With Epcot’s central spine behind construction walls and an overhaul that won’t be finished until 2023, many fans are questioning whether they should skip Epcot on their 2022 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. (Updated January 2, 2022.)
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 Disney California Adventure 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, a story fountain playing Disney music, natural environments, global design elements, interactive features, and gardens. In other words, it’s most landscaping and true park elements.
It also includes Moana’s Journey of Water, a walk-through interactive area with fountains and water features. It’ll also feature a festival center (maybe), the scope and scale of which are unknown because Walt Disney World nixed plans for the multi-story building and hasn’t released new concept art for what’s being built in its place.
Even though an actual ride isn’t being built in this space, the work above isn’t going to be finished anytime soon. The core of Epcot has already been behind walls for 2 years, and it’ll be at least another full year before this is finished. That means some of these walls will exist for the entirety of 2022.
Much like World Showcase, the front of the park is now a loop, with the two sides only connecting at the front and back. Reaching each side requires navigating temporary corridors made via construction walls. This means that a visit to Epcot now entails a lot of walking and will for the foreseeable future.
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 couple of 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 being built in the space that used to house Electric Umbrella. There’s no specific opening date for that yet, but visible work is moving quickly. It’s highly likely that this will be open by Spring 2022–summer at the latest.
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 as of 2022.
In this same neighborhood (World Discovery), the biggest addition for Epcot is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, which is a hybrid roller coaster. This is the biggest-budget project currently being built at Walt Disney World. Originally, Cosmic Rewind was slated to debut “in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary.” However, that did not happen.
The good news is that Walt Disney World announced that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will open in Summer 2022. Here’s everything you need to know about Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, including our prediction as to when, specifically, it’ll debut.
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, but we’d anticipate this pavilion will open at some point in 2022.
It would make sense for the Play Pavilion to debut simultaneous with Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, as they are literally located alongside one another. That would also mean that the World Discovery neighborhood would be finished, leaving “only” the work in World Celebration and Nature left.
Harmonious, a new nighttime spectacular has debuted in World Showcase Lagoon. This is one of the biggest entertainment spectacles Walt Disney World has ever created. We’ve seen it several times and find Harmonious to be a mixed bag.
This nighttime spectacular is very different from its predecessors, and 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 as of 2022. 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–as of last October.
Now, with Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Harmonious, Space 220, Club Cool, and the overhauled entrance all open, there is no reason to skip Epcot as of early 2022. Yes, the sea of construction walls is undeniably frustrating and an unnecessary eyesore. However, skipping Epcot means missing out on Walt Disney World’s newest ride, biggest budget nighttime spectacular ever, and one of the most ambitious themed restaurants ever. It’s a no-brainer.
As of Summer 2022, it’ll move from “no-brainer” to a top priority park thanks to the debut of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and everything else opening in the next few months.
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 early 2022. It’ll get even better throughout this calendar year, and hopefully, pathways will be carved out of the maze of construction walls as Connections Cafe and other additions open.
If all of the construction at the front of Epcot will put a damper on your experience of the place as an inviting theme park, rather than not visiting, our advice would be to arrive on the Disney Skyliner gondolas or FriendShips, and use the International Gateway entrance.
Entering Epcot this way is ideal for those who visit the park to savor the atmosphere, as World Showcase should still be lovely and romantic. This approach to Epcot is under-appreciated, but we love it and use International Gateway all the time. It’s also easy to Park Hop from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Epcot this way. (Entering via International Gateway is not necessary, so don’t go out of your way to do it.)
This is the superior arrival experience, and will place you in the heart of World Showcase rather than the front of the park. Arriving via the International Gateway also should offer a slight strategic advantage. This entrance is a very close to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, the new trackless dark ride in the France pavilion (which currently uses a virtual queue, so it cannot be rope dropped) and a shorter walk to Frozen Ever After.
Ultimately, the answer to the question, “should you skip Epcot?” is ABSOLUTELY NOT as of 2022. 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 year, with even more on the horizon in Summer 2022. 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 2023. 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 2022 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!