Happy Day Before Easter everyone! We admit it, we’ve been lax with this blog. Some of you are probably like “What’s this email and what’s an Epcyclopedia?” because it’s been so long since we posted anything of merit about Epcot.
First off, it’s not entirely our fault. There really hasn’t been any news or information to post about. Why? Because Epcot just isn’t a focus of Disney or Imagineering lately. It plods along with mediocre attendance – which is still much higher than Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios – and thus it is not considered a problem to fix, despite being the park with the largest schism between its physical intended operational capacity and the actual attendance. Long story short, every person in Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios is a blood traitor to Epcot because that’s where their warm bodies were intended to be when Epcot opened, but we can’t win every theoretical war and we can’t blame people for wanting to ride Tower of Terror or see monkeys.
Sea Monkeys? Maybe that would make an interesting new motif for the next version of The Seas pavilion.. And speaking of next versions – there’s a lot of cycling that’s going to occur soon at Epcot. Future World pavilions have a lifespan and Energy, Imagination, and Mission: SPACE are all up for renewal soon. But again, Disney/WDI doesn’t seem to care too much about that. Until they announce something we’re left with the non-happenings that are currently occurring:
- Fountainview is becoming a Starbucks. April through late-Fall.
- Character Spot is reopening with a new design TODAY (reportedly, it hasn’t been photographed yet so in theory it hasn’t happened.)
- Morocco is getting a new waterfront dining location that will seemingly kill the Marrakesh – which was never terribly popular in the first place.
- There’s a new restroom block being built between Japan and the American Adventure.
- A concept to rework Imagination’s old Kodak shop to be the home base for Phineas and Ferb’s World Showcase game was discarded and the building sits unused.
- Disney built a snack kiosk in the middle of Innoventions Plaza that was poorly designed (the counters are too low) and will seemingly never be used.
- Fastpass+ has been installed at numerous rides/attractions but is waiting for the software to work before it can be deployed.
- Existing FASTPASS kiosks at the various attractions are soon going to serve no purpose and will need to be removed.. and replaced with.. what? No one knows, not even Disney.
And.. that’s it. It’s not terribly interesting is it? So to keep ourselves amused – maybe even you too – we’re working on other ideas and other things to explore until the inevitable “something” occurs. Epcot cycles, it will always cycle, nothing is permanent. At some point this seas of boring nothingness will relent. It has to, if for no other reason than Mission: SPACE costing a fortune to operate, having piss-poor guest satisfaction ratings, and the sponsor likely to bail out when its contractual obligation ends soon.
Until then.. here’s some concept art of the China pavilion. We have this awful backlog of researched images and information just sort of sitting in figurative heaps on the hard disk (literal heaps of art and information on shelves in our “archive” too.) We’ll share some of it as the mood strikes us. Don’t worry, we’ll keep an ear to the ground fr something actually happening – but we’ll be damned if we’re going to report the latest Ear Hat release for Limited Time Magic. Leave that to the bloggers on Disney’s payroll. We’ll stick to our beliefs – not giving crap non-news an ounce of screen time and publicity. Enjoy.
Starting March 20th, if a guest purchases or renews a Walt Disney World Annual Pass they will receive an RFID Pass. These passes will allow guests to enter the parks via the Nex-Gen turnstiles. If you have an existing Annual Pass and would like to change it over to the new RFID system, you can go to the Odyssey Center in EPCOT between March 20, 2013 and May 19, 2013. All passes will have a green background and a stripe will be included on it to indicate whether or not it is entitled to free parking. If a pass has free parking it will have an orange stripe, if it doesn’t it will have a black stripe.
A tiny new kiosk has sprung up at the American Adventure Pavilion in Epcot according to the Orlando Sentinel. The kiosk belongs to the KidsHeritage Inc. of Plantation, Florida, and is selling customized hardcover My Heritage children’s books.
The My Heritage books are personalized to a specific child and explore their worldly heritage of up to four countries per book. The books include a letter to the child explaining their heritage and their name included throughout as the book directly addresses them as well as a pages for filling in the child’s family customs and family tree.
THINK presented by IBM has opened in INNOVENTIONS at Epcot® at the Walt Disney World® Resort
The exhibit combines three unique experiences to engage visitors in a conversation about how we can improve the way we live and work. For more information about visiting the exhibit.
Visitors approaching the exhibit are drawn in by striking patterns displayed on a 40-foot gesture wall. The wall tells the stories of systems around us, transforming into an interactive space where visitor movement creates unique visualizations in dynamic shapes and color. To illustrate complex systems that are a part of daily life the wall also visualizes data from traffic, solar energy, and air quality.
Further inside the exhibit space, visitors discover a theater space featuring a 12-minute immersive film. A kaleidoscope of images and sound fill the large screen. They are enveloped in a rich narrative about the pattern of progress, told through awe-inspiring stories of the past and present. The film reveals how progress was made possible by a combination of people and technology, and by taking a distinct approach to making the world work better — seeing, mapping, understanding, believing and acting. Guests are inspired to think about humankind’s quest for progress, and about making our world work better, today.
Visitors explore a media field composed of 20 seven-foot interactive touchscreens, transforming the space into a forest of discovery. Visitors can explore our quest to see more-from clocks and scales to microscopes and telescopes, RFID chips and biomedical sensors. They learn how maps have been used to track data, from early geographical maps to the most recent databases and data visualization platforms. They interact with the models used to understand the complex behaviors of our world-from weather prediction algorithms to virus spread simulations. They hear from leaders of world-changing initiatives about how they built belief. And they read about some of the most inspiring examples of systemic progress around the world.
