New Hotel Inside Epcot?
Epcot may be the location of Walt Disney World’s first in-park hotel, with the potential hotel being located somewhere at the edge of the park in Future World. If rumors are to be believed, the hotel could be added at Epcot’s entrance adjacent to the monorail station or on a backstage plot between the Seas and the Land pavilions.
In this post, we’ll share our thoughts on these rumored Walt Disney World hotel proposals, including the pros and cons of an in-park Epcot hotel, and offer some comparisons to (potentially) similar hotels at Tokyo DisneySea, Disneyland Paris, and the Grand Californian. (Technically, none of these hotels are inside of their respective parks, but they’re all treated as if they are since they are on the “border” and look directly into the parks.)
For starters, we’re going to assume that the park entrance hotel is what, if anything, gets the greenlight. While it’s entirely possible the Land/Seas hotel is built instead (or both are built), the ramifications of a park entrance hotel are far greater. (While a lovely hotel, few people consider the impact the Grand Californian has on DCA, and we’d assume that would be a similar scenario here.)
It’s also safe to assume that this hotel is being designed in tandem with the previously announced re-imagining of Future World; we would hope this means that any hotel that comes to fruition will feature stylization that meshes with the redesigned entrance and Future World as a whole.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the hotel would debut at the same time. In fact, with several hotel projects already in the pipeline and no actual progress on the previously-announced Star Wars Hotel, an opening date of 2021 or later seems realistic. It’s likely the Future World project, or at least the redesign and placemaking components, will wrap up before then.
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of a potential hotel at Epcot. As WDWThemeParks’ rumor tracker shows, there have been rumblings about it for a while on WDWMagic. The info has also come from historically-reliable sources, including Martin and WDW1974. Now, WDWNT is lending further credence to rumors of the hotel (or, hotels).
We have no reason to doubt the veracity of these rumors. As Epcot is on the cusp of a massive redesign and expansion that will undoubtedly spike its popularity, it seems logical that Walt Disney World would want to throw a hotel or two into the mix.
Allocating some of the overhaul’s budget to hotels–strong, direct revenue centers–could make the massive investment into Epcot more palatable. Moreover, unlike new attractions, when it comes to rumors of more hotels or Disney Vacation Club at Walt Disney World, history has taught me to always believe the rumor until proven otherwise, ha!
Depending upon your level of cynicism, an Epcot hotel might sound like a blatant cash grab. Yet another hotel by a resort complex with an ever-growing fixation on building more hotels and timeshares. My immediate counter to that is that Walt Disney World will need more hotels come 2020 (and beyond).
Occupancy is already high; Star Wars land and other additions will only make it higher. So unless you want demand pushing pricing even higher–to stratospheric levels–you might not want to be so averse to hotel construction. As long as Disney continues adding capacity to the parks, improving infrastructure, and does a better job of distributing crowds (and all three are a work in progress), more hotels poses no problem.
My more nuanced counter is that this hotel could itself be an asset to Epcot. There’s the point that this might move Epcot closer to the mixed-use community Walt Disney initially envisioned for E.P.C.O.T., albeit with tourists replacing residents. No offense, but that vision of E.P.C.O.T. is deader than EPCOT Center, so I don’t view that point as too compelling.
What I do view as compelling is how the Epcot hotel could be used to enhance the entrance area from a thematic perspective to enhance Future World or help increase the wow-factor of standing in front of Spaceship Earth for the first time.
From an aesthetic perspective, the hotel could be used to extend whatever style and visual motif is used during the re-imagining of Future World. Think of it as a potential use of the ‘borrowed scenery’ style–somewhat akin to what’s happening with the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge rockwork and the Rivers of America at Disneyland.
Or, more to the point, how the facade of Hotel MiraCosta’s facade doubles as part of Mediterranean Harbor at Tokyo DisneySea. That port has the appearance of incredibly pretty buildings lining its walkways, but in reality, it’s all the hotel. It’s a brilliant dual-use, and having part of this be a revenue-generating hotel no doubt helped justify the lavish design.
