Walt Disney World
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(6/25/22) Guardian's Christmas Holiday Mode Confirmed By Disney (MORE...)
(5/25/22) Eat to the Beat Concerts (MORE...)
(7/8/22) New Artwork and Descriptions For Remodeled Future World Areas (MORE...)
(5/7/22) Guardians of the Galalxy Queue, Pre-Show and On-Ride POV Videos (MORE...)
(5/5/22) The Dreaded Virtual Queue Will Return For Guardians of the Galaxy (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - These dates are not guaranteed to be 100% accurate as refurbishments are subject to change.
Nothing is known to be planned at this time…
Click here to read: EPCOT HAS FAILED
General Park News - (5/25/22) Disney has posted the schedule for Epcot’s Eat to the Beat concert series taking place during Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival.
July 14-15 – Baha Men
July 16-18 – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
July 29-30 – Taylor Dayne
July 31-Aug. 1 – Tiffany
Aug. 5-8 – Joey Fatone & Friends
Aug. 12-13 – The Devon Allman Project
Aug. 14-15 – Christopher Cross
Aug. 19-20 – Steve Augeri (Former Lead Singer of Journey)
Aug. 21-22 – Air Supply
Sept. 2-3 – Southern Avenue
Sept. 4-5 – Kris Allen & David Cook
Sept. 9-10 – Hoobastank
Sept. 16-17 – Los Amigos Invisibles
Sept. 23-24 – BBMak
Sept. 30-Oct. 1 – Stokley
Oct. 2-3 – Sheila E.
Oct. 7-8 – Mark Wills
Oct. 9-10 – 38 Special
Oct. 23-24 – Billy Ocean
Oct. 28-31 – Hanson
Nov. 4-7 – Boyz II Men
(4/24/22) According to the Disney Parks Blog the new “Connections Eatery” in Epcot will officially open to guests starting April 27, 2022. The new revised restaurant will offer up food inspired by different cuisine styles from around the world, served in a quick-service style restaurant location. The location actually provided two services, with the primary restaurant offering lunch and dinner on one side, and a cafe and pastry shop on the other side that will be open all day long, with the Connections Cafe also serving as home to Epcot’s Starbucks location.
Since Epcot’s old CommuniCore area has been undergoing extensive renovations and rebuilding for quite some time, the opening of a new eatery in the the core of this half of the park is a good thing. As I understand it, for old Epcot guests, this new eatery is taking the place of the former Electric Umbrella quick-service restaurant that sat across the breezeway from the old MouseGears gift shop, now known as the Creations Shop.
(4/2/22) Walt Disney World has announced that the popular EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival will return to the park for another epic run from July 14 to November 19, 2022. Once delegated to only taking place for a few weeks in October and Thanksgiving, Epcot’s most popular guest event has extended into a massive celebration of food and fun.
(3/20/22) Orlando Parks News is back with a new construction update from around Epcot this week, showing off the progress of things at Guardians of the Galaxy, the new Journey of Water area, Connections Cafe and of course a look at the impressive decor for the International Flower & Garden Festival taking place.
(2/16/22) A fun new video shows off all the various construction projects taking place at EPCOT right now. Check it out below!
(1/18/22) I’ve said before how thus far, many feel that the stand-out addition of the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary has been the new lights and music display on Spaceship Earth at Epcot. Disney just doubled-down on that and added a new light up display performance to Spaceship Earth played to The Muppet’s singing Rainbow Connection. Check it out below.
(1/8/22) The virtual ‘boarding pass’ system that was moved from Rise of the Resistance to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure upon the new attraction’s opening on Oct. 1st will be turned off starting Jan. 10th. As of Monday, Epcot guests will now be able to experience Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure using the same regular queue systems in place for all other Walt Disney World attractions.
Even with the virtual boarding pass system, Disney was selling individual Lightning Lane passes to the attraction at Epcot along with Frozen Ever After, so I would expect nothing will change on that end of things. So for those who detested the Boarding Pass system (aka: The Lottery) you can celebrate its demise for now.
(11/27/21) Orlando Experience has posted a great video of Epcot’s Spaceship Earth putting on a new holiday lightshow. So far, out of all the 50th Anniversary additions to Walt Disney World, the awesome lighting package added to the outside of Spaceship Earth is the one that seem sto fascinate guests the most.
(10/9/21) Here is the list of attractions that will have Lightning Lane and Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane access at EPCOT starting Oct. 19, 2021.
Individual Lightning Lane Purchase:
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
Frozen Ever After
Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane:
Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
Journey into Imagination with Figment
Living with the Land
Mission Space (Green & Orange Missions)
Soarin’ Around the World
The Seas Nemo & Friends
Turtle Talk with Crush
2022 - Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind - (6/25/22) Don’t say I didn’t warn you before (see the end of our 4/30 update), but the Disney Parks Blog has confirmed that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will indeed feature a special winter holiday mode. According to the post, “the Guardians will trade in their classic hits playlist for a mash-up of seasonal jams at Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT. Guests will blast off to the tune of an awesome holiday single, bringing joy to Xandar and Terra, too.”
(5/7/22) While the media day for the new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction at Epcot has taken place, those hoping for some more video footage are still out of luck, as Disney PR did not allow anything to be shot on the ride itself. You will start to see footage of the pre-ride and post-ride experience however at least, but so far on-ride video has been limited to a few seconds of reverse-POV showing off the faces of bloggers flying through the void.
Below we will share some videos showing off some of this reverse POV footage, the queue and pre-show experience for those who can’t wait to know more, while still keeping things mostly spoiler free. Speaking of one spoiler… the pre-show experience with Nova Prime does include an interesting experience that fans of the former Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas are sure to appreciate.
Oh, and check out the last clip where Star Lord talks about having visited EPCOT as a child before heading off into the stars, and gives some love to his favorite attractions, which unbeknownst to him are sadly now all retired. Gotta give some props to the Disney script writers for including references to Horizons, Universe of Energy and Food Rocks.
For those who have to see the full on-ride experience NOW and can now wait, I’m including a link to a pretty high quality video I found that shows off the whole ride experience. Follow this link to check it out with the Conga soundtrack playing.
(5/5/22) You thought you may have seen the end of the “virtual queue” at Walt Disney World when they retired it from use at the Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure attraction last year. Sadly, this is not the case, and the dreaded virtual queue (aka: the lottery) will be returning once again when Epcot opens the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction on May 27th.
While it is great not to stand in line for 5 hours, the downside is what many feel is the more “lottery” aspect of it all, because if past performance of the system when used for Rise of the Resistance is anything to go by, all the boarding groups for the day vanish almost instantly. Making things worse, there is no stand-by line you can stand in, so if the entire reason you are trying to visit Epcot is to ride the new Guardians roller coaster and you don’t get a boarding pass, you wont get a chance to ride at all, unless there is a second Boarding Group window in the afternoon where you may get a second chance.
