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12 Major Changes Coming to Disney’s Epcot

This past August, Disney announced its commitment to honoring Walt Disney's vision by giving Epcot the biggest transformation of any Disney park in history just in time for Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary in 2021.

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epcot transformationsCourtesy Disney

A look back

Epcot started off as an ambitious passion project for Walt Disney back in the ’60s. He originally envisioned it as a technologically advanced city where people worked, played, and lived. Disney himself said, “Epcot would always be in a state of becoming” meaning it’s a place that should always be evolving. Then, with Disney’s passing in 1966, the vision for Epcot changed and, instead, it became a land focused on community, the future, and the world around us. It opened at Walt Disney World as EPCOT Center in 1982.

In 1993, the name changed to Epcot and over the years Epcot’s appearance started to look more retro 80s than anything futuristic and now the park is getting a much-needed refresh in time for the 50th anniversary. “We’re taking all the things that make EPCOT unique and infusing more ‘Disney’ and more family-friendly adventures, all in a relevant and timeless way,” shares Melissa Valiquette, Epcot’s vice president. Find out what the acronym EPCOT stands for.

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disney epcot experienceCourtesy Disney

Epcot Experience Pavilion

If you’re at the park, take a moment to check out The Epcot Experience Pavilion in the area formerly known as the Odyssey Pavilion. There’s a 12 minute, 360-degree projection film on a constant loop mapping out the Epcot transformation. The look and layout of Epcot will change and the park is being unified with four neighborhoods: World Showcase, World Celebration, World Nature, and World Discovery.

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spaceship earth disney epcotCourtesy Disney

World Celebration

You can’t very well set out to transform Epcot without improving its iconic symbol for the park itself, Spaceship Earth, the giant silver golfball originally built in 1982. The inside of Spaceship Earth houses a ride that takes park-goers on a voyage through time showing the different ways storytelling has existed throughout history. Expect to see a new narration, musical score, and a magical “story light” that ties the entire journey together in an attraction that Disney describes as “the power of storytelling to unite the human experience.” Find out about the 15 etiquette rules all Disney employees must follow.

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mary poppins disney epcotCourtesy Disney

Mary Poppins experience

Brace yourselves because—supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!—there’s a Mary Poppins attraction headed to the United Kingdom Pavilion at Epcot in summer 2020. Fans have been bursting at the seams guessing what exactly the experience will encompass. Will there be an indoor carousel? Possibly a 360-degree enclosed projection system? How about a fun immersive experience where the guests can become Mary Poppins and drift up into the sky umbrella in hand? All that we do know for sure is that it’s the very first attraction to come to The United Kingdom Pavilion. Disney has said guests can expect to “Step in time down Cherry Tree Lane past Admiral Boom’s house, then enter Number 17, home of the Banks family, where your adventure will begin.” Find out more Disney World secrets only insiders know.

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disney epcot harmoniCourtesy Disney

Harmonious nighttime spectacular

Epcot’s long-running show Illuminations Reflections of Earth, the nightly light show that featured with the booming voice of Jim Cummings who also voiced Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, was retired last September. Epcot Forever is currently running in its place, and later in 2020 the new Harmonious show will debut. The Disney Parks blog promises, “massive floating set pieces that house a variety of show effects, including custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, colorful lights, lasers, pyrotechnics and more.” Pass the popcorn! Disney fanatics will also want to know these 23 secrets Disney employees won’t tell you.

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disney epcot remy's adventure gusteau'sCourtesy Disney

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure

Ever wonder what it might be like to see the world through a small creature’s eyes? The new Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, based on the Disney-Pixar film Ratatouille, is nearly identical to the attraction which originally debuted in the Disney Land Paris theme park. Guests were 3D glasses while sitting in a rat-shaped car to experience the point of view of Chef Remy racing through Gusteau’s restaurant on the ride of their life. If you’re at Disney, ride the new Skyliner over Epcot to get a sneak peek at all the hard work happening in the back lot of the France Pavilion where the much-anticipated attraction is under construction.

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disney epcot guardians of the galaxyCourtesy Disney

Guardians of the Galaxy, Cosmic Rewind

Fans of the epic movie Guardians of the Galaxy can’t wait for the new ride that Disney is calling, “a storytelling coaster” to launch. It’s offering some of the latest technology from Disney and including a storytelling roller coaster with 360-degree rotation. “On most coasters, the vehicles point straight ahead throughout the ride,” Bob Chapek, Disney Parks, experiences and consumer products explained on the Disney blog. “But on this attraction, each individual cab will be programmed to direct your eye to the story happening around you.” Sounds similar to that other new Disney attraction, Rise of the Resistance.

