ORLANDO, Fla. – The pandemic forced Walt Disney World to close its theme parks and resorts for months, halt construction, and ultimately lay off more than 15,000 Florida cast members.
Still, the lead Imagineer in charge of EPCOT says big changes are still unfolding that will change the look of that park in ways large and small, starting with a new look for the ticket booths. They have been repainted in bright colors, each featuring the park’s distinctive new logo, slightly modified from the original EPCOT Center logo unveiled before opening day in 1982.
Past the ticket booths, a new fountain is under construction featuring a new take on another 1982 Epcot Icon: clear prisms with the EPCOT emblem carved on top.
Speaking at a virtual event Thursday night, called “D23 Fantastic Worlds Celebration: EPCOT and the Magic of Possibility” Imagineer Zach Riddley confirmed the new fountain will have some new tricks, especially at night. It should be unveiled sometime late this year.
Past the fountain. Riddley announced the park’s 180-foot-tall icon “Spaceship Earth” will receive a distinctive new lighting scheme. In the front. it will reflect the new fountain.
“This lighting design will allow us to create custom programming that connects this icon of EPCOT to its surroundings and perfectly encapsulates the park’s transformation. Again, taking this symbol of optimism and hope and collaboration across culture and time and really creating a unique evening moment that again will make EPCOT such a defining feature at night,” Ridley said.
Another defining feature will change the look of World Showcase Lagoon permanently. Riddley confirmed enormous fountain barges, now under construction backstage will be moored permanently in the center of the lagoon.
They are being constructed for Epcot’s new large-scale night spectacular “Harmonious.” The largest barge will feature a 60-foot-tall ring containing a water screen for the show. During the daytime, those barges will create fountain displays in the lagoon to hide the infrastructure. Riddley announced the first barge should be installed soon.
Disney also announced the track for Epcot’s new “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind” roller coaster is complete. Teams have started testing the track by slowly pulling one of the coaster cars through the entire length of the ride path. At an IAAPA presentation earlier this week, Disney described it as an “Onmicoaster;” a new story-telling ride system that can direct guests exactly where they should look. It was described as an evolution of the Omnimover ride system used on attractions like “The Haunted Mansion.”
Scenery for the new “Guardians” attraction is also starting to be installed, however, no opening date has been announced.
So far, Disney has only confirmed the new “Space 220” restaurant (adjacent to “Mission: Space”) and the France pavilion’s new “Ratatouille” ride “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure” will open sometime next year. Both were originally due to open in 2020, but have been delayed by the Pandemic.
Riddley did not mention what has become of previous plans for a “Mary Poppins” attraction, a renovation of the ride inside “Spaceship Earth”, nor for a multi-story festival pavilion, plans unveiled at the 2019 D23 convention. Insiders have said those plans and others are being re-evaluated. Some are expected to be revised and other projects may be canceled outright. While the fate of those additions may not be known for quite some time, Disney clearly wants the public to know it has not forgotten the massive transformation underway at Walt Disney World’s second-oldest theme park.