June 21, 2024

EPCOT Overhaul News: CommuniCore Construction Continues Crawl to Completion

Walt Disney World has shared an update, of sorts, about the multi-year transformation of EPCOT. Along with that, we have new construction photos of CommuniCore Hall & Plaza, plus commentary and opening expectations.

This follows the other news about EPCOT’s New Nighttime Spectacular & Disney100 Anniversary Celebration in Late 2023. With EPCOT wrapping up its overhaul, the park will play host to the 100 Years of Wonder Celebration and a new nighttime spectacular, among other things, while also have new dedicated meet & greet spaces.

Work on the unnamed nighttime spectacular will start in a little over a week, as construction crews begin removal of the Stargate and Water Tacos following the final Harmonious performance on April 2, 2023. The new nighttime spectacular promises to be a dazzling display of music, pyrotechnics, lasers and lighting; the show will feature an original composition and evocative selections from the Disney songbook, all woven together to remind us that we are more alike than different.

Turning back to the front of EPCOT, the park will also see completion of the new World Celebration neighborhood in Late 2023. As the hub of the park, it will feature different gardens that change with the seasons. It will also be home to the new Communicore Plaza and the new Communicore Hall, the latter offering a place to meet Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

World Celebration will also anchor the park’s renowned festivals. It is also where guests will discover Dreamers Point, an inspiring overlook showcasing a statue of Walt Disney called “Walt the Dreamer.” Walt Disney World has also implied that Moana’s Journey of Water will open in Fall 2023; as we cover in our latest Moana’s Journey of Water Construction Update, that walk-through could quietly debut months earlier than that.

As for World Celebration, this area that’s still behind walls will provide a park hub divided into several different gardens, with a central planter based on the five-ring EPCOT logo, according to Walt Disney World.

Filled with seating and shade, World Celebration will be a space to connect with one another and the nature around you in this lush new area. Each of these gardens will have their own identities, and they’ll change along with the festivals throughout the year.

At night, the gardens in World Celebration will take on a whole new life. They’re designed to be enjoyed in the round, where lighting immerses you in the nighttime experience that will evolve through the seasons.

On the outdoor side facing CommuniCore Plaza, it’ll have an outdoor stage for concerts and performances during festival season, which is integral to EPCOT. This looks similar to what previously existed on the backside of the Fountain of Nations, except now at ground level and without as cool of a backdrop.

When CommuniCore Hall opens in World Celebration in Late 2023, it will be the center of festival programming throughout the park. CommuniCore Hall will be a flexible exhibition and gallery space, offering a variety of experiences that highlight art, live music, food – complete with a demonstration kitchen – and more.

It will also be home to a new character greeting location called Mickey & Friends (not the parking structure). You’ll be able to meet Mickey Mouse and some of his best pals in this colorful space. This is a purpose-built location that’ll likely be similar to the old meet & greet space in Innoventions.

CommuniCore Hall will also be the home of an exhibition space that will change with each festival throughout the year. One possibility pictured above is imagined for EPCOT International Festival of the Arts.

Walt Disney World claims that the architecture plays with light, shapes and reflections, and was designed by Walt Disney Imagineering to “celebrate the legacy of EPCOT and the original CommuniCore buildings.” Sure thing, Bob.

In fairness, this is definitely an upgrade from the Giant EPCOT Dirt Pit™️! Whether it’s an upgrade from the prior central spine of Future World is debatable, as is whether all of this is “worth” several years of construction walls and a torn up park. Nothing I see in the concept art leads me to those conclusions. Perhaps it’ll all present better in person.

See our post about CommuniCore Hall and Plaza Coming to EPCOT for more ‘color commentary’ about this venue. No other specifics have been shared as to the meet & greets coming to the World Celebration neighborhood of EPCOT.

With those details out of the way, let’s take a look at new construction photos of the Giant EPCOT Dirt Pit™️ and Communicore Hall as of Spring 2023. I don’t have enough to say about this to inject commentary between each photo–I’ll have some brief parting thoughts at the end…

My first thought, when look at this from the monorail, is that a lot still remains to be done. Moana’s Journey of Water is nearly completed, but everything else looks like it’s several months from being finished. Late 2023 is still ~6 months away, but it’s going to be a race against the clock to have this opened by October 2023. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas seems more likely, which seems like an odd time to kick off the Disney100 Celebration.

That’s if you look at the construction without any knowledge of how long it’s taken to get the project to this point. When I browse through my photos from late 2019 or early 2020, they aren’t that much different than these. If anything, CommuniCore Hall is still a few months from looking how Innoventions did in late 2019 before its demolition began.

Ultimately, I’m just ready for this all to be done. By the time everything is said and done, it’ll have been 4 years that the central spine of EPCOT has been torn up and went behind construction walls. That’s a ridiculous amount of time to have the main corridor of the park out of commission, and the pace of the project has been too slow from the outset. But at least it was going to be ambitious at one point, overhauling a park that had been stagnating for far too long.

What’s discouraging is to go through 3 rounds of redesigns and end up with this. It seems incredibly short-sighted to build something roughly equivalent to what they tore down (minus the symmetry) and like a tremendous amount of money and several years have been wasted for a difference amounting to “more trees!” and “one fewer fountain!” This is going to be around for decades to come, and looks wholly unambitious and uninspired. Whatever, though. It’s not like this is the park dedicated to the spirit of human innovation and imagination. Oh wait. 

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YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think of Walt Disney World’s plans for CommuniCore Hall and Plaza? Think this will all actually be done by Late 2023? Is this an exciting development, or underwhelming as compared to the previous multi-level festival center? Looking forward to any of these projects coming to EPCOT? Disappointed about anything that has been delayed or cancelled? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

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