A Transformed Epcot Is On The Horizon

Of all of the announcements that were made last weekend at D23, the transformation of Epcot is the one I am personally most excited about. When Epcot opened in 1982 it quickly became my favorite park. Classics like Horizons, World of Motion, Universe of Energy, CommuniCore, and of course the original Journey Into Imagination are just a few of the many things that I still miss from Epcot’s early years. Over the last couple of decades, Epcot has begun to show its age, and I am thrilled to hear that Disney is investing in its updating and transformation. Change is never easy, neither is letting go of things we love, but I am hopeful and looking forward to enjoying the Epcot of the future for years to come.

Here are the first details and photos of Epcot’s transformation courtesy of Disney:

Walt Disney once said Epcot “would always be in a state of becoming” – it is a place that changes with the times. Over the next several years, the Walt Disney World Resort theme park will live up to that promise in a whole new way as it continues the biggest transformation of any Disney park in history, bringing the next generation of immersive storytelling to life through a plethora of new attractions and experiences.

Epcot will be unified with four neighborhoods that each speak to important aspects of the world and its people: World Showcase, World Celebration, World Nature and World Discovery. These neighborhoods will be filled with new experiences rooted in authenticity and innovation that take guests to new destinations, where the real is made fantastic in a celebration of curiosity, hands-on wonder and the magic of possibility.

World Showcase

  • World Showcase will continue to be a celebration of culture, cuisine, architecture and traditions – infused with new magic.
  • The United Kingdom pavilion will welcome the first attraction inspired by Mary Poppins. Guests will step in time down Cherry Tree Lane past Admiral Boom’s house, then enter Number 17, home of the Banks family, where their adventure will begin.
  • In 2020, following the limited-time run of “Epcot Forever,” the new “HarmonioUS” will debut as the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park. It will celebrate how the music of Disney inspires people the world over, carrying them away harmoniously on a stream of familiar Disney tunes reinterpreted by a diverse group of artists from around the globe. “HarmonioUS” will feature massive floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, lasers and more.
  • In summer 2020, the France pavilion will offer even more for guests to discover, including the much-anticipated attraction Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, where guests will shrink to the size of Chef Remy and race through Gusteau’s restaurant on a wild adventure. Summer 2020 will also see the debut of a delicious new restaurant in the France pavilion, La Crêperie de Paris, offering both table- and quick-service options featuring a menu from celebrity chef Jérôme Bocuse.
  • Also in the France pavilion, the classic Impressions de France film will be joined by the new “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along,” debuting in January 2020 and directed by Don Hahn, producer of both the animated and live-action versions of this tale as old as time.
  • “Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360”will debut in January 2020 in the Canada pavilion with new scenes and a new story.
  • In the China pavilion, “Wondrous China” will take guests on a spectacular journey across the country, filmed and presented in a completely seamless 360-degree digital format.

World Celebration

  • World Celebration will offer new experiences that connect guests to one another and the world around them.
  • The iconic Spaceship Earth will remain a voyage through time as the journey transforms to reflect the power of storytelling to unite the human experience. New narration and an entirely new musical score will focus on the moments and ideas that define the story of humanity. Guests will follow a magical “story light” that brings the entire experience to life in dynamic ways, giving each scene energy and beauty that ties the entire journey together.
  • new pavilion will be the perfect place for live events, and the home base for Epcot’s signature festivals. It will provide a stunning elevated view of the entire park and an ideal spot to witness Epcot’s nighttime spectacular. This beautiful three-level structure will have one of the most remarkable architectural designs at any Disney park, featuring a plaza level, a middle expo level, and a park that sits in the sky on the top level.
  • Epcot’s entrance plaza will be transformed with new experiences that connect guests with the world around them, welcoming them with a reimagined fountain, new pathways and sweeping green spaces that beautify the entryway. The design will pay homage to the origins of Epcot.
  • As guests exit Spaceship Earth, they will discover a breathtaking new view of World Showcase from Dreamers Point. World Celebration will also feature a new statue celebrating the legacy of the original dreamer, Walt Disney, plus beautiful natural environments and global design elements filled with Disney magic and surprises, including a wishing tree in an enchanted forest and a story fountain celebrating the power and music of iconic Disney storytelling.

World Nature

  • World Nature is dedicated to understanding and preserving the beauty, awe and balance of the natural world. It will include The Land and The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilions.
  • Journey of Water, Inspired by “Moana” will be the first experience inspired by the hit Walt Disney Animation Studios film. This lush exploration trail will invite guests to meet and play with magical, living water. The water will have a life of its own – just like Moana’s friend, the ocean – and guests will learn about the importance of the natural water cycle.
  • The Land pavilion’s new film, Awesome Planet,” which showcases the beauty, diversity and dynamic story of the planet, will begin welcoming guests in January 2020.

