Who’s ready to “play”?! In one of the bigger announcements in recent time, Walt Disney World announced on February 21, 2019 a brand new pavilion for Epcot – the Play Pavilion! It looks like the dominos are starting to drop in the game of chicken being played by Walt Disney World and that park up the street. It has been known for some time that Disney had written an announcement for Epcot and were just waiting for the other non-Disney related announcements to come out to share it. We’d better buckle in and keep the coffee on standby, something tells us we’re in for a summer of major announcements in the Orlando area. For now, let’s dig into what we know about the Play Pavilion and do our best to read between the lines. As our parents would say, go play until you hear the dinner bell!
A Little History
What will be known as the Play Pavilion was once known as, and probably will still be called by some, the Wonders of Life Pavilion. Opening back in 1989, the Wonders of Life Pavilion was themed around the human body and a healthy lifestyle. The pavilion included a simulator attraction called Body Wars (think Star Tours in the body), Cranium Command, and The Making of Me, along with a restaurant and interactive attractions. The pavilion stayed open until the end of 2006, then switched over to the festival center in recent years.
What We Know
Epcot is gearing up for two major events, the first is Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021, and it’s own 40th Anniversary in 2022. According to Jim Hill of Jim Hill Media Disney World is planning on using Epcot as the main celebration center for the 50th anniversary. This would be very similar to what they did for the Millennium Celebration in 1999.
To prepare for the big events, Epcot is undergoing both expansion and reimagineering. The announcement of Play Pavilion speaks directly to the reimagineering of Epcot’s Future World. The opening of the Play Pavilion will be just in time for the 50th anniversary with the other major updates wrapping up in time for the 40th anniversary.
The attractions slated to open for the 50th Anniversary:
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Beauty and the Beast
- New Japan Restaurant
- New Space Restaurant
- Nighttime Spectacular
As part of the announcement, Disney announcement that the Odyssey will be updated as the Epcot Experience Center with interactive exhibits to highlight the changes coming to Epcot. No opening date has been announced.
What Will It Include
The Play Pavilion will be an immersive and interactive “city”. One of the things the pavilion will include is character interactions. The concept art alludes to a variety of characters including Joy, Mickey Mouse, Edna Mode, Tinker Bell, Nick Wilde, Marie, Olaf, Vanellope, and Cinderella. If we had to guess, all of these characters will not be included in the pavilion, but instead just in the concept art. The characters we believe will included are Wreck-It Ralph, Vanellope, and potentially Joy and Sadness from Inside Out. We’re making this assumption as these characters currently have meet and greets in Future World and it would work with the play theme.
Passholder Insights: Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope just got a new Meet and Greet location in Image Works, attached to the Imagination Pavilion.
Beyond the character meet and greets, Disney says the Play Pavilion will include tons of interactive attractions where guests can explore and create. We could see these attractions bringing together a variety of Disney ideas created over the years, from the innoventions and the VOID, to the recently removed Disney Quest. It’s highly unlikely that Disney would reuse any of the technologies from these attractions, but instead use the concepts to create something new.
What Will Not Be Included
More than likely a larger ride will not be included in the Play Pavilion. Usually, if a new area will include a bigger ride (called, an e-ticket attraction), Disney will include it in the official announcement. This does not mean the pavilion will be only character meet and greets. We project there will be some time of show included, probably in the area previously occupied by Cranium Command.
We’re always excited to see new things! Especially, when it’s something new that’s not removing any other attractions. Based on the one piece of concept art we’ve seen, the Play Pavilion looks amazing! There are so many different directions Disney Imagineering could go with the play theme, the sky’s the limit. We’ve got tons of time before dinner, let’s play!