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TravelAfter 5 years of renovations, Epcot's transformation is complete

After 5 years of renovations, Epcot’s transformation is complete

When it opened in 1982, Epcot’s attractions were meant to give guests an exciting peek into what the future might look like. But as time passed, that future looked more and more like the past.

For the past several years, Disney has been reimagining Epoct and its missive to “entertain, inform and inspire.” Admittedly, the full-park refurbishment (especially one this large) was not without its growing pains. Epcot was, for a time, riddled with construction walls. Navigating the park was confusing even to frequent visitors, and with its lack of new attractions, it was the most obvious choice to skip if your time at Disney World was limited.

As of June 10, Epcot’s transformation is finally complete after five years of construction. Every last wall has been removed, revealing new attractions, experiences, entertainment and even fresh restaurants. The recent additions showcase what Epcot does best: sharing emerging technologies and innovations, inspiring curiosity and fostering togetherness. And since today’s vision of the future looks a little different from how it was imagined four decades ago, Epcot looks drastically different.

Now that the park is no longer a construction site, here’s a look at what’s new at Epcot.

Related: Why Epcot is now Disney World’s must-do park

New attractions, established ethos

Epcot is now defined by four neighborhoods: World Celebration, World Nature, World Discovery and World Showcase. Each neighborhood is home to attractions and experiences that align with its theme.

In World Nature, for example, you can visit preexisting Epcot attractions like The Seas with Nemo & Friends and Living with the Land, along with the park’s newest attraction: Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana.

If I let my kids have their way, they would spend hours playing with the Journey of Water’s interactive water features. But what they don’t realize is that Epcot has made the new “Moana” attraction educational as well: As they play, the Journey of Water teaches young visitors about the water cycle. Since Epcot first opened, education has been one of the park’s core tenants, and the park can now execute that principle in new, innovative ways that weren’t possible 42 years ago.

The same is true of Epcot’s first (and only) roller coaster, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in World Discovery. While the coaster experience offers pure adrenaline-fueled thrills, its innovative ride system makes it Epcot-worthy. Not only is it one of the longest enclosed coasters in the world, but it is also Disney’s first “OmniCoaster.” Each ride vehicle rotates to point riders toward the excitement, keeping you fully immersed in the story.

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Related: 30 best Disney World rides

Entertainment that inspires

“Luminous: The Symphony of Us.” TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

At Epcot’s World Showcase, there are 11 pavilions that each represent a country from around the globe, including the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, China, Mexico, Norway, Germany, Italy, Japan, Morocco and France. The pavilions introduce guests to the traditions and customs that make each culture unique while also focusing on themes that are similar across all cultures.

Epcot’s newest nighttime spectacular, “Luminous: The Symphony of Us” (which is held nightly at the World Showcase Lagoon), has a similar mission and highlights the shared experiences that connect humanity across race.

“Celebracion Encanto” at Epcot. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

Epcot’s newest entertainment offering is “Celebracion Encanto.” The high-energy, interactive show celebrates family with the soundtrack of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Encanto” and takes place multiple times per day at the newly opened CommuniCore Plaza stage in World Celebration.

Next to CommuniCore Plaza, you’ll find CommuniCore Hall — Epcot’s new meet-and-greet location for Mickey, Minnie and Goofy. I stopped in twice during my most recent visit and had some of the best character interactions I’ve ever experienced at Disney. Each character took the time to make every visitor feel special, no matter how many people were waiting in line.

New spaces to gather

CommuniCore Hall and Plaza provide Epcot visitors with an indoor-outdoor space to gather, eat, rest and recharge. You could step indoors for a welcome blast of air conditioning, shelter from Orlando’s frequent storms or enjoy Epcot’s beautiful views outside.

Food booth at Epcot’s CommuniCore Hall. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

At CommuniCore Hall’s food booth, you can sample a rotating menu of festival favorites. During my visit, the venue served cheese-stuffed arepas, coconut tres leches and a selection of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. During Epcot’s annual food festivals, Disney says that this multiuse area will be used for things like “art exhibitions, live entertainment, cooking demonstrations and more.”

Spaceship Earth at Epcot. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

In Epcot’s World Celebration neighborhood, you can stroll through World Celebration Gardens. This open-air space has shade, seating and gorgeous scenery — it’s the perfect place for guests to relax and enjoy their time together with friends and family at Disney World. At night, colorful garden lights change in synchrony with Spaceship Earth.

Walt the Dreamer statue. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

Nearby at Dreamers Point, a statue of Walt Disney inspires guests to never stop dreaming. Walt’s vision for Epcot was that of a futuristic “city of tomorrow.” He didn’t live long enough to see that dream come to fruition, but with the new Walt the Dreamer statue, he can look out over the park he so heavily inspired.

Bottom line

Walt Disney once said that Epcot would “always be in a state of becoming,” and though he is gone, his sentiments are still true today. The future changes every day, and so must a park that aims to embody what the future may look like while also hoping to inspire the next generation of dreamers and doers.

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