Photo via disneyworld.disney.go.com
Epcot is in the very early stages of a massive overhaul that will see new cutting-edge rides based around Ratatouille, Guardians of the Galaxy
and possibly Coco
Disney has already confirmed a new film in the China pavilion and a complete reimagining of Future World. With a rumored cost of $2.2 billion
, there are likely many significant changes and additions coming to Epcot that have yet to be confirmed.
While the focus of most of the speculation has been on new additions inside the park, in recent weeks an older rumor
has popped back up and is now making the rounds. As part of the redo of Future World, Disney is now rumored to be looking to add a hotel
near the entrance of the park. There are few details, but what we do know is that Disney is conducting exploratory borings in areas just outside the current Future World.
The geotechnical borings will help Disney understand what land is stable enough for large-scale development. The location
will either be directly over the current entrance plaza or off to one of the two sides, with the western side, near the aquarium, as the more likely of the two. All three locations would give guests at the hotel views directly into the park. This would be unique for an Orlando hotel – currently, the closest a guest can get to a truly in-park view is the Contemporary, which sits across a road and beyond the berm of the Magic Kingdom. Some of the Universal Orlando resorts also give views into the park, but only from a distance. Like the Future World hotel, the Star Wars hotel will be adjacent to Hollywood Studios but it will have no true windows – instead, all "windows" will be large digital screens or other techniques used to give the impression that the hotel is in space.
On the east side of Future World, Disney is building the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride
, using the existing Universe of Energy building for queue and retail while a new tower will be constructed to house the majority of the ride. If the hotel were situated on the east side, it would need to be worked around this large ride building. The ride building has also been one of the rumored locations of a new projection mapping show
that will supplement the World Showcase Lagoon nightly entertainment.
The west side would allow for the rooms to have unobstructed views of the World Showcase Lagoon, where IllumiNations takes place. It’s widely believed that a new nighttime show
will debut in time for WDW’s 50th Anniversary in 2021. With the hotel being more vertical, a rooftop pool or restaurant may also provide views of the nightly shows, including the rumored Future World specific nighttime entertainment.
But the most likely location of the new hotel is the entrance plaza, which will be receiving a complete makeover as part of the Epcot reimagining. Removal of the Leave A Legacy
blocks, wider pathways, a larger security screening area, and retail outside the park exit are all likely to be part of the new entrance plaza.
If it is located in this area, the hotel may be like the ones found at Disneyland Paris
and Tokyo DisneySea
, where guests entering the park pass under a hotel. This is different than the Grand Californian in Anaheim
that is set off to the side of the park entrance but provides hotel guests their own entrance into the park. All three possible locations of the Future World hotel would offer a similar hotel guest-only park entrance.
No details on theme or size have been shared, but Disney did recently share new details of a Four Diamond hotel
planned for the Anaheim resort. That hotel has an updated, contemporary style that blends modern architecture with natural touches. In the one official concept art image
of the updated Future World that Disney has shared it shows a very similar style of modern with splashes of nature and art.
This isn't the first time in recent months that an Epcot hotel has been strongly rumored. Industry insider Jim Hill
mentioned that Disney was looking at the feasibility and interests of a World Showcase hotel that would be located near the Boardwalk Resort next to the Speedway gas station behind the World Showcase pavilions but designed to blend into the pavilions it abuts.
Both that rumored Epcot World Showcase hotel and this new Future World one will likely have a wing for DVC, Disney's in-house timeshare program, or be entirely DVC.
If confirmed, the Future World hotel would be the fifth hotel currently in the works at Walt Disney World, including a major expansion at Coronado Springs and a third-party tower at the Swan and Dolphin
, with another five chain hotels
in the works for Flamingo Crossings.