Epcot rumors! Let’s take a look at the park we all love and see if there’s anything to rumors about the Imagination pavilion at Epcot, as well as the current state of the attraction, and some other Future World news. We have lots of photos for you this week, so let’s get started!

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Welcome to Epcot!

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The turnstiles are still being installed in the center of the entrance.

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This snack stand has returned after going behind walls, but it still wasn’t open.

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Over at the Starbucks construction, there really wasn’t anything new to see, either on the inside or outside.

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This past week, there have been some wild rumors about the Imagination pavilion.

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I’ve heard multiple stories, but they all seem to agree on the fact that the pavilion will close in early January for a large scale refurbishment. Whether or not this means changing the dark ride portion of the show remains to be seen, but all the different rumors also seem to agree that Captain EO will see its final showings later this year.

I thought it would be fun to take a bunch of shots of the pavilion, especially inside the Imageworks play area, just to show how it is a shell of its former self, which is kind of an indicator that they might be doing something here soon.

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This area that used to print photos is basically gutted.

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You can still get some Figment merchandise here.

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But, most of the area is now occupied by Nerd Mickey and the Muppets.

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Hopefully, if a refurbishment is happening, we’ll someday get to go up these steps again.

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The jumping fountains still draw a good sized crowd.

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Imagination is the classic monorail photo pavilion.

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This sign barely ever gets adjusted.

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I do hope that if they do this refurb that they lose the ultra bright colors and go back to something more like what the pavilion opened with.

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I enjoy this pathway that is now permanent thanks to the butterfly garden from Flower and Garden. It is pretty and there’s a nice Imagination photo op from a slightly elevated perspective here.

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The exterior work that was being done on the Port of Entry shops is all finished now.

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This bag is pretty cool.

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Hidden EPCOT30 merchandise in this location.

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Right next to some interesting Mater plushes.

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In between the two shops, there is still a wall with some work being done.

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Since AP conversion is all finished now, the Odyssey is once again roped off. Sad, really.

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I haven’t seen this open since Test Track reopened.

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Remnants of Test Track 1.0.

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Test Track had a 140 minute wait when I walked by. That is a lot.

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Especially considering that right next door, Mission Space was 5 minutes for green and 15 minutes for orange.

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Universe of Energy also had almost no wait.

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Innoventions has some interesting things, and the AC was on full blast this week, which was much needed.

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Sum of All Thrills had a 30 minute wait, which is so interesting seeing as it is an attraction that gets no advertising whatsoever.

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I mention all these things because I feel like one of Epcot’s problems is its lack of big draws. Test Track and Soarin’ get humungous lines, and then everything else can basically be a walk on at any time of the day. For this reason, I hope the Imagination project is a go, and I hope it adds something that people really want to see to help distribute crowds throughout Future World. World Showcase does fine on its own with restaurants and liquor sales, but Future World very much feels lost.

This leads me to the last photo of the day. This is all the way to the left of the Epcot entrance, outside of security even. If you go there, you can quietly hear the background music playing, there is no sign of any Pixar characters, and it almost feels like the old school Epcot that many super fans pine for. If you ever want to get that feeling, check it out.

[img]http://www.miceshots.com/usr/72/DatelineDisneyWorld07252013-IMG_4859.jpg[/img]

WAKEFIELD REPORT

We invite you to listen along to the latest Wakefield Report podcast on the MicePod . Chris discusses the top news nuggets of the week.

Well, that wraps things up for this week’s column. What are your thoughts on a possible Imagination refurbishment? Let us know in the comments!!

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If you enjoyed the column, especially the photos, and you want to check out more photos and tutorials on Disney photography, please check out my photo site, [URL=”http://www.DisneyPhotographyBlog.com”]Disney Photography Blog[/URL]. And if you like listening more than reading, you can hear us talk about Disney and photography on my podcast, [URL=”http://www.ISO5571.com”]ISO5571[/URL]

  • JCSkipr79

    I truly believe this hot mess of a park is the reason FP+ happened because this park has the BIGGEST crowd disparity. TWO ETix taking in 80% of the crowd? INSANE. This is the park that will benefit from crowd redistribution…..

  • Gregg Condon

    I’ve never ridden Soarin’ at EPCOT (don’t see the point) yet it is my favorite theme park ever. EPCOT, to me, is so much more than the rides. I love that I can walk on some of my favorite rides with little to no wait, yes, even Figment.

    That said, if something bigger and better is coming then I’m all for it.

