Tag Archives: epcot

Is Epcot the next target for expansion?

While the Magic Kingdom (Fantasyland expansion), Animal Kingdom (Pandora) and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Star Wars and Toy Story Land) having received a lot of attention in recent years, Epcot has only received minimal attention since the replacement of Horizons with Mission: SPACE in 2003 and the addition of Soarin’ in 2005. Since then, Test Track has received a makeover, Maelstrom was re-themed into Frozen Ever After, and Soarin’ is getting a third concourse.

That may be about to change. Permits filed by the state show a number of projects, and although they don’t give specifics of what they might for, it is prep work that typically goes with construction and redevelopment.

Two areas of particular interest are the area behind the Universe of Energy pavilion, and the area behind the France pavilion and between there and the Morocco pavilion in the World Showcase.

Rumors have swirled for months that the Universe of Energy pavilion, which houses Ellen’s Energy Adventure, would close and be rebuilt for some form of attraction based on Guardians of the Galaxy – Walt Disney World’s first Marvel-based attraction. The permits deal with the area behind the pavilion, which is a possible indication of expanding the building area. The work includes filling in the canal that reaches behind the backstage area there and expanding a canal to make up for the filling. The project area extends all the way back to the corner of the Epcot parking lot.

The latest permit involves what looks like a major expansion to the France pavilion, and this is bringing up the old rumor of a WDW version of the Ratatouille trackless dark ride at the Walt Disney Studios Park in Disneyland Paris.(Update: There is also a rumor that it will be the same ride system, but themed to Beauty And The Beast, given the resurgence in popularity of that property.)

World Showcase historians will remember that there are many “sectors” to the World Showcase, but not all of them contain a pavilion. Spaces exist between most of the country pavilions, with the exceptions of Norway and China. Between United Kingdom and Canada there is space currently occupied by the Millennium Village building, which is used for special events but could be another country. Using these spaces for a new country would mean losing some of the buffer spaces between them, but they are available. However, we are unlikely to get an new countries in the near future – Norway was the most recent, 29 years ago.

The approximate area encompassed by the permit

If you look closely, the area is currently where they store a lot of the booths used during festivals, so those would need to be relocated. I believe there is a cast break room and a number of other supporting structures back there. Some will be relocated into the area behind Morocco. There is also a slight sliver of area included alongside the right side (looking from the front) of the France pavilion which is believe to accomodate the guest path/queue to the new attraction at the back.

It’s an exciting time at Walt Disney World right now.

Off Kilter, Mo’Rockin’, World Showcase Players and others leaving Epcot

Word spread like wildfire in the early morning yesterday, and unfortunately most of it is true…the Disney Parks blog announced that the following acts that appear around the World Showcase in Epcot will be ending their runs:

  • Mo’Rockin’, the live band in Morocco – last performance September 27th
  • Off Kilter, the live band in Canada – last performance September 27th
  • Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps, in the American Adventure – last performance September 27th
  • World Showcase Players, the comedy troupe that appeared in the U.K. and Italy and occasionally around the showcase – last performance September 25th

It is a shame as these acts have been around for many, many years. The timing also points to this being a monetary decision – the fiscal year for Disney ends on September 28th, and the announcement yesterday likely satisfies a 30-day opt-out notice in the contracts.

Replacement acts are on the way, however. Traditional Berber music will be introduced in Morocco, a flag troupe in Italy, a lumberjack show in Canada, and Celtic music in the U.K.

For rumor control, the British Revolution, the British cover band in the U.K., is NOT leaving. They will continue on. Early reports listed them as possibly leaving, although I believe the confusion was over the Celtic group moving in to the U.K. – but I believe that is to replace the World Showcase Players, not the British Revolution. This has been confirmed, so no worries there.

FastPass+ tier changes at Epcot and Hollywood Studios

A few attractions will change their FastPass+ tiers at Epcot and Hollywood Studios, starting with FastPass+ selections for June 16th and later.

According to WDW Magic, Epcot’s “Living With The Land” will move up to Tier 1, while “Maelstrom” and “Character Spot” will drop down to Tier 2. At Hollywood Studios, “The Great Movie Ride” will move up to Tier 1.

This means that “Living With The Land” and “The Great Movie Ride” will be part of the tier where you can only choose one of the experiences in advance, while you can choose two from Tier 2.

There is no tiering at Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom.

This only applies to new FastPass+ selections made for days on or after June 16th. Existing reservations are not affected, but if you cancel them and then make new ones you will be subject to the new tiers.

