“Destination D” is a semi-annual event sponsored by the D23®, The Official Disney Fan Club. This year’s event featured more Disney Parks & Resorts official announcements than any in recent memory. Even amidst all of the excitement about Galaxy’s Edge, we probably got more news and details about updates coming to Epcot than anything else. Here are five of the most exciting things we learned about updates coming to Epcot between now and 2021 from Destination D.
1. Illuminations: Reflections of Earth closing – replacement shows and timeframes
We’ve known for a couple of months that the current Illuminations: Reflections of Earth show would be closing sometime in Fall 2019. At Destination D, we learned that replacing it will involve a transition first to an interim production, to be called, “Epcot Forever.” Epcot Forever will debut in Fall 2019 and will feature classic Epcot songs. While Illuminations focuses attention on the World Showcase lagoon, Epcot Forever will direct guest attention to the sky. Bob Chapek, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products, explained that, in addition to classic Epcot music, “the show begins with a spark of imagination that quickly grows into an epic spectacle of fireworks, music, lighting, lasers, and choreographed, special-effects kites.”
About a year later, in Fall 2020, the transition will be complete with the debut of the permanent replacement for Illuminations, “A Celebration fo Disney Music.” The show will bring a return of large floating set pieces, accompanied by custom-built LED panels, kites with special effects, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, and lasers.
2. France Pavilion Updates
We already knew that there was an attraction under construction at the France Pavilion that would be based on the Pixar movie Ratatouille. But this past weekend, we learned that the ride will be called Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. And it won’t be the only new attraction coming to the France Pavilion. France is also adding a Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along, being developed by Don Hahn, who was a producer on both the animated and live-action versions of Beauty and the Beast. The sing-along will exist alongside the current “Impressions de France” film.
3. Canada Pavilion Update
There was very little detail offered about this update. But a new CircleVision film was announced for the Canada Pavilion. The Canada film is long overdue for an update. The current film, featuring narration by Martin Short, was last updated over a decade ago.
4. Disney Skyliner
While the Skyliner’s existence was well-known before the Destination D event, a display at the event started to fill in some blanks. A a reminder, the Skyliner will run between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to four Disney Resort Hotels: Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, and the under-construction “proposed” 15th Disney Vacation Club Resort, Disney’s Riviera Resort.
The Skyliner vehicle on display at Destination D appeared to confirm a few things. First, each car appears to accommodate up to 16 people – 8 seated and another 8 standing. The vehicles appear to have powerful air circulation systems, but not air conditioning units (though that was not explicitly confirmed). And we got an opening season, if not an opening date. The Skyliners will begin carrying guests in Fall 2019.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy Coaster Preview
OK, this preview was actually released just prior to the Destination D event, at the 2018 International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions conference. The folks at Theme Park Review captured Bob Chapek’s presentation. “On most coasters, the vehicles point straight ahead throughout the ride,” Bob explained. “But on this attraction, each individual cab will be programmed to direct your eye to the story happening around you. That means instead of whizzing by the action, you’ll be fully immersed in the story from the minute you launch.” We can’t wait for this attraction to open in 2021!