Epcot’s Transformation Completed with CommuniCore and ¡Celebración Encanto! Opening

Epcot’s Transformation Completed with CommuniCore and ¡Celebración Encanto! Opening

This week the Vice President of Epcot, Kartika Rodriguez, announced that “after years of creative vision, innovation and dedicated work, I’m thrilled to share that the historic transformation of our park is complete.” We will look at this final puzzle piece of this important transformation. CommuniCore is a complex which includes food and beverage, meet ‘n’ greets, indoor and outdoor event space, and a great new show. We look at the original proposal for not just all of Epcot, but specifically for what is now CommuniCore. The soul of this place is the ¡Celebración Encanto!  This show is hot, and the theater much hotter–literally. I review all of this in detail. We talk in memoriam about what is missing as this transformation comes to an end. And we talk about new attractions that are just around the corner at Walt Disney World.

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The following is an outline of this week’s podcast:

Epcot’s Transformation Completion

The Epcot transformation is over as Epcot’s VP shared. It has some amazing attractions. It also has some misses. We’ll do a report card on the whole of it when we get a chance. But we should consider how much has been accomplished in the last 5 years. And I think we should leave in memoriam the things that did not make it to the end of the transformation. They were showcased in the Odyssey at the start of this transformation, and they were not small additions. Here is the list established since 2019:


  • New Epcot Logo
  • New Epcot Score
  • Spaceship Earth Beacons of Magic
  • Parking Lot Transformation
  • Front Entrance and Fountain Transformation
  • Lands Redefined
  • Awesome Planet
  • Canada Far & Wide
  • Beauty & the Beast Sing Along
  • Takumi-Tei
  • Regal Eagle Smokehouse
  • Gelateria Toscano
  • New Art of Disney
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
  • Space 220
  • New Club Cool
  • Connections Cafe & Eatery
  • Creations
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
  • Creperie
  • Harmonious Which Became Luminous
  • Journey of Water: Inspired by Moana
  • Dreamers Point & Walt Disney Statue
  • Celebration Gardens
  • CommuniCore Festival Pavilion

Not Completed

  • Spaceship Earth Remodel
  • Interactive Wishing Tree
  • Story Fountain
  • Play Pavilion
  • Wondrous China
  • Mary Poppins in the UK Pavilion
  • Festival Pavillion–Original Design

Why this piece is the last to come aboard is because there was a complete turn around in the design of this space. This location was ideal because it sat at the end of the west utilidor, allowing food & beverage and other operational aspects to move in and out. That may be still serving that purpose with the facility built in its place. Still the original design would have been the ultimate mid-century futuristic addition to the park, but it might have been an eye sore as well. And it might not have been a practical, functional piece of architecture. The bottom would have been open and would have been hot and muggy in the summer. It may have been awe-inspiring, and it may have looked like an eye sore. The top park/fireworks viewing area may have been too far to have been worthy viewing, and the price point it would have come out to for groups already paying a great deal for a group setting to view the fireworks, it may not have been worth the price.

You can see The Epcot Experience at Odyssey which shows major attractions that are not complete and incomplete:

Let’s explore CommuniCore:


  • Exterior architecture works with the contemporary mid-century future look that is has and continues to define Epcot.
  • It sits adjacent to some wonderful picnic areas that have been part of World Celebration Gardens, only a pathway cuts right between it, creating a sort of highway barrier between the two.
  • There are new restrooms that are part of this facility and are nice.
  • What works is how this space with the adjacent Moana attraction has really opened up the World Nature side of the park. It’s still separate, and yet more connected.
  • Colorful exterior graphics celebrate Epcot over the decades with lots of cute memories therein.
  • At night this is really stunning and follows along the same lighting pattern that the you see between Spaceship Earth and the rest of World Celebration Gardens.
  • Still wondering what happened to the Festival Decor
  • At the end of the day, it is not the festival pavilion originally conceived. That may be a good or a bad thing. But we’ll never know.

Mickey & Friends

  • There is a stand by queue and a Genie+ queue to this attraction.
  • The graphics as mentioned earlier are beautiful.
  • From the corner of the queue I could see Forces by Nature by AntiGravity. It’s an interesting show, but its location is like the CommuniCore Plaza mentioned later. It doesn’t allow for a pleasant pedestrian experience.
  • Returning to Mickey & Friends, when you enter you are actually being sent in one of two directions, though its design doesn’t call that out.
  • The characters, Mickey, Goofy & Minnie, meet guests in front of immensely colorful backdrops.
  • The characters are great. PhotoPass photographers are on hand, and the whole of it has air conditioning. It may be one of the better places to see those three characters.

Festival Favorites Booth

  • This booth is close to the outdoor seating that makes up Celebration Gardens.
  • Still, its location is adjacent to the stage at CommuniCore Plaza, and its a bottle neck with operational Cast Members trying to block people from moving through so they can move cast in and out of the side entrance.
  • You order on one side, and pick up on the other.
  • This booth is not only permanent but boasts festival favorite foods. The choices right now align with the show next door, ¡Celebración Encanto! Included are the three following choices:
    • Cheese-Stuffed Arepa. If you are not familiar with arepas, know that they are far tastier than any taco you’ve ever had. These are sweet yellow corn arepas, and this one has cheese and cilantro-lime crema and contija. It is a terrific snack at $5.00
    • Chicken-Stuffed Arepa. This one makes the perfect meal, and at $6.50. It has Chicken and Avocado. It is absolutely delicious and filling!
    • Coconut Tres Leches. I have no problem with vanilla cake soaked with oat, almond and coconut milks. But it is topped with a faux whipped cream with toasted coconut on top of it. While only $5.00 the whipped cream should not be 60% of the dish. That left cake at the bottom that was more than soaked, it still seemed like it was in batter form. Skip this.

