It’s not a matter of if, but when. If you’ve been following the changes coming to Epcot, you know the area behind Spaceship Earth, colloquially called the Epcot Spine, is changing quickly. Just yesterday, we took a look at the latest demolition progress on the southwest section of Innoventions West. While watching the structure being demolished has been striking, we’re not even halfway through the demolition.
As a matter of fact, recent closures signal that the next phase of demolition is on the horizon. A few things have taken place the past couple of weeks at Epcot that have needed to take place ahead of even more demolition. Let’s investigate what has happened that reveals what is coming.
Spaceship Earth Bypass Walkways
On New Year’s Eve, Disney opened up a bypass walkway to the west of Spaceship Earth that connects the park entrance area to The Seas pavilion (red, below). The walkway has since closed, but we’re told that it should open back up again once some i’s and t’s are dotted and crossed. Also soon-to-open is an eastern bypass (blue, below) that will take guests from the Guest Relations area around the northeast of Innoventions East, past the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind construction, and towards the Future World East area, near the temporary MouseGear shop.
These two pathways are critical to guest flow if the map seen on the most recent times guide is to be believed. More on that in a bit.
The next step would be for Disney to clear out the northwest Innoventions West building. Up until recently, there were three (guest-facing) tenants in this building. There was the Art of Disney store, which closed in mid-December, and two meet and greet areas. The two meet and greet areas contained five Disney characters, two of which weren’t relocated in the recent character relocation moves.
With Mickey Mouse and Joy moving to the Imagination pavilion and other characters moving around as seen in the times guide below, the building was cleared of characters and ready for demolition.
Previewing Pathway Changes
It’s actually the Disney character relocation section of Epcot’s most recent Times Guide that confirmed the pathway changes that we’ve seen coming via various construction projects noted above.
As you can see in the Times Guide, there is a lot more green space in the “Epcot Spine” than what is currently shown in the My Disney Experience app or online maps. It looks like Disney used some yet-to-be-released artwork for the map. In order to understand the pathway changes, we have to understand that green space signals that a particular part of the Epcot Spine is behind construction walls. We first saw the use of green space to indicate a construction zone when Disney removed the southwest portion of Innoventions West that we’ve seen is now nearly completely demolished.
Using that logic, it looks like there will be construction walls up that will block off nearly all of the Epcot Spine area, perhaps leaving access to the backside of Spaceship Earth and possibly even Electric Umbrella. Other than that, it looks like guests won’t be able to walk through the Epcot Spine to World Showcase. If the map is to be believed, guests will soon only have the option of walking around the Epcot Spine to get to the rest of the park. Expanded walkways around the perimeter of the Innoventions East and West buildings will also support the increase in foot traffic. Here’s another look at the map previewing the changes.
As of right now, the only thing preventing these changes from going into effect today is that the pathways aren’t quite ready for guest use, with the southeast pathway near the former MouseGear shop looking like it’s the furthest behind. That said, there is really nothing left here for guests to see as all of the characters and artwork has been moved out of the impacted buildings.
While it’s tough to say when this massive change in guest flow will occur, it’s likely that it will take place sooner rather than later, perhaps even in January.
As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to monitor the Epcot Overhaul project and the impact it will have on your upcoming vacation.