Back in February, Disney announced their plans to turn the former Wonders of Life/Festival center in Future World into the “Play Pavilion”. Here’s how Disney describes this new addition for Epcot:
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!
Per Zach Riddley, portfolio executive, Walt Disney Imagineering:
“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.”
To no one’s surprise, the timeframe is the same as just about every project announced for Florida right now: “just in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary” in 2021. Given how deadlines were missed for the last several Florida projects (Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Toy Story Land, etc.), here’s hoping they can actually make it. The timeframe would be very close to the opening of the adjacent Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster in that same year if all goes according to plan. This is a necessity given that this entire side of Future World will be hosting thrill rides with height requirements at that point, with the Play Pavilion being the only attraction that smaller children or those averse to roller coasters and simulators can enjoy without a far walk.
Beyond the initial announcement, Disney gave no details of what will actually be inside the pavilion when it does eventually open. Well, allow us to shed some light on some of what’s under the projection-mapped dome of Future World:
- Animation Academy will return under the guidance of Edna Mode from The Incredibles. Guests will once again be able to learn how to draw Disney characters in this relocated offering that was once housed at The Magic of Disney Animation at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
- Nick and Judy from Zootopia will host an interactive game called “Hotel Heist”. You can see the entrance to this attraction on the right side of the concept art.
- Character meet and greets for Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope, Joy and Sadness, and Baymax should find permanent homes here.
- Adjacent to the Wreck-It Ralph meet and greet, guests will find an arcade, as well as a play area for toddlers.
- As seen in the concept art above, live performers will take to the stage in the very center of the pavilion, roughly where the former Goofy About Health, Making of Me, and Anacomical Players stages and theaters once stood.
There are no plans to use the large show buildings for either Body Wars or Cranium Command during this initial phase. All of these offerings will be held under the main dome. Apparently, Operations still refuses to hand these spaces over Walt Disney Imagineering.
Keep in mind that things can change and several of the above offerings can still be switched to a different IP or the basic idea of each attractions altered before we get to 2021. Similar to the “Black Box” ride we told you about that’s heading to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the idea with the Play Pavilion is that all of these offerings can be altered very quickly to reflect a new intellectual property or concept. Yes, the Play Pavilion will be heavy on screens and projections as well.
For those worried that there won’t be a Festival Center now that the Play Pavilion has set up shop, don’t fret. You can read all about the plans for a new Festival Center building in our post detailing Project Gamma.
So, are you excited for Epcot’s Play Pavilion?