Epcot: A Prototype of the Good & Bad During COVID-19
We’ve had a chance this last week to visit Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to see first hand what the parks are like in a COVID-19 world. For the most part it’s been positive. Here we present some good as well, but also some challenges that are a reflection of not just the challenges of protecting guests from the virus but in dealing with the economic ramifications of it all.
You can find our podcast here on Podbean, iTunes, Spotify, MyTuner, and ListenNotes. If you’re not familiar with Epcot at Walt Disney World, please check out our overview. Know that photos and videos follow below, but my play-by-play narrative can be found on the podcast.
We begin with a very promising entrance to Epcot as shown above. We also see a glimpse of the fountain, which has changed little in construction status since prior to closure.
Even at the start of day, there are few lined up for Spaceship Earth.
The work around during construction still exists in the park.
SeaBase Alpha looks good prior to opening.
In SeaBase Alpha, we see that the Shark World play area has been closed during the pandemic.
Everything looks great inside the Land Pavilion. Except…it didn’t seem like the Cast got the memo that these areas of the park would be available to guests prior to the official opening time.
Garden Grill is one of the only character meet ‘n’ greet locations in all of the parks, but with a late opening, it isn’t offering breakfast currently. It looks quite empty.
There have been so many improvements in the exit of Journey Into Your Imagination. That includes three impressive meet ‘n’ greet locations. But all of this is not available at this time.
Even long established interactive play areas like these Stepping Tones are not available during this period of reopening.
Know know that Starbucks is open first thing in the day, and it has perhaps the longest F&B queues.
We’ll cover the International Food & Wine in an upcoming post/podcast, but as a teaser, know that the Epcot World Showplace is a life saver for the heat of this summer. More to come!
No opening soon signage at Ratatouille. Hmmm.
It’s great to see the Skyliner in operation at Walt Disney World.
This is one of the painful vistas in the park. Closed restaurants that may not open very soon.
Add to that empty streets. Of course, it’s the opening hour, but it feels stark.
I was touched by this hand drawn Mickey Mouse sign for the character drawing experience in the Art of Disney in American Adventure. Note “Another Day” placed over what would usually be “Tomorrow”.
Better news is the fact that cranes are still being used in preparation of the new nighttime spectacular HarmoniUS.
The good news is that with few crowds, you can get some great photos.
To better organize those entering and exiting, Karamell-Kuche is utilizing a different set of doors for entering. And I think it looks nice.
Want to ride Frozen Ever After. You may have to precede it with Heatstroke Ever After as the socially-distanced queue winds well outside the interior queue.
We come back to Future World and to the Epcot Experience. So much is missing inside the Epcot Experience. That includes film footage of Spaceship Earth: Our Shared Story:
And footage as well as the props from Mary Poppins.
This model is missing of the Festival Pavilion:
But this image of the Festival Pavilion remains in the media presentation. We’ll discuss this and the Play Pavilion in an upcoming post.
You can see the original presentation by Imagineers here:
It should be noted in all fairness, that the photo op and props from Galaxy’s Edge was also removed, and yet it’s all but certain this will be finished out.
That said and done, it was enormously disappointing to pass by the attraction and see so little having been done since I last saw it early March.
On a better note, between all of this, is a newly landscaped segment near the Future World East restrooms.. If this is the future of Epcot, then we should be excited. Because right now the old Future World seems like one long cement paver.
If you look through the old Mouse Gear you can see all the way through it. Clearly, this is not a cosmetic change that’s happening to one of Walt Disney World’s largest retail spaces.
The backside of the temporary Mouse Gear has an exit to control the numbers visiting this retail location.
We exit the park to find a new security area on the East side of the entrance.
The landscaping package that goes with all of this is promising.
You may remember a low green berm separating the parking lot from the entrance. This is supposedly the new home of the former Leave a Legacy tiles. Still, very much a work in progress, if you can call “not started” a work in progress.