'We have huge expectations from everyone': Past, present and future of Disney's Epcot

Yahoo News Canada

When Epcot opened at Florida’s Walt Disney World in 1982, it was the materialization of Walt Disney’s vision of an ever-changing experience with evolving technology. In 2020, this area of the park will go through a historically robust upgrade.

“We know guests love Epcot and we’re leaning into the things that they know and love, our festivals, our great iconic attractions like Spaceship Earth, our nighttime spectacular the World Showcase,” Michael Hundgen, executive producer with Walt Disney Imagineering told Yahoo Canada

“But we’re now bringing attractions and experiences that also relate to some of the newest guests who are coming to the park...we’re trying to make this park more Disney, more timeless, more relevant and more family.”

There’s no doubt that there is a lot of pressure on the Disney team to execute the upgrade with great precision and accuracy, particularly with the emotional attachment so many have to the brand, its parks and legendary films.

“I think everybody feels pressure because, obviously we have huge expectations from everyone,” Marilyn Meyreles, producer for Disney Parks live entertainment told Yahoo Canada. “But I think our teams have worked together so closely for so many years and even with newcomers who have that passion for Disney, that it’s always going to show in all the work that we do.”

Meyreles worked on Epcot’s newest nighttime spectacular, Epcot Forever.

“Imagine yourself being around the lagoon and you hear this little girl say with one little spark, and you hear Walt’s voice and all of a sudden the music starts,” she said.

In order to decide which elements of the past should be included in Epcot Forever, the creative team gets together to brainstorm the elements that will spark emotions for guests. With tears in her eyes, Meyreles explained that the show is a celebration of the past, present and future of Epcot and Disney.

“To me, the little girl represents the future...when I hear the little girl talk, they’re singing...I just feel like it’s really bringing it home that this is a new generation so we’re looking to the future,” Meyreles said.

What experts are most excited about

If you’ve never been able to experience Epcot before, Meyreles says Spaceship Earth is a must.

“It kind of brings everything together, it’s one world,” she said. “I love to visit the pavillions because there aren’t many opportunities that you can go and visit all these countries in one promenade around the world.”

While you’re at the pavilions, there are a ton of food options for guests to enjoy, but Chelsea Florig, project manager for food and beverage at Epcot, and Al Youngman, culinary director at Epcot, have some favourites.

“The salmon at the Yukon Holiday Kitchen is amazing,” Florig told Yahoo Canada. “Salmon with like a Crown maple whiskey glaze...it’s really good.”

“The Arepas at Three Kings, I think that’s just so, it’s warm and cheesy, you get shrimp or cheese Arepas,” Youngman said. “The cookie stroll, that’s a really good one,... we have peppermint cookies, gingerbread men, chocolate pecan, we have a linzer cookie, a black and white cookie.”

In terms of upcoming attractions, Hundgen says the upcoming enhancements to the France pavilion will be a must-see in summer 2020.

“When I think about what I’m excited about next year it’s Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure,” Hundgen said. “The whole France pavilion, you’re going to have a new film, a new creperie with sweet and savory crepes, and you’ve got this really great new family attraction, nestled in sort of a beautiful part of the park that we haven’t been to before.”

If you’re looking for a way to get to or from Disney, the Skyliner is the way to go. You don’t have to wait for a particular bus to arrive and you can take a beautiful, leisurely ride to and from Epcot. It’s part transportation, part park attraction. The Skyliner connects Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot, and four resorts on the property: Disney’s Riviera Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.