Likewise, at both Disneyland Paris and Tokyo DisneySea, the ‘wow-factor’ concept is executed brilliantly. In both cases, the hotel conceals the park’s main icon (Le ChÃ¢teau de la Belle au Bois Dormant in France and Mount Prometheus in Japan) and there’s a big reveal once you pass under the hotel and enter the park. Think of the effect as akin to walking under the train station at Magic Kingdom and seeing Cinderella Castle. Same idea.
Hotel MiraCosta is probably the better example in this instance, as here you’ll be able to see Spaceship Earth when riding around the monorail (just as you can see Mount Prometheus at DisneySea), but there’s still a sense of awe when you walk through the breezeway at Hotel MiraCosta and Mount Prometheus is revealed. Given the grandiosity of Spaceship Earth, that feeling could be even more pronounced at Epcot. This is a lot of theoretical optimism, but there are also plenty of concerns about an Epcot hotel or hotels…
I’ve seen some criticism that if this occurs, guests arriving via car wouldn’t have the same view of Spaceship Earth. My response is a pretty flippant who cares? There’s nothing inspirational or remotely magical about a parking lot, and delaying the reveal of Spaceship Earth for those visitors until they arrive in the park seems like a significantly better approach. Sure, people may enjoy the view of Spaceship Earth while driving into the lot, and have fond memories of it, but that doesn’t mean it’s the better experience. That just means it’s the familiar one.
A bigger concern for me would be the sight-lines looking back towards Spaceship Earth from World Showcase. Presently, Spaceship Earth towers over the rest of Future World, as something of a beacon of progress, world unity, or what-have-you. Having a huge hotel as its backdrop would diminish this view.
However, it seems there’s a way to have the best of both worlds. So long as the hotel isn’t a tower, perspective distortion should allow it to block the view of Spaceship Earth from much of the parking lot and tram area, while also making the hotel ‘disappear’ below Spaceship Earth from a more distant area–such as World Showcase.
The big question thus becomes whether Walt Disney World would undertake such care when designing and building a hotel at the entrance to Epcot. To be honest, recent hotel projects aren’t exactly reassuring. Bay Lake Tower’s height detracts from the Contemporary’s A-frame. The Villas at Grand Floridian don’t match the size of the original buildings. Blandness aside, the Coronado Springs and Riviera towers don’t fit with their surroundings.
The commonality here is pretty easy to spot: function over form. Walt Disney World/Disney Vacation Club management want to cram as many rooms into their hotels as possible, design-aesthetics be damned. After all, more rooms equates to more revenue.
I would hope that an entrance hotel at Epcot would be viewed as more important than any of those other projects–necessitating a more careful and thoughtful design–but I would’ve hoped the same about countless projects at Epcot that have violated the spirit and theme of the park. At this point, pessimism is my default for hotel and Epcot projects. I guess you could say that a project entailing both makes me doubly pessimistic.
That’s basically where I am with this rumor. I really want to be optimistic about it, as there is a ton of potential that could make a hotel an asset to Epcot. I want to daydream about the unique ways the hotel could harness bleeding-edge technologies to be a natural extension of the park, and one that aesthetically enhances Future World. I think about how cool it would be to stay in Seabase Alpha Hotelater or Brava Centauri Inn. However, I feel like all of that is really getting ahead of the rumor. At this point my baseline is just hoping it’s not a generic high-rise tower. Once we (hopefully) get past that, maybe I’ll start thinking deeper about the “what ifs” of this project. For now, let’s see some concept art that shows at least a superficial design with some ambition and surface-level congruity with Epcot.
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Do you agree or disagree with our perspective on these potential Epcot in-park hotels? Do you think they’re likely to happen? Any particular themes or styles you’d like to see if an Epcot hotel is built? 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!
