Epcot emerged from its coronavirus shutdown Wednesday, representing another step in the phased reopening of Walt Disney World and its theme parks.
The resort started reviving its theme parks with Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom last week; Disney’s Hollywood Studios also reopened Wednesday.
By now, many theme park goers know the drill: Face masks are required, as are temperature screenings, physical distancing and a reduced capacity. On a very hot weekday at Epcot, that made for an attraction with more elbow room than usual and without the traditional snaking queues.
Here are notes about Epcot’s Reopening Day 1.
What’s going up and on?
While the park was closed for four months, people may have remembered it fondly and without all that major construction at its heart. Even before Epcot shut down in March, visitors could no longer go straight from the entrance past Spaceship Earth and the fountains before hitting World Showcase. Major construction walls force pedestrians to either side of Future World, and that puzzled some returning Epcot fans.
Remember, the building that housed Club Cool and Starbucks was being gutted. It still is. And construction continues on the Guardian of the Galaxy coaster. We await word on progress on Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, a dark ride in the France pavilion which was slated to open this spring. (Remy’s topiary remains out on the lawn.)
Epcot is a park in flux with many announced projects that were to be completed before Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021. The shutdown (not to mention the announcement of the retheming of Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom) has folks speculating about cuts to the master plan elsewhere. This will stir the pot: An announced Spaceship Earth revamp and a new Mary Poppins attraction are no longer part of the Epcot Experience film that touts future plans for Epcot. (Still there: another nighttime spectacular, the Remy ride, new film in China pavilion, a digital play area and renderings of a multilevel festival center.)
The sound of Epcot
Man, it’s quiet. Part of that is the reduced capacity. Fewer people make for less noise. But the background music seems cranked up and in a few spots … just different. There was a song playing in China that even Shazam couldn’t identify. It was so quiet, we could hear the roar of the fountains springing up at Imagination. Occasionally, the stillness was broken by the booming public service announcement (that’s the voice of the monorail, right?) reminding folks to keep their masks on and not to sneeze on one another.
Plus, there are closed restaurants, kiosks and stores. Playgrounds are off-limits.
The sound of Epcot, Part 2
It’s also quiet because the drummers are gone from Japan. That group, along with the British Revolution quartet, was among the first coronavirus cuts, not to mention the acrobatic chair-stacking act in France. It feels like ages ago.
Live music still goes on at Epcot, including JAMmitors and the mariachi group on stage at the American Adventure amphitheater. Audiences are seated in a staggered pattern. Carol Stein, who has been playing piano inside the Rose & Crown pub, now has an outdoor gig at the gazebo in the United Kingdom pavilion.
Where I saw lines: For the Frozen Ever After ride (estimated wait time, 30 minutes), outside the Mouse Gear store and for (Orange Bird Alert!) merchandise. Folks queued up for Spaceship Earth and for Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico, but their lengths may have been exaggerated by the six-feet-between-groups rule.
Disney’s characters are not meeting and greeting as the parks reopen, but we spied a set of princesses riding in a horse-drawn carriage on World Showcase. I wasn’t expecting Snow White to blow me a kiss, but these are crazy times.
Staying cool, fed
By afternoon, folks had uncovered that some of the food offerings from the Taste of Epcot International Food & Wine event were inside World Showplace, including a mac-and-cheese offering. Translation: air-conditioning. Beware: There is a limit to how many people can be inside, so lines may form outside.
News Source: Orlando Sentinel.