RUMOR: Disney Executives ‘Officially’ Cancel EPCOT’s Play Pavilion, Will Abandon Project Unfinished

The reimagining of EPCOT was highly anticipated for many years, so when it was mostly unveiled at the 2019 D23 Expo (and honestly in small chunks in the years leading up to that on this very website), many were excited to finally see the park get the much needed love it deserved. Flash forward to 2022, and a good portion of the project remains in limbo or has been canceled, including a second phase of announcements which were anticipated to be made public at some point around right now, at least when the plan was formulated many years ago. While the originally envisioned festival pavilion was canned and Disney remains quiet on the Mary Poppins attraction for World Showcase, they had also been publicly ignoring the existence of the Play pavilion, an announced replacement for the former Wonders of Life in World Discovery (formerly Future World East).

According to sources inside the company, that silence would remain through the D23 Expo 2022, and it did, with no mention of the existence of the project from executives or Imagineers. Strangely enough, just weeks later, the pavilion was mentioned on the EPCOT 40 map given to guests, and its pavilion logo even featured on EPCOT 40 merchandise, which is still being released as we speak. Despite all of this, sources in the company now indicate that executives have “officially” canceled the project during a retreat to Walt Disney World.

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Reportedly, it was the chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products, Josh D’Amaro, who pulled the trigger and killed the project. Those familiar with the pavilion said that a lot of the interior had already been installed and completed. Given that it is rumored that current management will throw away the Harmonious barges when they hastily replace the show, giving up on a half-built new attraction doesn’t seem so crazy by comparison. It’s unknown exactly why the pavilion is being canned, whether it be that it wasn’t a strong concept to begin with, that it might be dated by the time it opens, simply that EPCOT did not want to pay the expected labor costs of a space that required live entertainers and loads of Cast Members to staff a number of smaller exhibits, or some combination of all of the above.

Honestly, the news comes as no surprise to additional sources in the company who stated that programmers and other Imagineers who were working on the Play pavilion were let go during the initial round of layoffs at the height of the pandemic.

If you walk by the pavilion on your way to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, you’ll notice construction fences are still standing and that they went out of their way to also build a planter over what would have been the entrance to the later addition. This isn’t something you typically do if you plan to build a pathway in a space just months later.

Of course, as this is a rumor, it is possible that things can change. With the project started, it could certainly be restarted or revamped using the bones already built at some point down the road, but it sounds like that is not even being discussed as of yet.

Will you be upset if the Play Pavilion is never finished, or should there simply be something else put in this EPCOT pavilion? Let us know in the comments below.

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36 thoughts on “RUMOR: Disney Executives ‘Officially’ Cancel EPCOT’s Play Pavilion, Will Abandon Project Unfinished”

  1. Sounds like the historic transformation is going great! Let’s see… Poppins, cancelled. Festival Center, cancelled. Spaceship Earth redo, cancelled. Play Pavilion, cancelled.

    So they spent more than a billion dollars and got a D-list attraction clone from Paris and a Guardians coaster where they had to cut most of the show scenes. Great job to all involved!

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    • You do know that Chapek said that Marry Poppins is on HD and that there are rumors that Spaceship Earth is still coming. Anything could happen.

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    • Honestly, Disney’s current management have lost all focus as to what EPCOT was meant to be.
      Walt envisioned this park as a microcosm of the world we live in, showing lands of beauty, mystery and science. These proposed new venues do nothing to inspire ticket buyers. There was more joy attending a park with tried and true attractions even if old. Why not improve on success instead of coming up with off the wall ideas, spending huge amounts starting the project then just letting it die on the vine.
      Disney patrons are loosing all hope that the park can return to the glory of years past.

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    • Every time they plan to revamp with this magnitude, it always seems to come with a force de majeure. Hopefully now that the CEO has been ousted… good things will follow. He didn’t have the best ideas, so the cheaper updates they were giving us are probably best not done anyhow.

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  2. I guess I’m not surprised or even that sad, just disappointed. The concept of the Play Pavilion just seemed a bit weak from the start and I was hoping to be surprised. I think it just hurts to have yet another part of the promised new EPCOT be taken away.

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  3. Hi Tom!