CommuniCore Hall

  • This was supposed to be an open function space to be used for festivals.
  • Curiously this hall opens at a time when there are no festivals going on.
  • We have utilized other function spaces such as World Showplace, Odyssey and the former Wonders of Life building. They have all been part of festival celebrations, and group events.
  • Function spaces need to be flexible spaces. But you can have flexible spaces that are beautiful.
  • The lighting and use of flags in this space is nice, though it reminds you of the hallways that used to wrap behind Club Cool and the former Mickey & Friends space.
  • The rest of the room looks like an employee cafeteria, and not necessarily an inspiring one.
  • Mostly moveable tables are throughout the room with some center lounge benches. These promise to be holding people sleeping on them shortly.
  • You can eat, but the Festival Favorites Booth is on the other side and you have to go out and around to access it. Nothing else is close to it. And it doesn’t have utensils or napkins.
  • It really feels like they ran out of budget here. Or maybe we just need a festival. Maybe.

CommuniCore Plaza

  • The cool part of this is that the open space connects World Celebration Gardens with Journey Into Imagination, which is technically part of World Celebration.
  • The problem with this space is that while the theater is covered, nothing else is. There are faux grass areas and cement areas. A few umbrellas dot the environment, but none of this offsets the heat of the day.
  • There are columns angled interestingly enough for lighting and sound. They look cool. But they may be impractical for this time of the year. If you put some draped shading across, it might provide for some relief, but you would block out the effects of the lighting and sound.
  • Early shows compete for big attractions that guests want to get on before it gets too hot. As you move into the afternoon, there is less shade and more heat. It becomes insufferable. Added to this is that we’re about a week away from daily lightning storms. So easily two shows a day could be cancelled.
  • The stage would work great at night. The problem is that at this time of year night doesn’t come until 9:00 and at that point, fireworks are the only thing that’s happening. So while this space may be very interesting at night, most guests have moved on to World Showcase. Therefore its window of opportunity is limited.
  • It is American Gardens theater all over again, only 40 years earlier, when there was no cover for guests or even cast. It took the Barbie show to create the shade and cover we have now. And while this is better than the Fountain of Nations stage and the World Showcase plaza area, it’s still insufferably hot. It feels like Entertainment and Imagineers design this in the cooler section of 1401 Plaza Street, never having been out in the parks on a summer day at Walt Disney World.
  • There is another segment that has opened up is the Rose Walk Flex Space which is between two festival booths on the trail from the point fork of CommuniCore and Imagination all the way down to World Showcase. This space also lacks trees but has a soft foam grass with fans and games.

¡Celebración Encanto! 

  • First off, I love Encanto. It is our family’s favorite. I served as a missionary in this special place known as El Valle Cocoa, which is a triangle between Cali, Medellin an Bogota. I lived for a time in the center of all that, and it is truly a magical place.
  • There is joy and energy in this show. This perhaps more than any other experience I’ve seen among the parks–especially Epcot, makes you want to get up and dance. And people do!
  • The premise is that this is a sing-along, something akin to Frozen Sing-a-Long Celebration. The outdoor setting acoustically doesn’t give the impression that people aren’t singing along–but they do dance!
  • The cast is hardworking and the dancers are talented. Bailano in Colombia is big, and these dancers bring it on. The two hosts have lots of energy, and they bring the culture alive. But unlike Frozen, these individuals are not comedy improv performers. I’m not even sure they’re singers. But they are the hosts and the thread of the show.
  • Still, they are not the stars of the show. That belongs to Mirabel and Bruno, and the audience goes crazy when they arrive.
  • There is one other character in the show. It’s the drummer. But we never see the drummer. Just the drum set. Not sure what’s happening there.
  • They host five numbers from the show, and their lyrics all shown on the big LED screen. They happen in this order:
    • The Family Madrigal–Here the dancers perform in the central concrete corridor, but it takes up a lot of space that could be given to the audience to be up closer. Still, great dancing.
    • We Don’t Talk About Bruno–Volunteers hold up props that symbolize events that went wrong because of Bruno. It’s great volunteer interaction. And everyone loves this song. Not sure that it should have been second, and in fact, the next two numbers as well are out of order.
    • What Else Can I Do?–This is an invitation to get out and dance, and the little ones are really good at this.
    • Surface Pressure–People are called upon to show their muscles on a small platform stand. Like the other number prior, it’s done off the stage on the floor. But since the stage has no slant, it’s hard to see what’s going on, especially with little kids.
    • Colombia Mi Encanto–Another get out to dance, but this time Mirabel and Bruno join in and it all forms a conga line. Mirabel and Bruno also stop and pose for pictures with guests. It’s a festive ending.
  • Because this show is only running until September, they may never have a chance to prove how really good it is. It runs in the middle of the day, so locals (which includes a lot of latinos, and even many Colombians), never in the evening when people are off work.

More Disney to Come!

You can see the video in its entirety below:

Good news is that on other fronts Disney has mentioned today that the Country Bear Musical Jamboree is coming on July 17th. Disney has also showcased more information about the return of the Little Mermaid theater show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. No date is mentioned for the latter, but think early Fall.

Test Track Closing

Test Track to be reimagined with inspiration from the original World of  Motion
Epcot's Test Track attraction to close for a redo: Travel Weekly

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Opening

Tiana's Bayou Adventure

Country Bear Musical Jamboree Opening July 17th

Country Bear Musical Jamboree bears in new costumes

Work on New Little Mermaid Show

New Little Mermaid Show Coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Blacklight puppets in development for new Little Mermaid show coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios
New Little Mermaid Show Coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Motion capture technology at work for new Little Mermaid show

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