I’m not exaggerating when I say that Walt Disney World’s Epcot theme park is one of my favorite places on the planet. But I’m not blind to the fact that it’s in desperate need of some TLC, an injection of fresh imagination…and a ton of money to fix the cracks and tighten the gears. And since the resort’s Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios parks all received major expansions in the past decade, it’s time for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow to get the extensive makeover it so desperately needs.

Although the first round of Epcot updates and additions were announced back in 2017, theme park fans now have two new additions to await: a redesigned (and very welcome) new entrance to the park and, after literally years of waiting, a replacement for the abandoned Wonders of Life pavilion.

The New Epcot Pavilion

First of all, Disney announced a new, unnamed pavilion (you can see concept at the top of this post) that will move into the space once occupied by the Wonders of Life family of attractions. Its theme seems loose at best, but it certainly sounds like something that will appeal to younger park-goers and Epcot, a park that offers a great deal to older visitors (especially those who like sampling foreign alcohol) desperately needs that. Here’s how the Disney Parks blog describes it:

The ongoing evolution of Epcot includes plans for a play pavilion that’ll be unlike anything you’ve ever seen at the park. This new space will be devoted to playful fun and feature an innovative city that’ll come to life under the dome of the un-named pavilion previously known as Wonders of Life. The pavilion’s city will be bursting with interactive experiences, your favorite Disney characters, hands-on activities and engaging entertainment when it opens just in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort!

This may not be as inherently exciting as the new Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster taking over the Universe of Energy pavilion or the Ratatouille ride being imported from Disneyland Paris to the France pavilion, but it’s about time Disney did something with the empty Wonders of Life building. This mammoth structure was once home to the motion simulator attraction Body Wars and the outdated (but charming) Cranium Command show…but it was also home to numerous exhibits and activities that only served to remind visitors how hopelessly out of shape they were. I remember my final visit to Wonders of Life, when the entire pavilion was empty and every attraction had a wait time of zero minutes. Fun for me, horrible for a park that needs every foot of space to be absorbing and occupying visitors.

Honestly, Wonders of Life was easily the least fun place in all of Epcot. It closed in 2007 and has laid dormant since then, only opening when the park needed the space for special events. So the news that anything is happening here is good news, frankly. Here’s how Zach Riddley, portfolio executive of Walt Disney Imagineering, describes the new pavilion:

“This innovative, new pavilion is beyond anything we’ve ever created and is completely unique to Epcot. Built on the power of play, it introduces an immersive and interactive ‘city’ where you can explore, create, and interact with some of your favorite Disney characters. This is an experience worthy of our bold vision for Epcot – and another signature element of our transformation.”

I’m very curious if this new pavilion will retain the spirit of the old Epcot I know and love, the educational and enlightening park that tried to illuminate technology and culture as it entertained. If an interactive city filled with Disney characters can do that, everyone will win. Consider my fingers crossed.

The Redesigned Entrance

While not as exciting as a new attraction or pavilion, the official announcement of Epcot’s redesigned entrance is tremendous news for those sick of the site’s eyesore of a entry hub. You can see some concept art above and here is how Disney describes it:

There will also be exciting changes to the way you come and go at Epcot! As you can see above, changes are coming to the Epcot main entrance, where the plaza will welcome guests with new pathways, sweeping green spaces and a newly reimagined fountain. This new design will pay homage to the original park entrance with fresh takes on classic elements.

Years ago, Disney created the Leave A Legacy program, which allowed park visitors to have their pictures turned into metallic tiles and places on giant concrete monoliths that lined the entry walkway. It was ill-conceived and ugly, a grotesque way to walk into a park that was otherwise quite lovely. These will be relocated outside the park gates, letting the space in front of the iconic Spaceship Earth dome get some much-needed fresh touches. After all, a theme park can only make a first impression once and Epcot has been stumbling through the front door for a long time now.

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