by: guide4wdw – Collin

My Thoughts on the Epcot Announcements – “Skeptical Excitement”

Over the least year or so I’ve pretty much completely given up on sharing Disney Park news. Honestly, I haven’t regretted that decision one bit but at the same time I do like to share my thoughts on future projects and I do follow the official statements Disney shares from time to time. So, at this point it’s no grand secret that Disney released two new additions/changes to the Epcot experience today which will inevitably be the first of many changes announced in the coming years to revitalize Epcot in a big way. If you’ve not read all about it be sure to check out the official statement here and then come on back over and I’ll share a few of my own thoughts and opinions about the future of the park.         
Since you’re back, or maybe you never left, I have to say that I have mixed feelings about this project but overall this does give me a certain hope for the future and a reassurance that the Epcot experience wont be entirely lost in the redesign. Of course, that’s a vastly vague explanation, but let’s look a little closer and I’ll explain a few thoughts. 
When I was a kid, and in all reality it wasn’t that long ago, Epcot always felt like the park that was different from all the rest. I enjoyed going there not because it had the best attractions or even the best shows, or really anything of the sort. To me, it just felt like what you could do at Epcot you couldn’t do anywhere else. Everything was authentically Disney in the most unique way imaginable.
Many of you likely remember the true early years of Epcot better that me, but as someone who was born in 1996, the Epcot I know and learned to love growing up is a different Epcot that the one many of you grew up with. At the same time though, I’m of that generation that caught the end of the classic Epcot experience. I can vividly remember walking through ImageWorks, the Hydrolators of The Living Seas, and even touring Innoventions back when it was still thriving. Over the years I’ve watched the classic feel of the park slowly drift away and with the exception of incredible key attractions like Spaceship Earth and Living with the Land, so much of that experience has dwindled into areas of abandonment. Abandonment is likely a harsh word, but it’s not out of the realm of reality to say that Epcot is in desperate need of a change. 
Today’s release showed me two main things. First, it showed that the group at work making this redesign and update a reality have a greater appreciation for the nostalgic Disney fans that we may have originally anticipated. From the relocation of the Leave a Legacy photos to the subtle elements of this concept art that harken back to the early days of the park, it’s obvious that they truly are trying to innovate while also appreciating the past of a park that so many of us have learned to love. 
I’ve said it before, but overall I’ve been skeptical of this project. For years, some of my greatest moments of happiness in life have been the days spent wandering through Epcot without a care in the world and no particular agenda. The joy was and is the simplicity of just being there in the moment and to me this concept art portrays that same feeling. There’s a feel to it all that reminds me of Apple’s new flagship stores. It’s clean, it’s natural, but also seems so manicured that the trees should be in little glass boxes (of course that’s likely just the concept art). Personally, I like the feel of the design and look forward to how it plays out in reality. However, that brings us to my additional thought for the day and it largely centers around the fact that this changeover is going to be an absolute nightmare unless done incredibly carefully. 
Now, I don’t stay that to be negative but it’s inevitable that big things are going to have to happen to make this project and the inevitable massive downtime and closure of the Innoventions area to take shape and be completely redesigned over the coming years. I hope I’m wrong, but I tend to believe that massive sections of Epcot are going to be closed off for months at a time. I hope they establish construction in phases and slowly but surely revitalize everything but I do believe a far more likely option is that we’ll be facing a maze of construction walls over the course of a year or likely longer. 

Disney has been less and less cautious about detracting from the guest experience when making sweeping changes, and if Disneyland’s castle refurbishment is any indication, this could be messy for a bit. In my best guess, rerouting of guests will occur in phases. What those phases will consist of is something I can’t even venture a guess for, but I do believe it’s inevitable as this redesign will take some substantial work.

Lastly, in regard to the “Play Pavilion” I’m happy to see that Disney is finally doing something with the former Wonders of Life pavilion after years of leaving it abandoned. I expect big things to come from this area and I do have to admit that I’m guessing there’s more to this particular aspect of the changes that what has been announced so far. I personally don’t expect an attraction or anything of the sort but I do expect Disney to have learned from previous lessons with Innoventions and curtail this project accordingly. Is it a super big part of the announcement, not at all! Am I excited to see how it plays out, absolutely! In recent years I’ve learned to trust Imagineering more that I used to. Every project I’ve been hesitant of in the last five years has exceeded my wildest expectations. I was a skeptic of Pandora and look how that turned out! 
Making a long story short, I look forward to these changes but I do so with a certain hesitancy as I do most sweeping projects arriving in the parks. There are so many variables at play in this that it’s anybody’s guess at how it may play out. Either way, I had to take a moment to share some thoughts and expectations after reading through the various details unveiled today. 
In the end, I love Epcot and I’ll eagerly anticipate any improvements in store for the park. So far, so good, but we’ll see how this all plays out and how the construction process unfolds. As always, I wont sugar coat things here and really intend to be completely authentic in everything I share. Nobody tells me what to write here and honestly my goal is to always keep it that way to keep everything I do honest and open. What I say here is my opinion and my opinion alone but be sure to let me know what you think of the project on your favorite social media platform! Without a doubt, the future is bright for Epcot and I eagerly look forward to what the park may present in the future. 

Your Thoughts

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Concept Art Provided By Disney