Walt Disney imagined a showcase for innovation with cutting edge of technology. On Oct. 1, 1978, Card Walker, the former president of Walt Disney Productions, revealed plans for Epcot, which opened on Oct. 1, 1982. (Getty Images)
The beginning of Epcot
Walt Disney imagined a showcase for innovation with cutting edge of technology. On Oct. 1, 1978, Card Walker, the former president of Walt Disney Productions, revealed plans for Epcot, which opened on Oct. 1, 1982. (Getty Images)
The 305-acre park is commonly identified by its Spaceship Earth geodesic sphere. It weighs 16 million pounds and the outer "skin" of Spaceship Earth is made up of 11,324 aluminum and plastic-alloy triangles. (Getty Images)
The beginning of Epcot
The 305-acre park is commonly identified by its Spaceship Earth geodesic sphere. It weighs 16 million pounds and the outer "skin" of Spaceship Earth is made up of 11,324 aluminum and plastic-alloy triangles. (Getty Images)
Epcot features two distinct areas. Future World is a showcase of discovery and an exploration of Earth from land and sea to air and space. World Showcase is a kaleidoscope of 11 nations featuring architecturally authentic buildings and backdrops that celebrate each cultural heritage. (Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).
The beginning of Epcot
Epcot features two distinct areas. Future World is a showcase of discovery and an exploration of Earth from land and sea to air and space. World Showcase is a kaleidoscope of 11 nations featuring architecturally authentic buildings and backdrops that celebrate each cultural heritage. (Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).
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The monorail system has been in operation since 1971 and was extended to Epcot in 1982. Walt Disney World Resort has a 14.7-mile system services seven stations between Epcot, Magic Kingdom and three resorts: Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. On a typical day, more than 150,000 guests use the monorail. (Getty Images)
The beginning of Epcot
The monorail system has been in operation since 1971 and was extended to Epcot in 1982. Walt Disney World Resort has a 14.7-mile system services seven stations between Epcot, Magic Kingdom and three resorts: Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. On a typical day, more than 150,000 guests use the monorail. (Getty Images)
Chef Paul Bocuse first opened Les Chefs de France at Epcot in 1982, the first Bocuse-affiliated restaurant in America. He achieved 3 Michelin stars for 48 straight years at his Lyon restaurant, Auberge du Pont de Collonges. (Getty Images)
The beginning of Epcot
Chef Paul Bocuse first opened Les Chefs de France at Epcot in 1982, the first Bocuse-affiliated restaurant in America. He achieved 3 Michelin stars for 48 straight years at his Lyon restaurant, Auberge du Pont de Collonges. (Getty Images)
Via Napoli is a casual pizzeria in the Italy pavilion at Epcot, featuring a selection of Neapolitan pizzas. The architecture and design of the pizzeria is based on a mix of traditional Italian styles. (Disney)
Epcot today
Via Napoli is a casual pizzeria in the Italy pavilion at Epcot, featuring a selection of Neapolitan pizzas. The architecture and design of the pizzeria is based on a mix of traditional Italian styles. (Disney)
Inspired by the outdoor cafes along the Mediterranean, Spice Road Table in Epcot World Showcase features a variety of Moroccan small plates and specialty drinks. Boasting 120 outdoor terrace seats and 60 seats inside with cozy booths, the waterfront eatery showcases light fixtures, tile-work, tapestries and art (David Roark, Disney)
Epcot today
Inspired by the outdoor cafes along the Mediterranean, Spice Road Table in Epcot World Showcase features a variety of Moroccan small plates and specialty drinks. Boasting 120 outdoor terrace seats and 60 seats inside with cozy booths, the waterfront eatery showcases light fixtures, tile-work, tapestries and art (David Roark, Disney)
The Norway Pavilion is home to the Frozen Ever After attraction, a boat ride that takes guests to Arendelle; Royal Sommerhus, the meet and greet location for Anna and Elsa from "Frozen;" Stave Church, an exhibit on Norwegian culture; and Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, a Disney Character dining experience; and more. (David Roark, Disney)
Epcot today
The Norway Pavilion is home to the Frozen Ever After attraction, a boat ride that takes guests to Arendelle; Royal Sommerhus, the meet and greet location for Anna and Elsa from "Frozen;" Stave Church, an exhibit on Norwegian culture; and Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, a Disney Character dining experience; and more. (David Roark, Disney)
The Soarin' Around the World attraction takes guests on an exhilarating "flight" above spectacular global landscapes and man-made wonders. Located at The Land pavilion at Epcot, Soarin' Around the World gives guests a thrilling bird's-eye view of Earth's scenic wonders, visiting six continents in all. (Disney)
Epcot today
The Soarin' Around the World attraction takes guests on an exhilarating "flight" above spectacular global landscapes and man-made wonders. Located at The Land pavilion at Epcot, Soarin' Around the World gives guests a thrilling bird's-eye view of Earth's scenic wonders, visiting six continents in all. (Disney)
The Epcot International Festival of the Arts combines visual, culinary, performing arts and live performance art. (Disney)
Epcot today
The Epcot International Festival of the Arts combines visual, culinary, performing arts and live performance art. (Disney)
Friends from Disney Pixar's "Finding Nemo" and "Finding Dory" films engage in live, unrehearsed conversations with guests during Turtle Talk with Crush at The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion at Epcot. Using digital projection and real-time, voice-activated animation, Turtle Talk with Crush is a 15-minute show where guests of all ages can ask Crush questions about marine biology, his friends, and more. (David Roark, Disney)
Epcot today
