EPCOT Turns 40 at the Worst Possible Time
Nobody gets to choose their birth date. If they did, people would skip national holidays, especially Christmas Eve/Christmas.
No matter what the parents say, kids don’t get double the gifts for a birthday that comes at Christmas.
As a thing, EPCOT doesn’t have feelings. If it did, it couldn’t help but feel bad this week.
The park turns 40 on Saturday, which is pretty much the worst possible time.
As I type this, we don’t even know whether the park will be open on its birthday.
How will Hurricane Ian impact EPCOT’s 40th birthday? Well, it’s not great…
The Big Day
On October 1st, Walt Disney World celebrates its 51st anniversary. Unfortunately, the park will spend the last few days of Year 50 in a frustrating fashion.
For only the third time ever, Disney’s Orlando theme parks will remain closed for consecutive days due to a weather event.
This has happened in 2004, 2017, and now 2022. So, we’re talking about a rare situation.
Even worse, nobody’s quite sure what will happen next. As a MickeyTravels agent/MickeyBlog writer noted, Disney doesn’t list Park Passes for Friday yet.
In other words, Disney doesn’t know whether it can reopen the parks on Friday. Everyone’s hoping for the best, but nothing is settled.
A year ago at this time, we were all looking forward to the magnificent 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World.
The parks broke out the EARidescent colors, the commemorative gold statues, and numerous amenities as part of the event.
What nobody could have imagined then was how the celebratory year would end.
Friday, when Walt Disney World may not even open its parks, is the final day of Year 50. Yes, the 50th-anniversary event will last through March 2023, but that’s not the point.
On the actual calendar, the anniversary year stops on Friday, and then a new one begins on Saturday.
Not coincidentally, park officials also chose October 1st as the opening date for EPCOT. It welcomed the public 11 years to the day after Magic Kingdom.
So, Disney had prepped many festivities to mark the occasion. But, instead, there’s an outside chance EPCOT won’t even open on Saturday.
Let me be clear that Disney officials will do everything possible to operate EPCOT on Saturday.
However, Disneyland missed its 65th anniversary due to COVID-19. Ergo, this situation isn’t unprecedented.
What Is the Possible Impact?
MickeyBlog is reporting all the news as it happens this week, and it’s essential that you trust us.
For this reason, I must stress that much of what I’m about to discuss is speculation. We won’t know anything for sure until Saturday.
Still, we are aware of some facts. Disney won’t allow guests to check in at official resorts until 3 p.m. on Friday, September 30th.
Folks, the margin of error here is pretty small. If Disney suffers additional delays due to Hurricane Ian, it’ll likely push guests to a Saturday arrival.
In that scenario, only a fraction of potential guests will even have access to EPCOT.
Let’s say that Disney doesn’t reopen on Friday as planned. In that scenario – which is FAR from confirmed – the policies get pushed back another 24 hours.
Now, guests wouldn’t check into their resorts until 3 p.m. on Saturday, long after EPCOT has opened at 8:30 a.m.
So, most of the people visiting EPCOT that day would be guests already staying at Walt Disney World or locals. And Florida residents have more pressing concerns this week.
As such, Saturday’s 40th-anniversary celebration at EPCOT is likely to be muted at best.
Let’s be clear that this is a trivial concern relative to what’s happening in Florida right now. Sure, Disney set up a new merchandise line and planned some events.
None of that matters compared to the concerns of people who don’t know whether they can return home.
There are videos of cars floating down the river, except the “river” is the road to their neighborhood. It’s that bad.
Naples Fire Rescue posts a video of them rescuing someone from a stranded car in waist-high flood water during Hurricane Ian. (via Instagram) pic.twitter.com/ikv2fweSmh
— Martin Vassolo (@martindvassolo) September 29, 2022
Whether a theme park opens for its 40th birthday won’t be a blip on history’s radar of Hurricane Ian, nor should it be.
If EPCOT Opens, Then What?
Disney had previously announced #D23InsideDisney holding an EPCOT event on Saturday. It’s a celebration of “EPCOT 40.”
This Facebook event will start at 1 p.m. EST and presumably goes on no matter what.
I also expect that Disney officials will hold a ceremony as long as EPCOT opens on Saturday. They’d need to make sure it’s tasteful, though.
Otherwise, what we’re likely to see is an empty park, which is that much wilder since it’s a Saturday.
Realistically, that’s the eventuality here. Hurricane Ian has reached Orlando at wind speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.
The logistics for an open park are challenging enough on their own. Disney will need clear roads and moderate traffic.
On that date, many people who left the area will likely make their return.
That causes congestion, and those people aren’t the ones who will prioritize the parks. They have more pressing matters at hand.
Also, road clean-up causes problems as well. As you might imagine, road crews will be stretched thin. So, that’s two problems right there.
The locals are unlikely to visit, and the tourists will struggle with navigating the roads.
Frankly, most of the people attending EPCOT for its 40th anniversary will be the ones crazy from cabin fever. They’ll be the lucky ones.
I’ve referenced what the World Showcase was like during Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Dorian. In a word, it was empty.
I’m guessing many tourists had scheduled vacations for October 1st for the EPCOT milestone.
However, the hurricane and the related Orlando International Airport closure have forced the cancellation of many plans.
There’s just no getting around the fact that EPCOT’s 40th birthday will be an understated affair. But I DO HAVE GOOD NEWS!
Disney is making a Figment movie! That decision hints at an Imagination! pavilion upgrade when the movie comes out!
So, EPCOT’s 45th anniversary should be much better!
Feature Image: Disney