    I’m not upset (nor surprised) that the Play Pavilion project may be cancelled. It didn’t really seem like a well-thought-out attraction in the first place.

    Speaking of not well-though-out attractions, Harmonious anyone?! Although I’m very happy that Disney is going to remove this unbelievable eyesore from World Showcase Lagoon, the fact that they thought this was good idea in the first place goes to show the lack of vision within the company at the moment.

    I know I’m stating the obvious, but there is a really big problem within Imagineering right now and has been since Chapek took the reins. The insistence that IPs be part of every single attraction and show has really stifled creativity and new ideas. IPs are great, but their popularity can be fleeting. Attractions that are not tied to a particular IP can (and have) become iconic parts of the park.

    Those creative, timeless, non-IP attractions are the kind that have kept diehard Disney fans coming back year after year. However, those diehard fans are the exact people that the current leadership don’t really care about. You see, we know too much about how to visit our favorite place. We know how to save a few bucks here and there. We don’t spend enough on food and merchandise. We contribute to an “unfavorable attendance mix” according to management. What that all means is that they don’t care if we visit or come back because we’re not contributing enough to the bottom line.

    My family and I love Disney World and always look forward to our next trip. I fortunately could afford to go right now if I wanted to. I am, however, having a really hard time with all the un-guest-friendly changes that the current leadership have implemented. The constant nickel-and-diming has made me feel like we’re all thought of more as bottomless piggybanks and less like the “guests” they like to refer to us as. The need for park reservations, the addition of Genie+, individual Lightening Lanes, no free transportation to and from MCO, paying to park at the resorts, ever increasing food and beverage costs, etc. The list goes on and on for so many things that have been added over recent years (some that used to be free) that are great for for management and the bottom line, but very “magical” for the “guest”.

    I’m not naive and we all know that Disney is in business to make money. I do feel though that in past years they weren’t as blatant about their desire to milk every last dime out of all who visit the parks. However, as long as they continue to make money, they don’t (and won’t) see a need to change.

    Time will tell how Chapek’s “leadership” will play out, but at the moment, the stockholders approve and that apparently is all he cares about.

    I know that this went way beyond “Will you be upset if the Play Pavilion is never finished…” but thanks for letting me go on (and on, and on). Have a great day everybody!

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  4. Unless it comes directly from wdw i do not think anyone should throw it under a bus. Lots of stuff go yellow till they go green not much unless its blue sky and doesnt exactlt exisit for good reasons is red. Bc i am hearing still its been delayed and will open w moana and the rest of items late next yr. Whom am i to doubt the great tom of wdwnt i just note rumors are rumors. Figment reboot has been back and forth as much as horizons coming back bc of the vr ride system that looked alot like the vechicle. You never know till its in stone! And considering wdi was still working on it w construction as of this am its doubtful its scraped.

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  5. Build something else. It was a bad idea to begin with. They assumed they were going to fill it with something “on the cheap” and it turned out it probably would NOT be cheap in operating expenses. Just another embarrassing, planning Fail.

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  6. My thoughts are that what’s there can easily be tied into something else. People want an actual ride, hopefully, Disney can find a way to deliver one in this location. Body Wars is the closest thing to a ride people have ever experienced in this space, hopefully, they can do better than that if they go down that road. I could see the existing structure working well as a queue, and maybe a couple other elements. I could see this being a long term thing, as I have a gut feeling (nothing more) that they’re looking at redoing SSE and Imagination before Epcot’s 50th. We shall see.

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    • But remember it’s just a rumor and that the truth may have been warpped. They said that Tron would never be finished and yet it was. Maybe it’s just code yellow. There is another commenter here who heared it’s still coming.

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  7. With the curb and planter now blocking the path to the Wonders of Life/Play Pavilion, there’s no way to use that building as another festival space. At least before, that building’s rotunda, lounge, and theater were used as a festival center for a number of Food & Wine festivals, and even a few Flower and Garden festivals. EPCOT doesn’t have enough space as it for all the festival events it holds, and the World Celebration Pavilion replacement Communicore doesn’t look big enough to make a significant help in that regard.

    And yes, I’m disappointed to hear that Play may be canned.

