Fascinating Disney Rumors for Winter 2020
Have you visited Epcot lately? It’s definitely not the Epcot you remember. I say this as someone who just walked parallel to Spaceship Earth for half a mile before I finally found a path to the attraction.
Afterward, I realized that I could have walked straight from Coral Reef, which isn’t something I’d ever done before. The park is undergoing dramatic changes, and we have some ideas about what might come next. Here are a few tantalizing Disney rumors to get you through the cold winter month!
What of Figment?
Disney architects built several remarkable structures at Epcot. Guests can recognize the various pavilions from all the way across the park. Even among those majestic buildings, I have a favorite. The Imagination! pavilion’s shiny glass triangles reflect light and sparkle; I adore sitting in the DVC Lounge and looking out at Spaceship Earth from this section.
However, I’ve just described the problem, too. Much of the pavilion’s space doesn’t go to anything permanent. Disney recently moved a pair of character meetings to the ground floor, and the lounge isn’t even something that the company guarantees. DVC renews it annually with no promise for the following year.
Journey into Imagination with Figment qualifies as the only permanent attraction at the Imagination! pavilion. And it’s not great. The consensus opinion regarding the third Figment attraction is that flags behind the original. Having ridden it recently, I can say with complete sincerity that the current Figment has its charms. Still, everyone misses the Dreamfinder.
A New Kind of Imagination?
To a larger point, Journey into Imagination with Figment doesn’t exactly pull in the crowds. When the Imagination! pavilion transitions from Future World to World Celebration, it needs to attract more guests. Park officials know this and are exploring possible changes.
A little over a year ago, Disney surveyed guests about their perception of Figment and Dreamfinder. Of course, the company already knows about the popularity of both characters. Merchandise sales for Figment have remained steady over the years – there’s a spirit jersey that people are fighting in the aisles to buy – and fans frequently demand a stronger presence for Dreamfinder.
So, why isn’t there enough appeal to build a crowd at Journey into Imagination? The problematic reality here involves the quality of the attraction. Simply stated, it’s not appealing enough for the average park guest. Epcot must make a change here, and most people accept it.
The Possible Change
While we’re still a couple of years away from the anticipated overhaul, rumors suggest that the entire pavilion will receive a re-theming. The concept of “Imagination” will remain in place, but the changes probably will mirror what Disney did at The Living Seas.
That pavilion gained a Finding Nemo theme. The focus on a beloved intellectual property (IP) drove more guests to frequent the aquarium section. Park officials expect/project the same behavior at the Imagination! pavilion.
So, Disney’s eyeballing Inside Out as the most similar concept for this facility. At least one other IP has also received consideration. However, the continued presence of the Joy character interaction here hints at the pavilion’s future.
The concern for Figment fans involves the main attraction. Obviously, the pavilion would want an Inside Out ride to mirror the overall theme. I’m not talking about something like Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind, either.
Imagineers would likely use Figment’s ride element as a jumping-off point for the story of Joy and Sadness. Now, it’s possible that Disney just builds a second attraction. The pavilion definitely possesses that much space.
We should root for that along with the fourth version of Journey into Imagination, one that brings back Dreamfinder. Unfortunately, finances might dictate a choice between Figment and Inside Out.
Two Other Possible Epcot Enhancements
Speaking of The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Disney’s recently gone retro at this pavilion. The signage reflects the rising popularity of nostalgia merchandise. Cast members have replaced the old signs with old school logos that would have seemed right at home in the 1980s. It’s fabulous!
Of course, the real change in this area will happen close to the pavilion. The Moana water feature currently on display at the preview center will pull traffic to this area in future years.
Meanwhile, at the back of the park, one question has resurfaced once again. Epcot recently introduced new shows at The Land, Canada, and France pavilions. The China pavilion will also receive an updated Circle-Vision 360° experience in a matter of months.
The arrival of Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along has forced the reduction of screenings of Impressions de France. Since Disney has updated the other multi-screen experiences at the World Showcase, fans naturally wonder about this one. Currently, any plans for a modern version of the 1982 film are at least a couple of years away. Park officials have more pressing needs for capital expenditures. Speaking of which…
Avatar vs. Star Wars
An Avatar sequel arrives in theaters in December of 2021. Meanwhile, Disney doesn’t have a firm timeline for the next Star Wars movie yet. These two statements seem entirely unrelated, but they could factor into some critical park decisions.
Park managers are planning the next development phase after the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World. Most current plans rely on that timeline, meaning that every non-Epcot project should complete by the end of 2021. What’s next after that?
Well, a couple of plans are under consideration. One would involve an expansion at Pandora – The World of Avatar. The other would occur at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Now, I believe that Disney should find the money to do both, as each park drives enough traffic to justify expenses. However, it’s not my money.
Disney strategists have a difficult choice. They could build an Avatar ride that siphons a large amount of traffic thanks to the high throughput of the projected attraction. Conversely, Disney could spend the money to modify the flight plan for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. This change would involve – wait for it – The Mandalorian!
Unfortunately, money’s so tight with the theme park budget right now that something’s gotta give. Disney probably can’t afford both. Personally, I’d rather Imagineers build a new attraction rather than update a brand new one with a different mission. But I’m greedy. I want both! Don’t you?