A hotel in Epcot would be Great. I think the Hotel should be like a grouping of all the countries in Epcot. The hotel can have a Floor or section for each one of the countries, it would be like vacationing around the world. Imagine sleeping in China, France or Italy etc. but still be right in Florida. The Hotel could be Called “Around the World”. If an Imagineer
or Disney Rep would like to talk to me about this, I would be more then Super Excited to do so. Contact me please, it’s a Dream of mine to contribute to anything Disney.
Things are really getting exciting…I’m excited about making a Disney Trip a sixty three year old Disney Fan!!!
Green all the way. A hotel for EPCOT should offer an optimistic glimpse to the future.
A self sustaining resort that cohesively balances nature, efficiency and technology would be a great fit to continue the legacy. Tons of possible elements to explore!
An infill hotel mitigates the issue of too many guests on the roads, as it will keep tourists visiting MC and EC off ground transportation. Given the amount of space that current parking lots have provided, there’s a good chance the hotel isn’t a tower. (The next best place for infill not already taken with hotel plans, the Boardwalk area, might require a tower unless you destroy existing buildings.)
I used to want some sort of TTC South there for another light rail/train/monorail line to Animal Kingdom and Deluxe Resorts in between, but there’s no need to call it that.
Tom, have you had a chance to see Villages Nature at Disneyland Paris? It seems like it would be a natural fit for an EPCOT entrance hotel. It’s a “green/environmentally” friendly resort with a focus on garden and water elements. If located near the Living Seas and the Land then that would seem like a perfect fit. There also seems to be a strong recent rumor of reinventing Future World with a gardens theme. Additionally Villages Nature’s accommodations are primarily suites and villas. If that concept was used at EPCOT that would tie in nicely with a DVC resort, and it would provide Disney with a maximum price point for general public accommodations. I think that Joe Rhode was a design contributor to Villages Nature. That would add credibility to a similar product at EPCOT for those concerned about design and quality.
I’ve been following Villages Nature and am very excited to see it, but we have not been back since it opened this summer. Rohde was definitely involved in the design of the project, but since he’s had so much on his plate recently, I wonder how actively he was involved.
As an occasional visitor (wish I could go more often) I have to say that whilst I am not a fan of tombstone plaza at Epcot, I would miss the view of Spaceship Earth as we pull into the parking lot. From that moment and through the stroll up to the actual entrance the view of Spaceship Earth looming ever closer builds the anticipation and excitement of entering the park. Walking towards a hotel simply doesn’t. Disney know how to build amazing looking hotels but none of them, for me, have the anticipation of the approach to the parks and being able to see the icon in the distance, whether that be SE or Cinderella Castle. It may work if it was the way it is at MK where the car park is a distance away and you approach via a method that forces an early view of the icon before it is hidden again or lying to be revealed again upon actual entry. None of the parks have the same building of excitement and anticipation that MK does because of it’s unique approaches.
I think Epcot would be a perfect place for a new hotel. Particularly if they were able to incorporate some newer/green technology. Disney seems committed to more renewable energy after the massive solar panel installation. Having a hotel that could partially be self sustaining would fit right in with the mission of future world. Land and Sea theme would fit with this concept as well as be something different than any current hotel at Disney. As much as it would look nice to have something opulent like MiraCosta that you mentioned, they are already building the Riviera Hotel (which seems to fit that theme, though looks kind of bland in the concept art). Also future world needs some love more than world showcase these days.
I could get on board with a new hotel on the border of a park… but not really Epcot.
I’ve often wondered why there is no hotel at Animal Kingdom – either “in” the park (adding to the scenery and placemaking) or connected to it. They could do a great one in Africa (I know they have already used that theme at AKL, but there are plenty of other African styles/themes/locations they could use), or Asia (again, they have so much to play with,
thematically). They could maybe even overlook the river, Rivers of Light or the Savannah. It seems like AKL was a missed opportunity to connect it to the park – even if it was separate, just connected by a walking trail.