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  8. Let’s just bring back a classic favorite, not tied to a movie, and relaunch Horizons in that unused space. A look at the past and an imagining of the future. The old equipment must be in storage somewhere…

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  9. Disney management decisions lately are horrible. They advertise grand plans, promote them, scale it down, and put out sub standard product instead. And then act shocked when guests dont like it. They are the very definition of “pissing money away”.

    I really wish they would cancel the Splash Mountain change while they are into canceling projects. Make a Tiana attraction that goes over and around Tom Sawyer Island instead.

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  10. Thank you Bob Iger, Kathleen Kennedy and Disney employees connected to Bad Reboot for destroying the Walt Disney Company. WDC raised all their Park prices because Baktu Land and Star Cruiser are billion dollar failures. Star Wars Park projects have not been able to make a profit and worse they haven’t mad their money back. Disney is in so much financial debt because of the bad choices by Bob Iger like his pet project NBA Experience. Disney+ is another failure with Disney transferring the profits from Hulu and ESPN+ to Disney+ just to keep it sustained. I’m sure Disney will got bankrupt that Apple will them just like Microsoft will buy Netflix. Streaming doesn’t make a profit.

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  11. Seems like it makes sense, since Zootopia is coming to AK. No need for it in two parks. Honestly, I think Moana would be scrapped at epcot too if it was announced at AK sooner. Now it just seems awkward.

    The real question is – bulldoze the pavillion and build new, or try to shoehorn a ride into it?

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  12. Hi 🌻✌️.all here is just my humble opinion.. Think about all the unsupervised minors that have been climbing onto and into sections of these attractions , climbing on and damaging building facades that are not supposed to be part of a ride or attractions ..even alleged ‘adult’ parents or other alleged ‘guardians’ not supervising the minors.no discipline or punishments are now given for bad behavior..getting into physical fights , destroying and vandalizing property , assaulting people minding their own business 💥💥💥💨thefts , drunk persons acting like out of control baboons around children🐗🐗💥💨😭🤮 – inexcusable and appalling ( arrogantly pushing people around and out of the way to cut in line to catch up to family or friends already in line ,🐗💨🐗💨 sense – of gross – entitlement bullies 🐂🐂🐂 and no self – control or respect for families with very young children , terrorizing all in their path .🐗🐗🐗💨💥💥💨🤕🤕😵😱 with little to no repercussions on the perpetrators.😱😫😬😡😡. slaps on the wrists for mostly all that do these things ( There should be a lifetime ban from all parks – zero tolerance – NO exceptions🚫 for the perpetrators ) .. because disney corp. apparently doesn’t care anymore about the safety of it’s customers .. they only care about the cash the sheeple carry with them💰💰💸💸💸💵💴💶💷 .. the naive credit card culture.💳💳..not getting it that inflation is hitting all things .🧠🧠🧠🙄🙄🤑🤑. including the skyrocketing interest rates , bank fees and food/ drink / hotels restaurant costs / tips on a lot of these amenities.if not all .insurance costs on these parks too.all costs passed down to the customers, the fuel costs for customers , electric bills on these parks through the roof, maintenance costs for traveling family vehicles , airline costs. All things costing higher every day ..plus rides rotting away from lack of proper maintenance.corrupt inspectors and ride operators not caring about safety , just care about the cash🙄😡🤑🤑 , the increasingly rude and creepy’cast members’ increasingly not wanting to interact with children , pedos disguised as caring workers🤢😡😡 , bad & rude service.. unpredictable conditions / potential criminal history of all park workers,plus this woke b.s. pushing sexual identity crap and sexual behavior and indoctrination and brainwashing attitude on all minor children – even toddlers four yrs old and up.🐗🤑🐗😡💩🤡👺👺👺👹👹👹.too much working on destroying the core reason Walt Disney created the whole concept of W.D.W. experience.The man is probably spinning in his grave⚰️🤮😣💫💨 for what his dream has turned into..😭🤔😔 it’s a place for nobody now 👎👎👎👎. to bring families with children ..the ‘happiest experience on earth’.. turned into a nightmare instead 🤢🤮🤮🤮🤮.. I hope Disney Corp. Worldwide loses money hand over fist for what they ( the corporate suits in charge) have done to this slice of paradise ..Park workers can find a less evil place to work.or just move away with whatever they can take with them by bus if necessary.. maybe the ‘suits’ have begun to realize that the feral , uncouth , arrogant , bullying , hostile , violent , destructive , irresponsible , spoiled rotten ‘veruca salts’that ruin the *very* *expensive* experience for all others no longer deserve another childlike playland to run roughshod over and destroy.why build at all.. Maybe a certain percentage of the customers selfish , narcissistic , ‘ mine mine mine’ 🤑🤑🤑🐗🐗🐗 attitude / mindset( nourished and encouraged by the greedy internet- shameful) ruin it for everyone..I am SO glad that the ‘special status’ has been removed from disney corp. NO longer are they their own government.. GOOD..Hope that status removal goes worldwide for ALL their parks .. .they will of course choose to jack the prices to the SKY 📈💰💰💵💴💶💷💳💸💸💸🙄- to make up financially for the status change ..🐗🤑😤🤑 combined with the crime rates going higher every day .. I don’t understand how any person – with or without children / teens – could want to go and spend at any amusement parks / traveling carnivals / circuses too.better to pack a picnic lunch and find a hopefully peaceful , flower – strewn large open meadow🏞️🌳🌳🌳🌲🌳🌲🌾🌾🌸🌻🥀🌺🥀🌼🌸🌅🌄🏖️⛱️ to spend time with your family .. A much better atmosphere to bond with your family and create lasting *positive* memories.. Your children want your *undivided* attention..One doesn’t have to spend like crazy to have them love you ..material values are the wrong values to teach children..and fancy resorts and expensive amusement parks aren’t necessary to bond with your children .. just cook some food and involve them in the process and the children help clean up the kitchen afterward .teach responsibility for ones actions in the process .. with *everything*.. .and watch their faces beam with joy.🌝🌝🌝😊😊😊👍👍👍. spend your *time* with them .. instead of ‘oddles’ of money .. teach the proper values.. not for material wealth or status – symbol superficial places that are now crumbling down.Proper parenting first .. friend second..
    It’s the *quality* of the time with children .. not the ‘.. quantity’ 🌄🌅🏞️✌️😊😊😊🌝👍👍💪🤳🙏🍀🍀🍀💐🌻🌺❤️❤️❤️✝️☯️🛐☮️🔎📖🔍🔮🌐🍀💢💨

