Disney's Epcot getting new attractions, neighborhoods

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A rendering of Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando after an overhaul of the park.
A rendering of Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando after an overhaul of the park.

Disney's multiyear overhaul of Walt Disney World Resort's Epcot will be "the biggest transformation of any Disney park in history," the company said at its annual D23 Expo last week in Anaheim, Calif.

Disney used the sixth annual meeting of its fans to reveal several details about its parks in Orlando and the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. 

Epcot, which opened in 1982, will be split into four neighborhoods. The existing World Showcase will be joined by three neighborhoods created out of what is today Future World: World Celebration, World Nature and World Discovery.

As part of the overhaul, Disney will add more of its intellectual property to Epcot than ever before. World Showcase will get an attraction in its U.K. pavilion inspired by "Mary Poppins."

The France pavilion, which will house the Remy's Ratatouille Adventure attraction opening in summer 2020, will get the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along in January.

World Nature will get Journey of Water, an experience themed around the Disney film "Moana," as well as a new film, "Awesome Planet" in January.

Other changes at Epcot will be the closing this fall of "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth," the nighttime show that takes place around the World Showcase lagoon, to be permanently replaced by "HarmonioUS" in 2020, a show that includes floating set pieces, LED panels, moving fountains and pyrotechnics. An interim nighttime show, "Epcot Forever," will run between the two.

The forthcoming World Celebration area of Epcot will house the park's iconic Spaceship Earth, which will undergo a renovation that will include new narration replacing the voice of Judy Dench, a new musical score and a new storyline that will focus on the power of storytelling. World Celebration will also have a three-level pavilion that will act as a hub for live events and the festivals held in the park throughout the year.

In World Discovery's Mission: Space pavilion, a new space-themed restaurant, Space 220, is designed to make guests feel as if they are in a space station 220 miles above Earth.

Epcot's previously announced "Guardians of the Galaxy" attraction, Cosmic Rewind, will be Disney's first roller coaster featuring a reverse launch. Additionally, World Discovery will house the Play! Pavilion, with interactive games.

The entrance to the park will have new pathways and green spaces and a reimagined fountain.

Upgrades to other parks

Disney's much anticipated "Star Wars"-themed hotel -- which, it revealed at D23, will be called Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser -- will offer an experience similar to being on a cruise ship, with guests given two-night itineraries and arrival and departure times.

Guests at the hotel, opening in its "Star Wars" land in Orlando, will have their own stories to follow, in what Disney said is "a new type of immersive experience" on a "ship" called the Halcyon. The choices guests make during their stay will affect their experiences. 

Itineraries will include an excursion to Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu, the setting of the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land in Disney's Hollywood Studios park. Galaxy's Edge in Orlando was scheduled to open Aug. 29. Its counterpart in Anaheim opened in May.

To arrive on the Halcyon, guests will take a "launch pod" and jump to hyperspace. The pod will "dock" at the Halcyon, where guests will step into the atrium to begin their experience. All windows on the "ship" will have views of the galaxy outside.

Onboard experiences will include lightsaber training, a visit to the ship's bridge to learn how to navigate and interactions with characters, crew and other guests.

Disney also revealed details about its Marvel-themed land at Disneyland's California Adventure park in Anaheim. The Avengers Campus will open in 2020 (and at Disneyland Paris at a later date) and will feature Disney's first Spider-Man attraction.

The California campus will feature Avengers Headquarters, the entrance to a future attraction taking guests to Wakanda, featured in the film "Black Panther." The campus will also include a restaurant, Pym Test Kitchen, and encounters with Marvel heroes.

Finally, Disneyland will welcome a new parade in the spring, Magic Happens, celebrating the "moments of magic that are at the heart of so many Disney stories," Disney said, including "Moana," "Coco," "Sleeping Beauty" and more.

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