Also, Disney has confirmed that guests can enter the virtual queue ONLY ONCE per day, so if you wanted a chance to ride it over and over to try out the 6 different songs… that isn’t going to happen. You get one ride per day only… if you are lucky enough to even get a boarding pass at all.
Unlike what we saw with Rise of the Resistance however, apparently Disney IS planning on making the option to purchase an individual Lightning Lane pass for the attraction an option. (Of course they are, because… $$$$)
No price has been set, but I’d expect it to be $15, unless they increase the price option to $20 to match the pricing used at Disneyland Resort on their premium attraction Lightning Lane passes.
(4/30/22) SPOILER ALERT - If you want to remain fully unaware of what happens on this attraction, stop reading now. Otherwise…
While I haven’t seen any sign of a full POV video of the new Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind attraction just yet, a short was shared on YouTube showing off what looks to be the first few scenes after the train dispatches from the station and runs past video screens showing off the various characters making a plan of action for the events to come.
The train rises up a small lift, passing through a portal at the top to enter space, turning to go through a jump point (those hex-shaped energy portals) and into a space projection space where you and the Guardians encounter the celestial. I’m not quite sure exactly what is happening between the Guardians and and the Celestial, but a glowing green object called the Cosmic Generator goes into the Celestial’s hand, only for the actions taken by the Guardians to knock the Cosmic Generator away.
The celestial says, “It was useless to follow me...” and then seems distracted by music coming from the Guardian’s ship says, “What is that noise?” Suddnely the energy object is knocked from his hand and sent flying into the cosmos.
Star Lord - “Noise? No one is going to stop Rock ‘n Roll from existing!”
Celestial - “What have you done?”
Rocket - “What have we done?”
Gamora - “I think we jumped back...”
KABOOM— music stars and looks like this is where the backwards launch takes place.
Ok, end of the Spoilers, but as a Disney fan, a Marvel fan and definitely a roller coaster fan, I’m very excited about this so far and can’t wait to get down to ride it myself.
Oh... and if past history of the Guardians and Disney theme parks is any indication, there just might be a special “Holiday Version” of the ride waiting in the wings. When the Guardian’s themed “Mission Breakout!” attraction came to Disney California Adventure, the team wisely used their time to also create the media needed for the “Monsters After Dark” halloween version of the attraction. Since we know that before Guardians of the Galaxy 3 hits theaters, a Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special will be arriving on Disney+ later this year, it just seems like that could be the perfect opportunity to possibly add a little holiday spirit to Cosmic Rewind, don’t you think? Even if it is nothing more than a new holiday themed soundtrack, a few Christmas lights and maybe a Santa hat on Drax. But no Christmas Trees... it might be a little hard to explain that tradition to Groot.
(4/28/22) A fantastic teaser video for the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind has been posted to Disney social media a few hours ago. Check it out below and see if you aren't excited to ride it yourself!
Speaking of the new coaster, the list of six possible songs you will listen to while riding was also posted by Disney. Apparently they tested out hundreds of songs, and narrowed the list down to six essential songs. From what I’m told, the way the attraction works is that one of these six songs will randomly be selected and that one song will be played throughout your ride, from start to finish.
The list of songs came down to:
September - Earth, Wind & Fire
Disco Inferno - The Trammps
Conga - Miami Sound Machine
Everybody Wants to Rule the World - Tears for Fears
I Ran (So Far Away) - A Flock of Seagulls
One Way or Another - Blondie
Color me curious… some of these would obviously make for a fun ride experience, but I’m really intrigued by the concept of Tears for Fears’ 80’s boppy “Everybody Wants To Rule the World” being presented alongside the dark threat of actual world domination. It kind of reminds of how another Tears of Fears song was given this treatment, when a darker / slower cover of their “Mad World” track by Gary Jules became the promo-song for the first Gears of War video game. Of course, I think I’m equally as excited by the idea of “I Ran” or “One Way or Another” as well, but hey… I was a teen who grew up in the 80s, so why not. (Though a pity we don’t have Oingo Boingo’s Weird Science in there, but maybe they’ll add a few more songs in the years to come.)
So there you go, you’ve got the song list, so time to make your own Awesome Mix Tape while you wait for your chance to ride.
(4/24/22) According to a close Screamscape source who has had the chance to ride the new Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind attraction, Disney’s latest attraction is “the best ride at Walt Disney World” featuring a perfect blend of technology, projections, storytelling and music in sync with the thrills of a roller coaster. The praise doesn’t end there, as they also speculate that it may be “the best ride Disney has ever built.”
So Rise of the Resistance better watch out, there is a new contender on the rise!
(4/18/22) As we start to approach the opening of Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind, a growing batch of lucky people out there (many are CMs) have had the chance to ride it and tell the tale. While spoilers are being kept to a minimum right now, from what I was told in my own conversation is that not only is it an incredible ride experience, but that it is easily the best roller coaster in all of Walt Disney World. Or at least until Tron Lightcycle/Run opens… and then we will have to revisit this topic again.
Overall, from the ride to the music to the theming and fun story told with the Guardians of the Galaxy characters, it seems a sure thing that this will be the most in-demand ride in all of Walt Disney World once it opens, which will finally give Rise of the Resistance some much needed competition.
More Earthlings will soon get the chance to ride, with ongoing waves of CM previews begin to take place, followed by Passholder Previews in early May… and who knows… maybe they’ll have time for some soft opening times for the general public just ahead of the grand opening on May 27, 2022.
(4/17/22) Minor Spoiler Alert - Minor Spoiler Alert
According to a post on social media, an image said to be released by Marvel shows off that the cosmic force behind the strange happenings in Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is actually a member of the Celestials named Eson.
Thus far in the MCU, we’ve seen that another member of the Celestials was responsible for the creation of the Eternals, and going back we first saw glimpses of them in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie depicted as some of the first wielders of the Infinity Stones. Eson in particular was said to once wield the Power Stone. When the Guardians first go to see Tivan (The Collector) in the first film, they travel to Knowhere, where what appears to be a space station is revealed to actually be the decapitated head of a long dead Celestial that is being mined of the remaining organic matter by Tivan, who also uses the location as vault for some of his vast collection of rare items.
In the MCU thus far, any interactions between any of the Celestials and the planet Earth has been limited to the millennia-spanning events told during The Eternals film.
(4/4/22) Keep an eye on DIsney social media on Monday, it looks like some kind of announcement regarding Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewinds is heading our way based on this teaser.
(3/25/22) A fun new photos on IG from Disney’s Zach Riddley shows off the entrance and name of the gift shop at the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction at Epcot. The shop is called Treasures of Xandar and will be operated by “The Broker”, a Xandarian who will offer merchandise from Xandar and items acquired from throughout the Galaxy.
