Back in July when Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek confirmed that Ratatouille
and Guardians of the Galaxy
are headed to Epcot
, he mentioned much more was planned for the park in the coming years.
nearly doubling the size of the France pavilion, Disney is looking to add other attractions to Epcot to offset the crowds. Just across the channel from France is the United Kingdom pavilion. Like most of Epcot, this pavilion was built with a significant expansion in mind and, again, like most of Epcot, that development never happened.
Part of the expansion plot now houses the Epcot World Showplace
special events pavilion. Now it looks like Disney might finally be ready to build out the back end of the United Kingdom pavilion.
On a recent episode of The Unofficial Guide’s Disney Dish with Jim Hill
, details were shared on what exactly this expansion might look like. Hill, a Disney historian known for his insider knowledge, discussed in detail how this new expansion, while small, will help guest flow patterns through this area.
Image via Gears | Twitter
The United Kingdom pavilion at Epcot
According to Hill, Disney is looking to the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns
film as the inspiration for this new mini-land. Cherry Tree Lane, the residential street used in both the original film and the 2018 sequel
that will star Emily Blunt, will be realized with the same hyperreality as the London waterfront found at Universal Orlando.
The street will mostly act as a glorified meet-and-greet from the Poppins characters with a small carousel, inspired by the films, located nearby. The carousel won’t be the same four-horse carousel found in the original movie. The horse that Julie Andrews rode in the original film has been displayed at Hollywood Studios
in the queue for The Great Movie Ride, which is slated to close this weekend. That horse may be displayed in this new Mary Poppins-inspired mini-land.
This isn’t the first time a Mary Poppins area has been talked about for a Disney park. The Mary Poppins Jolly Holiday
dark ride was one of the earliest rides designed by Imagineer Tony Baxter, known for his work on Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and numerous other Disney rides. The Baxter ride was a traditional dark ride, but with guests riding upon carousel horses.
Earlier this year speculation of a new addition
to the United Kingdom pavilion pointed to a Loch Ness Monster-focused attraction, similar to one proposed for Animal Kingdom
before it opened that was to be part of a larger Scottish themed area known as Loch Ness Landing
, but those rumors were quickly brushed off by many. Other
speculation has included the addition of an Alice in Wonderland section to the pavilion similar to the new Alice in Wonderland mini-land currently under construction at Tokyo
Disneyland. In recent years Disney has also added new effects
to the Alice in Wonderland ride found at Disneyland in Anaheim.
This new Mary Poppins expansion looks to be rather small, according to Hill, only using the undeveloped half of the expansion plot. That would allow for the World Showplace event pavilion to remain. This new area could easily be closed off and used as an outdoor area for events taking place at the events pavilion. It could also include a small gate to the World Gateway area near where the new Disney Skyliner gondola system
station will be, which would eliminate the rather labor-intensive check-in process now required for events at the World Showplace.
While some, like Hill, have speculated that the new addition likely won’t be announced until box office returns for the new film are posted, this new area may begin construction well before the film opens. With Poppins already a Disney classic, in both the original movie and Saving Mr. Banks
, and with record-breaking crowds expected for the huge WDW anniversary celebration in 2021, Disney may want to get this expansion open sooner rather than later. It’s not uncommon for new additions at
area theme parks to be well into construction before they’re announced.
The rumored dark ride may come on at a later date, possibly replacing the World Showplace pavilion altogether. For now, it looks like we might be getting a simple Cherry Tree Lane themed mini-land with a second larger addition possibly coming to the United Kingdom as part of the rumored 10-year-
long, $2 billion redo
of Epcot coming in the mid-2020s.