  • Orlando71

    Thanks for the update. Hopefully Epcot will be treated with an expansion on the level of New Fantasyland. Sadly, I doubt that will ever happen assuming avatar in animal kingdom and (probably) in the near future star wars at hollywood studios.

  • Stanley440

    What are the odds they use the refurb project to re-imagine the area with a Phineas and Ferb theme? I’ve heard rumors before about the two possible having a future presences around the Innoventions pavilions, but i think this area (including the unique building structure) fits them almost perfect. And with Agent P already in the World Showcase, it would make for an excellent pairing.

    Now if we could ever get them to finally commit to adding to the real Epcot draw… adding new or adding to current International Pavilions!

  • Epcot needs some love. This is my favorite park at WDW, but it’s starting to feel a little stale.

    I’d like to see something replace the Universe of Energy, a fix for Imagination and a new pavilion in World Showcase (India perhaps).

    • Gregg Condon

      I agree with a replacement for Universe of Energy. That building is HUGE and could fit a pretty good sized ride. I’m not even opposed to a new theme for the ride system or even something along the energy theme. It just needs an overhaul, big time.

      As for a new pavilion, I think India would be a nice addition but I think I’d love to see a new attraction in one of the existing ones (Morocco, UK, Japan) before a new pavilion.

      Maybe a Doctor Who ride for the UK? They are selling Dr. Who stuff there now anyway.

  • Asterix

    Thanks for the tip about the area to the left of the entrance! I’ll stop by next time we’re there and zen out for a few minutes.

  • Big D

    Future World is mostly a waste to me. I have very little interest in any of the pavilions (the Land has a good restaurant and that’s about it). Even Spaceship Earth isn’t that interesting once you been on it once. For me this park is World Showcase plus Mission Space and Test Track. I think they need to give Future World some love on the level of the extreme DCA makeover. Of course, that’s probably true of all of the parks at WDW…

  • spacejockey

    I wonder if it is time to ditch the “Future World” theme completely? What about a Syfi City overlay? This could pave the road for Marvel in the future instead of a 5th park based on Marvel.

    • ChrisFL

      Marvel won’t happen at WDW…period.

  • disneytom

    It’s a shame that WDI has to hand over finished projects to the Disney Operations folks because they just tend to muck things up a few years after they take possession. It’s like a kid that breaks their Christmas toys by the time February rolls around.

    .Disney Operations (including Marketing) brought us the Spaceship Earth Millennium wand debacle along with Leave a Legacy; they ruined Grauman’s Chinese Theater with that ridiculous Sorcerer’s Hat; and perhaps worst of all, they changed the name of EPCOT Center to Epcot thereby essentially putting a bullet into the side of the head of the original concept behind why this park got built.

    I was in my early teens when EPCOT Center was taking shape and I salivated at the mouth every time a television report came on about the park or it’s construction was featured in a national magazine. I went the opening month and was blown away – this was an amazing concept. The ideas of the future and world fellowship captured in one innovative park that was designed to be ever growing and evolving.

    Since 1982, we’ve only seen the addition of three pavilions in Future World and two in World Showcase (I’m not sure what to say about Mission Space – – they ditched Horizons to add Space so I guess it’s a wash). That is hardly a track record of keeping the park fresh.

    When things are slated for improvement (which comes at a glacial pace) the improvements are lackluster to say the least (Imagination 2.0 and 3.0), Energy, Land, etc. I’m sorry Mickey, but you can’t refurbish a pavilion on a $6 million dollar budget, you just can’t.

    The interesting thing if you really think about it is that if WDI came up with a concept for a park of the future this thing would never get built or even into advanced blue sky planning phase. The leadership would say the future changes to fast, can’t be predicted, etc. It’s because of this confluence of opinions about the future that Epcot is allowed to whither and decay. In fact, when I read that people still love this park, I think what do you love about it??? A stale Energy attraction (Bless Ellen’s heart for at least still being relevant but, remember, she was selected to be in the attraction not for her talk show but her former ABC sitcom (pre coming out might I add), if she came out after I think Disney would have balked (and I am gay so I can write this).

    It’s true folks, a park based on that concept that human tenacity and free enterprise will continue to improve our lives on a variety of fronts just wouldn’t fly today. So what then to do about Epcot? Probably it is time to toss in the towel and convert this into some Star Wars or Marvel concept.

  • blueohanaterror

    There is no refurbishment planned or happening. The pavilion is simply being shut down indefinitely. Nothing’s going on with this attraction.

