Disney is always making changes and additions to its parks, but the changes happening in Epcot right now are more significant than usual. Epcot is currently under major construction, planned to continue well into 2020, 2021 and beyond.
Should you visit Epcot during this period of flux, hard hat zones, and construction walls? If you know your Disney Deciphered hosts, you know that the answer to “should you visit Epcot” is always YES. Before you go, however, you need to know how to make the most of the experience with so much closed or out of place within the park.
So let’s break down what is happening and when various stages of construction are forecast to be complete. Here are all the essential tips visitors to Epcot under construction need to know.
Epcot’s International Gateway Entrance
Perhaps the one place where major construction has finally come to an end at Epcot is at the International Gateway entrance to the park. Earlier this fall, the Disney Skyliner finally opened for business with a station right outside this exit. The station serves Epcot as well as the Yacht & Beach Club and Boardwalk Resorts which are just a few minutes’ walk away.
Although there was an incident with the Skyliner the week after it opened that shut it down for awhile, it has been operating successfully since then. Lines to ride the Skyliner have been reasonable at this exit most of the time, except right at park closing when demand naturally surges all at one time.
Epcot’s Main Entrance
The same seamlessness of operation can’t be said for Epcot’s Main Entrance. There is major construction happening that affects and is very visible to anyone arriving via monorail or Disney shuttle buses. If you want to get an iconic photograph of your family in front of Spaceship Earth, you are going to find that pretty hard because there are construction walls everywhere.
That said, the one positive change that just happened is that Disney guests coming from the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) or from Magic Kingdom now no longer have to go through security at Epcot again. Disney has now been able to route that traffic so that park hopping guests stay within the secure zone when making these transfers. That’s a huge time-saver and a reason to take the monorail over the buses!
Epcot Attractions Closed or Closing
During this construction period, quite a few attractions have closed or will close soon. Those include:
Spaceship Earth. Although Disney has yet to announce a date, Spaceship Earth is slated to get a major refurbishment starting soon (our money’s on early 2020). If you have a visit planned this holiday season, ride it now while you can to enjoy the Judy Dench version!
Future World. Most of Future World is under construction in some way, shape, or form. As we discussed in our episode covering D23 Expo, the entire area is going to be transformed into three new lands. Expect something close to a complete gutting in places. For right now, smaller closings in the area to look for include:
- Mouse Gear: moving this winter
- Character Spot: already relocated
- Electric Umbrella: closing this winter
- Club Cool: already closed
- Fountain of Nations: already closed
It’s pretty easy to walk in a few circles and find walls in your path in the current state. The walls will likely move as the construction happens in different phases, so we highly recommend tracking what’s closed during your specific travel dates to avoid this as much as possible.
Test Track. Note also that Test Track is having a smaller refurbishment during this midst of all of this. The ride is slated to be closed from mid-January through February 2020.
What’s Coming to Epcot Next
Luckily, you won’t have to wait too long for a few new things to spring up in Epcot. In 2020 alone, expect the following:
Space 220 (Winter 2019/2020). This brand new restaurant near Mission: Space is slated to be one of the first new openings for Epcot 2.0. Set 220 miles above earth in outer space, this is a more luxurious themed dining experience. It seems the restaurant has had a few delays and Disney hasn’t nailed down a specific opening date, but we’d estimate January 2020 based on current rumors.
Awesome Planet (January 2020). A new show scheduled to open early in 2020 in the Land Pavilion.
Canada Show (January 2020). A new circlevision show, Canada Far and Wide, will open in the country’s World Showcase theater.
Beauty & the Beast Sing-Along (January 2020). This live musical show will Opening in France in the same theater as Impressions de France.
La Creperie de Paris (Summer 2020). Also in France is a brand new restaurant slated for a summer 2020 opening.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (Summer 2020). The headline attraction of the summer of 2020, this ride is a replica of the attraction also in Walt Disney Studios Paris. It is, of course, also in France, which will be the center of the vast majority of the construction in World Showcase the next few years.
2021 and Beyond. But things are far from done in 2020 at Epcot. Dates are still very vague in 2021 and beyond, but here are a few headliners to look forward to:
- Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana
- Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind
- Play! Pavilion
- Mary Poppins Attraction TBD
The Epcot Experience
While Epcot is under construction, Disney has set up a pavilion that previews all the changes and addition to the park. Located in the Odyssey Pavilion between Future World and the walkway to the Mexico pavilion of World Showcase, “the Epcot Experience” is pretty successful Disney propaganda in action.
The pavilion features a large mural artist’s rendering of Epcot 2.0, throwback stylized posters of Epcot old and new, and a Circlevision show in a standalone room with compelling visuals of what’s coming. We highly recommend paying it a visit during this period of construction. It got us (admitted skeptics) pretty darn excited about what’s coming.
Epcot Forever Fireworks
Last but certainly not least, the other major change happening at Epcot is to the evening fireworks spectacular. The long-running show Illuminations came to a close in September 2019, and was recently replaced by a temporary show, Epcot Forever.
Epcot Forever tugs on the retro Epcot fan’s heartstrings, featuring music from gone-but-not-forgotten attractions like Kitchen Kabaret and the earlier soundtrack of Spaceship Earth (Tomorrow’s Child). It has gotten mixed reviews, but it’s certainly worth a viewing if you happen to be in Epcot one evening during your trip. I wouldn’t camp out long for it though – there are plenty of decent viewing areas. Joe was able easily to get a Fastpass with reserve viewing for it using Fastpass+ refresh.
Epcot Forever won’t run forever, of course. Coming soon (date TBD but probably at least a year from now later in 2020) is the new nighttime spectacular, HarmoniUS.
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