Spaceship Earth Refurbishment "Paused"
With the status of the Spaceship Earth in “paused” status, it’s worth looking in on EPCOT and the work started prior to the closure and what it may look like once the re-opening occurs.
The reimagining of EPCOT was a huge project for the Walt Disney World Resort as they gear up for the 50th Anniversary of the resort and the 40th for EPCOT. Much of the front of the park was torn up, with one side Innoventions completely torn down and the other side virtually closed (only a smaller Mouse Gear and Guest Relations was open), the fountains behind walls (one to be demolished, the other refurbished), 2 attractions in development and the France expansion nearing completion.
Projects underway included HarmonioUS, the Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind coaster, the Play Pavilion, Space 220 restaurant, new Mouse Gear and replacement for the Electric Umbrella, new Festival Center, Moana Journey of Water walk-through attraction, and the new France expansion area. Most, if not all work shut down during the park closure.
With the park set to re-open on July 15th, we know that the fireworks and character meetings are not operating (there were will random character processionals around the World Showcase), the JAMMitors and Mariachi Cobre will be performing, and there will be limitations across the resort, with access to EPCOT limited to those with a reservation.
What does all of this mean? EPCOT is a ½ day park.
The truth pains me to admit but EPCOT is being relegated to a ½ day park until more attractions are ready to open, particularly with reduced entertainment offerings and lower crowds. That’s why Spaceship Earth is still open, the Flower and Garden Festival and Food and Wine Festival will be in a strange mash-up, and until park hopping or more opens, will likely not help Disney to manage crowd capacity, since most visitors (presumably the local resident Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club members the largest demographic), no Disney Dining Plan to help out of town visitors manage their food and beverage costs, very few people who aren’t locals will want to spend any time there until it simply has more to do.
That becomes a huge problem. Most visitors are going to want to go to Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom since those are full day parks. There is more to do and it will maximize your value for the spend on park tickets, especially when Animal Kingdom and EPCOT (1/2 day parks) cost the same as the other parks which, despite reduced entertainment, are full day parks.
Over the next year, it’s safe to say that the work on EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom is likely going to be streamlined to ensure that any existing attraction downtime is limited (hence no Spaceship Earth refurbishment), those still green-lit to go ahead do so at full-steam. That approach increases capacity, increases local resident and DVC member interest in going, and gets the parks ready for when there is a vaccine and life slowly returns to normal. That likely means that Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will open, along with the other new facilities in the France pavilion, the Festival Center will go vertical, Moana will get the go-ahead to maximize retail space and make the availability of fireworks dessert parties expand once night-time entertainment starts, Mouse Gear and the new restaurants will open, and the front entrance will open-up once again with the glorious retro-fountain.
All in all, we have much to speculate about, but the truth is, Disney’s approach has to be to save as much of 2020 resort attendance as possible. As for the projects in development, I think it’s safe to say that only those that can be used to boost attendance once there is a vaccine and support the upcoming anniversaries will be done.