The 2022 D23 Expo wrapped up with some of the final panels devoted to exciting updates for Disney Parks and Disney Cruise Line.
This year’s Parks panel gave us a look at new nighttime fireworks spectaculars that are in the works, returning favorite entertainment, and even some oddly vague looks at concepts that could come to fruition in both the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.
One piece of information noticeably missing from the Parks panel, however, is any update on the massive reimagining of EPCOT. When the project was originally announced in 2019, fans were shown early concepts for new attractions, shops, restaurants, and even for a new overall design of this Disney Park that would include nods back to the original look of EPCOT when it opened in 1982.
One global pandemic and almost three years later, we have seen some of these projects open, while others have been delayed or quietly forgotten about (at least publicly.) The reimagining of EPCOT is still set to be the largest renovation project the Park has seen, and it’s taking place during its 40th anniversary which is coming up on October 1, 2022.
Still, with all of the buzz surrounding the new attractions that were shared during D23, we feel compelled to take a look back at EPCOT’s overhaul and its progress, of perhaps lack thereof.
In 2019, we learned about the four neighborhoods of EPCOT that would ultimately replace what had been known as Future World since the Park opened. Changing the names and introducing the neighborhoods was a relatively easy task in the scale of the Park’s total reimagining, and today the Park is indeed home to World Nature, World Celebration, and World Discovery, in addition to World Showcase.
During one of the most memorable moments of the 2019 event (or of any D23 Expo so far) Disney Legend Dick Van Dyke surprised audience members when he appeared onstage to help announce the addition of Cherry Tree Lane to the United Kingdom pavilion in EPCOT. The Mary Poppins-themed area would have been the first Park attraction devoted to the 1964 film and the announcement was met with a standing ovation from the crowd. During the height of the pandemic, Disney shared that the Mary Poppins project was postponed, but we haven’t heard any updates on it since then.
Spaceship Earth was the subject of some major news at the 2019 D23 Expo when then Chairman of Parks, Experiences and Products and now CEO of the Walt Disney Company confirmed that the iconic EPCOT attraction would be reimagined.
The renovation to Spaceship Earth would have kept the same theme of the history of human communication and the “universal nature of the human experience,” but it would have included a new guide on the ride and enhanced special effects and lighting.
Spaceship Earth’s renovation was also confirmed to be postponed at the same time when Disney confirmed that work on the Mary Poppins attraction was paused.
Moving behind Spaceship Earth, Chapek also announced that a three-level structure that would offer a breathtaking view of the Park and serve as a center for all of EPCOT’s seasonal festivals would be constructed behind Spaceship Earth. Disney has not commented or started construction on this project.
We should also note the EPCOT announcements from 2019 that did come to fruition by this year’s D23 Expo, and the list is actually quite long, especially with the additional projects that continued to open up in the Park: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, La Crêperie de Paris, Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along, Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360, the Creations Shop, Connections Cafe & Eatery, Space 220 Restaurant, the statue of Walt Disney at Dreamers Point, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana is currently under construction.
Another film was originally planned for China, in addition to the update to Canada and France’s film lineups, but this one called “Wondrous China,” has yet to debut or have news on the project shared from Disney. We also saw the debut of Harmonious, which this year’s D23 panel confirmed will soon be replaced with a new nighttime fireworks spectacular.
The Play Pavilion was announced as well, but details on what this pavilion would include were limited in 2019, and Disney has not shared an update since.
Will EPCOT’s full reimagining ever come to be? We can’t say for sure, but we certainly hope so. While fans were mixed on some of 2019’s announcements, many are still holding out hope for the Mary Poppins attraction, and we have to agree that it would be a wonderful addition to the UK Pavilion.
As always, we will continue to monitor news out of Disney Parks and will share additional updates as we have them here on DisneyTips.