Space Restaurant Location Set
We have learned today that the space themed restaurant coming soon to EPCOT will be located between Mission Space and Test Track. Many have speculated that the Wonders of Life pavilion currently under refurbishment would be a target for the new addition, but thankfully that is not true.
I think that reutilizing Wonders for a new attraction, rather than a restaurant would be a better use of space and current infrastructure. Patina Group will be the operator of this new restaurant. They also are in charge of Via Napoli and Morimoto Asia.
Hotel Construction Beginning Soon
The rumored hotel that will be placed at the entrance of EPCOT is now underway. 27 documents have been filed for planning, and once approved, construction should begin. The location is still under debate.
One possible location is over the entrance gate, much like the hotel at Disney Paris. An open parcel of land behind The Seas is also being considered, probably due to the easier nature of not having to work around the active entrance. Either plan should be a good spark to revitalize the EPCOT rehab plan going forwards.
Wonders of Life Update
An update (which can be seen on WDWNT) shows sealing and welding work occurring to the Wonders pavilion for repairs and future use of the structure. Another odd feature is that the roof is also currently two different shades of gold, a possible paint test for future color schemes of the dome. No further details are known for the future of the once popular pavilion.
It's been a while... Two weeks to be exact, but I promise that because of the long wait between these updates, the next two will be much quicker! Three rides left to go... Who will take the title of being the best ride at EPCOT? Today we get just a step closer.
Due to there being only two rides left after this post, they will be announced at the same time as anyone could figure out what ride is left after all others have been released. Let's see what ride is at number 3...
3. Spaceship Earth
What I liked: Nostalgic Factor, Interactive Ending, Overall Plot and Meaning, High Capacity
What I disliked: The exit portion of the ride shows its age, Lack of a queue house
Thoughts: I really, really wanted to make this number 2. But out of fairness, and overall experience, I dropped it to 3. This is the ultimate classic EPCOT ride. It is nostalgic, but still relevant. The story protects the original morals and meaning behind EPCOT. It packs a lot of content inside of its geodesic dome.
Spaceship Earth may not be very intense or thrilling, but it is one of the best traditional dark rides ever built by Disney. They didn't have to slap an IP or characters all over the place to make it a classic ride.
I really don't have much bad to say about it besides the nitpicky things.
So that does it for today's ranking. That leaves us with the battle between Soarin' and Test Track for next time. Who will win? Check back real soon to find out!
Today, we have a personal favorite of mine, which I wish that I could rank higher, but in the name of fairness, I decided to place it here. This is a ride that would likely rank a lot lower in many people's books, but I'll explain the reasons why I am placing it at number 4.
4. Living with the Land
What I liked: Length, Real-life plants, Fair queue, Beautiful, Roomy boats, Aquacell
What I disliked: Some scenes could be updated, Outdated soundtrack
Thoughts: Now I have to explain myself. Living with the Land is so underappreciated. It's different than any other ride in the world that I can think of. It's a tour of a real living greenhouse, with animatronic scenes, and you actually learn a lot through the tour.
It may be too slow or not intense enough for a lot of people, but even for a thrill ride person like me, I think that it's one of EPCOT's best rides. With that said, yes it could use an update. Possibly some new animatronics in the opening scenes, and definitely an update to the movie section leading into the greenhouse. But with some quick refreshes, this ride is very sustainable.
It has a high capacity, and it matches the model that EPCOT was originally based off. Why do I rank this above Frozen? Because it is actually worth the wait, and wasn't rushed to throw any plotline together. This was a time when Imagineers were told to actually create a story or ride concept, rather than build something around an IP. LWTL should indeed be updated, but it's story and morals should remain the same.
It's a great informative ride for the whole family.
We are now at the halfway point of our rankings for EPCOT's rides. This one in particular may generate some clashing opinions, but remember that this ranking is a combination of ride content, immersiveness, story, and my own personal preferences.
5. Frozen Ever After
What I liked: Animatronic quality, Ride layout, General atmosphere
What I disliked: Long queue, Short length, Lack of plotline
Here is where my personal opinions begin to factor a little more heavily in my rankings. Frozen is a great ride, don't get me wrong. But I feel like Disney jumped aboard the Frozen bandwagon and rushed this ride a little too much.
The animatronics and effects are wonderful, and some of the best currently featured on Disney rides. But the length itself is too short. For a ride with a consistently long queue, the ride doesn't last very long, and there is no story. You go to meet Elsa, go through a tunnel, and suddenly it's summer. Instead of trying for a quick flip, why couldn't Disney have waited a little longer to develop this ride better?
All in all though, I wouldn't say that this is a bad ride, but it is average in comparison to many other classic dark rides found in the parks. I still enjoyed myself on this ride, much thanks to Fastpass+. Probably the climax of the ride is that it has two drops, and isn't just a slow meandering boat ride for the whole course.
Today we'll continue with our EPCOT rankings. This one in particular was hard for me to rank, but that's what's expected as we begin to approach the top 5, and the fact that EPCOT only has 9 rides to begin with:
6. Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
What I liked: Floating next to the restaurant, short queue, fun and quirkiness
What I disliked: Short length, amount of screens used
Thoughts: In my opinion, for what it is, Gran Fiesta Tour is extremely underrated. Nothing is more beautiful than the interior of the Mexico Pavilion, especially the interaction between the water and the restaurant itself. I wish that more rides did something like that.
Unfortunately, the quality of the ride is not as intriguing. The little dolls, scenes, and Caballero animatronics themselves are great. But the majority from what I remember was screens all over the ride. Disney rides should be a bit of a step above that, especially in a more intimate boat ride.
All in all though, the ride is fun, rarely has a wait, and is extremely beautiful in that first scene.
