Epcot’s Multi-Year Construction Project Is Incredible, But It Has Ended With A Whimper, Not A Bang

people walking across the front of Communicore hall at Epcot
(Image credit: Walt Disney World/Olga Thompson)

Epcot has always been my favorite Walt Disney World park. While it’s become more full of Disney characters and IP than in its early years, it’s still an anomaly of a park at Walt Disney World. It’s got such an interesting character that it’s the park I just love to visit, even if I’m not really doing much. Unfortunately, for the last five years, Epcot hasn’t been much of a park worth just visiting.

A massive overhaul of multiple areas of Epcot was started back in 2019, and delayed by a pandemic, which meant that massive construction walls have been common at the park for half a decade. They were massive eyesores. This meant large parts of the park were inaccessible. Trying to get from one place to another was a lot harder than it would have otherwise been.

But slowly, with each new addition, the walls have come down. Today, with the opening of Communicore Hall, the last piece of the expansion is complete. I have seen the “new” Epcot, and while it's not the game-changing update we were promised what it is, is still enough to make Epcot my favorite park again.

Communicore Hall Is Fine, But It's An Anticlimax At Best

Communicore Hall exterior sign at night

(Image credit: Walt Disney World/Olga Thompson)

The final piece of the Epcot puzzle is Communicore Hall. The latest addition to what's new at Walt Disney World is designed to be the central hub for the various festivals that Epcot hosts throughout the year. It will give Epcot another place to showcase one of the things it does best, as Epcot always has the best food at Disney World.

The original plan for the area was a large multistory structure that would, among other things, be the best view in the place to watch fireworks. Budget cuts, either pandemic-related or just the usual Disney cost-savings, turned the building into, well, a building.

Communicore Hall itself isn’t necessarily anything special. It’s a big open room where there will be food people can buy. There’s a small stage where musical acts can perform. It’s not going to blow people away, but it gets the job done.

Even if we don't judge Communicore Hall against the concept art of what was originally proposed, it's hard not to see it as anticlimactic. It seems strange that this is the final new addition to Epcot as it feels like it would have been the easiest thing to actually build. 

Maybe the change in direction forced the delay. Or perhaps the plan was to open the more impressive initial version last, and those plans just never changed. But Disney is nothing if not storytellers, and in any good story, you want to have a satisfying ending. If Journey of Water or even the Walt the Dreamer statue had been the last piece, it would have felt much more conclusive than this.

There is still potential of course, there is plenty of opportunity for things to be added over the next several months and years. The space will be updated and changed with the different festivals. It may look very different than it did for me in just a few weeks when the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival begins, but if there are plans for the space to be more, it would have been nice to see that now.

Luckily, things get better outside.

Mirabel at Magic Kingdom

(Image credit: Walt Disney Worlf/MARIAH WILD)

¡Celebración Encanto! Is Great Fun For Kids, And Something Epcot Needed

Communicore Hall has an outdoor space with a large stage. The first show to run there is called ¡Celebración Encanto! And it’s an absolute joy that kids especially are going to love.

The show is basically a sing-along and dance-along to Encanto. A couple of hosts lead a show that presents a few songs from the movie for everybody to sing along with. Initially, I was afraid we were just going to get "follow the bouncing ball" on a screen, but after the first number, things liven up considerably.

Next, the performers grab kids from the audience who get to participate in the show and dance to the music. Eventually, Mirabel and Bruno come to join the party. Watching the kids dance with Mirabel and Bruno was a joy. They were clearly having a blast.

Epcot is a park that is, admittedly, light on attractions, and if you’re a small child who isn’t tall enough for Soarin' or Test Track, there’s even less for kids to do. This little show is a much-needed new addition to this park that I fully expect most younger kids will love, giving them a memorable Epcot experience.

Te Fitiin Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana, at Epcot

(Image credit: Dirk Libbey)

The World Celebration Gardens And Journey Of Water Are Your Moments Of Epcot Zen

While several elements of the updated Epcot have been open for a while, my time spent there yesterday was my first chance to experience a lot of them. I made a point to seek out the parts of Epcot I hadn’t seen before. I sat on the bench with Walt’s statue at Dreamers Point, and I was instantly shocked by how peaceful it all was. 

It’s green and open, and in my time there, it was almost empty. People wandered through but mostly didn't stop. To be fair, there isn’t much to do in the area, so there isn’t a lot of reason to spend time there, but that’s why I loved it.

It’s been said that the World Celebration Gardens aren't special, that it looks like any public park. I don’t know, maybe there are public parks in the world that look like it, but I’ve never visited them. I could have sat on that bench with Walt all day. The ambient music in the area was lovely, and the view from where I sat was quite nice. This is going to be a place I will be coming back to again and again, just to sit and relax.

Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana, was a lovely little walkthrough attraction next door. It’s got some fun interactive elements and gives you the option to get a little wet if you so choose, but it also teaches you something about the life cycle of water. Education and entertainment coming together has always been one of the hallmarks of what Epcot is about, and Journey of Water does that.

Luminous:The Symphony Of Us fireworks exploding at Epcot

(Image credit: Walt Disney World/Matt Stroshane)

Luminous: The Symphony Of Us Is A Special Nighttime Spectacular 

Luminous: The Symphony of Us has been running for a few months already, but I hadn’t yet seen the show in person. It may have already become my favorite nighttime spectacular in a Disney theme park right now, at least among those I have experienced.

The barge that is the centerpiece of the show, that isn’t stuck in the World Showcase Lagoon all day, is a pretty impressive piece of engineering. Water fountains are there but the platform also launches some of its own pyro for the show and it can do things, I’ve never seen fireworks do. While I’d argue the soundtrack isn't quite as good as the 50th anniversary show Harmonious, as the music was the one place that show absolutely shined, it’s almost as good.

The lack of construction walls won’t last long. Test Track is set to go down for a major overhaul and re-theming in just a week. How long it will be closed at Disney World is still unknown. However, right now, in this moment, Epcot is a complete park for the first time in a very long time. It’s been a long wait to get to this point, but by and large, I’m happy with what Epcot is today.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.