While we’re talking about the new Guardians attraction, as you may recall a Disney exec mentioned it opening Memorial Day Weekend before that tweet was replaced with a new one changing the date to just a generic “Summer” opening timeline. From what I’m hearing the opening team for the attraction will be arriving for training the second week of April, or about six weeks ahead of Memorial Day Weekend.
I’ve no idea how long Disney usually takes to train their opening attraction teams, but if things go smoothly, maybe that slip about opening for Memorial Day Weekend may be possible after all. Just don’t buy your plane tickets just yet, because as we saw with Ratatouille, just because Disney CAN open a ride, they won’t do it until they are good and ready to open it.
(3/23/22) A rather detailed video from the SDNY Newscast carefully goes over the plans showing off the layout of the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind coaster at Epcot starting with the queue experience, the loading station and then even a rough animation showing off the coaster layout itself, minus the unknown spinning factor. There is still a lot we don’t know about what will take place inside the attraction experience, but this video gets us one step closing to understanding what is in store.
(3/2/22) Today we get our first look at the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in action in a new video showing off the trains in the loading station. According to the video, Disney is calling this new roller coaster system an “OmniCoaster”, named after Disney’s popular OmniMover ride system that we’ve seen used on attractions like Haunted Mansion and Buzz Lightyear.
(2/25/22) Apparently a Disney exec posted on social media about loving his test ride on Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, along with a Memorial Day Weekend opening date. From what I was told elsewhere, this was fairly accurate, but the tweet was deleted and apparently reposted later to simply say that it would open this summer. Take this for what you will, but perhaps the ride could be soft open by Memorial Day Weekend at least. Stay tuned, we’ll probably know more as the date gets closer.
(1/30/22) Special thanks to Adventure That Rock for sending us a picture of what appears to be the completed Nova StarBlaster in front of the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction.
(1/27/22) Marvel fans will want to take note, the 51 foot tall Nova Corps Starblaster ship is now being assembled in front of the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction. The first post about this, along with a picture of the first piece being installed was seen on Instagram and posted by Disney’s Zach Riddley (see below) who mentioned that it will be set up over “the coming weeks”.
That said, I have to direct you over to MouseSteps who just posted a new photo update today showing off the great progress made so far on the assembly of the Starblaster ship. From the look of these photos they’ve got the cockpit, the main side wings and 5 of the 8 wings now in place, so things are looking very good. At this rate it will be finished in a few days instead of weeks.
(1/24/22) Some great pictures of the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction have been posted to MouseSteps this week. There is lots of work still taking place around the entrance to the attraction, behind the construction walls along with the arrival of some kind of themed entrance portal structure sitting just in front of the building.
(12/4/21) The NOVA Corp star has apparently been placed on the front of the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction building at EPCOT. As you may recall, the pavilion building itself will be themed as the “Wonders of Xandar” pavilion, as the Nova Corp. and people of Xandar have come to EPCOT to share the culture and wonders of their planet with the people of Earth. The star itself is pretty neat looking and will color shift from between gold and purple throughout the day, as it reflects the sunlight from different angles.
(11/24/21) Marvel fans, take note. When asked about the story events that will take place within the new Guardians of the Galaxy - Cosmic Rewind attraction coming to Epcot, James Gunn, the Director of the the soon-to-be-Trilogy confirmed that the things that happen are “in its own universe” and not part of the story being told in the greater MCU. So definitely not “canon”, much the same as how Disney is handling the world of Marvel shows in the first Avengers Campus that launched earlier this year at Disney California Adventure.
Of course that also adds the interesting aspect that even this version of the Guardians is a self-contained universe apart from the version of the Guardians shown in California, as the Guardians of the Galaxy shown in the Mission: BREAKOUT attraction feature the Baby Groot character as seen in the second Guardians film, while the Cosmic Rewind attraction in Epcot is expected to feature an Adult Groot, but no word on if this is the return of Old Groot from the first film, or if this will be the new Young Adult version of Groot, having grown up from Baby Groot in Guardians 2 to Teen Groot seen in the Infinity Wars films.
Ok, I know that was too much information for you non Comic Book / MCU fans out there, and sounded way more complicated than it was meant to be, but just go watch the films and you’ll see what I mean. Oh, Gunn did confirm that the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special coming to Disney+ in about a year will however be part of the MCU canon.
On a related note, Glenn Close appeared in a brief video clip, dressed as her Nova Prime character, who will also return as part of Epcot’s new Cosmic Rewind attraction. I can only imagine you’ll encounter Nova Prime in the queue, as the pavilion building itself is supposed to be themed as a traditional style Epcot pavilion sponsored by the world of Xandar, who has come to show off the wonders of their world to the people of Earth. There is no one better to represent Xandar during this presentation than Nova Prime.
(10/3/21) Sometimes I forget “what I know”, especially when it comes into conflict with “what I’m allowed to say”. To explain it better, I get into conversations with a lot of people who know a lot of things... things that they may share with me personally, but sometimes I get asked to keep certain information to myself for awhile, or until other information gets released.
Case in point... I failed to mention in the last update that it was officially confirmed that Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind will feature a backwards launch. I knew it, in fact I thought I had shared that juicy little rumor quite some time ago, but I actually kinda forgot about it after the past two years. This brings me back to a previous update where I noticed about the track layout back in early March 2019.
Mixed with the backwards launch, one of the expected highlights of the coaster is expected to be the transition from the launch into the main show building. At the time, it was observed that after the launch the track will send riders up a steep hill into the top of the show building, where it appeared that the track takes “an extremely hard roll to the right as you hit the top of the hill.” At the time, it was described as almost looking like the top of Universal’s Incredible Hulk coaster, but without the full inversion.
Given the nature of the spinning cars, add in the backwards launch into a potential airtime moment, I’m anticipating a very interesting and disorienting negative-g sensation for the riders at this point if the cars were allowed to spin around to face forward as they crossed this twisted apex track maneuver, that hopefully will roll out into a steep dive towards the ground once inside. And even better, since you are launched backwards into darkness, the you will never see it coming.
If you’ve been on one of those giant spinning pendulum rides popular at other theme parks and traveling fairs, you may get an idea of the sensation I’m talking about, where a rider may just be in the ideal place during the spin when the swinging arm hits the negative-g apex of the swing, and you get a very disorienting feeling of weightlessness while the world spins all around you and then yanks you back down to the ground.
At least that's what I’m hoping for, as the programmable nature of the cars make them able to spin to whatever orientation they want, at any moment they want.
(10/2/21) Disney gave Good Morning America a sneak peek at the inside of the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction yesterday, which you can see below. No actual opening date was given, other than to say that it would be ready to open sometime in 2022.