Similarly, the Studios is ripe for an attached, themed hotel – either to match the classic Hollywood theme, or cloning the Hollywood Hotel from HKDL or the Ambassador from Tokyo.
A bit more difficult, but still plausible, is to build one in front of the Magic Kingdom – much like Paris. They would have to fill in a little bit of the lagoon to create the space, and adjust the train line and bus stops. But they could build it to match Main Street thematically, and let’s face it people would sell their body organs to spend a night in a Main Street hotel. On one side you’d face the MK, with a view of the fireworks, and on the other you’d have a great view of the lagoon. Failing that, a hotel attached to, and themed for, one of the MK lands would surely be an absolute cash cow.
But Epcot? In order to give enough rooms to be viable it would have to spread quite a way either side of the entrance plaza (look at how large the Disneyland Hotel is in Paris, or the MiraCosta is in Tokyo). Yes, there would be great views of Spaceship Earth, but a lot of the view would also be the showbuildings that were never designed to be viewed from that angle. In the other direction, a humungous parking lot. In order to fit thematically it would have to be generic-modern, both outside and in – in other words, a generic city hotel that you could find anywhere in the world. The picture in my head is the one they are building at Disneyland above / replacing part of Downtown Disney, which I thought was “meh”.
Steve, these are great ideas…but you mentioned hotels themed to Magic Kingdom lands – they already have them (Grand Floridian is Main Street, Polynesian is Adventureland, and Contemporary is Tomorrowland, Wilderness Lodge is Frontierland). Just wanted to point that out.
The Animal Kingdom onsite hotel would be a lovely idea. And the Star Wars boutique hotel (if they ever go through with building it, would be attached to Hollywood Studios).
I meant hotels that are connected to the park (e.g. Adventure hotel with its own entrance in Adventureland)… but you are quite right! I had completely forgotten about that.
My first thought is, what about mouse keeping? They are already struggling with not having enough help (the last I knew.) How about a Figment hotel!? LOL. Jk
Side note. Tom, I love your articles.
The Mousekeeping problem is of Disney’s own creation. They could resolve that without issue if there were a real desire from management.
If this rumor materializes (and I’m sure eventually it would some day) this has the potential for a new monorail stop hotel which we all know drives that price up but is ultra convenient when staying there
I love the Seabase Alpha Hotelater or Brava Centauri Inn ideas for any future Epcot hotel. I will definitely welcome the hotel if its replaces Leave a Legacy. No offense to anyone that has a picture on those tombstones but those are a major eye sore.
Regarding the Main Entrance option (which, let’s face it, is the only exciting option worth discussing…)
First, the unaddressed elephant in the room – that given the immense popularity and inherently limited scale of the hotel, the prices are clearly going to be stratospheric. I can’t believe this will have the slightest bit of impact on the average nightly rate of other properties on or off site, and it’s pretty transparent that the motivation for building this is the latest in the unstoppable trend to capture the spending of the “money no object” visitors. Frankly, it could be a concrete block and still command rates of $500+/night simply due to the cachet of its location and the limited supply.
The main unfortunate thing is the huge impact that construction will have on the entrance. DHS is a mess, but still enjoyable and, actually, most sightlines are OK. This will cause years of unnecessary major disruption to the key arrival to the park – unlike the other projects which can be conducted piecemeal, this is constructing major new buildings – which, even as a “long term [emotional] investor”, I find it hard to accept. And I never normally whinge about construction…
Now, if they manage to create something with the magic of DLP or TDS, I guess I’ll have to eat my words.
I can’t/won’t pay the prices charged by Disneyland Hotel in Paris, but I still enjoy wandering it, eating at the lounge, etc. Likewise, we regularly do the lounge and buffet at MiraCosta without staying there. I assume dining will offer similar ways to enjoy this hotel.
As for the entrance…I assume that’s going to be pretty badly torn up as part of this redesign–to the point of potentially re-routing guests–anyway, so I don’t mind a bit more/longer construction period. If a better park emerges out the other end, I’m for temporary intrusions.