Just the other day, we have received some exciting test footage from the upcoming Millennium Falcon ride for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. I'll post this below.
It is to my understanding that this ride features real-time rendering as opposed to a pre-filmed ride sequence, which would be a first for the industry. Put aside all that VR junk and other digital nonsense. This right here has the potential to be revolutionary. A ride with real-time footage means that every single cycle will be custom, and operate much like a video game.
I do have a few concerns though, as my expectations for this one are very high after how impressed I was with Flight of Passage. Over the years, I have been a huge opponent of screen rides, unless they are fantastic in quality. I don't have a doubt of whether or not Disney can create high quality footage, but I'm worried about the ride system itself.
Some people have pointed to a ride system similar to the centrifuge on Mission: SPACE. Even if this was at a less intense level to accommodate children and families, that ride system is pretty much a one trick pony. A ride along the lines of Star Tours, Soarin', or even Flight of Passage would make more sense, since its movement is very versatile, while still forceful.
Also, how much control does each rider have over the motion of the vehicle? Is this truly going to allow for free flight around the galaxy, or will it be limited to a general path? Will one rider get to pilot and move the vehicle, while another gets stuck pushing a single button or two? Of course some people will get more elusive "jobs" than others, but I do hope that everyone will play an important role, such as Hyperspace Driver, Gunner, Pilot, Co-Pilot, etc. My main issue with Mission: SPACE is that although the faux controls interact with the rider, the ride itself is not impacted by utilizing the buttons.
This attraction needs to be different enough from Star Tours, so that it isn't seen as a second version of it, but also not a replacement for it either. Both attractions should be able to stand alone and be successful.
I really do believe that Disney is going all out for this project. The flaws do show with Pandora, as Na'vi River Journey is very underwhelming compared to the rest of the area. Overall, I still think that the dark horse for best attraction could be the dark ride in the middle of a battle. With the combination of special effects, animatronics, and a more intimate connection to the rider, that one could become one of the best dark rides ever produced. As long as the entire budget isn't blown on the Millennium Falcon ride...
Today we'll continue our EPCOT rankings:
8. Mission: SPACE
What I liked: The intensity, Interactivity with ride, Exterior
What I disliked: Bland queue and ride vehicles, Outdated footage, expectation vs result, Not very immersive
Thoughts: As much of a thrill junkie as I am, I actually did not enjoy Mission: SPACE. The ride vehicle itself reminded me of a cheap simulator that a chain like Six Flags would use. I know that they just made some updates to the screens and audio, but it still looks very cheap and outdated.
While the intensity of the ride and its motion is good, it really lacks the immersion and feeling of reality that most Disney rides have. Call me outdated, but I still loathe the fact that this is considered a suitable replacement for Horizons, arguably one of the greatest and most imaginative Disney rides ever.
The exterior of the ride itself should be preserved, but everything from the queue, to the ride system itself should be updated. That includes if the update means total replacement, because this ride lacks when it comes to the "Disney experience". Just because it is a thrill ride does not mean it needs to trade off the proper theming and quality of a traditional dark ride.
As part of generating hype for the upcoming Marvel themed land, Doctor Strange will reportedly be a new meet and greet character for the park, appearing in different locations around DCA coming soon.
Also, although it's going to be in California, apparently the deal between Disney and Universal does not allow them to use the name "Marvel" in their attractions, or the name of their land. Kind of odd, but Universal is really holding Disney hostage with this deal. Kind of makes sense though, as if Universal loses the Marvel rides, they would be in a world of hurt.
Today I'm going to continue with my EPCOT series, with ride 2 of 9. There won't be a set date or schedule of me releasing these articles. It'll be more like filler content whenever I feel like the Disney Blog is beginning to lack a little in terms of new content. It's been one of my goals for this month to release more Disney content, and the updates have shown growth for the site.
Remember that out of the 9 rides, I am only picking attractions that involve some form of motion or interaction. So a show like American Adventure will not be included. Last post, which can be found below, was the first one of the series, and my lowest ranked ride was The Seas with Nemo and Friends. Let's continue with the rankings:
8. Journey into Imagination with Figment
What I liked: The general storyline, end scene, and pavilion's architecture
What I disliked: Changes from original version, waste of pavilion space, broken/outdated effects
Thoughts: So Figment isn't last in my book, but it will fall into second last place. As much as fans of the original Imagination ride hate this version, it's still better overall than Nemo. The ride itself is okay. It's great for families, and has a unique storyline. But the age of the screens, special effects, and ones that aren't working so well is starting to show. On my visit this past month, the "smell lab" scene was barely working, and we had to wait for the vehicle to pass into the next scene to even smell it.
The pavilion is a shell of what it used to be, and that's my reason for ranking it here. Imagination's second floor used to be extremely popular, but now it is almost completely unused besides the vacation club lounge. Captain EO's former theater is now used only for short shows. This pavilion is probably the most beautiful out of them all, yet the vast majority of its space has been shut down.
The ride system is in need of another update, and many changes back to the original (most popular) rendition of the ride. It would also be nice to see the second floor opened back up with some new games and small attractions for the kids. If the park has to roll back on Figment somewhat, they can always give him his own personal attraction in the theater next door. I want to like the Imagination ride and pavilion, but the way that Disney has stripped it over the years makes it very hard. Just a little it of work can give it a huge boost in my book.
As part of a project tour, Disney Imagineering has released a concept art for another new attraction as part of Pixar Pier at California Adventure, opening in summer 2018. While it's just a simple carousel, with critters themed to Woody's Roundup, more is better when it comes to number of attractions.
The ride will be placed near the exit of Toy Story Midway Mania. It's a great little addition for families, and will add to the capacity of the new area. Now only if Hollywood Studios would do the same to add to what's coming as part of Toy Story Land...