Changes to FastPass+: tiered choices at Epcot and DHS, no regular FP for Pop Century guests, limited FP+ for Swan/Dolphin

Recently there have been some sudden and surprising changes with the FastPass+ system being rolled out. And at least in one case, it has guests shifting to other resorts or canceling their reservations all together…

First, about a week ago Epcot’s FastPass+ selections began to be “tiered”. This is similar to how attractions were handled with the Birthday/Give A Disney Day Fastpass cards, and with very early FastPass+ testing. What has happened is that the attractions were placed into two groups, or tiers, and you could only make ONE FastPass+ selection from the top tier, which included Epcot Character Spot, IllumiNations (when available), Maelstrom, Soarin and Test Track. Then you can pick two from all the remaining attractions. And you could not change your selections afterwards to attempt to get a second top tier attraction. Note that Soarin’ and Test Track – arguably the top two attractions at Epcot and often the only two you really need a Fastpass for, are in the top tier, which means you have to make the choice – which one are you going to use your FastPass+ for? For now, you could still get a regular Fastpass for the other, but that is changing as well (see further below.)

Now word breaks today that the same is happening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with Toy Story Mania, Rock’n’RollerCoaster, Fantasmic! and Beauty and the Beast in the top tier. While this pits TSM and RNRC against each other, it leaves Tower of Terror and Star Tours in the other tier, so you at least have some reasonable choices.

Why are they doing this? Well, without any specific data, it is believed that these top two attractions at each park are getting almost all of the FP+ selections – and this is making availability somewhat scarce as the day draws near. By tiering and forcing the choice, more availability among the top attractions will allow more guests to take part instead of only those planning far ahead.
Continue reading Changes to FastPass+: tiered choices at Epcot and DHS, no regular FP for Pop Century guests, limited FP+ for Swan/Dolphin

WDW cancels all Epcot Segway tours indefinitely

According to this thread, all Segway tours at Epcot have been canceled effective immediately and they are contacting guests who had reservations, and indications are that they will not return.

Disney is not giving any information as to why, so naturally there is lots of speculation. However, there are two leading contenders:

  1. Although the results of a lawsuit against Disney’s policy of allowing guests to use their own Segways in the park was ruled in Disney’s favor, there is still the potential for appeals. And the tour was often cited by the plaintiffs to show that the Segways were not as dangerous a Disney claimed.
  2. The tour generally went around the World Showcase prior to the normal 11am opening, where guests were limited to the area between the International Gateway and the paths to Futureworld, and over to Akershus in Norway for breakfast. Now the newly remodeled bakery in France is available to guests, so there is even more foot traffic, and this could make navigating more complicated.

And it could even be a combination of the two, with the increased traffic offering a better chance for appeal if Disney was claiming the limited traffic before made it acceptable.

Segway tours at Ft. Wilderness, which are done on off-road paths, are still available.

Trip report – Saratoga Springs, Holidays and Harry Potter (December 2010)

[This is a trip report from December 2010, being included as a new post as part of the site redesign]

Day 1 – Arrival, Animal Kingdom

This was a larger family trip – my in-laws would be joining us, and we had a 2 bedroom villa booked at Saratoga Springs. Even though this is a holiday time trip, we decided to skip the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party this time, as we felt the crowd levels were far to high from our 2007 trip to warrant the expense, and we instead wanted to spend a day at Universal’s Islands of Adventure to see the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Continue reading Trip report – Saratoga Springs, Holidays and Harry Potter (December 2010)

Trip Report – Syfy Digital Press panels, Mythos Restaurant, Wizarding World of Harry Potter

[This is a trip report from October 2010, being included as a new post as part of the site redesign]

Day 1 – Arrival, Food and Wine, Bice Restaurant, Halloween Horror Nights

This was an unexpected trip. I got invited to the Syfy Digital Press Tour event in Orlando (via one of my other sites, the SF news site Sci-Fi Storm, which was about to have its 10th anniversary) a few weeks before. I’ve been invited to them in the past, but the lead time was often insufficient to make arrangements, and they were often more remote – but Orlando I could do, especially since I can stay on DVC points or get a cheap room down at Disney, so I jumped at the chance.

Continue reading Trip Report – Syfy Digital Press panels, Mythos Restaurant, Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Trip Report – Pop Century, Star Wars Weekends (June 2009)

[This is a trip report from June 2009, being included as a new post as part of the site redesign]

Introduction and Travel

This was a somewhat impromptu trip. Thanks to JetBlue and their charge card, we had a free flight. The unfortunate part of the TrueBlue program is that as soon as you earn sufficient points, they issue you a certificate for a free flight – that expires in 12 months. You can’t save them up (Edit: This has since changed). So we had a free flight we needed to use, with no plans to go to Disney for over 18 months (out of DVC points).

Continue reading Trip Report – Pop Century, Star Wars Weekends (June 2009)