I know that’s a little wide open to try and make plans to visit, so to be on the safe side you might want to wait a bit more and consider it may not open until the Summer. No hints were given at all about when the Tron coaster would be ready to open at the Magic Kingdom either, so if you want to wait for both to open, I’d sit tight a bit longer as they probably won't open both at the same time. They’ll spread them out, just as they are doing now by opening Ratatouille now and Guardians sometime next year.
Still lots of work going on for Guardians however, as you can see in a post of WDI’s Tom Fitzgerald and Scot Drake standing inside the Galaxarium, described as one of the first places you will enter once inside the new attraction, which will serve as the first “Other-World'' pavilion at Epcot. The Galaxarium will be a sort of planetarium style presentation where the people of Xandar have come to Earth to show off their world, people and advanced technology. (See video clip below)
Ok, I’m almost getting an old XS-Tech vibe here, for those who remember the extinct Alien Encounter attraction. The pre-show of Alien Encounter from XS-Tech was often the best part of that attraction, but somehow I don’t think that will be the case at all with Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. So bring the “The Wonders of Xandar Pavilion”!
(9/4/21) Zach Riddley shows off a brief update on the new Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind project, and tells us that the concept is nearing completion. There will also be a golden Rocket & Groot statue added as part of the Disney Fab 50 Character Collection.
(1/10/21) WDWNT News Today has posted a couple of pictures someone grabbed of what appears to be the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind roller coaster cars being transported onto Disney property. I say, ‘appears to be’ because the cars are wrapped up tighter than a Mummy in black plastic, but the size and shape do line up with what Disney has already shown off. Nice pictures of the exposed Vekoma wheel assemblies though, as they were able to get very close to those.
(11/22/20) A new post from WDI’s Zach Riddley shows off one of the trains on the Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind coaster in the main show building as they are performing the pull-through of the train through the layout.
Usually this is about the last step of the process before the coaster is allow to begin full speed testing through the layout, but in this case, full speed testing may have to wait as it looks like the various pieces of scenery are also now arriving for installation and they will want to also pull the trains through the layout with the scenery in place to ensure there is proper clearance for riders and vehicles.
(11/18/20) As part of a construction update for the park, Disney released a glimpse of the inside of the Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster building with the lights on in a video. I zipped a couple of screen captures together to get a slightly wider look at the inside of the ride’s twisted track layout.
They also released a video clip of one of the new coaster cars taking a spin around a Vekoma test track facility to give you an idea of how the cars will rotate in mid-ride.
(11/7/20) Our best look yet at the coaster cars that will be used on Epcot’s new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind has been posted to Zach Riddley’s instagram channel. The nice high angle shot gives us a look inside the cars at how the seats and restraint system look (lap bar only thank goodness). This includes a view of what appears to be a nice beefy speaker cluster placed about head-and-shoulder height between the two seats. After all, it wouldn’t be a Guardians of the Galaxy ride without a rocking soundtrack to enjoy while you soar through the cosmos.
According to the notes with the post, you’ll notice that each of the cars has a unique paint design, so that each “coach” appears to have suffered slightly different wear and tear issues. A little scorch mark here, a paint scrape there, these coaster trains will look like they’ve toured the galaxy.
(10/26/20) I’m not sure how valid this rumor is, so please take this one with a grain of salt for now and as a warning if you’ve been planning a visit to Walt Disney World for the later half of 2021, hoping that the new Tron or Guardians of the Galaxy coasters would be open.
According to the rumor the construction crews working on Tron Lightcycle/ Run (Magic Kingdom) and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (Epcot) will continue their work only until all the major structural and outdoor construction aspects are finished. At that point, they say that construction may come grinding to a halt with Disney leaving the interior work and theming of the rides unfinished. The plan would be to put all the rest of the construction work on hold until October 2021, the start of Disney’s next fiscal year, where it would start up again with the goal of finishing up the attractions in time for late Spring or Summer 2022 instead.
Again… this is just a rumor right now, but one that definitely sounds like something that could be Wall Street driven as a cost-cutting measure meant to stop the financial bleeding by being able to cut various contracted team members working on these projects right now with the goal of hiring those they need back in a year’s time by essentially pushing the pause button on the spending needed to finish these two major attractions for almost a year.
Can anyone else with insider knowledge confirm or deny this rumor?
(2/9/20) Still a bit of work to do, but some good pictures of the front of the Guardians of the Galaxy ride at Epcot were posted to Twitter by our friends at Behind the Thrills this weekend.
(12/8/19) I haven’t seen this view in awhile, but you can see a nice aerial view of the entire Guardians of the Galaxy attraction under construction at Epcot in this Twitter photos from @bioreconstruct that I’ve posted below. You can make out that work is still taking place on the former Universe of Energy ride building, but it looks like the site all around the blue/green attraction building to the right, where the majority of the coaster action will take place, has been fairly cleaned up at this point. It’s also fun to note how the employee access road backstage will travel through a little ‘tunnel’ under the launch/brake track structure that connects the two buildings together.
In between the two buildings you can see the golden dome of the future Play Pavilion, as well as some work taking place on the attraction’s backstage building structures, which I believe formerly housed the Body Wars and Cranium Command attractions, so there is no telling what Disney may have planned for those areas now.
(8/15/19) WDWNT has posted a series of photos looking over the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction building inside Epcot, formerly used for the Universe of Energy attraction. The building was previously hollowed out and not a lot has been going on here since construction began, but at last there is now a lot of activity going on inside to fill up the structure to be used as the queue and loading/unloading station for the new coaster. This includes the construction of a new second level inside the building, which is now well under-way.
(5/13/19) WDWNT has posted some new pictures of the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster building at Epcot as workers begin to seal-up the side-walls on it, forever blocking the interior from view. It is also interesting how the side panels start green at the bottom and end up sky blue at the top in an attempt to camouflage the enormous building from view when seen at a distance.
(3/24/19) Screamscape sources tell us that they spotted the top section of track being installed onto the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster at Epcot this week. We’ve already seen the track installed for the launch from the old Universe of Energy building that starts to rise up a steep hill to enter the new coaster building structure near the top. The new track piece(s) are here, and appear as if the track will take an extremely hard roll to the right as you hit the top of the hill. The interesting thing is it was described as looking similar to what Incredible Hulk does at the top of it’s launch-hill, but but minus the full inversion.
Given the spinning nature of the ride cars, the launch and incline, this could provide for a really interesting negative-g moment for the riders if the car were to spin to the left at the apex of the hill as the track rolls to the right, and then taking a steep dive towards the ground inside the structure while completing the spin to face the rider’s backwards, giving everyone a very nice and awkward feeling twisting negative-g airtime float.
(11/30/18) We’ve been waiting for the moment, as it appears that the first piece of track (that we can see at least) has been installed for the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster at Epcot. If I had to guess, you’ll probably hit this sharp rise up into the large building at the end of the launch tunnel that bridges the gap between the new and old buildings.