World Discovery

  • In World Discovery, stories about science, technology and intergalactic adventure come to life.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be the first “other-world” showcase pavilion at Epcot. The adventure starts in the “Galaxarium,” a planetarium-like exhibition that explores the similarities and mysteries of the formation of Earth’s galaxy and Xandar. Guests will be invited to learn more about the treasures Xandar has to share – until the moment when the Guardians of the Galaxy arrive, and adventures across the cosmos ensue. The attraction will feature a new innovation from Walt Disney Imagineering – a storytelling coaster that rotates 360 degrees to focus guests on the action, including the first reverse launch on a Disney coaster.
  • An expansion of the Mission: SPACE pavilion, the new restaurant Space 220 will be a culinary experience featuring the celestial panorama of a space station, including daytime and nighttime views of Earth from 220 miles up. Guests will board a special elevator for a journey to a space station that is home to an incredible dining experience. Along the way, viewports will give guests real-time perspective as they travel high above the planet. Once they arrive, guests will enjoy fantastic meals and drinks while taking in views that are truly out of this world. Opening this winter, Space 220 will be operated by the Patina Restaurant Group.
  • The PLAY! pavilion will open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World. In this digital metropolis, guests will discover an interactive city bursting with games, activities and experiences that connect them with friends, family and beloved Disney characters – both real and virtual – like never before. As part of this new pavilion, guests will have the chance to help legendary fashion icon Edna Mode on her quest to rid the world of uninspired style, or make a splash competing in a water-balloon fight hosted by Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby.

Guests will be able to visualize these exciting plans for Epcot when doors open October 1, 2019, for Walt Disney Imagineering presents the Epcot Experience in the Odyssey Events Pavilion. They will discover engaging and interactive exhibits that showcase the relentless innovation, energy and excitement driving the park’s future throughout this unprecedented period of transformation.

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All New Entertainment Throughout Walt Disney World In 2019

If you have a trip to Walt Disney World coming up in 2019, get ready to check out several brand new entertainment experiences debuting this year. With so much to see, there is sure to be something for all to enjoy! Here’s the latest scoop courtesy of Disney!


Now, more than ever, is a great time to experience fabulous new entertainment in all four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks:

Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration at Magic Kingdom Park

  • Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration honors those true originals, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, with new entertainment, merchandise and specialty food and beverages at Magic Kingdom Park. Mickey and Minnie will greet guests together at Town Square Theater, and guests can dance with their favorite Disney pals during the “Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party” in front of Cinderella Castle.

Party with Pixar Pals as Disney’s Hollywood Studios Celebrates 30 Years

  • Beloved Pixar characters help Disney’s Hollywood Studios celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2019. Guests can leap into action during An Incredible Celebration featuring Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible and Frozone in “The Super Shindig” dance party, and have a chance to meet super-suit designer Edna Mode. In addition, a door to the monster world is open inside Walt Disney Presents, inviting guests to visit with Mike and Sulley from Disney•Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.”

More Broadway Music Than Ever at Epcot International Festival of the Arts

  • The 2019 Epcot International Festival of the Arts comes to life now through February 25, where guests indulge in world-class culinary, visual and performing arts, including the Disney on Broadway Concert Series that expands this year to every day of the festival.

Feel the Love of “The Lion King” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • Guests take a walk on the wild side at Disney’s Animal Kingdom during the “Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party,” featuring Timon and Rafiki from Disney’s “The Lion King.” Guests will also be able to celebrate the 25th anniversary of “The Lion King” by taking photos with special, dimensional backgrounds on Discovery Island and at the park’s entrance.

Even more entertainment is on the way later in 2019, including:

  • Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy will keep the Pixar party going when it debuts March 31, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This new show experience will bring guests face to face with racing legend Lightning McQueen from Pixar Animation Studios’ Cars
  • The Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will awaken in a whole new way to honor “The Lion King.” Starting Memorial Day weekend and appearing nightly through September 30, stunning projections on the iconic tree will feature music and animation paying tribute to the classic film.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Live! returns to Epcot this summer. Star-Lord and Gamora from the Guardians of the Galaxy films will take guests on a musical journey through the cosmos, showcasing hits from Star-Lord’s Awesome Mix tapes. Live shows will take place daily from June 14 through August 18.