We walked past these walls a few times recently and didn’t give them much consideration. We snapped a few photos and figured they’d end up on the blog as part of a general update. The refurbishment walls are on the East side of the plaza near Electric Umbrella – not around Pin Central as some angles online have previously suggested. After we looked at the photos, there’s something interesting going on…
Is that what we think it is? By golly, yes it is! It’s a structure with a roof and lighting that is overtop of what appears to be a large metal icon depicting Spaceship Earth. As always, click to enlarge the pics.
What purpose with this new little “building” serve? We don’t know. Perhaps it is the central FastPass distribution location that will be needed for FastPass+ or some other guest service type area? We’re really not sure what to think of more “CommuniClutter” in the plaza, but maybe it’s a new tipboard – and Pin Central will be on its way out once it is installed (the old Tipboard was off to the West side of the plaza prior to the Pin Central and Canopy installation.)
Time will tell. But we’re very curious what this thing is going to be.
Today the DisneyParks blog unveiled the concept art for what will be the final look of the revised Test Track attraction at Epcot. The blog has indicated that the new look will installed this week and visible to park guests soon. Also, note the nod to World of Motion on the canopy covering. Further details indicate the Fastpass area is remaining much the same as it was, but the entrance has been reshaped to the semicircular shape we’ve seen progressing form the last several weeks in construction updates. As always, click to enlarge the artwork and examine the changes yourself, and if you’re interested in history of the World of Motion and Test Track pavilion there’s always The Epcot Explorer’s Encyclopedia.
Another day, another quick jaunt to Epcot to check out the work on Test Track 2.0 which will open in December.
As you can see in the above photo, the base around the new marquee has been installed and a survey crew is determining the final specifics to install the signage. A bit further back, the curved extension of the main building which will function as the new entrance is beginning to be skinned. A few more shots from around the area can be found in the gallery below – though there were reports that the installation of the canopy covering artwork had begun – it’s still just a few pieces of tarp attached for apparent visual testing purposes rather than an actual installation of the final look.
Nearby, the snark kiosk out-front of Mission: SPACE has come out from behind refurbishment. It has been re-angled and recessed more into the original Future World East planters suggesting Disney finally decided it was a permanent structure. Also there’s a chance they thought it was blocking the flow of guests to Mission: SPACE. We regret to inform Disney that a snack kiosk sticking out into the walkway is NOT what is keeping guests away from Mission: SPACE.
Disney filed a permit today to begin installing FASTPASS signage at several attractions in Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The attractions listed below will receive FASTPASS in the near future. As you may notice, several of these attractions were outfitted with FASTPASS+ RFID scanners as we’ve documented here on the Epcyclopedia blog.
- Spaceship Earth
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends
- Turtle Talk
- Journey into Imagination with Figment
Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
- Muppetvision 3D
- The Great Movie Ride
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- Americal Idol
- Disney Jr Live on Stage
One address, 396 Cypress Drive we don’t recognize, but if we had to guess we’d say it’s the Studio Backlot Tram Tour.
There’s been a lot of buzz on the wire lately over Disney’s filings with the FCC for their NextGen wristbands that will replace paper tickets at the Walt Disney World resort. These wristbands will replace tickets not only for resort guests, but eventually all guests including passholders. The new system obvious requires new turnstiles, which Epcot has been quietly installing for the last few weeks at the front entrance. Today, however, concrete proof that the work was on the turnstiles electrical systems to support the NextGen project and not some other upgrade in the area was provided with their latest permit.
Epcot was the park which tested the NextGen RFID-chipped turnstiles (the same system contained within the wristbands). During the test, guests arriving from the parking lot were segregated from guests arriving by Disney buses or monorail and had their tickets “chipped.” This process involved putting an RFID sticker on the paper ticket and pairing it with the ticket data. These guests then proceeded to enter using the new turnstiles and the RFID system. A similar process will likely be implemented to transfer existing paper tickets into wristbands when the time comes. It’s a relatively simple and painless process as dozens of Cast Members were assigned handheld tablets to scan and link the old paper tickets to the new RFID chips. It’s simply a matter of using wristbands now instead of stickers with RFID chips in them.
The new NextGen system should support park entry, resort purchases, FASTPASS+, and room keys all on the wristband unit. Further technology to make rides and shows interact with guests based on their personal information (name, event related to trip like birthday, etc..) should come online in the future. The wristbands are to come in a variety of colors, the FCC filing showing the basic silver band, with guests able to buy upgraded wristbands with Disney character and theme park designs as keepsakes. These designer bands are to be heavily marketed to annual passholders.
Disney has formally announced that the reimagined Test Track attraction at Epcot will have a grand reopening on December 6th.This reopening date allows Disney to group Test Track into the press hoopla for New Fantasyland which also grand opens that day. Internal estimates and cast member schedules still point to an “functional ride” date around November 21st to begin soft openings and any scheduled annual passholders or cast member previews.
Remember, that while New Fantasyland doesn’t open until December 6th as well “formally” – first riders will be on the Little Mermaid ride as soon as October 22nd (Cast Member previews.) If you’re interested in learning more about how the parks evolve over time and how attractions are replaced, reopened, etc.. be sure to check out our book on Epcot’s history: The Epcot Explorer’s Encyclopedia.