Friday, June 23, 2017

Is Epcot Becoming the Forgotten Disney World Theme Park?

Spaceship Earth at Epcot

Every now and again, something tremendous starts to happen and nobody seems to realize it until it’s too late. Disney has for decades been a company that has been at the front of the entertainment world. Either dominating the industry via some extensive theme parks, animated movies, or even other galactic or super hero themed properties, the Disney has really excelled.

Before the big phenomenon is revealed it’s important to understand the numbers game at the theme parks. According to the 2015 (the most recent information available) Theme Index, about 138 million people visited a Disney theme park that year (by the way that’s more than double second place Merlin’s attendance number). Further breaking down the data from a Florida Walt Disney World Resort point-of-view, Magic Kingdom was number one with more than 20 million guests, Epcot was number two (globally number 6) with about 12 million, Animal Kingdom was number 3 (7) with 10.9 million, and Hollywood Studios was number 4 (8) with 10.8 million.

For you numbers junkies, the other Disney global parks including Disneyland in California make up the rest of the Disney attendance data.

What opens the eyes here is the massively popular Avatar themed world at Animal Kingdom, Pandora, which opened this year and the massive Star Wars themed expansion at Hollywood Studios. After visiting Pandora at Animal Kingdom, it’s not a surprise that this will boost the attendance at that park. The Star Wars Land attraction at Hollywood Studios? Yep, that’s not even a question of a win, because it is going to be an epic draw for Mickey and company. The issue here is what is happening to Epcot.

Before you moan and groan, yes Soarin’ did receive an upgrade, and yes, Frozen Ever After has been a hit even after long-time fans lamented missing out on the Maelstrom popularity at the Norway pavilion, but there is not a major expansion or renovation planned at Epcot. Sure there are rumors about different things, but nothing concrete has been announced.

Taking a look at the attendance numbers, it’s not hard to imagine that Star Wars and Pandora manage to attract enough visitors to jump past Epcot, which would make Epcot the least visited Disney Park in Florida. A place that houses the Flower & Garden Festival and the Wine & Food Festival will likely fall to be the least popular theme park in the Florida Disney umbrella. That’s pretty astonishing.

The Land at Epcot
So as The Motley Fool reports, some sort of announcement at the D23 Expo next month might be forthcoming, and Epcot is likely to become some sort of priority with Pandora being officially opened. However, what might or might not be happening at Epcot is something of interest for anyone that enjoys heading to Disney World.

Frankly with 138 million people heading through Disney gates every year already, innovation is what drives repeat visits on that level. Sure there is a huge dose of nostalgia, but getting people to travel thousands of miles every year and plunk down equally thousands of dollars requires some sort of “new” buzz on a continual basis.

Disney needs to address Epcot, and one has to wonder what exactly might be in store. I suppose we have to wait until the ride comes to a complete stop to judge, but don’t worry I’ll refrain from flash photography.

That's really the thing at Disney World. The parks are always improving renovating and moving forward. Usually is a way to part fans with their hard earned cash (and that's the fun part really). Therefore, the next few years could be pivotal for Epcot and fans can only wait and see what happens.

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