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"Ratatouille" is Coming to Epcot. Here's an In-Depth Taste of This Modern Marvel.

Image: Disney

Every bit as beautiful as Epcot’s France pavilion, the courtyard outside of Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy really ought to have been designated a “land” in and of itself. Though the Ratatouille attraction is the star, you'll also find shops and a restaurant perfectly situated along the lifelike streetscape. In short, it’s the kind of area you'd like to visit, explore, and spend time in – arguably, the first such area for Walt Disney Studios Park.

That means that Ratatouille: L'Aventure not only gave the park an exclusive attraction worth talking about; it also made a very clear distinction: going forward, this park will shed its original concept and instead invite you to step into your favorite Disney and Pixar films!

For Walt Disney Studios, that is perhaps the most spectacular news yet...!

For Epcot, the same proclamation is a little more worrying…

World Showcase?

Image: Disney

If you ask most Disney Parks fans what Epcot is, you’ll need to endure a few moments of silence before they can come up with a satisfactory answer. Here’s our best shot: An evolution of an abandoned plan to build a functional, experimental, progressive city in Central Florida, EPCOT Center instead opened in 1982 as a “permanent World’s Fair” theme park purposefully excluding Disney characters and instead featuring two “realms” – one dedicated to futurism / technology and the other to globalism / culture – each populated by large “pavilions” (centered around areas of industry and international countries, respectively). Each pavilion contains attractions, restaurants, and retail complementing the pavilion’s themes, with those offerings shifting radically over the decades from educational dark rides through industry to character-centered experiences and thrill rides loosely connected to the park’s original concepts. Phew!

There’s no park on Earth with as many Lost Legends as Epcot, with (quite literally) every single pavilion of Future World having its own in-depth feature as part of that collection.

Image: Disney

Less debated is the park’s southern half – World Showcase.

In fact, even as characters “invaded” Epcot’s Future World beginning in the early 2000s, fans tended to have less worry about World Showcase and its cultural pavilions dedicated to Mexico, China, the U.K., Norway, Canada, and a host of other countries. Though Disney had strategically placed character meet-and-greets in the country most closely resembling their own (for example, Aladdin in Morocco), surely World Showcase was immune from full-blown character overlays…

Image: Disney

Except that in 2014 – just as Ratatouille: L’Aventure was opening in Paris – Disney announced that Epcot’s Norway pavilion would bid farewell to its Lost Legend: Maelstrom. That sailing dark ride through the myths, legends, and history of Norway was, by that point, a retro-nostalgic walk-on through non sequitor scenes, emptying into an ‘80s film about Norwegian industry… World Showcase 101, really. So maybe it was time to freshen up the ride anyway.

But Disney’s 2013 juggernaut film Frozen isn’t what fans had in mind.

Image: Disney

When the Modern Marvel: Frozen Ever After opened in Maelstrom’s place in 2016, most fans found the opening bittersweet. A spectacular attraction in its own right, there’s simply something odd about Frozen – set in the Scandinavian-inspired, but decidedly fictional kingdom of Arendelle – becoming the focus of the Norway pavilion... Not to mention the feeling fans had that Frozen was exhaustingly overplayed and yet undervalued by Disney executives, deserving much more than a retrofit of the existing, 4-minute Maelstrom – admittedly, a rush job to fit Frozen into the parks as quickly as possible.

It's for those reasons that we frankly asked way back in those in-depth features, are fans really upset about characters coming to World Showcase? Or are they specifically disappointed that Frozen came, and in the form it did? We even specifically wondered aloud, would fans be as fatalistic if the (then-new, shiny, and technological) Ratatouille-themed ride from Disneyland Paris were duplicated at World Showcase...?

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure

Image: Disney / Pixar

On July 15, 2017, we found out. At Disney’s semi-annual D23 conference, the announcement was made that the Ratatouille ride would indeed become the second big-budget character attraction at World Showcase – just one of a slew of IP-rides on the docket for Epcot leading up to Disney World’s 50th Anniversary in 2021. There, the ride will be named Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (which is somewhat nonsensical when you think about it… We prefer the long-rumored Ratatouille: Kitchen Calamity name as indicated on official artwork below, but which was obviously passed over).