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An Incredible Summer At Walt Disney World Awaits

There’s no better time than now to make a visit to Walt Disney World! Here’s everything you need to know to experience a fun-filled vacation with your friends and family at Walt Disney World this summer, courtesy of Disney:


The fun is heating up at Walt Disney World Resort with all-new entertainment and more rounding out a simply incredible summer.

Donald’s Dino-Bash! is a lively celebration with festive decor and character greetings galore. During this prehistoric party Donald and pals take over DinoLand U.S.A. to celebrate Donald’s new-found discovery that ducks are actually descendants of dinosaurs. Guests will enjoy photo ops and greetings in several locations with feathered friends like Donald, Daisy, Scrooge McDuck, Launchpad McQuack, and others during a rip-roaring party. The day culminates with a nightly Dino-Riffic dance party with Chip ‘n Dale, along with a DJ spinning wild tunes.

At Magic Kingdom Park, Super Heroes take center stage with the Incredible Tomorrowland Expo. This celebration of all things super welcomes Edna Mode – the legendary supersuit designer for the Supers – to Magic Kingdom Park for the first time ever. Mr. Incredible, Frozone, Mrs. Incredible and other characters from the Disney●Pixar film, “The Incredibles,” and the upcoming “Incredibles 2,” join together for an interactive celebration featuring incredible decor and high-energy music. Families can even get their groove on during “Super Party Time,” a continuous dance party and show on the Rockettower Plaza Stage with themed games and engaging performances by up-and-coming Supers.

Incredible summer fun continues at Epcot with more Super Hero action. Star-Lord and Gamora, from the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies take guests on a musical journey through the cosmos in the Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Live! concert series. Featuring hits from Star-Lord’s Awesome Mixtapes – fun and favorite tunes from the two movie soundtracks – the show will take place five times daily through Aug. 19.

The big thing happening June 30 is also really small.  That’s the grand opening of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios where guests will “shrink” to the size of a toy in a playful land inspired by the hit Disney●Pixar “Toy Story” films. Encompassing eleven fun-filled acres, Toy Story Land will be home to two all-new attractions, Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers, and one expanded favorite – Toy Story Mania!


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Guardians Of The Galaxy – Awesome Mix Live! At Epcot

Calling all Guardians of the Galaxy fans – Disney has a new offering at Epcot for a limited time…Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Live! As a part of the “Incredible Summer,” guests can have a blast at this upbeat and lively concert five times daily, plus enjoy some out-of-this-world drinks and treats inspired by the show. Here’s everything you need to know courtesy of Disney:


Now through August 19, 2018, Guests of all ages are invited to Epcot for an all-new, live concert featuring music from the films at Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Live! And while an alien band from Xandar plays timeless classics from the 70s and 80s, you and your family can sing, dance and get into the intergalactic groove!

The Story

After saving their world from certain destruction, Peter Quill—also known as Star-Lord—brokered a deal with Nova Prime and the Xandarian government to bring an outreach program to his home planet. The purpose? To share Xandar’s rich heritage and culture with Earth’s people.

As luck would have it, Peter informed Xandar’s leaders that there’s already a place on Earth with a similar mission… a theme park called Epcot, where all of Earth’s cultures are celebrated. So, as part of their first outreach, Xandar sent some of their most talented musicians to perform the human audiences’ best-loved hits.

The Experience

Taking place 5 times daily, this is your chance to catch Star-Lord and Gamora in person as a 7-piece alien band brings many of your favorite hits from Awesome Mix Volumes 1 & 2 to life. You may even catch a glimpse of Little Groot!

Special Offerings

While you’re here, stop into the American Adventure at Epcot where you’ll find special offerings inspired by the new “Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Live!” At Liberty Inn, you’ll find an adorable Groot Sipper Cup that comes with your choice of fountain or frozen beverage and a Rocket Fuel Slushy with frozen Coca-Cola and bourbon. Over at Fife & Drum Tavern, you can sip on an “I am Float” Root Beer with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and mint leaves or the Awesome Mix Slushy with layers of frozen lemonade, blue raspberry, and strawberry. There’s also the chocolate Galaxy Cupcake with buttercream and a white chocolate piece featuring Groot!


For current showtimes, please click here.

