On Sunday, August 25, 2019, during the D23 Expo in California, Disney presented the highly anticipated Parks and Resorts update.
In this article, we will look at all the exciting news about Walt Disney World – and especially a major transformation in store for Epcot.
Bob Chapek, the Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products, shared a slew of new announcements and concept art, as well as some updates to previously announced projects. I had a chance to watch the presentation in live simulcast from Disney Springs, courtesy of the nice folks at Disney Media relations.
I’m happy to share all the exciting announcements with you.
Disney announced that Epcot will be undergoing the biggest transformation of any park in company history, with the goal of becoming more Disney, more family, more timeless, and more relevant.
Epcot is currently organized into two major sections: Future World and World Showcase. In the future, it will reorganized around four neighborhoods: World Showcase, World Celebration, World Discovery, and World Nature.
New Mary Poppins Attraction
Disney Legend Dick Van Dyke came on stage to help announce that a new Mary Poppins attraction is coming to Epcot. Disney will build the attraction in the UK pavilion. You will have a chance to wander down Cherry Tree Lane and enter the Banks family home.
Epcot – World Celebration
The World Celebration neighborhood will include the entrance plaza leading up to Spaceship Earth. It fill feature greenery and a fountain that draws inspiration from the original fountain that once existed in front of Spaceship Earth.
Spaceship Earth will remain the park’s icon. However, the story inside the attraction will change, featuring great moments of human human history and a focus on storytelling vs. technology. The attraction will get new narration.
After leaving Spaceship Earth, a newly designed exit called Dreamers Point will offer great views of the park as well as a new statue of Walt Disney.
The Celebration will also feature a wishing tree, a story fountain, and a pavilion for live events.
Epcot – World Discovery
The World Discovery neighborhood will focus on science and technology. It will be home to the new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction, which will feature a reverse launch into space. Disney announced the official name: Guardians of the Galaxy – Cosmic Rewind.
Disney is expanding Mission: Space with a new restaurant, which guests will access via a simulated space elevator. The restaurant will be called “Space 220” and will open this winter.
The former Wonders of Live pavilion will become the PLAY! Pavilion. It will be open for Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Epcot – World Nature
The World Nature neighborhood will feature the Land pavilion, which will host a new film called Awesome Planet that will premier in January 2020.
It will also be home to the new Journey of Water exploration trail, inspired by Moana.
Nighttime Spectacular: Epcot Forever
As previously announced, the new nighttime spectacular called Epcot Forever will replace Illuminations. The new show will debut October 1, 2019 and will feature classic Epcot songs.
However, Epcot Forever is a temporary show that will be in place until the new nighttime spectacular called “HarmonioUS” debuts in 2020. It will be the largest nighttime spectacular in Disney history.
Two new films are on their way to World Showcase: Wondrous China will feature a new seamless 360 film technology, and Canada Far and Wide will open in January 2020.
Disney will also debut a new Beauty and the Beast Sing Along film in the France pavilion in January, 2020.
Other Disney World Announcements
Digital Assistant: Disney Genie
In late 2020 Disney will launch a new digital offering called Disney Genie. It will help guests make the most of their visit by suggesting customized itineraries based on their interests – perhaps topics like princess fans, foodies, thrill seekers. The plans will be flexible and updated in real time with recommendations.
Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge
The new resort will feature a table service restaurant inspired by Princess and the Frog.
Cirque Du Soleil
Disney announced that Disney Springs will bring a new show combining the talents of Disney Imagineering, Disney Animation Studios, and Cirque Du Soleil. Disney animators suggested iconic moments from Disney movies for the new show. In the show, Disney characters will interact with the live performers.
The show’s story follows a young girl whose father was a Disney animator. The father raises the girl with Disney characters, leading to stories of discovery.
The show will begin previews on March 20, 2020, and will officially open April 17, 2020.
Excited for the major changes coming to Epcot?