Should You Skip EPCOT in 2023?
With Epcot’s central spine behind construction walls and an overhaul that won’t be finished until Christmas 2023, some fans question whether they should skip Epcot on upcoming Walt Disney World vacations. This post covers what’s happening, when projects will be completed, and how they’ll impact your experience on upcoming visits.
When it comes to radical Disney park overhauls, there are two existing ‘templates’ based upon recent projects: Disney California Adventure and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Most Walt Disney World fans will likely be familiar with the latter, which sacrificed a lot to get where we are today.
Both of these other park reimaginings significantly impacted guests, albeit in markedly different ways. Epcot’s overhaul will likewise no doubt weigh on the park experience for the next couple of years. The question thus becomes, should you skip Epcot?
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, several attractions closed in order for construction to occur, including flagship and opening day experiences that defined the park, along with other less-popular offerings. There were fewer attractions to experience, but the construction at DHS didn’t significantly impact the atmosphere. Most construction occurred within buildings or out of the way, with walls up at dead-ends but not in main thoroughfares or places creating visual blight.
By contrast, the reinvention of Disney California Adventure was primarily burdensome in how it impacted crowd-flow and in the sea of construction walls throughout the park. The worst of this occurred when the park entrance actually re-routed guests backstage behind Soarin’ while Buena Vista Street was being built. Despite this, there were few “important” attractions taken out of commission for the overhaul. Basically, the divergent approaches are “atmosphere v. attractions.”
Epcot is somewhat of a mix of these two, skewing much more towards the DCA end of the spectrum. The central spine or core of Epcot is currently behind a maze of construction walls, which means the large area between Spaceship Earth and World Showcase is currently inaccessible. Very little current information is known about the scale and scope of whatever is going to happen to what we “lovingly” are referring to as the Giant Epcot Dirt Pit.™️
That’s no exaggeration–take a look for yourself:
Substantively, this area of World Celebration behind Spaceship Earth contains Dreamers Point, a wishing tree in an enchanted forest, natural environments, global design elements, interactive features, and gardens.
Also coming to this area is Communicore Plaza & Hall, which is essentially just Innoventions rebuilt. This will be an area to watch music and other entertainment, with areas to sit, eat, relax, and more. In other words, it’s most landscaping and true park elements–not a single ride will be built here.
This area also includes Moana’s Journey of Water, an interactive area with fountains and water features. That should be a fun walk-through that’s enjoyable for families with small children, but it’ll be better characterized as a diversion than an actual attraction.
Construction on Moana’s Journey of Water is nearing completion and it could be done within the coming weeks or 1-2 months, at most. However, Walt Disney World’s official debut timeline for this walkthrough is “Late 2023.” It’s likely that Moana’s Journey of Water cannot or will not open until the rest of Communicore Plaza & Hall are finished–and construction on all of that is further behind.
The good news is that progress is being made at the front of Epcot, and guests are already seeing the fruits of this overhaul. The reimagined park entrance project is finished and looks fantastic. Redesigned landscaping, flags, topiaries, and an iconic prismatic pylon fountain in front of Spaceship Earth have all been installed.
These are further enhanced at night by an upgraded lighting package, including the Beacons of Magic. This is an all-new lighting effect on the outside of the geodesic sphere that debuted for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. It seems like a minor thing, but it’s absolutely mesmerizing.
Along the perimeter of the aforementioned Giant Epcot Dirt Pit, a few locations have already opened: Creations Shop and Club Cool. These were built in the former Innoventions building, where MouseGear was previously located.
On the other side of the building, Connections Cafe & Eatery is now open in the space that used to house Electric Umbrella. This counter service restaurant is nothing special, but it’s better than what it replaced, and its opening also means there’s a clear path from the front entrance to World Showcase.
In front of Mission: Space and behind those locations, Space 220 Restaurant is now open. This highly themed dining experience takes place in a space station offering views of Earth from 220 miles up.
For more info, take a look at our Photos & Video Inside Space 220 Restaurant as well as our Space 220 Lunch Review that looks at whether the food is worth the $55 price tag. Suffice to say, there’s a good reason this is the most popular (and hardest to book) Advance Dining Reservation at Walt Disney World.
In this same neighborhood (World Discovery), the biggest addition to Epcot is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, which is a hybrid roller coaster. This is the biggest-budget project at Walt Disney World since Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and it is now open.