(11/21/18) Disney leaked out a few more small details about the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy coaster ride last week. This included a look at the concept art of the coaster cars, and confirmation that as we expected, they will indeed rotate to point the riders in the right direction to view the various scenes that play out during the adventure. Disney’s Bob Chapek talled it a “Storytelling Coaster” experience, as “each individual cab will be programmed to direct your eye to the story happening around you. That means instead of whizzing by the action, you’ll be fully immersed in the story from the minute you launch.”
Disney also re-confirmed that the attraction will open in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021.
(11/13/18) A new collection of photos showing off the progress on the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction at Epcot can be found over at OrlandoParkNews.com this week.
(11/2/18) The coaster track and supports (painted black of course) for the Guardians of the Galaxy themed ride going into Epcot has finally started to arrive on site. I knew it had to happen sooner or later because they’re quickly starting to seal up the building walls. As I mentioned previously, the assembly of this project has been interesting because it was being done in reverse order to how Rock ‘n Roller Coaster was put up. Back then they poured the giant pad, set up the coaster and then put up the walls and ceiling and sealed it all up inside.
(10/20/18) Back in March Screamscape pointed you all to view some photos taken at a Vekoma test facility in Europe featuring a new prototype creation set up on a test track. It featured what looked like your typical Vekoma 4-passenger sit-down coaster car frame, but instead of mounting it to the chassis like normal, it was mounted to what appeared to be a turn-table system, which was then mounted to the chassis. As I pointed out back in March, this was not your typical “free spin” style set-up, but rather this looked like a system in development for controlled rotation of the riders in order to point them in specific directions at specific moments during the ride experience… in other words… exactly the same kind of thing that Universal built for their Harry Potter themed “Escape from Gringotts” coaster in Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. If you need a refresher, you can see these those photos posted here. Go ahead, take a quick look, I’ll wait.
The rumor sent to Screamscape at the time was that this new controlled spinning coaster car system was the prototype for Disney’s new Guardians of the Galaxy themed coaster under construction at Epcot. All along the constant rumor about the Guardians coaster was that it would feature spinning cars (and a launch system) in some fashion and now BlooLoop reports that Disney has filed for a patent for exactly this kind of rotating roller coaster vehicle system, which seems to confirm that this is indeed the Guardians of the Galaxy ride system. I’m a bit curious to know what unique features that Disney is using for this patent that would mark it as being different from the Gringotts’ system which I believe is developed by Universal and Intamin, but that’s another story to ponder.
(10/13/18) A new fantastic aerial shot of the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster coming to Epcot was posted on Twitter Friday night, showing off the massive new ride building and the framework for the connecting tunnel that will serve as a bridge between it and the former Universe of Energy building.
One interesting item I’ve noticed about how this attraction is going up is just how different this is compared to how Disney built Rock ‘n Roller Coaster. In the case of RNRC, they poured the large concrete foundation pieces and then put up the entire coaster out in the open first, then when finished they installed the walls and roof to enclose the ride inside. With this project, there isn’t a single section of coaster track to be seen anywhere and the roof is on the main building, so all the track is going to have to go in through the side walls which could make assembly a bit tricky.
(9/28/18) A reader heading out of Epcot the other night spotted the work lights on inside the future Guardians of the Galaxy attraction entrance building and snapped a few quick pictures showing off the work taking place inside.
(9/19/18) The latest photos of the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction under construction show off that the walls of the former Universe of Energy pavilion have been removed and the interior of the structure has been gutted. The rumored plan is that the former pavilion will be used to hold the indoor portion of the ride queue, the load and unload stations, a few early scenes for the ride before it jets off to the new building structure, and… of course… a gift shop at the exit.
(7/9/18) A couple of photos on Twitter show off the current state of the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster building, rising quickly backstage at Epcot.
(6/26/18) A quick look at the progress on the huge building under construction for the Guardians of the Galaxy ride can be seen below.
(6/13/18) A good new picture posted to Twitter shows off an aerial look at the new building under construction that will house the main portion of the new Guardians of the Galaxy coaster track. Also worth noting, you can see the colors changing on the domed roof of the former Wonders of Life Pavilion to the left, as the structure is being refreshed for some new unknown purpose. Also take a look in the background and you can see a large clearing being made next to the Monorail track as it heads from Epcot towards the TTC.
As previously noted in our coverage of the rumored Epcot Resort project, Disney did file plans to do just this, with the site along the track being cleared to create an all new and very large water retention pond that will be almost twice the size of the lagoon in the middle of World Showcase, running from where you see the work starting here all the way down to World Drive.
(3/23/18) In late January Screamscape reported about a new piece of test coaster track being put together at a Vekoma test facility in Europe. Now all new pictures have been added to this same photo link showing off a crazy new prototype coaster train now running on those same tracks.
What's odd about this new train design is that while they seem to have mounted a typical modern Vekoma coaster car to it, they have it mounted up high, sitting on top of a circular mounting system, that gives me the impression that it is designed to allow the coaster cars to spin. However, the size of it all does not look like the kind of mount that would be used to allow for a freely-spinning system, but rather this looks built to allow for controlled spinning of the cars. Controlled in such a way that they could point the riders at specific scenes as the train passes by... not unlike what Universal Orlando did with Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts attraction.
Even better... the popular rumor is that this new prototype ride system in development is for Walt Disney World's new Guardians of the Galaxy themed coaster coming to Epcot. All along I had heard this attraction would be some kind of new spinning coaster design, and this looks to fit the bill perfectly. Stay tuned!
(2/14/18) While not much more was revealed, Disney did confirm that the new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction coming to Epcot would indeed be a roller coaster. They also mentioned it would be "one of the world's longest enclosed roller coasters", and be a one-of-a-kind family attraction with "a new innovative ride system". It will be ready to open in time for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary in 2021.
(12/11/17) While I had hoped the new Guardians of the Galaxy coaster at Epcot would be a Mack Spinning Coaster in my last post, digging a little deeper with sources revealed that the ride is apparently going to be a new Vekoma coaster after all. No word on what style ride it will be then, but as far as I can recall, I don't believe Vekoma has built a spinning coaster to date, though I think they did pitch a design for one years ago that had inward facing seating instead of outwards.
So now I'm very curious as to what kind of ride is in store for us.
(7/20/17) As rumored, Disney confirmed that a Guardians of the Galaxy themed attraction is on the way to Epcot that will replace the current Universe of Energy attraction. Few details were given other than it will be an E-Ticket attraction "based on the rockin’ and action-packed world of Guardians of the Galaxy". While Disney released some concept artwork for the attraction showing off what looks like a pre-show briefing room of sorts with Rocket and Groot standing in front of a window where the Milano (their starship) appears to be docked. The other piece of artwork shows that the old Universe of Energy building will be staying, and looks to have a Nova Corps fighter hovering over the fountain out front, along with Rocket and Groot talking to guests.
