The Top 5 Underutilized Spaces at Walt Disney World

| August 29, 2014 | 36 Replies

Do you sometimes catch yourself walking by a venue at Walt Disney World wondering why it’s no longer used or what it is used for?  I know I do.  I’ve even gone up to Cast Members in the past and asked “Why is this space empty and what was inside?”

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With the price of admission rising at least once or sometimes twice a year at Disney World we can often walk by empty spaces wishing for an additional experience to occupy it.  These empty spaces often mean increased wait times at other attractions.

In certain cases some of these empty spaces are utilized for seasonal events, special event gift shops, or one-time experiences.  You never know when Disney may occupy one of these venues when space is required for a temporary event or experience.

Let’s take a look at 5 spaces at Walt Disney World that have been either left for dead or used on an occasional basis for special events.

Number 5 – The Open Land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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Disney World’s largest theme park isn’t without its gaps and spaces.  Large chunks of unused land sit between Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Africa, and Asia.  In fact, some speculated Avatarland would be built in this unused space before it was announced it would replace Camp Minnie-Mickey.  Until a new land or new attractions are added the unused land will remain empty.

Number 4 – The Odyssey – EPCOT

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Once a quick service restaurant with a character show, The Odyssey now hosts corporate and guest special events on occasion.  It’s also been known to hold Cast Member celebrations inside.  A good portion of the year this space sits empty.  Guests who pass by often wonder what is inside with an inquisitive face.   Attached to this building is EPCOT’s first aid station and baby care center.

Number 3 – Streets of America – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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For 2 months out of the year this long street with great facades bustles with the best Christmas light show in America.  For the other 10 months of the year it’s just a long street with movie facades and background noise.  Love it or hate it, this space takes up valuable real estate inside Disney World’s smallest theme park with little to no guest interaction.

Number 2 – Sound Stage 1 Hot Set – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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This large open, indoor space sits at the end of Pixar Place.  It’s been rumored for years to be the home of a new Monster’s Inc. attraction.  However, the only monster inside has been the ghosts who haunt this empty space most of the year.  Currently, this space is the temporary home to Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post for the Frozen Summer Fun event at Hollywood Studios.  It is also used as a gift shop for Star Wars Weekends merchandise.

Number 1 – The Wonders of Life Pavilion – EPCOT

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Once my favorite space in all of Walt Disney World it’s now an empty domed building only used seasonally as the festival center for EPCOT’s Flower & Garden and Food & Wine Festivals.  It was once home to a myriad of human body related attractions like Body Wars, The Making of Me, Goofy about Health, and much more.  It sits on a prime piece of EPCOT real estate towards the front of Future World East.

Conclusion

With crowd levels continuing to grow at Walt Disney World it would be beneficial to all guests for Disney to put these spaces to a more permanent use.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that they are used on a temporary basis, but these spaces sit on prime sections of the theme parks.

Since these spaces have only been used for temporary purposes for so long it would seem Disney has decided to keep it that way.  We can only hope, one day, these spaces will be transformed into permanent attractions and experiences that fit the theme of the park or land they reside in.

What are some of your most underutilized spaces at Walt Disney World?  Do you ever walk by a space or venue and wonder what it is used for or wish it would be transformed into a new attraction?  Please let us know in the comments section below or on our official Facebook page.

Walt Disney once said “Disneyland will never be completed.  It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”   I’m sure he would have felt the same way about Walt Disney World.  Let’s hope Disney utilizes these spaces again someday and they come to life with amazing attractions for all guests to enjoy.

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Category: Disney World

  • Disneyesque Warning

    Great list.

  • mama of 3

    Love this article…thanks!! We travel from Nebraska to vist WDW, and though we are die hard fans, it is very costly for a family of 5 to get from here to there!! I have often wondered about each of these seemingly empty buildings, and agree that with all of the creative talent on staff these could surely be used for something more permanent. We avoid hard ticket events simply due to the additional cost for a family of 5. It seems like hard ticket events are the new “in” thing at WDW, not redeveloping dead zones. Other parks in the area, though, seem to be maximizing real-estate; and with that, the value of a park ticket. Hope WDW quits resting on its laurels, and starts keeping up! We may make our next trip an off-site stay to check out some of the other parks.

  • Bob

    Anyone know why MK’s The Terrace is not used year-round? It’s not exactly under-utilized since it doubles as a rare air conditioned outdoor resting place.

    • Dave

      Back in the day, it had the best pizza in the park. Now it’s just a good viewing area for Tinkerbell to slide down to.

  • Snaked

    For me the tram ride at DHS is a waist of space. Except for catastrophe canyon there is nothing worth to see. Driving trough buildings where they are NOT working on making movies is just dumb. That work should be moved off property just like the former cartoon studio building. All that space could become a fun theme park or an overflow area for Villains hard ticketed if Disney stops being in the theme park business and transform their parks in 90% hard ticketed low quality “parties”.
    Also Communicore East and West are a waste of space. Last time I was there they where almost completely empty. they each could hold a nice dark ride.

  • Frank Pratt

    Look at the eight parcels of land in Epcot’s World Showcase that could be used for more countries,or neighboring ones to expand into.

    • Dave Scruggs

      8 more countries are in the works, and expanding Norway further back to include a Frozen ride.

      • Snaked

        Those rumors about more lands are there from the start but there is NOTHING in the works.
        The expansion of the short Norway ride and Frozen overlay is also still a rumour. Disney will capitalize on Frozen trough cheap events until it’s bled dry. The events are extended (fact)

        • Dave Scruggs

          I’m getting my info from higher ups. Where are you getting yours? And you’re right about the rumors since the beginning. But to attract more guest to EPCOT, and boost sales, they are actually working on bringing in more countries.