The Epcot entrance is my least favorite of all the parks by a long margin. It has the longest, most boring walk from the bus stop and the entrance to the park is also by far the worst due to the plaza of tombstones. If this project changed how the entire entrance worked/looked, it could be a plus.
I can’t say I get excited in general about more hotels without equivalently more things int he parks for people in those hotels to do, however.
Having an Epcot hotel is a brilliant idea. I just don’t get the fixation of a big reveal for Spaceship Earth. That ship has sailed a long time ago. There’s nothing dramatic about a globe at the entrance of the park (the setback is quite shallow) and there’s nothing in the landscaping or surrounding area to imply there’s any mystery to it. Spaceship Earth is the first attraction upon entering the park. They need to fix the elevation and add tons of distracting elements before the guests will see the globe for there to be any anticipation. Then again, the attraction is a big fail with lazy storylines and outdated animatronics. Even Siemens didn’t want to be associated with the attraction anymore. Or we are to believe Disney abandoned the sponsorship model and something new and spectacular will replace the interior.
The big reveal should actually be what happens beyond Spaceship Earth, but we hear it will merely be a forest of tall trees that will host the Food and Wine Festivals. Epcot needs to be a “theme park” and not a corporate business park. Pick a theme and go with it. The hotel can be the first step to that goal. The City of Tomorrow like in the Tomorowland movie with gleaming tall spires of glass, white, and silver should be an inspiration.
There’s not really anything to reveal past Spaceship Earth–at least nothing that would wow people.
That’s why I mentioned the forest concept is nothing to be excited about. The reveal isn’t necessary and Spaceship Earth is a non-event. The actual reveal should be the lagoon with World Showcase in the backdrop, but we are often bogged down in trying to go to each pavilion in Future World. A more balance park should be anticipated after the remodel. I am actually looking forward to Ratatouille.
Once I saw the surrounding France expansion that Ratatouille was bringing, I became more upbeat about that. As you mention, the attraction itself will definitely help with balance.
Spaceship earth is one of the most beautiful attractions of all of Walt DIsney World, and I am not alone in that feeling, and I CAN afford the Grand Floridian etc and go t Disney quite often, exactly for the feeling attractions like this offer me. If you want coasters, go to Six Flags, if you want “high tech” screen based attractions, go to Universal.
The new font is driving me bananas! Make an extension so I may forever have my 2017 DTB experirence!
It’s funny how often it comes down to “it’ll be great if done well, horrible if not.” Which is basically where my thinking comes to a stop on this rumor. If/when an actual design is unveiled, I’ll be able to come up with an actual opinion…
Jason, THAT is a cool concept! What if there was a small hotel just outside each country, but with one main check in building (kinda like a variation of Pop Century but instead of different decades, it was different countries). While a stretch, it really would be cool!
At first I thought, “Epcot Hotel! Yay!” but then I thought, “Oh, are they thinking about adding a hotel because of the new Guardians ride? Is futureworld going to be reimagined as Marvel land and this new hotel is intended to create a marvel experience?” I know that’s a stretch, but it seems like the company hasn’t expressed a lot of interest or faith in Epcot outside of adding IP to it, so I wonder if they would really be considering this hotel without it being attached to a larger IP injection in the park. I would be so sad if this happened. I would LOVE a land/sea hotel and be very excited to stay there. I would be incredibly sad to see futureworld lose it’s edutainment mission and just be marvel.
Their hands are so tied with Marvel in Florida that I’d *highly* doubt this has anything to do with Guardians.
A Land/Sea hotel would be my top choice if it were built. I love Epcot and would love to see this happen. Aquariums in the lobby!!!
A new hotel inside any Disney park would be exciting. But why EPCOT? That is not a good move. Try another park that is most love.
I agree with you Tom!
I think that a hotel within Epcot sounds like a fantastic idea!
I always thought it would be cool if each country within the World Showcase had its own traditional hotel. I realize this would be impossible!
That being said, I really hope that this comes true!