We’re back with another Walt Disney World news and rumor round-up. This time, we cover a newly-announced restaurant for Epcot, a reimagining of Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, permits regarding the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster, and the removal of theme and personality from MuppetVision 3D.
Let’s start with what’s official. Disney has confirmed previous rumors that a new crêperie will be built in an all-new location near the previously announced Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure attraction at Epcot. This new crêperie will feature the cuisine of celebrity chef JérÃ´me Bocuse, the son of Paul Bocuse and operator of the pavilion’s Chefs de France and Monsieur Paul restaurants.
The yet unnamed crêperie will feature a menu inspired by the Brittany region of France, and will offer both table service and quick-service dining. The restaurant will serve both sweet crepes and savory galettes. It’ll be interesting to see how this presumably small venue handles both table service and quick service, but perhaps Disney means there will be tables inside so it’s not takeaway-only.
The restaurant is part of the multi-year transformation of Epcot and an expansion of the France pavilion that will include a “Beauty and the Beast” Sing-Along experience, which will run in addition to that Impressions de France, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure attraction.
While no official opening dates are set yet for these France additions, Disney has stated repeatedly that all are coming to the pavilion in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. There are rumors suggesting these could debut earlier than that–at some point in 2020.
Next, BlogMickey has uncovered a construction permit for what’s likely to be massive projection domes in the new Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster under construction at Epcot. The permit is for “fabrication and installation of show screens” at the address associated with this project, with contractor Spitz, Inc. performing the work.
Spitz is the world’s leading provider of dome projection screens with prestigious clients including Griffith Observatory, Disney, IMAX, Zeiss, and Universal Studios. It’s unclear which Spitz product is being used for Guardians of the Galaxy, but they have some impressive stuff, and the rumored budget of this attraction should allow for plenty of screen-based and advanced Audio Animatronics wizardry.
I have little doubt that people will love the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction and that it’ll be incredibly well done given what’s being invested. For me, it still comes down to “at what cost?!” It’s tough to envision a scenario where whatever results from this project is “worth” the further thematic degradation of Epcot and that gigantic show-building. At least, to me personally. No doubt many others will wholeheartedly disagree.
The latest rumor is significant changes to Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular including new and replaced scenes, plus the removal of its “working studio” premise that no longer makes sense in the current incarnation of the park.
To accommodate for enhancements, adjustments, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular will go dark for a lengthy period of time between 2020 and 2021, with the reimagined show debuting in Summer 2021, just in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration.
This both makes sense and doesn’t. On the “makes sense” side of things, refreshing shows is a comparatively easy way of having something new to offer (as opposed to building attractions). It would certainly fit with Walt Disney World’s rumored plans of a ’50 for 50th’ celebration, too.
This would also roughly coincide with the release of Indiana Jones 5, making for a good marketing option–and one for which the studio might pick up some of the refresh budget cost as a promotional expense.
On the “doesn’t make sense” side of things, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular has been rumored to change, close, or be replaced for the better part of the last decade. From what we’ve heard, this show–along with Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage and Voyage of the Little Mermaid–have all survived well past any reasonable expiration date because they still score very well in guest satisfaction ratings, which are the main metrics used to evaluate whether to replace entertainment.
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular does a good job of absorbing crowds and is located on the “Star Wars side” of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This also makes the rumored closure and its timing in the immediate aftermath of Galaxy’s Edge a bit curious. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be unprecedented, and this is one rumor we are expecting to come to fruition.
We’ll finish with news that probably doesn’t matter to many of you, but does to me. That’s the slow erosion of Muppet theming from what was previously Muppet Courtyard and has since transitioned to Grand Avenue. This has been an ongoing saga, with the removal of the Miss Piggy and Kermit mural, plus some other painted gags, being the latest change.
When the “Muppet Courtyard” name and PizzeRizzo were first announced for this area, I was so excited. It just made sense. Give the Muppets an expanded presence in what would otherwise be a eclectic mini-land, giving the park some semblance of a “Muppet Studio” along with the adjacent Star Wars and Pixar areas.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think this means that the writing is on the wall for MuppetVision or even PizzeRizzo. Granted, the days of the latter are definitely numbered, but it’s hard to envision removing/replacing that attraction as a high priority, especially with an influx of foot traffic to this area come late August. To the contrary, I’d expect PizzeRizzo to resume daily operations at that point.
In hindsight, it’s quite obvious someone pumped the brakes on the Muppet Courtyard idea, and the Grand Avenue concept was introduced instead. The pretext is that Grand Avenue is inspired by modern day Los Angeles. More realistically, it seems like someone at Imagineering wanting a ‘softer’ transition to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (Grand Avenue is expected to be the ‘waiting area’ for Star Wars land), rather something more visually jarring.
If we’re considering it a land, Grand Avenue is the dullest one in any theme park. Totally nondescript and forgettable, and basically a palate cleanser before entering Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. I could maybe understand this approach, but on the other side of Star Wars land is…Toy Story Land. Talk about one extreme to another.
Instead, it’s yet another instance of Disney squandering the potential of the Muppets. It’s really unfortunate that Disney has pursued and abandoned so many projects involving the Muppets that are either subpar or totally miss the tone and character of the Muppets. The few Muppet creations Disney has gotten right (and I’d include Great Moments in American History in this) have been top-notch, and I think there is a market for these characters. Muppet Courtyard could’ve been the perfect theme park home for them.
What do you think of these stories? Excited for the new crepe restaurant at Epcot? Thoughts on the Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster? Think it’s plausible that Disney will close Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular for a year to revamp it? Do you also wish Muppet Courtyard were a fully fleshed-out thing? 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!