What Does EPCOT Need to Make it Better?
Do you keep up with professional sports? If so, you’re probably familiar with the concept of tanking, an approach where a team tears everything down.
The goal is to start all over again, pushing the reset button on an entire franchise.
I’m mentioning that because we’re witnessing a similar approach at one of Disney’s theme parks.
What does EPCOT need? Well, the answer may be as simple as the stuff that Disney has already announced it will get. Or is it?
Let’s Talk about EPCOT’s Shows
Two of Walt Disney World’s theme parks emphasize shows more than the others. One of the show-intensive parks is EPCOT.
However, we cannot fully evaluate all the attractions here, as Disney canceled some live entertainment options at the start of the pandemic.
So, we don’t know whether those activities will return anytime soon. I’m bummed about the lack of drums at the Japan pavilion, but I’m hopeful they’ll return.
Other shows have either recently changed or in the process of changing. Disney swapped in Awesome Planet at The Land pavilion in early 2020.
The Canada pavilion also received a new Circle-Vision 360 film, and the France pavilion added the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along.
We’re still awaiting a new Circle-Vision 360 film at the China pavilion, but we know that it’s in development.
At the Imagination! pavilion, the Disney and Pixar shorts remain quite popular and provide a welcome respite during a hot park day.
Then, there’s perhaps the most recognizable EPCOT show, The American Adventure, which many prefer to Hall of Presidents at Magic Kingdom.
While Turtle Talk with Crush hasn’t reopened yet, it’s also an entertaining show when available.
Overall, even at half-mast, EPCOT provides a plethora of show attractions to keep guests occupied during a park day.
Better yet, these shows reside throughout the park, meaning that you’re never more than a short walk away from something.
That’s a welcome feature because you often pick shows when you need a break right then and there.
Should We Update or Replace Shows?
As you saw from the list, the Circle-Vision 3D shows have already been updated or in the process of modernizing.
Similarly, The Land switched from a Lion King-themed show to Awesome Planet. So, comments I might have made a couple of years ago no longer apply.
That doesn’t mean that EPCOT is perfect, though. On the contrary, losing the live entertainment felt like a death blow to me. I need Sergio to juggle at the Italy pavilion!
Also, the EPCOT shows feature a sameness. The Circle-Vision productions highlight individual countries, and the Sing-Along isn’t that special.
Turtle Talk with Crush and maybe Awesome Planet differentiate themselves. Still, everything else has a “been there, done that” vibe, in my opinion.
Disney must feel this way as well. The PLAY! pavilion promises a modern approach to character greetings and interactive entertainment.
The show I believe could use a refresh may sound blasphemous to you. I think The American Adventure has gotten a bit long in the tooth.
I’d like to see updated Audio-Animatronics and some new scenes. It feels a bit antiquated to me.
I would also like for Disney to replace the old Innoventions attractions somewhere. My particular lament involves The Sum of All Thrills.
I loved building my own roller coaster there and believe that premise should become a part of the PLAY pavilion.
Then, there’s Impressions de France, a movie that hasn’t changed since 1982. Many of you weren’t born when this debuted. It needs an update.
Let’s Talk about Park Access
Here’s another conversation that would have played out differently three years ago.
The advent of the Disney Skyliner provides EPCOT with a claim to the title of the most accessible park.
You can reach the front via bus or monorail, and you can walk in the back through the International Gateway.
The gondolas reside right by this rear park entrance, connecting many resorts AND Disney’s Hollywood Studios to EPCOT.
Still, rumors persist that Disney wants to provide even more access at the front of the park.
A hotel in or around the parking lot remains under discussion. Adding a resort there would perfect the current accessibility of EPCOT.
Even if that doesn’t happen, I still give the park an A+ in this category.
Let’s Talk about EPCOT after Dark
Here’s another spot that remains in flux, if only for a while longer. We know that Harmonious will arrive by the end of the year.
By the time you read this, EPCOT Forever will be ready to return as a nighttime presentation.
Park officials have highlighted it by hosting the presentation at closing time, making it what old school Imagineers called the Kiss Goodnight.
Before Magic Kingdom added a different thing by that name, fireworks represented the end of the park day. EPCOT Forever will take a literal approach.
Still, this presentation’s return is temporary. I expect it to end its run by September 30th.
Harmonious should debut in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World. That date is also the 39th anniversary of EPCOT. So, the pieces fit.
As the most active park after dark, EPCOT needs a showstopper to entertain guests and send them home happy.
Let’s Talk about Potential Rides
This point is where the conversation takes a turn. EPCOT needs more rides the way that Arizona needs better baseball players. It’s desperate.
EPCOT is currently top-heavy, with three E-Ticket attractions plus a bunch of others that I love. Their short wait times suggest that they’re unpopular, though.
Park officials had promised a new attraction based on Mary Poppins that was to go at the United Kingdom pavilion.
Rumors suggest that this project is comatose at best, a devastating turn of events. Now that the pandemic has ended, it might come back, though.
Disney will introduce Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at the France pavilion on October 1st. That should help quite a bit, as EPCOT’s last new ride was Frozen Ever After.
Believe it or not, the park will go five years between rides, which is less than ideal. We also know that a monorail attraction will anchor the PLAY! pavilion.
Alas, Disney has given no hints about the shape or scope of this ride. So, we’re all flying blind here.
A Moana water feature will also debut at World Nature, formerly part of Future World. Journey of Water will highlight water effects from the film.
Similarly, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind should debut over the next 18 months as well.
So, we know that good stuff is coming to the park. We just don’t have exact dates for a lot of it.
As such, EPCOT will remain in a transitional phase throughout the 50th birthday party at Walt Disney World. That’s good news, though!
No matter when you visit, you’ll always have something to look forward to experiencing on your next trip!
Disney needs to prioritize that Mary Poppins ride, though. If they say something is coming, they need to do it. Period.