BREAKING: What’s Inside Epcot’s Upcoming Play Pavilion? Animation Academy Drawing Class Returns, Zootopia Hotel Heist Attraction, and More!

This post may contain affiliate links; please read the disclosure for more information.

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.”

In this artist rendering, a new play pavilion in development at Epcot will include first-of-their-kind experiences devoted to playful fun, inviting guests into an innovative city bursting with interactive experiences and hands-on activities. Friends and family will interact with favorite Disney characters in an energetic metropolis unlike anything ever seen before at Epcot. The as-yet-unnamed space will debut to guests in time for the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary. (Disney)

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?

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

12
Leave a Reply

avatar
12 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
1 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
12 Comment authors
Heather WeberBobAngelique NavarroCurtRobyn Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
RebeccaMcK
Guest
RebeccaMcK

I’m very happy to hear that Animation Academy will be part of it. I miss that drawing class.

Jeannette Sanchez
Guest
Jeannette Sanchez

I can’t hardly wait for the new play pavilion at Epcot. Awesome!

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

Although screens aren’t the answer for everything, I am glad to hear Disney is making areas that can be changed over rather quickly. Also being in Future World, screens and projections aren’t out of place.

Ryan Amerson
Guest
Ryan Amerson

I’m very happy to see Animation Academy coming to Epcot. I miss the one at Hollywood Studios.

Meg
Guest
Meg

One thing I will be glad for is an indoor toddler play area amidst all the height required rides. I may not even need to use it by the time it’s available, but i can say from experience how helpful it will be to future families with crazy af toddlers who need something to do other than walk around in the heat (or cold 😂). Epcot is a big park and not always the most fun for the little ones.

Hilly
Guest
Hilly

I know this is just the “initial phase”, but the initial phase feels a bit underwhelming (other than the Animation Academy, basically a glorified meet and greet area. However, I am glad they are finally doing something with this pavilion.

Eddie
Guest
Eddie

That’s just sad. Such a depressing come-down from what EPCOT can and should be. What a cheap-sounding “attraction.” What a pathetic turn of events the last few years have been for EPCOT.

Robyn
Guest
Robyn

Why won’t operations give up the show buildings of cranium command or body wars? This pavillion is begging for an inside out attraction. Or a monsters inc one, where, if there’s not enough play, the whole pavillion could shut down (you know, like laughter powers Monstropolis). I hope there will be a second phase with actual attractions; I can’t imagine an area of Epcot without some type of actual entertainment to draw crowds to (hence the updates throughout world showcase). Fingers crossed the imagineers have more plans on the horizon.

Curt
Guest
Curt

Just my opinion, but Cranium Command is practically screaming for an Inside Out overlay.

Angelique Navarro
Guest
Angelique Navarro

Interesting to see how this all comes together. I was hoping Cranium Command might make a return but it doesn’t seem like it so far. An “Inside Out” themed show would also be really cool!

Bob
Guest
Bob

It seems to have shades of DisneyQuest.

Heather Weber
Guest
Heather Weber

This sounds so boring. I used to love Epcot. Now if you don’t want to walk around world showcase and eat all day, there is hardly anything to do. This park just seems like it has no theming anymore. Everything is random.