Friends from Disney Pixar's "Finding Nemo" and "Finding Dory" films engage in live, unrehearsed conversations with guests during Turtle Talk with Crush at The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion at Epcot. Using digital projection and real-time, voice-activated animation, Turtle Talk with Crush is a 15-minute show where guests of all ages can ask Crush questions about marine biology, his friends, and more. (David Roark, Disney)
A magical floral topiary starring Disney characters Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto and Goofy welcomes sunrise at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. The festival features dozens of character topiaries, floral displays, creative gardens and exhibits, Outdoor Kitchens with herb and produce gardens. (Matt Stroshane/Disney)
Epcot today
A magical floral topiary starring Disney characters Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto and Goofy welcomes sunrise at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. The festival features dozens of character topiaries, floral displays, creative gardens and exhibits, Outdoor Kitchens with herb and produce gardens. (Matt Stroshane/Disney)
Disney Skyliner began carrying guests high above Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Sept. 29, 2019. (David Roark/Disney)
Epcot today
Disney Skyliner began carrying guests high above Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Sept. 29, 2019. (David Roark/Disney)
Celebrate the holidays and satisfy your sweet tooth, with the Holiday Cookie Stroll at Epcot. (Disney)
Epcot today
Celebrate the holidays and satisfy your sweet tooth, with the Holiday Cookie Stroll at Epcot. (Disney)
Arepa topped with Shrimp, Crushed Avocado Aji and Tomato Sauce. (Disney)
Epcot today
Arepa topped with Shrimp, Crushed Avocado Aji and Tomato Sauce. (Disney)
The “Epcot Forever” nighttime spectacular made its debut Oct. 1, 2019, on World Showcase Lagoon at Epcot. (Disney)
Epcot today
The “Epcot Forever” nighttime spectacular made its debut Oct. 1, 2019, on World Showcase Lagoon at Epcot. (Disney)
“Epcot Forever” is a celebration of the past, present and future of Epcot, built around the magical soundtrack guests have come to know and love at the park. (Disney)
Epcot today
“Epcot Forever” is a celebration of the past, present and future of Epcot, built around the magical soundtrack guests have come to know and love at the park. (Disney)
Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is undergoing a historic transformation, bringing the next generation of immersive storytelling to life through a plethora of new attractions and experiences. Epcot will be unified with four neighborhoods that take guests to new destinations where the real is made fantastic in a celebration of curiosity, hands-on wonder and the magic of possibility. (Disney)
2020 Epcot Transformation
Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is undergoing a historic transformation, bringing the next generation of immersive storytelling to life through a plethora of new attractions and experiences. Epcot will be unified with four neighborhoods that take guests to new destinations where the real is made fantastic in a celebration of curiosity, hands-on wonder and the magic of possibility. (Disney)
A new pavilion will be home base for Epcot's signature festivals. The beautiful three-level structure will feature a plaza level, a middle expo level, and a park that sits in the sky on the top level, complete with a stunning view of World Showcase. (Disney)
2020 Epcot Transformation
A new pavilion will be home base for Epcot's signature festivals. The beautiful three-level structure will feature a plaza level, a middle expo level, and a park that sits in the sky on the top level, complete with a stunning view of World Showcase. (Disney)
The park's entrance will be transformed with a reimagined fountain, new pathways, and sweeping green spaces that beautify the entryway while paying homage to the origins of Epcot. (Disney)
2020 Epcot Transformation
The park's entrance will be transformed with a reimagined fountain, new pathways, and sweeping green spaces that beautify the entryway while paying homage to the origins of Epcot. (Disney)
"Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360" debuts Jan. 17, 2020, in the Canada pavilion at Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The new film celebrates Canada with picturesque scenes from across the country, displayed in 360 degrees. (Disney)
2020 Epcot Transformation
"Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360" debuts Jan. 17, 2020, in the Canada pavilion at Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The new film celebrates Canada with picturesque scenes from across the country, displayed in 360 degrees. (Disney)
"Tales as Old as Time: French Storytelling on Stage and Screen" debuts Jan. 17, 2020, along with "Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along" at the Palais du Cinema in the France pavilion at Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The all-new exhibit gives guests the opportunity to explore six gallery cases featuring a collection of costumes, music, artwork and more, all dedicated to the adaptation of French literature in cinema, theatre, ballet and opera. (Disney/David Roark)
2020 Epcot Transformation
"Tales as Old as Time: French Storytelling on Stage and Screen" debuts Jan. 17, 2020, along with "Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along" at the Palais du Cinema in the France pavilion at Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The all-new exhibit gives guests the opportunity to explore six gallery cases featuring a collection of costumes, music, artwork and more, all dedicated to the adaptation of French literature in cinema, theatre, ballet and opera. (Disney/David Roark)
LeFou plays a key role in the new "Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along," a new film debuting Jan. 17, 2020, in the France pavilion at Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The family-friendly experience is a twist on a tale as old as time. (Disney)
2020 Epcot Transformation
LeFou plays a key role in the new "Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along," a new film debuting Jan. 17, 2020, in the France pavilion at Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The family-friendly experience is a twist on a tale as old as time. (Disney)
