Disney World is Ending Its Multi-Year Transformation of EPCOT: Here’s What Changed

If you visited EPCOT at Walt Disney World at any point in the last few years, you probably noticed a seemingly endless forest of construction walls, particularly in the front half of the park.

For frequent guests, those construction walls became a regular part of EPCOT, so much so that Disney World began incorporating them into photo ops during the several food festivals held throughout the year. All of that work has been to usher EPCOT into a new era, as the park recently celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2021. As the park looks to the future, it has undergone a significant multi-year transformation that will significantly change the landscape of that “front half” of the park.

During a recent annual Walt Disney Company Shareholders meeting, CEO Bob Iger noted that the opening of the new walkthrough attraction Journey of Water Inspired by Moana will signal the end of the multi-year transformation. With the attraction opening in late 2023, that adds up to four years of work across the park.

Once those construction walls come down, the park’s new Moana-themed walkthrough attraction is just one of the many changes guests will notice when visiting EPCOT.

EPCOT Looks A Little Different

Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog.

Guests will spot noticeable differences to EPCOT before they make it far into the park. Gone are the granite monoliths with the images of guests etched onto steel tiles as part of the park’s Leave A Legacy campaign, which ran from 1999 to 2007. Instead, a newly-designed entrance plaza greets guests as they enter with a re-imagined fountain inspired by the original entrance concept from 1982.

If you pick up a park map or look at EPCOT’s current signage, you might also notice new neighborhoods around the park. The “front half” of the park, formerly Future World, has been subdivided into World Discovery, World Celebration, and World Nature. Unless you carefully study the signage, you likely will not notice a massive difference in the introduction of these neighborhoods; however, one of the three will look very different than before.

World Celebration, which is where you will find Spaceship Earth, encompasses the center section of what used to be Future World, flanked by World Discovery and World Nature. What used to be Mouse Gear, the park’s central gift shop, was replaced by Creations Shop. Guests can find neighboring Connections Eatery in the former location of the quick-service restaurant Electric Umbrella. Club Cool, the pit stop made infamous for its samples of international soda (including Beverly, everyone’s favorite drink to despise), also has a new updated look.

At night, Spaceship Earth comes to life in new ways with its Points of Light show, introduced for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. The dazzling light display was a huge hit with guests, and it has remained following the conclusion of the 18-month-long festival. The Points of Light shows change seasonally, with new songs and light patterns introduced regularly.

New Rides and Attractions For Guests of All Ages

Photo Credit: Disney Dose.

New rides and attractions always seem to make a big splash at Walt Disney World, and EPCOT’s most recent additions are no exception. The latest wave of new rides at Disney World began in the France Pavilion in World Showcase, with its expanded footprint including Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Direct from Disneyland Paris, the family-friendly dark ride takes guests on a 4D journey through Gusteau’s kitchen from a rat’s point of view.

The ride that has created the biggest buzz out of EPCOT lately is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. The indoor roller coaster introduced new technological features to Disney World, including a reverse launch and individual cars that can rotate 360 degrees. Adam Beigel, Co-Founder of The Insiders, notes that the new coaster is a must-do for guests looking for all things thrills, noting, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is currently my favorite attraction at Walt Disney World, and if you are going, you do not want to miss it!”

Rounding out the lineup of new attractions is Journey of Water Inspired by Moana, which, once open, will mark the completion of EPCOT’s multi-year transformation. Set to debut in late 2023, Moana Journey of Water is a walkthrough attraction “where you can play and interact with water as it travels from the sky to the oceans and back again.” In the spirit of EPCOT’s unique “edutainment” approach to its attractions, Journey of Water will emphasize the importance of one of Earth’s most crucial resources.

New Dining Options at Walt Disney World’s Foodie Paradise

EPCOT Food & Wine Festival - Remy

If your idea of the perfect day at EPCOT involves eating around the park, plenty of new offerings emerge from this multi-year transformation. The aforementioned Connections Eatery brings a new quick-service dining location to EPCOT and a newly redesigned Starbucks location called Connections Cafe. One of the biggest foodie additions to EPCOT and Walt Disney World at large is Space 220. Located next door to Mission: SPACE, the table-service restaurant takes guests 220 miles above EPCOT for a prix-fixe dining experience that is out of this world.

In World Showcase, La Crêperie de Paris opened in the newly-expanded France Pavilion in 2021. The table-service restaurant is accompanied by a counter-service walk-up window called Crêpes à Emporter. And just a short walk away in the Japan Pavilion, Disney is preparing to open a new restaurant called Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya in 2023. The restaurant will open on the second floor of the Japan Pavilion in the former spot of Tokyo Dining.

Even with the addition of new dining offerings, the highlight of food at Epcot continues to be the various Epcot festivals that happen throughout the year. Most months there are booths and special entertainment offerings set up throughout World Showcase as part of one of these seasonal festivals.

How to Plan Your EPCOT Day Differently

EPCOT Food & Wine Festival

With so many new rides and restaurants, planning a day in EPCOT is perhaps the biggest change guests face coming out of the multi-year transformation. The launch of Walt Disney World’s paid expedited queue system Genie+ and a la carte Lightning Lane reservations may mean additional budgeting for your EPCOT day. That is on top of planning out your meals and beverages, as Disney Creator & Freelance Journalist Kristen Carr explains. She emphasizes how “it’s a lot to tackle a full day of snacks, drinks, and experiences,” having to set multiple alarms in her phone for upcoming Genie+ and Mobile Order reminders. She adds, “Tackling a successful day at EPCOT is not for the faint at heart, but it is possible and so much fun!”

Walt Disney World’s transformation Epcot may be complete, but Disney has shared that they will continue to invest in Walt Disney World Resort. They shared that they will invest $17 Billion over the next ten years at the resort.

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