      • Catherine Morrissey

        What are the 8 countries? Do you know anything about when construction will start/finish?

        • Dave Scruggs

          My friend who is a little ways up the EPCOT ladder, said the contracts are in negotiations, but didn’t clue me in on which countries. But she did tell me that Norway and Disney are in court over the Norway ride Maelstrom. Disney wants to pull it, and put in a Frozen ride, and Norway doesn’t. So as a negotiation move, Disney has offered to keep Maelstrom, and extend Norway further back to put in a Frozen attraction. She also mentioned the Muppet area is going to be pulled from Studios and Star Wars (land) be extended out and around to that area. And a Cars ride is going to be put in the Backlots Tour and Stunt Show area. They are hoping to have some items open and a ground breaking on others by 2020.

          • Bill Johnson

            NO! Not my MUPPETS!!!!!!

          • Dave

            Yea I’m not happy about the Muppets either. Me and the kids enjoyed going to the show to relax in the ice cold air conditioning. It will be missed.

      • Bill Johnson

        Really? That is great… do you have any details or rumors?

  • http://ptsnob.com/ Dan Heaton

    The upstairs in the Imagination pavilion that once housed the Imageworks is underutilized and sad to those of us who visited it. Nearly half of Hollywood Studios feels like it isn’t used correctly.

  • Shaun Bolen

    I will say, the odyssey in Epcot has my favorite bathrooms in WDW! Air conditioned and quiet, and no one even knows they are there. They stay clean all the time.

  • Dave Scruggs

    What about The World ShowPlace Events Pavilion in EPCOT? It’s never open, and if you’re not paying attention, you’ll walk right past it. It sits between United Kingdom and Canada. The last time I was there, there was a green temporary wall with potted plants in front of the wall and a couple of kiosks in front of the potted plants in front of the pavilion. So they’ve taken time to hide it well.

    • DVC J

      DVC uses this space for their annual MerryMixer, and it is used for other special events.

    • Elaine

      It is used during Food and Wine. Also for large employee meetings.

  • Bakerworld

    Noodle Station in MK – ??

    • Deb Medley-Kammerer

      Noodle Station is being used as the venue for the Wishes Dessert Party but it is empty most of the day.

  • TJ

    Wonders of Life pavilion also had Cranium Command which I remember from being a kid there

    • Catherine Morrissey

      I LOVED Cranium Command!

  • Andrea Hines

    Great list!! I often wonder when I look up and see windows of buildings is it a facade or is something behind it. Is there storage upstairs and behind these buildings?? hmm…

  • really_oldman

    I remember the show in the late 90’s I believe. It was always packed for lunches. We stumbled across it by accident. It was a song and dance act followed by a meet and greet. Its a shame they got rid of it

  • RPS1985

    Hollywood Studios = 135 acres, Magic Kingdom = 107 acres. So actually, MK is the smallest DW park

  • Ghost Man

    I hope they don’t do anything with the Streets of America at DHS. Every year, we love seeing the Christmas lights. That would be a big disappointment to my family if we couldn’t see the Osborne lights. During the other months the “streets” are actually used by guests making their way to other attractions. Either way, they have room just south of the park to expand.

  • beerman42

    The first thing Disney needs to do is quickly decide on a plan then get some from Universal to build it.

  • grammy

    We have been to WDW so many times, l lost count. We have seen shows and attractions come and go. The one they need to replace is Indiana Jones Spectacular. THey should trade with the one in CA. That way those of us who have been coming for 30 years or more could see something different. I would like to see a cars land too.
    As far as Epcot, they need to update it. Walt said it would never be finished, always updating. Well he would roll over in his grave if he knew what the Disney people were doing. Charging such high prices now, they are pricing families right out of the enjoyment of the visit.

  • Staluche

    Until attendance decreases Disney has no reason to make any major improvements to WDW.

    • Bob

      or stop increasing ticket prices twice a year

  • Nathaniel Gottschalt

    We went to the Illumination dessert party just last week and due to the rain they moved it into the Odyssey. They were playing light jazz music and had nice mood lighting. Also there was some seating which was nice to relax after walking all day.

  • Melinda Phelps

    I also wonder what happened to the stage area in the MK between Carousel of Progress and Buzz? They used to have various shows and Christmas Shows on that stage. Now it seems that they put all those shows in the middle of the walkways (like by Space Mountain). Seems like they could use that stage area and not have so much congestion in the walkways. Just a thought!

  • Bill Johnson

    All of these things and more… Disney has a problem with what my wife and I call “Nimbility”. Disney often fails to move fast enough to capitalize on great things, from merchandising to attractions. I understand that Disney is a huge corporation, and like aircraft carriers, doesn’t make turns easily, but it needs to move on some things… especially the addition of new pavilions in World Showcase. Brazil, for a starter, would be a no-brainer.

  • Kat C.

    I agree these spaces need to be better utilized, including the second floor of the Journey Into Your Imagination pavilion at EPCOT. I also would love to see more countries and rides added to the World Showcase. There certainly is room there. On the positive side, long lines for popular attractions have “forced” me and my family to try less-popular attractions that we might not have otherwise. Case in point is the PhilHarMagic show at MK, which we all loved, but never would have considered if nearby lines weren’t so long. We were also able to “walk up” and hop right on a few rides that way. Never did get on Toy Story Mania (3+hour wait!) at HS, during a recent visit, but we had a great time doing other things.

  • Sean M. Dorsey

    I think that Wonders of Life should definitely be re-opened, and Cranium Command (which I LOVED) could be re-purposed as Headquarters for an Inside/Out show.