    Reply
  13. Has ANYONE taken a look at how fast Epic Universe is being built, and then compared it to the construction @ WDW? It took what, 3 years before Tron got to that point. With all the price increases happening, you’d figure that Disney would start pouring money into the park. That seems to not be the case. In fact, with the park reservation system, it seems to be the opposite. If you wonder why loyal Disney fans and travelers are souring on WDW, just look @ what Universal is doing and look at what WDW is doing. WDW is going to lose a tremendous amount of guests when Epic opens. Just sayin’

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  14. I wish they’d make it the official festival center. Many people are still uncomfortable with things that require you to touch screens, etc. because of Covid, and it seems like Play was going to have a lot of that kind of interactivity. Add to that the fact that it seemed completely kid-focused, and you have a pavilion with a fairly narrow audience. Since EPCOT is arguably the most adult friendly park, it always seemed like an odd choice from the start.

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  15. Play was always a week concept. Communicore 5.0. OG communicore was badass. I still miss it.
    I would have liked to have see a Merry Poppin’s ride. I like dark rides.
    Play should be Horizons 2.0. that would be awesome.
    I’m guessing, just spit balling here, Disney is playing a bit of poker here, keeping the cards close to their chest.
    Have a competitor that while much smaller in size, has gone from a side trip to Disney to the competition, a formidable competitor at that.
    A fith gate is not realistic, what would you even call it.
    Universal calls their purchased and relocated Wet n’ Wild a third gate.
    By that logic Disney has Six, what do you do with more?
    Pads are in place at every Disney park barring Magic Kingdom for expansion.
    Perhaps they just take things back to the drawing board and keep it close to the chest, and make it wow!
    You know they are capable, immersive experience is their forte

    Reply

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