CommuniCore Hall is Embarrassing

    The final piece of the EPCOT Overhaul puzzle is now in place, and to say that the multi-year overhaul project limped across the finish line would be an understatement.

    At the top of this opinion piece, I want to be clear – there are some real winners when it comes to the EPCOT Overhaul project. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is amazing, and rightfully sits near the top of any Disney World “best of” list. The Points of Light addition to the exterior of Spaceship Earth was brilliant – it has significantly changed the vibe of EPCOT at night and makes me wish the park was open later. Space 220 Restaurant is an excellent addition that I feel is, somehow, underrated.

    Other things like Harmonious were a mixed bag, with wonderful visuals during the show, but a wild swing and a miss when it came to the daytime presentation of the metal armada. Upgrades to EPCOT’s main shopping complex and dining area were long overdue, and I’d probably rank them as a lateral to slightly positive upgrade over what was there before.

    That said, the expectations vs reality of the overhaul as a whole certainly leaves some to be desired. We’ll have an actual expectations vs reality article later, but CommuniCore Hall is so uniquely terrible that it really deserves its own article.

    If Tiana’s Bayou Adventure versus Splash Mountain was the comparison that split the fandom, CommuniCore Hall versus the World Celebration Festival Center is the comparison that has united it.

    World Celebration Festival Center

    Look at that artwork. It’s gorgeous. I can’t imagine a structure ever upstaging Spaceship Earth, but the canceled World Celebration Festival Center would’ve been a damn worthy second place. It equally looked like an instant classic and an impossibility. Looking back on it now, it never felt real. Here’s how Disney described the World Celebration Festival Center:

    A new pavilion will be the perfect place for live events, and the home base for Epcot’s signature festivals. It will provide a stunning elevated view of the entire park and an ideal spot to witness Epcot’s nighttime spectacular. This beautiful three-level structure will have one of the most remarkable architectural designs at any Disney park, featuring a plaza level, a middle expo level, and a park that sits in the sky on the top level.
    Disney Parks announcement

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Instead, we have CommuniCore Hall – the most uninspired and architecturally unremarkable design at any Disney park.

    I should add one more caveat before we continue. I’m not here to belittle or attack any single Imagineer – especially the ones following marching orders. CommuniCore Hall is a failure of Walt Disney Imagineering, the institution, and the Disney Experiences division under Chairman Josh D’Amaro. CommuniCore Hall should’ve never been built as presented. CommuniCore Hall is not befitting of any Disney theme park in the world, let alone a theme park that has such a rich history of striving for the future and human innovation.

    I’ve seen the arguments on social media, “just wait until there is a festival”, “guests need air conditioning during the summer”, “it’s a nice spot to relax”, “the internet speed is amazing” (ok, that last one was mine). Yes, it should look better once a Festival is loaded in. Disney really missed the mark by not opening CommuniCore Hall either in December with the rest of World Celebration Gardens, or sometime during Flower & Garden, but is this really good enough? Is this what EPCOT deserves? I’m not an EPCOT purist by any stretch of the imagination, but there should be minimum standards.

    Out in CommuniCore Plaza, an un-shaded entertainment space is equally as much of a swing and a miss. The only thing less forgiving than a Disney fan is the Florida weather. It’s brutally hot during the summers, which is when Disney decided to debut this offering. It looks better at night, but Disney World refuses to make EPCOT a nighttime park, currently closing up shop some 30 minutes after sunset. It’ll be better during the winter, but a design choice that is only good for 4 months out of the year is not great.

    At least with the World Celebration Festival Center, the ground-level event space was covered by the structure itself. It’s like Disney took the directives of the World Celebration Festival Center and applied them in the worst possible way with CommuniCore Hall.

    The World Celebration Festival Center would’ve also contained “a park that sits in the sky on the top level”. As seen in the concept art below, it surely would’ve doubled as one of the most unique fireworks upcharge spaces in any Disney theme park in the world. Now, we have the Festival Favorites quick service window and a nearby seating area in World Celebration Gardens.

    I suppose that the CommuniCore Hall project did produce something not explicitly stated for the World Celebration Festival Center, and that’s the Mickey & Friends meet and greet. Even so, the Mickey & Friends meet and greet appears to be a shoehorned idea, or at a minimum poorly executed, with an outdoor (but partially covered) queue.

    Inside, the theming of the space is noncommittal at best and probably closer to uninspired. Rather generic backdrops of scenes from EPCOT aren’t impressive in the slightest. Remember, we used to have scenes with physical props when characters like Baymax and Joy & Sadness were meeting in the previous iteration of this building (even with those meets being “temporary”). This is a hug and shove.

    We’ll close out by being very clear about excuses for Disney’s execution here. We’ve seen a lot of people saying that COVID-19 is the reason that CommuniCore Hall, and to some extent the EPCOT Overhaul project as a whole, is underwhelming. CommuniCore Hall was announced on May 5, 2022. Yes, Disney started hinting at changes to the previously announced World Celebration Festival Center in July 2020, but they revealed their plans for a replacement of the Festival Center to the world in Spring 2022.

    The Disney Parks segment of the company was doing fine in early 2022, posting a revenue of $6.7 billion in the quarter that ended a month before CommuniCore Hall was unveiled to the world. They could’ve, and they should’ve, done better.

    Honestly, I’d rather Disney have delayed the completion of construction another year if they needed to in order to get it right and build the World Celebration Festival Center. What’s another year of The Pit at EPCOT if you’re building something that is supposed to sustain the park for the next 30 years? Instead, we have CommuniCore Hall: a nice spot for air conditioning.

    The product here for Walt Disney Imagineering is not up to par. I’m not sure anything can really be done at this point to save the space either. This is what we get. This is what Disney gave us. CommuniCore Hall is the grand finale of the EPCOT Overhaul project, and it’s embarrassing.

    As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!

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    3 COMMENTS

    1. I have to disagree with everything that was said in this column. Communicore Hall is exactly what was promised. A Flex-Space. A Blank Slate. Even if you look at the concept art you can see it is exactly what was published earlier. The difference is the Flex Space in the concept art is fully dressed out for a festival, most likely Festival of the Arts. But the bones of the building in the concept art are exactly what is there.

      When Wonders of Life was closed and made a festival center, what was the first thing that happened? All theming was removed and painted a neutral color. Finally, the exterior of the building is well themed to match the iconic Spaceship Earth.

      The timing of the opening is the only question here. Why open it knowing that there was no festival at the time? The only reason I can see is to open up the AC for the hottest part of the year.

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