speaking, this original EPCOT Center attraction and these characters were my one little spark into Disney fandom.
As a dorky adult, I scoured eBay and grew a formidable Figment collection after Sarah and I first returned together to Walt Disney World. A few years later, I had the good fortune of meeting Tony Baxter and briefly discuss the original pavilion with him.
While this news is not nearly as exciting as Journey into Imagination 3.0 would be (a perpetual entry in my D23 Expo Wishlist for Walt Disney World), it’s still an exciting announcement. It was says to me that Walt Disney World hasn’t forgotten about Figment.
My sincere hope is that this meet & greet line is perpetually the longest at Walt Disney World, similar to the popcorn bucket sold at this year’s EPCOT Festival of the Arts. That proved that Figment still has serious popularity, drawing power, and merchandising potential.
I’m not naive enough to think that one little popcorn bucket–or even a meet & greet–means a new Journey into Imagination will be greenlit imminently (I’ve gotten my hopes up for nothing too many times in the past), but it’s certainly a positive for the longevity of the character and his future prospects.
As for the Figment meet & greet, here’s a look at us when we were many moons younger. This costumed character was fondly known as Figzilla, but disappeared before the character’s current rise in popularity.
Our guess is that the “limited time” Figment character that will meet & greet guests in EPCOT is very similar. Perhaps a bit smaller in statue to avoid the comparisons to Godzilla, but it’s unlikely he’s accompanied by Dreamfinder. We would love to be wrong about that one, though!
What do you expect from the return of Figment’s meet & greet character to EPCOT? What would you like to see happen with Journey into Imagination in an ideal world? Are you excited? Skeptical? A little of both? Any other thoughts, insights, etc? 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!