Epcot is on the cusp of the most extensive update to the park since its opening in 1982. We now have confirmation of some aspects of this updating; including a Guardians of the Galaxy
roller coaster and a Ratatouille
ride behind the current France pavilion.
Disney has also confirmed that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and that their plans for the park are rumored to be costing well over a billion dollars
One major new addition that many viewed as all but confirmed was a new country in the World Showcase. It’ll be three decades next year since a new World Showcase pavilion has opened and Disney was supposedly going to use the new pavilion as a major part of the 50th Anniversary marketing campaign in 2021.
While speculation around new pavilions has been around since the park opened in more recent years, we’ve begun to hear rumors keying into a few specific countries. The most substantial rumors pointed to Brazil and Spain
with a distant third being Puerto Rico. By March of this year, Puerto Rico had seemingly dropped off the list
of potential countries (and not because it's a U.S. territory) with rumors of Disney moving ahead with Brazil and Spain.
While rumors of new additions and changes at Epcot were running wild
by the time D23 came in July the lack of details around Epcot’s future, specifically those around the new pavilions, had many asking
if the focus of the initially leaked plans had changed. Just weeks after D23 there were rumblings of budget cuts for the Epcot overhaul with many of the unannounced projects being cut.
The Spain pavilion had supposedly been saved from the chopping block due to the sheer cross-marketing potentially between it and the Gigantic film, with which the signature ride of the pavilion would be based around.
An updated version of the traditional Jack and the Beanstalk story, Gigantic
was planned to be Disney’s big 2020 animated blockbuster. It combined the forces behind Inside Out
with the musical geniuses behind Frozen.
With the film and pavilion opening around the same time (late 2020) Disney was not going to get caught like it did with Frozen
, where the company took years to finally open a permeant attraction (also found in Epcot, quickly replacing a less popular ride and using the incredibly out of date boat ride system from the original ride).
But then last week The Hollywood Reporter
dropped the bombshell that the Gigantic
film had been shelved. Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios president Ed Catmull is quoted in the piece saying “With Gigantic, we've come to that point, and although it's a difficult decision, we are ending active development for now. We are focusing our energies on another project that has been in the works, which we'll be sharing more about soon, now set for Thanksgiving 2020.”
The announcement of the project being canceled has supposedly sent shockwaves through the company with some of strongest being felt right here in Orlando. With the cancellation of the film, the massive Spain pavilion is also likely being canceled.
With Spain now likely canceled that does free up of the funds for the projects that just weeks ago were supposedly put on the back burner. The Finding Dory update and new attraction at The Sea with Nemo and Friends, the rainforest roller coaster
, and at least one other major addition, possibly the U.K. updates
, now seem to be back alive.
There also still seems to be a desire to keep that new pavilion heavy marketing campaign at part of the 2021 50th Anniversary with the most likely now being Brazil. Both Brazil
and Puerto Rico
have had major newspapers there claim they were the new addition but with supposed pavilion renderings already leaked for Brazil and with the less than positive Puerto Rican news of late, including a massive influx of Puerto Ricans moving right to Central Florida, Brazil now looks to be the most likely new pavilion.
But there’s a big issue with shifting to the Brazilian pavilion. Its initial design had no major ride planned for it with the central focus being a new Brazilian steakhouse
. Disney wanted to use the Spain pavilion’s princess heavy Gigantic
themed dark ride to slow families down on their trek between Frozen
One possibility is the long-rumored Big Hero 6 dark ride that was once planned for the Japan pavilion. A bullet train simulator ride and a mountain themed roller coaster were also both once planned
for the Japan pavilion.
There are supposedly at least two other pavilion designs
for the Brazil pavilion, but both of those seem to be not as far along in design development as the steakhouse, non-ride pavilion design.
Baymax, the Stay Puft-like star
of the animated film, currently has a meet and greet
in Future World. Very little other presence of the popular film and animated television series can be found at Disney parks. A new whip style spinner ride themed to Big Hero 6
is currently under construction at Tokyo Disneyland. Few details of the rumored Epcot ride have been shared, but it’s believed to be an indoor modern dark ride of some sort.
With 2021 just over 38 months away it won’t be long until we know exactly what Disney has in store.