    • holierthanthoutx

      So Colorvision agreed to take on sponsorship of the ImageWorks portion of the pavilion just so it could be shut down and never used, huh?

  • jediblueman

    Remember it is not only popularity of an attraction that contributes to the wait time, it is efficiency.

    Sum of All Thrill has a 30 minute wait not because more people are going to it than Spaceship Earth….it has it because it is incredibly inefficient.

    For example, if Spaceship Earth is as popular as Soarin’, it would be a much shorter wait as it can handle way more people per hour.

    The problem with Future World isn’t only that it has two attractions that are way more popular than the rest, it is that those two attractions (especially Soarin’) are much less efficient than the rest. (Spaceship Earth, Imagination, The Seas, Energy, and Living with the Land are all incredibly efficient attractions).

    Similarly at Magic Kingdom. Peter Pan has a way longer wait than Pirates or Haunted Mansion, not because it is more popular, but because it is popular AND much less efficient.

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    I rode Soarin’ once, thought it was just OK but didn’t blow my mind like it does others. Have no real desire to ride it again. I kick back on the “old school” Epcot attractions like Living With the Land, Spaceship Earth and… yes… Captain EO.

    If Imagination gets this rumored overhaul, I really hope it’s not the Phinneas & Ferb thing some of the rumors indicate. I personally can’t stand that show and the characters creep me out to no end (they look possessed with those huge bug-eyes). I think Perry is kind of cute, but I have no desire to buy any Perry merchandise. if Figment totally goes away in this refurb I will be extremely angry and sad. Figment was a big part of my childhood. But we’ll see what happens.

  • fnord

    Well at least Disneyland only has to figure out tomorrow land. WDW have to figure out both
    Tomorrowland and Epcot, which if you know what it stands for, I think makes way more
    sense without the center in the original title.
    I can’t imagine anyone with interest in the history of walt disney that feels much love
    for epcot, as he used to preface presentations about the project by saying ” this is not
    Just going to be another worlds fair… ” but despite it turning out exactly like another
    Worlds fair, it doesn’t come close to matching the energy of a real worlds fair because
    real worlds fairs are full of brand new stuff and brand new ideas and sometimes cool
    rides too.
    I wonder how many people would call epcot their favorite park if it didn’t sell alcohol.
    I went once. Non of the countries in world showcase that I had actually visited reminded
    of the real thing, and the 1967 Tomorrowland at disneyland was more convincing than
    future world ever was.
    Just my opinions, of course. I’ll take MK and a stay at the portafino at universal, after
    Harry potter 2 opens.

    • danyoung

      Any reference of Walt Disney’s thoughts about E.P.C.O.T. are totally moot, as he never intended it to be a theme park. What we have (which I totally love!) is nothing at all like Walt’s vision for the place. Every once in a while a sign or a narration will talk about EPCOT as being the embodiment of Walt’s greatest dream, which is pure bunk.

  • Buffett Fan

    I will call Epcot my favorite park, and it has nothing to do with alcohol. In fact, I’ve never purchased alcohol in Epcot. Even in it’s current form, Epcot is still about learning and gaining knowledge (be it technical or cultural).

  • QPerth

    Wonderful update Cory, terrific photos (as always!), and great idea capturing a few around Imagination. Perhaps we will be able to have a retrospective of Imagination soon from its opening, through it’s long past glory days, to now, and then it’s future incarnation. I hope for a redo of the attractions there, and reopening of Image Works upstairs!
    I do hope Disney doesn’t ignore the potential of Dreamfinder and the real Figment, who are brilliant and overlooked characters with endless potential, for learning from, attractions, stories and merchandise sales! I still cannot fathom WHY those wonderful characters never spun off into childrens films (animated or live action), or edutainment tv shows. I hope they return with an inspirational new attraction that will take advantaged the leaps in technology that can now be found in other attractions (Mystic Manor).
    I would be heartbroken if they demolished the pavilion and started from scratch though, once again losing the timeless design of the building was lost like with Horizons. Sure, refresh the colours and outside a bit, but keep the structure and spring pyramids!
    Future world CAN recapture the optimism and inspiration it once held, and heaven knows we need more optimism in the world these days. Fingers crossed!

