After focusing on the other side of Epcot in our last update, we move over to Future World East to see what’s happening over here.
Test Track is scheduled to reopen on February 26th or 27th. Until then, Epcot operates with just three Tier 1 FastPass+ attractions – Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, and Epcot Forever. We’ll discuss more about how that affects wait times and FastPass+ availability as we go about our day touring the Park in the next series. When the ride reopens late next month, it’s unlikely that we’ll notice too many changes, but hopefully work has gone into making the attraction as reliable as possible moving forward. Some effects will probably be restored and we can expect a nice overall refresh. Test Track is historically down about 15% of the time at Park open, which is awfully high when it’s the most popular ride in the Park. That’s one major reason why it’s the top FastPass+ priority at Epcot when the attraction is available. Holding a FastPass+ means that you’ll be able to experience the attraction with priority access when the ride is available. Holding FastPass+ for Test Track also means you can start your day with a different, lower-priority attraction, which makes for a less-stressful morning.
At least we can trade pins with this cone in the meantime.
While the entrance to the Space 220 restaurant is expected to be located over near Mission: SPACE, the clearest view of the green circular building is still here to the left of Test Track. There is still no known opening date for the eatery that was supposed to open in time for Christmas…of last year. They’ve got about two months to hit the “THIS WINTER” target. Come March 19th, we’ll be talking about a spring opening. Considering we haven’t heard anything about dining in outer space for some time, a late March opening seems likely, if they can even hit that target.
MouseGear will be closed for the foreseeable future.
The expectation is that the store will be reworked, likely with a layout similar to World of Disney and the other stores that Disney has recently refurbished. Disney has tried rearranging MouseGear several times over the last couple of years, to the point where I never knew where anything was located, despite being in there a couple of times per week. I’d expect the store’s final form to enjoy a more open concept with lower shelves. But it’s also possible that the trends have changed, and instead of being fifteen years behind the times, MouseGear will reopen as if it’s 2015 or 2016 instead of 2005 or 2006.
Temporary MouseGear is located in the old Innoventions East building to the right of Electric Umbrella and sort of across from the old side entrance to MouseGear.
I’d probably plan on doing the bulk of your shopping elsewhere, but the store does stock a variety of the most popular generic merchandise. With merchandise sales assuredly down sharply, you can expect to see a lot more temporary merchandise kiosks set up around the Park, despite the fact that all of the walls are already crowding most walkways.
Probably not coincidentally…
Temporary MouseGear is where you’ll pick up your Annual Passholder magnet for the Festival of the Arts.
You may need to use the side entrance on the far right side of the building to pick up that magnet. If you can do so on a day other than Saturday (in particular) or Sunday, then you’ll want to do that, as lines are much longer on the weekends. On my Friday visit, I waited behind about three people. The next day, more than a hundred were in line.
Your best bet for a hot cup of coffee is also over here at the Joffrey’s kiosk out of the way of the rest of the Park. We’ll check out Temporary Starbucks momentarily. The lines over there are rough.
Speaking of which, with all of the construction, we see the various elements of the Festival of the Arts moving around this year. This paint-by-the-number mural used to be situated up in World Showcase, but moves over here to the wall around the old Fountain of Nations instead.
The wall in this picture can’t actually be seen from the ground anymore as another set of walls has gone up, effectively cutting this section of Future World off from the other side. You now have to go all the way around MouseGear and use a different bypass to get to the other side of Future World.
This is that path around MouseGear.
On the plus side, you’ll be able to walk past the purple martins and their plastic homes. We learned all about that on our “A Path Less Traveled” tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
The “Green Landing Family Playzone” is also located along this path. It will be slightly less creepy for you to pass it, considering this was a dead end when I took this picture.
Zoomed out, it’s quite the walk around MouseGear to get back to the World Showcase.
Since there is no fountain, there is also no fountain stage for some of the various Festival performances.
Instead, the stage enjoys a nice waterside spot at the base of World Showcase.
Though it’s possible that some of this stuff gets in the way of the Epcot Forever FastPass+ viewing. Even if it does, I’m not sure that you’re necessarily missing anything.
The schedule changes from week to week, but the Festival of the Arts is still centered around the weekends. If memory serves, during the first year, the food kiosks were only open on the weekends. The Broadway shows were also exclusive to the weekends. Now, you can enjoy both every day.
Since at least half of Epcot’s entrance is behind walls, a lot of the set pieces have moved elsewhere.
The main marquee is down here on the walk into World Showcase.
And the flip side.
We’ll get a better look at the current wall situation over the next couple of days, but you can probably imagine this area being walled off along where the fountain used to sit, necessitating the reroute around MouseGear.
Fortunately, the chalk art still lines the walkway into World Showcase as artists work on it throughout the Festival.
The Animation Academy has moved to The American Gardens Theater, which is the same one that hosts the various concerts throughout the year, in addition to the Candlelight Processional around the holidays. Note that only two times are available – 12:30pm and 1:30pm. You’ll need to make your way up there earlier in the day should you wish to participate.
