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.

Epcot Transformation

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.

Epcot will be organized into four neighborhoods: World Showcase, World Discovery, World Celebration, and World Nature. Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Epcot will be organized into four neighborhoods: World Showcase, World Discovery, World Celebration, and World Nature. Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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’s United Kingdom pavilion will welcome the first attraction inspired by Mary Poppins. Step in time down Cherry Tree Lane! Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Epcot’s United Kingdom pavilion will welcome the first attraction inspired by Mary Poppins. Step in time down Cherry Tree Lane! Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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.

The park’s entrance will be transformed with a reimagined fountain, new pathways, and sweeping green spaces that beautify the entryway while paying homage to the origins of Epcot. Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The park’s entrance will be transformed with a reimagined fountain, new pathways, and sweeping green spaces that beautify the entryway while paying homage to the origins of Epcot. Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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.

A new pavilion will be home base for Epcot’s signature festivals. The beautiful three-level structure will feature a plaza level, a middle expo level, and a park that sits in the sky on the top level, complete with a stunning view of World Showcase. Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

A new pavilion will be home base for Epcot’s signature festivals. The beautiful three-level structure will feature a plaza level, a middle expo level, and a park that sits in the sky on the top level, complete with a stunning view of World Showcase. Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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 new Space 220 restaurant at Epcot will be an out-of-this-world culinary experience with the celestial panorama of a space station, including daytime and nighttime views of Earth from 220 miles up. Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The new Space 220 restaurant at Epcot will be an out-of-this-world culinary experience with the celestial panorama of a space station, including daytime and nighttime views of Earth from 220 miles up. Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The former Wonders of Live pavilion will become the PLAY! Pavilion.  It will be open for Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration.

The PLAY! pavilion at Epcot will open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort. Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The PLAY! pavilion at Epcot will open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort. Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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.

In 2020, the new “HarmonioUS” will debut at Epcot 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. Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

In 2020, the new “HarmonioUS” will debut at Epcot 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. Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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.

A new planning called Disney Genie will help guests customize their Walt Disney World Resort vacations in Florida with daily itineraries tailored to guests’ interests. Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

A new planning called Disney Genie will help guests customize their Walt Disney World Resort vacations in Florida with daily itineraries tailored to guests’ interests. Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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 new Cirque Du Soleil show celebrates Disney animation Studios in a touching story. Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The new Cirque Du Soleil show celebrates Disney animation Studios in a touching story. Photo credits (C) Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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?