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disney epcot moanaCourtesy Disney

Moana, Journey of Water

The world can soon say, mahalo to the Disney Imagineers for finally giving the theme parks its first attraction based off of the popular movie, Moana. The walkthrough attraction is called The Journey of Water and its rendering features guests interacting with waterfalls and green vegetation of the Hawaiian landscapes. Disney says to expect, “lush exploration trails inviting guests to meet and play with magical, living water.” This attraction acts as a gateway to the Living Seas Pavilion. Let’s hope it includes the hit songs that Moana brought to life in the movie. Don’t miss these 13 magically inspiring quotes from your favorite Disney princesses.

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beauty and the beast singalong disney epcotCourtesy Disney

Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along

This attraction is for everyone who knows all the words to “Be Our Guest” and “Tale As Old As Time”—at the new Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along at the Palais du Cinema at the France Pavilion, you’re encouraged to belt out the catchy tunes along with the characters. The sing-along movie is directed by Don Hahn who was the original producer of the 1991 animated film and Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts is also back narrating the film. There’s even a new twist to the original tale. The sing-along will play alongside the newly updated 4D, “Impressions de France.” Find out our 15 favorite Disney songs ranked.

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disney epcot play pavillionCourtesy Disney

PLAY! Pavilion

The PLAY! Pavillion, opening in 2021, is devoted to just that—play! “Built on the power of play, [PLAY!] introduces an immersive and interactive ‘city’ where you can explore, create, and interact with some of your favorite Disney characters,” said Zach Riddley, portfolio executive, Walt Disney Imagineering on the Disney blog. “This is an experience worthy of our bold vision for Epcot—and another signature element of our transformation.” It will be housed in what was the Wonders of Life in the section of World Discovery.

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canada far and wide disney epcotCourtesy Disney

Canada: Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360

Don’t worry O’Canada, fans, the new Canada: Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360 that debuted in January 2020 is the old film narrated by Martin Short, updated. Fans will love the new scenes and narration by the hysterically funny duo Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara. Levy and O’Hara, both native Canadians, star in the hugely popular show, Schitt’s Creek.

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space disney epcotCourtesy Disney

Space 220

This is your moment to float high above the earth while eating a hamburger! Yes, the universe is answering a lot of people’s prayer’s out there with the new Space 220 restaurant opening in World Discovery. Patrons will learn what it’s like to dine 220 miles (hence the name) above Earth in a Space Station. To enter the restaurant you must first board a space elevator launching you into the stars to begin your journey. Once set in space you will be able to dine from a menu of American cuisine and chose from more than 1,000 different bottles of wine.

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wondrous china disney epcotCourtesy Disney

Wondrous China

Head on out on an awesome journey across China in the China pavilion with the new movie, Wondrous China that was filmed and presented in a seamless 360-degree digital format. In the film, the viewer will virtually tour some of the great attractions across China including, The Great Wall of China, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

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regal eagle american pavillion smokehouse disney epcotCourtesy Disney

Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts and Barbecue

Anyone who grew up watching and loving The Muppet Show will want to make time for lunch or dinner at the new restaurant with the theme of “Sam’s Centennial Cook-Off: A Salute to All Cook-Offs but Mostly Barbecue,” at the American Adventure Pavilion. (That’s Sam as in Sam the Eagle.) The casual restaurant will offer the best of American barbecue including Kansas City smoked chicken, Memphis dry-rub pork ribs, North Carolina chopped smoked pork butt, a Texas beef brisket sandwich, and a plant-based BBQ Jackfruit Burger served on garlic toast.

Carey Reilly
Carey Reilly is a writer for and a contributing editor for Family Traveller magazine. She is a regular on-air product expert for Fox and Friends, Wpix11 and Cheddar News. She was named in 2017 as a Top 50 Influencer and Brand Ambassador for O, The Oprah Winfrey Magazine. She hosted over 80 episodes of the daily talk show, The Daily Glow on Littlethings. She's a stand up comedian and has been seen on Today Show, CNN, The Joy Behar Show, Food Network, Cooking Channel. HLN and The Wendy Williams Show.