You can also “step inside the art” around Epcot, including this installation on the walkway up towards World Showcase. There were some rumors that my own work space would be featured, but apparently they thought it would take too long to paint all of the empty bottles of scotch. “At least three years,” was the quote.
You can’t blame them for going in a different direction. They don’t even have to paint in any plastic straws in the ocean this this year, since all of the paper ones already disintegrated in our drinks.
Some of the costlier seminars have also moved around.
We haven’t even begun to see just how fragmented Epcot is going to end up being over the next couple of years as the various bypasses open and close. This is looking back towards the main entrance on the Guest Services side of Spaceship Earth. Currently, Guest Services is as far as you can go on this side. Soon, we’ll be re-routed from the main entrance all the way over to where Temporary MouseGear and The Future Guardians of the Galaxy Ride are located.
We may never see this concrete again now that walls are up on both sides.
Electric Umbrella is also slated to close for a lengthy refurbishment at some point in the near future, with the likelihood that the name and theme will change. You would think electricity, Ben Franklin, kites, umbrellas, keys to the big safe full of money, and hamburgers would be timeless, so maybe we won’t see too many differences.
During Electric Umbrella’s closure, we should see the Odyssey Building/Epcot Experience offer additional food choices.
The Epcot Experience basically serves just Mickey Pretzels and Popcorn at the moment, in addition to beer. To be fair, that is basically the Epcot Experience of 2k20.
Taste Track, the kiosk located outside of Test Track, is also expected to reopen with a menu that includes hamburgers and some of the other items that Electric Umbrella has historically offered.
These “solutions” don’t sound particularly promising, but they may work in a pinch. Disney may even release “The Foodie Guide to That One Section of Epcot That Isn’t Behind Walls in Future World East (Or is it West?).” The grill station at Sunshine Seasons is easily your best bet in Future World.
Cool Wash is also over here.
The Layered Slushies that were available for Food and Wine are still on the menu.
And there’s an item or two featured for Festival of the Arts.
Back out near Electric Umbrella, we’ll take a moment to relish this view.
Chances are that whenever you visit over the next 18+ months, the wall configuration will be different than what you see now.
I actually watched as attractions were taped over and removed from the roster in real time. Talk about being a part of history.
Pretty soon Disney is going to have to employ the same red arrows that I use in these pictures to show people the convoluted paths to get to their various destinations. Just take a left, and then a right, and then another right, and then there might be a fork, which, if you’ve gotten there, then you’ve gone too far, so go back and take a left, then a right or a left, then a right, and you’ll be there. Those are the actual directions to Starbucks from this spot.
We may have to jetpack out of here soon. The exit arrow will just be pointing up and away.
On the opposite side of Spaceship Earth, the crowd waiting for rope drop is building. Because only one side isn’t walled off, Disney has moved the front of the holding area much closer to the middle of Future World.
This gentleman on our right is about to serenade the guests, who have no way of escaping sans jetpack, with some drumsticks and a trashcan.
Otherwise, I’m not sure how much more I have to impart until it’s touring time. Here is the back side of Figment in a picture where I don’t think we can specifically make out any walls.
There’s the monorail going by.
It’s going by over here, too.
And again on the opposite side of Future World.
The Temporary Starbucks is located just off of the World Showcase promenade on the walk towards Canada. The lines are typically long, particularly on colder mornings. I’d seek out one of the Joffrey’s locations instead. There’s one in between the Canada and UK Pavilions, one to the left of the United States Pavilion, and one on the walk towards the Mexico Pavilion, in addition to the one we saw in Future World near Temporary MouseGear.
Plus, if you go to Joffrey’s, you can pick up one of these ridiculous coffees with a donut sitting on top of it.
There are actually four different ones.
I’ve had them all.
To the right of Temporary Starbucks is a much-needed new set of bathrooms.
The small set next to Refreshment Port was woefully undersized.
This is where we’re at, along the walkway up into World Showcase, from the walkway outside of the Imagination Pavilion.
I think that largely covers what’s happening around Future World.
We’ll be able to get a much better look at the Guardians of the Galaxy construction next time, now that some walls have come down in anticipation of another bypass opening closer to the old Universe of Energy building.
We’ll also take a walk around World Showcase so that we can dissect Canada’s immigration policy according to a 10-minute Circle-Vision 360 film.
We’ll be able to throw our hands up at the fact that the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along is playing to packed theaters from 11am to 7:30pm daily, followed by about six people watching Impressions de France from 7:30pm through close.
We’ll head out when there actually are a few other people around.
It’s likely that Future World will only begin to “feel” more cramped as more and more areas are walled off.
Epcot has always been relatively wide open, but you definitely start to feel the pinch once half of the walkways are closed.
Fortunately, “the future” shouldn’t be too far off.
We’ve put up with Hollywood Studios for 30 years.
We can give Epcot 18 months. 24 at the most.
We’ll head back in to rope drop Soarin’ on a busy Saturday and see how our day goes.