Our sources still say that this will be a coaster style ride of some kind.
While an exact date is not given, Disney did promise that the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction would be open in time for the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World in 2021.
Universe of Energy is confirmed to be closing down on August 13, 2017.
(7/10/17) As the biggest of the rumored new attractions, and one that seems to be holding water with permitting for the site already underway, Screamscape sources tell us that much of what we’ve already discussed about a Guardians of the Galaxy themed family coaster ride is very much true and in the works.
(5/31/17) So far Guardians of the Galaxy seems to be a hit in California where they took over the West coast’s version of Tower of Terror, but with the Guardians rumored to also take up residence in Epcot, we’re looking at an entirely different style attraction. What could it be? Well… as usual, Screamscape takes a look at some of the latest rumors we’ve received and how they fit in with what we’ve seen from those new building permits last week.
So far, from what I’m hearing the old Universe of Energy building structure will remain, but I’m hearing that we can expect it to be gutted and transformed for use for the new attraction. The early rumor sent my way long ago about this was that it was some kind of coaster style ride under consideration for the property, and adding to this possibility I’ve also heard it mentioned that the ride would feature some kind of launch track… which is apparently what will act as the bridge element between the old attraction building and that massive new building going out back. Speaking of that new building… would you believe that the early rumor is that it could stand as tall as 130 feet? Don’t worry, Spaceship Earth is 180 feet tall, and it will be located somewhere back behind the Wonders of Life dome, which is said to be about 80 feet tall all by itself, so it could possibly remain hidden for the most part. What else has Screamscape been told so? In a cryptic comment, it was mentioned that the new ride would put a new “spin” on Epcot… so could this be some kind of launched spinning coaster style attraction?
???? - Play Pavilion - Status Unknown - (8/24/20) A new collection of construction photos from Epcot can be found at MouseSteps this week, which includes a look at the dome panels being changed out on the Play! Pavilion along with a brief look at the nearby Guardians of the Galaxy building at the end.
(2/21/19) Disney announced some fascinating new items coming to Epcot in the near future just a little bit ago. The news included the confirmation that a new “First-of-its Kind” Play Pavilion attraction was coming and would inhabit the inside of the former Wonders of Life pavilion in Future World. The new pavilion will be devoted to “playful fun and feature an innovative city that’ll come to life”, “bursting with interactive experiences, your favorite Disney characters, hands-on activities and engaging entertainment”. Look for it to open to guests in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World.
(5/12/18) Remember back awhile ago we mentioned there was a parade of Disney big-wigs touring the long-closed Wonders of Life pavilion shortly before it was announced that it also would also not be used any longer for the various festivals that take place throughout the year... which is pretty much all that goes on there anymore. Well, shortly after all this took place, guests began to notice crews cleaning and repainting the outside of the pavilion's golden dome. Jump ahead a few months later and the work is still ongoing, as seen in a new report to WDWNT, as the triangle panels are also being resealed to prevent leakage as well. The question is... just what is Disney's future plan for this building?
???? - New China Circle-Vision Movie - Confirmed - (7/20/17) Disney confirmed at the D23 Expo that a brand new film is coming to the China pavilion in World Showcase. The new film will put some brand new technology to work with the development of a brand new digital camera system able to shoot the footage for a seamless new Circle-Vision show. No word on when this may be ready to open.
???? - Journey of Water - Announced - (5/8/22) New concept art from Walt Disney World shows off the new Moana inspired area, Journey of Water, in greater detail than before. Along with the media day for the opening of the Guardians coaster, came newly revised descriptions of what we can expect to see built around the former Future World side of the park.
As before the former “Future World” area has been divided into three new zones: World Discovery, World Celebration and World Nature, which will fit right in with the park’s existing international half, World Showcase.
Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind along with Mission: Space, the new Space 220 restaurant and Test Track will make up the World Discovery side of the park. I haven’t seen any mention of the previously announced “Play Pavilion” in quite some time however, do I don’t know where things stand with that.
The Living Seas, The Land and Imagination pavilions will make up the World Nature side.
The park entrance, Spaceship Earth, CommuniCore areas down to World Showcase will make up the World Celebration area, along with the upcoming new Journey of Water area. Again, no update on plans to revise Spaceship Earth again, so it seems that project is still on hold.
Many of the latest updates will be coming to the World Celebration area, as some plans have changed from what was announced prior to the pandemic. Dropped from the plans for now was a three story new structure that would have also served as a site for various entertainment performances. Instead this area will taken up by CommuniCore Hall and CommuniCore Plaza. The former will serve as an indoor multi-use space that can take on various exhibit roles throughout the year, while the Plaza will become an outdoor event space perfect for musical performances overlooking an array of lush garden spaces. Don’t worry, the Disney characters will also appear nearby at a new Mickey & Friends location.
(8/23/19) During a preview of D23 last night Disney’s Bob Chapek announced details about another new attraction or sorts is coming to Epcot. It will be called “Journey of Water inspired by Moana” and based on the concept art, it seems more like a lush tropical landscape setting full of small waterfalls and water-jet fountains. Details are slim, and perhaps this is all there is to it, but this is just a preview of it, not the full reveal. All they did say is that guests will “interact and play with magic living water”.
???? - COCO / Mexico Pavilion - Rumor - (7/10/17) Our sources have confirmed that a new update in indeed in the planning stages for the Mexico Pavilion, where the current boat ride system will get revamped and transformed to now be themed to the new upcoming COCO animated film from Pixar, which follows the musical adventures of a young boy who crosses over into the Land of the Dead and a meeting with his family members from the other side.
???? - UK Pavilion / Mary Poppins Ride - On Hold - (3/11/22) During the Disney shareholders Q&A session the other day questions arose about a couple of attractions Disney had announced, but hasn’t made any forward progress with yet. In this case, the previously announced Mary Poppins attraction at Epcot’s UK pavilion and an Avenger’s attraction meant to come as a Phase 2 for the Avengers Campus lands.
As one might expect from such a meeting, the answers were a bit of a mixed bag that started off by deflecting the question a bit to point out all the attractions they have opened or were about to open in the near future. Then they confirmed that these projects were essentially put on hold some time back due to the pandemic. Lastly, it was implied that maybe the projects could be put back into play in the future as the financial performance of things returns more back to normal, but there was no promise to do so.
While Disney could easily just opt to forget about the proposed Mary Poppins project entirely, it won’t be as easy to keep an Avengers project on hold, especially as the characters and themes are pre-built into the Avengers Campus lands, leaving guests already clamoring for the expansions to get under way. If not in the original form intended, we’ve heard there may be an alternate project or two (likely at a lower budget) being held for possible consideration. So long as Disney continues to put out Marvel movies, there will always be a demand for more Marvel themed experiences in the parks.
