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.
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.