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D23 Expo 2017: A First Look At What’s On The Horizon At Walt Disney World

What an incredible weekend filled with exciting announcements out of the D23 Expo 2017! If you’ve been following along with Zeek, Rachel, and I on Behind The Magic Podcast, you know we’ve been speculating for months about what we would hear at the convention this time around. We talked at length about several of the rumors including a Mickey Mouse attraction coming to Hollywood Studios, Guardians of the Galaxy and Ratatouille coming to Epcot, Tron at Magic Kingdom, a new Star Wars Themed Resort, and even the new Disney Skyliner. Zeek and Rachel were lucky enough to be at D23 this weekend to get all of the latest information live! Here’s everything that is confirmed so far courtesy of Disney


WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT OVERALL:

Several projects and updates were announced for Walt Disney World Resort including a new line-up of attractions at Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, new resort hotel experiences and concepts, and two new transportation options.

DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS:

  • Star Wars-themed land update – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the name of the new Star Wars-themed land opening in 2019 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, after the opening of the land at Disneyland Resort. Guests will encounter several characters, including:
    • BB-8
    • Chewbacca
    • Rex
    • Kylo Ren
  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway –  In this game-changing attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will feature an original story that will take guests on a journey inside the world of Disney Channel’s Emmy Award-winning “Mickey Mouse” cartoon shorts using new technologies that turn the flat cartoon world into an incredible dimensional display. Located inside the Chinese Theatre, this new attraction will replace The Great Movie Ride, which will close Aug. 13, 2017. Opening for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be announced at a later date.
  • Toy Story Land – Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is scheduled to open summer 2018.

EPCOT:

In preparation for the park’s 35th anniversary, Epcot will continue to evolve to make it more timeless, more relevant, more family and more Disney, while staying true to its original vision beginning with several newly revealed offerings.

  • “Guardians of the Galaxy” – Epcot will have a brand new E-ticket attraction within Future World based on the rockin’ and action-packed world of Guardians of the Galaxy. This is the next step in how guests can encounter these characters at Walt Disney World Resort. To make way for this new adventure, Ellen’s Energy Adventure inside Universe of Energy will close Aug. 13, 2017. The new attraction will open by the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort in 2021.
  • “Ratatouille” – Within World Showcase, in an all-new space in the France pavilion, a new “Ratatouille”-inspired attraction will take guests on a dazzling chase across a kitchen with the sights, sounds and smells of Gusteau’s Parisian restaurant. Patterned after the number one family attraction at Disneyland Paris, the new attraction will open by the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort in 2021.
  • China pavilion – To showcase the splendor and majesty of China, an updated film will be added using a next-generation digital camera system to film a brand new, seamless Circle-Vision show for the
    China pavilion.
  • Mission: SPACE – In addition to an updated Orange Mission, a brand new Green Mission will take guests on a stunning tour around the Earth, with younger cadets joining the adventure for the very first time. Mission: SPACE will reopen this August.
  • New restaurant – Adjacent to Mission: SPACE, a new table-service restaurant will invite guests to travel high above the Earth for an unforgettable dining experience. The new restaurant will be managed by Patina Restaurant Group and an opening will be announced at a later date.

MAGIC KINGDOM PARK:

  • “Tron”-themed attraction – The highest rated attraction at Shanghai Disneyland is coming to Tomorrowland in a new area near Space Mountain. Opening will be announced at a later date.
  • Live entertainment theater – Based on the iconic Willis Theater in the 1920s Kansas City where Walt lived after he left Marceline, this new addition to Magic Kingdom Park will be located off of Main Street U.S.A. and will be an entirely new venue for world class entertainment. Opening will be announced at a later date.

RESORTS:

  • Disney Riviera Resort – The proposed 15th Disney Vacation Club property will be located near Epcot with a rooftop restaurant that has unbelievable views of nighttime spectaculars at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Opening will be announced at a later date.
  • Immersive Star Wars-themed hotel – An immersive Star Wars-themed hotel will be the most experiential concept ever. Dedicated entirely to the galaxy of Star Wars, guests will have a one-of-a-kind experience where a luxury resort meets a multi-day adventure in a galaxy far, far away. Opening will be announced at a later date.

TRANSPORTATION:

  • Disney Skyliner – This new transportation system will give guests a bird’s-eye view of Walt Disney World Resort. Disney Skyliner will connect Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to four resorts – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, as well as the proposed 15th Disney Vacation Club property, Disney Riviera Resort. Opening date for Disney Skyliner will be announced at a later time.
  • Minnie Van service – Starting later this month, the Minnie Van service is a whimsical, point-to-point transportation service that will help guests get around Walt Disney World Resort in a jiffy. Guests can arrange their own private Disney vehicle right from their smartphone, and a Disney Cast Member will drive them wherever they want to go around Walt Disney World.

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Which announcement are you most excited about?
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