(7/20/20) According to a report from the Orlando Business Journal Disney has put their planned renovation of Spaceship Earth on hold, along with the previously announced plans to create a new Mary Poppins attraction in Epcot’s World Showcase. This comes as no surprise as the rumor-mill has been buzzing for weeks now about how most of the previously announced Walt Disney World projects that had not already started construction would likely be put on indefinite hold, with some likely to be cancelled entirely.
(9/21/18) According to WDWNT, the UK pavilion in World Showcase is still under consideration for a ride. Earlier we had heard rumors of a possible Brave themed ride, or a Mary Poppin's themed carousel, but according to the newest rumor the ride may be some kind of Dumbo style spinning flat ride themed to Mary Poppins instead.
(8/9/17) While the rumor I had heard before involved expanding the UK pavilion to include a small Scottland themed area along with a Brave themed attraction, a new article posted here claims that the rumored expansion being planned for the UK pavilion may instead focus on building a Mary Poppins character meet & greet area themed to Cherry Tree Lane.
???? - New Spaceship Earth - On Hold - (10/3/21) I haven’t said much about it yet as I’ve enjoyed the visuals from afar, but the new glowing Spaceship Earth icon at Epcot may be the best thing yet about the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary. It’s just so soothing to watch… and I can’t wait to bask in its glow myself in the future. Epcot at night was always one of my favorite places to enjoy and this makes it even better.
(6/21/20) The Disney Parks Blog has confirmed that Spaceship Earth’s planned refurbishment is currently on hold and that the Epcot attraction will be open for guests to enjoy when the park opens on July 15.
(2/26/20) Walt Disney World has confirmed that Spaceship Earth will close on May 26 to undergo yet another ‘reimagining’ of the ride experience. No date has been set for it to reopen, but I won’t be surprised if it stayed closed until sometime in mid to late 2021, maybe even 2022. According to the Disney Parks Blog this will be the fourth update to the attraction since it opened in 1982. While it will continue to “focus on the story of humanity” many scenes will be updated and mixed in with some brand new scenes to add to the “story about our human experience.”
One update mentioned will be to the Egypt scene which will be “transformed through the power of light” into a “new Egypt like you’ve never seen before”. Through visuals and the new narration you will “see how light plays a central role in our shared human journey, coming to life in dynamic ways in a celebration of the magic that’s possible when we all come together. ”
(12/10/19) The Orlando Sentinel breaks down some new details about the transformation of Epcot this week, including information on some of the more curious aspects seen in the concept art released thus far. For starters, there was that new three story building structure on tall legs, shown with a roof-top garden. This odd looking structure will actually be built somewhere within the monorail loop, between Future World and World Showcase, and will serve as a headquarters building for the park’s various festival events throughout the year. The building will showcase various events inside and can accommodate small concert performances on the floor level, as well as more “intimate” events in the rooftop garden level. Don’t look for construction to start on that one just yet however as the design work is still in progress for that one.
A few more details about the future of Spaceship Earth were also mentioned, as the primary theme of the revised version of the attraction will focus on humans as storytellers, and how this has evolved over the centuries. So look for some scenes within to be revised or updated with new story elements or technology, while some entirely new show scenes will be added into the new version of Spaceship Earth.
(10/12/18) With lots of projects already under way at Epcot, Disney has always hinted that many more updates and new projects were also being prepared to begin in order to update the park experience for future guests. The most likely one we’ve been waiting to hear about would be for yet another massive renovation to come to the park’s iconic Spaceship Earth attraction at the front of the park.
According to a new update from WDWNT, plans may be moving forward for just such a renovation, but done in such a massive way that Spaceship Earth could be closed down to guests for 24-30 months. If this turns out to be true look for the attraction to close in early 2020 and remain shut until the 40th anniversary of Epcot begins on Oct. 1st, 2022.
Given the amount of time this is rumored to take, this sounds like we could very well see the entire attraction gutted and rebuilt, possibly as something entirely new. Thinking back to the last time Disney began planning a new concept for Spaceship Earth, the plan at one time was to gut the attraction to turn it into some kind of indoor roller coaster style ride that would have been called “SSE: Time Racer”. Early planning and design on SSE: Time Racer was actually taking place at one time until a study of the existing sphere-shaped structure determined that it was unlikely to survive such a transformation and the new internal stresses it would have to endure, so SSE: Time Racer was shelved. With a Guardians of the Galaxy themed coaster under construction next door, I doubt we’ll see the Time Racer coaster concept revived, but it should be very interesting to see where Disney takes this iconic experience next if this transformation goes forward.
The Failure Of Epcot
(10/8/14) I’m going to throw this right out there first so it has time to sink in…
Epcot has Failed.
There, I said it. It is worth noting that I actually wrote most of this piece way back in July… long before it was ever confirmed that Maelstrom was going to close down to make way for a Frozen themed makeover, but for whatever reason, I just wasn't ready to finish it until now.
So what’s wrong with Epcot you ask? Historically, Epcot was Disney’s big experiment, opened in 1982 by Disney management after Walt’s death, to create a permanent World’s Fair style theme park environment, with a unique sponsorship focused business plan concept. To this day Epcot is a theme park like no other, and is often cited as the favorite park for many Walt Disney World fans.
But I tell you that Epcot has failed… or perhaps it is more accurate to say that the business model created for it has failed.
While the Magic Kingdom (and Disneyland before it) were designed to run as huge cross-promotional marketing machines, sharing and promoting the various Walt Disney Studios films, TV shows, and characters, Epcot was designed to be a different kind of beast. Inspired by the temporary World’s Fair / Expo events that took place across North America during most of the 20th century, Epcot was designed to run under a similar business model, with each pavilion being sponsored by a company, or approved along with a similar co-sponsorship deal by the world nation it represented. In the case of the later, the staff of the World Showcase pavilions are part of a Cultural Representative Program, where natives of that country agree to come work at Walt Disney World for a year at a time and represent their native homeland. Some are sponsored directly by their governments, while most use a mixture of private funding from select native corporate entities.
The business model worked at first. Each pavilion was built and later maintained through various sponsorship deals and for many years Epcot worked like a well oiled machine, with guests traveling from across the globe to visit, inspired by the messages of global unity, great technological progress, and the overall concept of “If you can dream it, you can do it.” It wasn’t until the 90’s when the first signs of trouble started, and the problem only got worse as we crossed through the waves of financial and political turmoil of early 21s century.
Like many deep set problems, the first signs of change started to bubble up from the core… CommuniCore. In the early 90’s, it became clear that the now decade old futuristic technology on display within CommuniCore was starting to show it’s age.