Flavourful margaritas and specially prepared flights of tequila take centre stage at the 30-seat La Cava del Tequila in the Mexico pavilion at Epcot. It celebrates the heritage and tradition of tequila-making in Mexico and more than 70 tequilas are offered. (Gene Duncan, Disney)
Epcot today
Flavourful margaritas and specially prepared flights of tequila take centre stage at the 30-seat La Cava del Tequila in the Mexico pavilion at Epcot. It celebrates the heritage and tradition of tequila-making in Mexico and more than 70 tequilas are offered. (Gene Duncan, Disney)
The PLAY! pavilion at Epcot will open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort. In this digital metropolis, guests will discover an interactive city bursting with games, activities and experiences that connect them with friends, family and beloved Disney characters, both real and virtual, like never before. (Disney)
2020 Epcot Transformation
The PLAY! pavilion at Epcot will open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort. In this digital metropolis, guests will discover an interactive city bursting with games, activities and experiences that connect them with friends, family and beloved Disney characters, both real and virtual, like never before. (Disney)
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be the first "other-world" showcase pavilion at Epcot. The attraction will feature a new storytelling coaster that rotates to focus guests on the action, and will include the first reverse launch on a Disney coaster. (Disney/Marvel)
2020 Epcot Transformation
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be the first "other-world" showcase pavilion at Epcot. The attraction will feature a new storytelling coaster that rotates to focus guests on the action, and will include the first reverse launch on a Disney coaster. (Disney/Marvel)
Epcot's United Kingdom pavilion will welcome the first attraction inspired by Mary Poppins. Guests will step in time down Cherry Tree Lane past Admiral Boom's house, then enter Number 17, home of the Banks family, where their adventure will begin. (Disney)
2020 Epcot Transformation
Epcot's United Kingdom pavilion will welcome the first attraction inspired by Mary Poppins. Guests will step in time down Cherry Tree Lane past Admiral Boom's house, then enter Number 17, home of the Banks family, where their adventure will begin. (Disney)
Journey of Water at Epcot , Inspired by "Moana," will be the first attraction inspired by the hit Walt Disney Animation Studios film. This lush exploration trail will invite guests to meet and play with magical, living water. (Disney)
2020 Epcot Transformation
Journey of Water at Epcot , Inspired by "Moana," will be the first attraction inspired by the hit Walt Disney Animation Studios film. This lush exploration trail will invite guests to meet and play with magical, living water. (Disney)
Disney Imagineers work to create Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, an immersive new attraction coming to the France pavilion in Epcot that brings guests on a super-sized adventure with Chef Remy through Gusteau's restaurant. This new experience will open summer 2020 at Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Disney)
2020 Epcot Transformation
Disney Imagineers work to create Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, an immersive new attraction coming to the France pavilion in Epcot that brings guests on a super-sized adventure with Chef Remy through Gusteau's restaurant. This new experience will open summer 2020 at Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Disney)
The new Space 220 restaurant at Epcot will be an out-of-this-world culinary experience with the celestial panorama of a space station, including daytime and nighttime views of Earth from 220 miles up. Opening this winter, Space 220 will be operated by the Patina Restaurant Group. (Disney)
2020 Epcot Transformation
The new Space 220 restaurant at Epcot will be an out-of-this-world culinary experience with the celestial panorama of a space station, including daytime and nighttime views of Earth from 220 miles up. Opening this winter, Space 220 will be operated by the Patina Restaurant Group. (Disney)
The adventure begins when a crew member invites guests to step inside the restaurant’s space elevator and prepare for liftoff. Guests will feel as if they are on a scenic excursion traveling 220 miles directly above Earth's surface, docking at the Centauri Space Station suspended just beyond the orbit of Mission: SPACE. Upon their arrival at the restaurant, guests will be guided to their seats past the grow zone, a spinning wall of produce that mimics Earth’s gravity and represents some of the fresh ingredients used by the culinary team. (Disney)
2020 Epcot Transformation
The adventure begins when a crew member invites guests to step inside the restaurant’s space elevator and prepare for liftoff. Guests will feel as if they are on a scenic excursion traveling 220 miles directly above Earth's surface, docking at the Centauri Space Station suspended just beyond the orbit of Mission: SPACE. Upon their arrival at the restaurant, guests will be guided to their seats past the grow zone, a spinning wall of produce that mimics Earth’s gravity and represents some of the fresh ingredients used by the culinary team. (Disney)
In 2020, the new "HarmonioUS" will debut at Epcot as the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park. It will celebrate how the music of Disney inspires people the world over, carrying them away harmoniously on a stream of familiar Disney tunes reinterpreted by a diverse group of artists from around the globe. "HarmonioUS" will feature massive floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, lasers and more. (Disney)
2020 Epcot Transformation
In 2020, the new "HarmonioUS" will debut at Epcot as the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park. It will celebrate how the music of Disney inspires people the world over, carrying them away harmoniously on a stream of familiar Disney tunes reinterpreted by a diverse group of artists from around the globe. "HarmonioUS" will feature massive floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, lasers and more. (Disney)

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