And to answer our earlier, experimental question... no, most fans don't seem to be enraged about the Ratatouille ride. While some will doubtlessly chalk that up to Disney fans increasingly "cutting their losses" with Epcot and agreeing to disagree with its current direction, we ask: Why should they be enraged?

Image: Disney

The ride is being built from scratch in a brand new showbuilding that will be added onto the existing France pavilion. "No Epcot classics were harmed in the making of this attraction," so how could Remy's Ratatouille Adventure be anything but a net gain? If you'd prefer characters had never come to Epcot, it'll be easy enough to walk past this attraction not even knowing it's there.

It’s expected that Epcot’s version of the ride will be a carbon copy of France’s but for being entirely in English, and the typical kind of “live-and-learn” improvements such clones always include. (For example, the trackless vehicles are known to have worn groves into the attraction’s flooring in Paris, frazzling computers and requiring an undesirable refurbishment and total floor replacement; naturally, Epcot’s version will have accounted for that, as well as higher resolution, better projectors, and other technological improvements that such screen-based rides require.)

Though construction is already well underway in Epcot’s France pavilion, insiders are projecting the ride’s opening for late spring, 2020. That would help draw guests to the resort rather than putting off their visit for the Anniversary celebrations in 2021, when Epcot’s new Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster and Magic Kingdom’s Modern Marvel: TRON Lightcycle Power Run are likely to be the heavy-hitters.

Paris Precedent

Image: Disney / Pixar

Though fans will likely debate the merit of adding characters to Epcot for the rest of the park’s lifetime (or theirs), at least we can all agree that if characters are going to make their way into World Showcase, this is how it should be done: in spectacular E-Ticket dark rides that at least pay homage to the cultures and stories of the countries they’re meant to celebrate. (Which, by the way, is why we sure hope that if a Mary Poppins attraction does come to the U.K. pavilion, it’s as one of those spectacular dark rides rather than the current rumor that Parks chairman Bob Chapek would much prefer a Dumbo-style carnival spinner ride themed to the film be plopped down in the pavilion… all too believable given the projects he’s overseen.)

In some ways, it’s funny to think that Future World lost so many of its classic, lengthy, grand dark rides (having been systematically replaced by technological thrills like Test Track, Soarin’, Mission: SPACE, and Guardians of the Galaxy) and that now we’re seeing classic, lengthy, grand dark rides created for World Showcase instead!

Image: Disney / Pixar

Like the movie Ratatouille, we don’t expect Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure to radically alter Walt Disney World in the same way that the resort’s 2021 additions are meant to. It’s likely that – like the film that inspired it – Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will spend a year as the talk-of-the-town, and then become a familiar, comfortable, beloved staple of Epcot rather than a resort-defining anchor. That’s probably exactly what Epcot and World Showcase need! 

Ratatouille set Walt Disney Studios Park on a new course, reorienting the ship and pointing it toward immersive, cinematic lands that let guests step into Disney and Pixar films rather than into beige soundstages.

Ratatouille is set to change the course of Epcot’s World Showcase, too… And given that it’s going to be a spectacular, technological, heartwarming, and fun family attraction, we’re ready to start armchair Imagineering how World Showcase’s other pavilions could host spectacularly-scaled dark rides of their own… 

Image: Disney / Pixar

If you enjoyed our in-depth look into the Ratatouille ride that’ll soon be opening at Epcot, be sure to read our Disney•Pixarland feature on the history of Pixar rides in Disney Parks, or make the jump to our Legends Library packed with other Modern Marvels as well as the in-depth stories of closed classics and never-built Possibilitylands that could’ve changed Disney Parks forever… Then, use the comments below to let us know: is Ratatouille a step in the wrong direction for Epcot and World Showcase? Or is it exciting evidence that the inevitable character invasion of Epcot might at least bring some great E-Tickets to the park?

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