The debut of Cosmic Rewind effectively answers the titular question for everyone. If you were still on the fence after Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Harmonious, this should settle things for you. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is an absolute must-do roller coaster. It’s a great addition and likely will become the top-rated ride at Epcot. For more read our Spoiler-Free Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Ride Review.
Also in World Discovery, the Play Pavilion will replace Wonders of Life. At one point, this was also intended to open “in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary.”
An official date has not been announced for this, and Walt Disney World has been totally silent about this addition for the last 3 years. At this point, the project might’ve been abandoned.
Harmonious is a nighttime spectacular on World Showcase Lagoon that Walt Disney World originally touted as one of the biggest entertainment spectacles ever created. Sadly, Harmonious is a colossal disappointment and has garnered mixed reviews from fans. In fact, despite spending over $100 million to create this–and planning on it lasting for at least a decade–Walt Disney World is retiring Harmonious on March 31, 2023.
After that, it’s expected that EPCOT Forever Fireworks will run temporarily until Late 2023, at which point a new nighttime spectacular will debut. In the meantime, we’d strongly recommend checking out our Best Harmonious Viewing Locations at Epcot for advice on where to see it. We regularly see guests camped out in spots that offered good views of IllumiNations, but are subpar for Harmonious.
In World Showcase, the newest attraction to open at Epcot is Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. This family-friendly trackless dark ride is part of an expansion of the France pavilion. That also includes retail and restaurant additions, most notably La Crêperie de Paris.
There is no other notable construction occurring in World Showcase. It’s possible that there will be minor refurbishment projects and aesthetic refreshes from time to time, but there aren’t any substantive additions or closures planned.
We’ve been addressing this question of whether readers should skip Epcot for the last couple of years, and for a while “it depends” was our answer. We leaned strongly towards “yes” through last summer, and “no” stopped being an answer–at all–with the start of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary.
Now, with Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Harmonious, Space 220, Club Cool, and the overhauled entrance all open, there is absolutely no reason to skip Epcot. Yes, the sea of construction walls is undeniably frustrating and an eyesore. However, skipping Epcot means missing out on Walt Disney World’s newest rides, biggest budget nighttime spectacular, and one of the most ambitious themed restaurants ever. It’s a no-brainer.
To be sure, Epcot still needs a lot of help and could use even more reimagined attractions and improvements as part of its overhaul, but it’s already dramatically improved as of 2023.
Ultimately, the answer to the question, “should you skip Epcot?” is ABSOLUTELY NOT as of 2023. Navigating the sea of construction walls isn’t really as bad as it might seem–and while it’ll be a lovely environment once finished, there aren’t any rides you’ll miss in that Giant Epcot Dirt Pit.
More to the point, what’s closed versus what’s open and will be debuting in the very near future skews heavily in favor of the new stuff. Epcot has had some major additions in the last two years, with even more on the horizon in Late 2023. What we are “losing” to gain all of these new attractions and a visually transformed Epcot is (arguably) not much.
Accordingly, we do not recommend anyone skip Epcot between now and 2024. The park is going through tremendous growing pains, but it looks worse than it actually is. When it comes to attractions, Epcot will have more to do in 2023 than it did in the last few years. Plus, Epcot has better atmosphere and food options than any other park at Walt Disney World, which is especially true and important as the phased reopening continues.
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Will you be following our advice and visiting Epcot in the next couple of years? Do you disagree and think the volume of construction is simply too much to justify paying full price for Epcot admission? Excited about the park’s future? Any other feedback on upcoming changes and how they’ll impact the experience? 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!
Definitely do not skip EPCOT! Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind is one of the best rides at Disney World!
I have a love hate relationship with this park. Anyhow was hoping somebody could tell me if they think the space restaurant is worth it for couple plus 3 young kids. Is lunch better since less expensive but less menu options? I will check Tom’s review but when in Rome.
This used to be an article that asked a legit question. With the openings that now exist, especially Cosmic Rewind, your conclusion is correct: This is a must-see park despite the construction, changing the title of this article from legit to not so legit.
The bean counters have overtaken Walt Disney’s vision. One of the past CEOs stated, when asked about the rising cost and diminishing “Magic” of a WDW visit, said “We’ll make them pay til it hurts”. True to those words, they are.
Only when Disney and ABC divorce may the “Magic” return.
Let’s see if this comment survives the bowdlerizer.