The huge costs of a full pavilion sponsorship made it difficult for many early technology companies to justify the cost to buy their way into Epcot, so the old CommuniCore was removed to make way for Innoventions, a midway of small sponsorship opportunities that could be changed out as quickly as needed. Innoventions had the right idea at heart, but the cheaply made temporary display areas were a turn off to many guests. The American public too had begun to wise-up and sour on the idea of having too much corporate sponsorship.
It wasn’t long before many of the Future World pavilions began to lose their sponsorships as previous deals expired and the sponsors would opt out of renewing. While the exact details of these deals are closely guarded secrets, I’ve been told that sponsorship length is typically for a 10 year term. Currently however, there are more pavilions without official sponsorship than those with, and some of the current deals are estimated to be approaching the end of their terms very soon.
- Horizons, while no longer in the park, was the first to lose a sponsor, seeing the relationship with General Electric go dark in 1993 as soon as the 10 year deal came to an end. Horizon stayed open for a time without a sponsor, closed down, only to reopen while Test Track was under construction next door, then close again for good in 1999. It was replaced by Mission: Space in 2003 which was sponsored by Compaq, who was purchased by rival HP (Hewlett Packard) before the attraction even opened. I’m actually not sure of the attraction’s current status to know if they have signed an extension of some kind, or if the terms of a new deal are actively under negotiations.
- The Wonders of Life pavilion which opened in 1989 with a sponsorship from Met Life, also lost their deal at the end of the first term. Before long it too would experience a sporadic operational schedule, opening in the busy months, before it was closed entirely in early 2007.
- Universe of Energy was sponsored by Exxon (later ExxonMoble) up through 2004, and while it hasn’t closed down, it has remained sponsor-less ever since.
- Imagination’s longtime sponsor, Kodak, ended their relationship with the attraction in 2010, and it has thus far remained open and sponsor free.
- World of Motion is one of the big success stories, as it started out with a sponsorship by GM (General Motors) who has managed to maintain their sponsorship with the attraction through the transformation into Test Track, and even through their own bankruptcy problems, renewing the deal again with the latest update to the Test Track attraction (Version 2.0) just a few years ago.
- Spaceship Earth has gone through a series of sponsors over the years (BELL, to AT&T and then Siemens in 2005) but as the icon of the park itself, it has been lucky enough to be a popular sponsorship opportunity. But the question is, will Seimens stay on beyond 2015?
- The Land has also had a number of sponsors over the years: Kraft from 82-92 and Nestle from 93 to 2009. Nestle dropped out however, and it wasn’t until 2011 when Chiquita signed a larger deal with the entire resort and cruise line, that they became the sponsor of the Living with the Land ride.
- The Living Seas opened in 1986 and was sponsored by United Technology up through 1998, but this is where things get interesting however. Unlike the other pavilions which could be closed down if Disney chose to do so, The Living Seas is inhabited by a large number of marine animals ranging from fish to dolphins to protected manatees. Closing down the pavilion was not an option as the pavilion would still have to be staffed and the animals fed and taken care of, regardless of sponsorship status. It also helped by the pavilion is home to the popular Coral Reef Restaurant, which offers underwater viewing into the main exhibit tank. Unable to find a new sponsor, Disney cut the pavilion’s budget where they could for a few years… axing the preshow film as well as closing the “Seacab” omni-mover ride in 2001 when it started to fall into disrepair.
What happened next with The Living Seas pavilion may be paving the way for the future however. Disney found themselves with a huge hit on their hands, thanks to Pixar’s Finding Nemo film hitting theaters in Summer 2003, reeling in the second highest gross for the year at $936 million world-wide. The marine life themed film was the perfect fit for The Living Seas pavilion and Disney began to experiment by adding Finding Nemo themed decorative elements to the pavilion starting in late 2003 and by late 2004 they opened the first Nemo themed attraction within, “Turtle Talk with Crush”. The mini attraction was a smash hit with guests who overwhelmed the limited capacity of the theater it was in, which led not only to it’s own expansion, but the transformation of the entire pavilion into “The Seas with Nemo & Friends” by late 2005. At this point Disney opted to go all in here, and began work transforming the attraction’s old entrance, pre-show theaters, hydrolators and the closed Seacab ride into a new Nemo themed dark ride experience that opened in early 2007.
While this was the first time that an Epcot pavilion has been entirely re-themed to tie into a Disney or Pixar animated films, this was not the first time that a Disney film has been brought to life in Epcot.. that honor would go to the 4D “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience” attraction at the Imagination pavilion that opened in 1994 and closed in 2010, with the theme of the 4D film’s “Imagination Institute” was used as the theme for the 1999 version of the revamped dark ride experience.
While Future World has thus far received most of the attention in terms of sponsorship and new attractions, the World Showcase pavilions are aging. They have been quietly getting small updates when they can get the countries to agree to help pay for them, but none seem very eager to do so anymore. The last World Showcase pavilion to be added to the park was Norway which opened in 1988 and all negotiations to design and build new country pavilions have failed since then due to disagreeable financial terms for both the building of the pavilion as well as ongoing annual operating expense payments. For example, until the government of Norway opted to step away from their deal with Disney, they were said to have paid $200,000 a year to keep the Norway pavilion running.
While Canada and China have all received new films for their show theaters, and Mexico revamped their boat ride about five years ago as well, which saw the introduction of the Three Caballeros characters to lighten the mood and bring a little more entertainment to the experience. However, their presence is said to be scaled back quite a bit from the initial proposal, as the Mexican government resigned a new deal with Disney and asked to keep more of the cultural information in the attraction intact.
Norway however, found themselves on the block as the last untouched major attraction in World Showcase, but as the government opted out several years ago and Disney found themselves sitting on top of another runaway animated hit in the form of Frozen this past year. They tested the waters with something small (Anna & Elsa character Meet & Greet in Norway) in much the same way they did with Finding Nemo at The Living Seas, and the response was huge… and now the rest is history as Maelstrom has now closed and a new large Frozen themed attraction will open in 2016.
It is with this in mind that I say that Epcot has failed… but it is fixable. The old business model isn’t working anymore as we’ve seen Disney forced to take over more and more pavilions… and this isn’t a bad thing, as otherwise I think Epcot would sit stagnant. So while there are those who are upset at Frozen coming to Norway… I’m not one of them and I’m looking forward to it. I look at it with the eyes who remember what happened over at The Living Seas and that pavilion is not only better for it, but I’m hoping we see Disney start to take more of a creative role throughout Epcot, especially in World Showcase, where it would only make sense to add a copy of the new Ratatouille dark ride that just opened at the Paris resort as a starting point, and then look how they can expand into the other World Showcase pavilions as well to breathe some new life into the park.
Because Epcot IS a great park… it just needs to evolve and grow to realize it’s true potential.