The Impact of Big Changes at EPCOT Future World in September
With the Character Spot, Club Cool, Art of Disney, Pin Central, the Fountain of Nations, Colortopia, and Nanooze Break all set to cease operations at the end of the day on September 7th, Future World is going to become a little more barren. The closures, as part of a reimagining of the area as part of Project Gamma, will certainly leave a large gap in the number of things to do in that part of the park. That said, I think it could mean a few announcements over the coming weeks, culminating at D23 in August, that will excite all of us.
First and foremost, with that much of the area under construction, there are a few things that are starting to come together to form a complete picture of how Disney intends to complete the massive EPCOT spine project in time for anniversary celebrations.
The first project is the widening of the pathway between World Showcase and that part of Future World. Clearly with so much scrim up and an active demolition site of that size in public view, the path will likely be the only way to connect the pavilions on that side (Journey into Imagination, The Land, and the Seas) with the rest of EPCOT for at least part of the construction period.
The second project is the Disney Skyliner nearing completion. With such an esthetically unpleasing traffic path to the front gate and with impressive progress on the Disney Skyliner, the opening of the eagerly anticipated new transportation system could be timed to coincide with the closures at the front of the park to direct traffic to the International Gateway (and away from the construction zone). It would certainly not be a surprise to see testing with people begin imminently.
The third project will be to remove the second half of the Leave a Legacy monoliths. Expect this work to begin shortly as the entrance plaza so that it is completely opened to provide clean picture spots of the Spaceship Earth geodesic sphere. Later in the year, the entrance plaza will also likely be the home of the EPCOT Christmas tree with so much of the available space just beyond Spaceship Earth under scrim. Combine these factors with a likely refurbishment of Spaceship Earth and the need to have a wide-open plaza to handle Food and Wine, followed by Festival of the Holidays crowds.
Speaking of Spaceship Earth, if refurbishments are announced, likely an opening date of the new Play Pavilion will coincide with it. Looking at all of the construction planned, it appears as though crowd traffic between the entrance plaza, Future World, and World Showcase is going to be routed to the left side of the geodesic sphere towards Mission Space and Test Track towards Mexico, with the only available route to the other attractions being the pathway currently being widened, giving it a feel of Disney’s Hollywood Studios with the backtracking required when you’ve hit the Seas with Nemo and Friends.
As far as timelines go, it is safe to assume that demolition will occur relatively quickly of the impacted areas, with an eye to re-open pathways as quickly as possible and expect quick gain projects to be completed in a timely manner. During the Festival of the Arts is when most of the closures is most likely to occur (such as Mouse Gear, Electric Umbrella and entrance plaza refurbishments) when crowds will be expected to be lower, to allow for opening during all or part of the Flower and Garden Festival in 2019.
What is clear is that EPCOT is about to get a whole lot more difficult to navigate in the Future World area of the park while Project Gamma ramps up to get the park ready for 2021 and 2022 anniversary celebrations. Our first glimpses into the future of Future World’s new look will likely come with the start of the Flower and Garden festival in spring 2020.