  • Haven

    I am not so concerned about the shorter lines at EPCOT. After my last WDW visit and the insanity of crowds at their other three parks, EPCOT saved the day for us to be able to get on attractions easily. The park does not seem to suffer from lack of attendance though, always in the top ten most visited parks in the US. I much more enjoyed the Nemo ride here with a five minute wait compared to the hour long and claustrophobic submarine version. The ride had a better “immersive” view in this dry ride through version. It would be nice to see a great new BIG ride at Imagination as well, one that makes sense story-wise. Mom mother was confused by what the existing story was all about, even though I always enjoyed the ride system itself. We also liked the Three Caballeros Rio del Tiempo overlay which was a welcomed sit-down relief and reminded me of an EPCOT small world. I also enjoy how this park is not the stroller capitol of the world!

  • ChrisFL

    I’m pretty sure something will happen with the pavilion, while the east side of Future World already had 3 big pavilions when WOL closed, the west side would have only 2 left.

    I really hope they paint the building back to the original colors…I don’t think Disney wants to keep the color scheme of Kodak since they’ve finished their sponorship.

    Also, I really, really don’t want a short-term TV show from the Disney Channel of all places taking the place of EPCOT’s mascot.

  • Tielo

    Epcot’s future world reflex the current future of the US with it’s recession, monumental debts and lack of innovation (even the space shuttle got kicked out). The run down, old and tired rides where some are patched up in the cheapest way possible. Yes I’m looking at you Nemo ride with tv screens. It’s sad because the theme behind this park was unique but the execution was only short lived. Epcot proves, like tomorrow land at Magic Kingdom, that the future is not a good theme for a park if you’re not ready to invest heavily.
    I hope the future world is getting a re theming. Please don’t butcher the current rides anymore, non of them are worth it. There are some amazing ideas going around the internet from Adventure World to Star Wars and from Villains to Marvel (if Disney can ever get enough money to buy it from Universal). When it was up to me they would level it and build Disney Sea. World Showcase can be a separate ticket park with the addition of rides and countries. I opt for The Netherlands with a cool Amsterdam theme.

  • DavidN

    I visited Epcot this past June for the first time since 1982. I was underwhelmed as a kid (not many rides) and found the park very dated as an adult.

    I was going to write a lengthy rant about each section of the park, but I’ll offer my suggestions instead.

    World Showcase — add 2 E ticket rides. Right now with just a few rides and movies, and a heavy focus on shopping and dining, World Showcase feels like the Las Vegas strip without the slots and strippers. At least the drinks are free in Vegas.

    Future World — Less overt technology and more green. The problem that Future World (and Tomorrowland in MK and DL) has been the imbalance of technology versus nature. The temptation is to just upgrade the technology, but that just creates the same problem 10+ years later. What we’ve seen in the real world is technology disappearing (i.e. buttons being replaced with touchscreens) and integration of nature (like green roofs and solar cells). Places like Gardens By The Bay in Singapore or the California Academy of Science in San Francisco combine beautiful architecture, technology, and nature. I think Disney could use those as starting points and go beyond.

    I want to like Epcot. I really do. But after seeing it in person, I find it hard to understand why it’s so many people’s favorite park.

  • Lord Alfred

    Epcot definitely needs some love and sprucing up. But…Epcot simply isn’t for everyone. It never has been. Today people who don’t get it are complaining about the rides and saying “Throw in some E-tickets”. Those same types of people were around in the 80’s saying how boring the park was and how they’d never go back. I don’t get tired of these attractions. I ride SE every time because I love the trek through history. I ride Energy because I love the big-bang sequence on that huge screen, and you still hear people marvel when the theater moves into the Dino area. I could go on. There are a lot of UNIQUE theme park experiences here you don’t get elsewhere. It also helps that I’m the kind of guy who loves watching Nova and other educational programs.

    The only real stinker (literally) is the Imagination ride and that’s partially because they ruined it. However, while people often cry for the return of the original dark-ride, they forget that it too was eventually a forgotten walk-on that many people often skipped. That’s why they changed it in the first place. The sad fact is that if you want crowd-pleasing attractions these days they can’t be standard dark rides. Those simply don’t cut it anymore with the public at large. They need to gut the whole building and start from scratch. It has to either have some kind of thrilling element to it or innovative ride system. This doesn’t have to be a coaster. Soarin’ is thrilling, as is Harry Potter’s Forbidden Journey. Not a lot, just something. Those two small hills are why Maelstrom still has a line and the Grand Fiesta Tour does not.

    • ChrisFL

      No, the reason why Journey into Imagination was changed had entirely to do with the contract they had with Kodak. It stated that by the year 2000, they HAD to create a new attraction for that space. Unfortunately those were the dark days of budget cuts and what we got was a very bad attraction, only made slightly better a couple of years later.