Walt Disney World’s Epcot has been the main focus of updates and improvements for the last several years. Since 2019, the park has been undergoing a major renovation that, once it’s done, will have almost completely transformed the area known as Future World into three separate pavilions: World Discovery, World Celebration and World Nature. While a majority of the work is done, there are still key items that need to be completed, including a new Moana-themed attraction and a new statue of Walt Disney. Most people are ready for the construction walls to come down, but I think that once this work is finished, the next phase of Epcot update needs to begin.
Even after the current work is complete, there will be a few places at Epcot that are in desperate need of an update, if not an outright replacement. These old, outdated areas are going to look and feel even more out of place once the rest of Epcot is done and so much of the park is feeling shiny and new. I don’t really want Epcot to continue to be under construction either, but at some point, this work needs to be done, and it really can’t wait that long.
Journey Into Your Imagination With Figment Desperately Needs An Update
I’m far from the first person to suggest that Journey into Your Imagination with Figment needs help. The ride is technically on its third version since it opened shortly after Epcot did in 1982, but this third version has lasted longer than the first two combined. On top of that, a lot of people who remember the first version (which included not only Figment, but the popular character of Dreamfinder), miss that version and see the current one as a significantly lesser attraction.
But the ultimate reason that Journey needs some help is the simple fact that the attraction is old, and so the various parts of it look and feel old. The very first thing you see during your ride is a message from Eric Idle’s Dr. Nigel Channing on a series of screens, and these images aren’t even in HD; or if they are, it’s a version so early that it looks old. This is because modern HD wasn’t widely adopted in the early 2000s when this ride was in development, but today basically every screen you look at is running at least a 720p image, so seeing an image as fuzzy as what we see Journey is legitimately jarring.
While most of Journey uses physical props and animatronics, which is part of why the ride is still pretty cool, anything that has a screen is showing its age here. Even doing nothing more than replacing these screens, assuming a higher definition version of these videos even exists, would go a long way to making Journey Into Your Imagination feel more up to date.
The Magic Eye Theater Is a Waste Of Space
Back before 3D saw mass adoption in theaters following the release of Avatar, it was something of a novelty, but it was a popular one in Disney Parks. Every Walt Disney World park has a 3D movie attraction today. The theater in Epcot, the Magic Eye theater, debuted with an original film called Magic Journeys. This was followed by Captain EO, and then a Honey I Shrunk the Kids inspired Honey, I Shrunk the Audience.
Today, the Magic Eye Theater is home to the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival. It shows three animated shorts over the course of an 18-minute program. There was perhaps a use for this at Epcot before Disney+ launched and you couldn’t watch Get a Horse just whenever you wanted, but now you can. You can’t watch them in 3D, of course, but I’m not sure that’s enough to justify making this an attraction.
Something needs to be done with the Magic Eye Theater. It can be something as simple as creating a new, exclusive film for the theater; bringing back one of the previous films, which you can’t watch on Disney+ for some reason; or removing the theater entirely and replacing it with something else. There’s just nothing special going on here.
Complete The Previously Planned Spaceship Earth Update, Or At Least Refurbish It
Spaceship Earth is the icon of Epcot and the attraction inside is, in my opinion, one of the highlights in the park. It’s an animatronic-filled dark ride that tells the story of the history of human communication. Before the global pandemic, there were plans to do a significant update to the attraction that would not only update the older components of the ride, but change the angle, turning it into a look at the history of a particular form of human communication: storytelling.
The global pandemic and the associated budget cuts have seemingly killed the plan to update Spaceship Earth. The last we heard, the upgrade had been indefinitely postponed, but whether Spaceship Earth gets an overhaul to its story or not, it is due for, at the very least, a significant refurbishment. The current version of Spaceship Earth has now been in operation for 14 years, longer than any previous iteration of the attraction.
I actually like the idea of Spaceship Earth becoming a ride about storytelling. It’s an important part of what makes us human, and, of course, an important part of what Disney is, so it makes sense. And while not everybody loves the way Epcot as a park has changed over the last 40 years, the fact is that Epcot has changed, and this new ride idea fits a bit better into the park that Epcot is today.
Finish The Play Pavilion
Another project that was supposed to happen that we haven't heard much about is the Play Pavilion. A new project was planned for the former Wonders of Life pavilion that has been almost completely vacant for years. There have been rumors that the Play Pavilion is another project that will never be completed, but as recently as this May, we were told it will happen by Imagineer Zach Riddley. More recently, there have been rumors it was cancelled, but nothing official has come from Disney.
The unused pavilion space, a massive building with nothing happening, is just a waste. Something needs to go here, whether it's the Play Pavilion or some entirely new concept that the insane geniuses at Walt Disney Imagineering have come up with since.
Epcot is my favorite park at Walt Disney World. I love everything about what it was and what it is, and I’m excited about what it’s becoming. I’m looking forward as much as anyone to the day next year when the final construction walls come down. But because I love Epcot, I want to see the park at its best, and it won’t really be as great as it can be until a bit more work is done.
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CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.