We have gone since 1971..Now, we gave up on going back till the construction is done. We used to go every month for 2 nights..now haven’t gone in 2 years. 2 years ago Epcot was disappointing with the construction. Why disney stopped construction back then is beyond me..Projects all over Orlando kept working, DIsney stopped..mismanagement is why they are years behind. I won’t reward them with money until they step up and get it done.
Jake you are crazy. The park is not a total letdown. Although many rides broke down while I was there, they are still very good rides. All of them got back up except for figment. I get that walls are annoying but you get used to it after a while. I was also there there during the festival of the holidays and that was awesome. I got to experience holiday treats, do the holiday cookie stroll and the holiday traditions with Olaf. Also might I remind you about the new ride Remys’ Ratatouille Adventure and that was awesome. So I hate to break it to you but you are completely wrong and that is not an opinion that you can have or make.
Wondering if Epcot will do anything special for its 40th this year or if that’s too big an ask with the state it’s in.
I took advantage of the lack of travel this past year due to covid to hit up each of the EPCOT festivals (or “taste of”). Last Christmas (2020), we traded our second EPCOT day for DHS because we found the lack of entertainment and cultural representatives really killed the park, plus it felt more crowded than the other parks. But I still wanted to experience the other festivals since we’d only been to Festival of the Holidays, so we kept making the trek back to Orlando. I think my fiance wanted to kill me by last summer when I reminded him that the only park we’d be hitting up other than MK for the 50th was EPCOT.
But, THANK GOODNESS, it was soooooo much better once the new offerings for 10/1 opened! We both enjoy Remy (although not the fact that’s it’s virtual queue), the SSE lighting package is phenomenal, and we’re both huge Harmonious fans (given all the backlash, we might possibly be the biggest Harmonious fans haha). We’ve enjoyed Space 220 both times we went, and I was able to trick my fiance twice with Beverly (he has a short memory, so he forgot how awful he thought it tasted when we went back to Club Cool over Christmas). Cosmic Rewind will probably be too extreme for me, but I’m glad a new E-Ticket is coming (maybe then Frozen or Test Track lines will be more manageable without Genie+), and I’m excited for all the other new things. So I would say that anyone who was disappointed by the lifelessness of the park post-covid and hasn’t checked it out since 10/1 should definitely give it another shot!
We went last night and were really surprised to see Festival of the Holidays was already over (but the banner at the entrance was still up?) we ended up leaving early to get Taco Bell. We were there on Thanksgiving too and were surprised to see it wasn’t open yet. Festival of the holidays (except Thanksgiving and New Years Eve, which are you know…holidays).
There’s shockingly little to eat there without the booths open. Probably less for me as I’m both pescatarian and diabetic.
We just got back from a 2 week trip over the holidays, with three days of locked in Epcot reservations. After the first trip, I never wanted to go back, but because of the reservation system, I couldn’t change. The first day was so disappointing, the park was shoulder to shoulder packed, parents walking over their own kids in a daze, it was simply unbelievable. We went 30 min prior to park opening, and the line for Test Track was 2 hours long. We ended up not riding because of obscene lines or it was broken. We got our Remey queue and waiting while the time bounced from 1:30, to 3, to 2 because of breakdowns. We went at our queue time, waited an hour in line still, then it broke! At that point I left with our smallest kid for the day at 5:30, and my husband took our oldest back to Remey during the extra hours for deluxe resort guests. Test track was broken, And they waiting line for Remey again and it broke. It was universally the worst Disney experience for our family. The other two Epcot days we were locked into, one we skipped entirely and the other we stayed to finally ride Remy, then left the packed park. FYI Genie plus was almost useless. I recommend waiting for construction to end and temper your expectations for riding multiple rides.
We went to Space 220 for dinner last week, and found the food as pricey and not up to par. Our fillets were not cooked correctly: half was cooked to medium and the other half of the same steak was still rare. Perhaps a stove top problem, but the kitchen should have checked the temperature before serving it. We would have happily paid the same for our fun filled dinner at Whisper Creek, or at Be Our Guest. Overall, we found Space 220 to be underwhelming in terms of food. Drinks were creative, but truly nothing to write home about, if you’ve been anywhere with good bars and mixologists.
At this point, you should be able to just add an Epcot visit onto your ticket, just like park hopping for $25. The park is a total letdown and to have it on the same level as the other 3 parks is nonsense.
You’re basically paying $100+ right now to have access to (overpriced) restaurants and bars.