We’ve been anxiously awaiting the grand opening of Space 220 in EPCOT for years…literally!
Set next to the Mission: SPACE attraction in EPCOT, Space 220 is a restaurant unlike any other in Disney World. To enter the restaurant, guests will board an elevator that will simulate transporting them 220 miles above Earth to the Centauri Space Station. Once inside, guests will be treated to a full panoramic view of space as they dine! Sounds great, right? If it ever opens, that is!
We’ve been super excited to experience Space 220 ever since the project was first announced at the D23 Expo in 2017. (Yep, this is a project we’ve been waiting on for four years now, if you can believe it!) In May 2019, it looked like the countdown to launch was on, as it was announced that Space 220 was set to open in 2019. But since then, the restaurant has encountered a number of delays.
In November 2019, the restaurant lost its previously announced Executive Chef Theo Schoenegger. Shortly after, updated job postings indicated that the expected opening date for Space 220 was pushed to February 2020. This kinda made sense…the name IS Space 220. 220…2/20…February 2020. It would have been a perfect “I see what you did there” moment to open then.
Disney has remained relatively quiet on the future of Space 220, with the project just listed as “Coming Soon” on the Disney World website.
But still, we’ve seen several signs that make it seem like the restaurant could be nearly ready to open if Disney wanted to. The restaurant ordered its flatware back in 2020…
…in November 2020, Disney shared a peek INSIDE the restaurant at the IAAPA Expo 2020 Presentation…
…we spotted the lights on outside the restaurant in February 2021…
…and Space 220 also listed a job posting for an Executive Pastry Chef in February 2021.
So, with all of these signs seemingly pointing to significant progress for Space 220, what’s with the delay?? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons Disney might be holding off on the opening.
Social Distancing Concerns
Space 220 is set to be a Table Service restaurant — not a buffet — so the setup of the restaurant should lend itself to social distancing relatively well. Buffets haven’t fared too well following the closure. The few that have reopened have all shifted to a plated meal or family-style meal instead of the self-serve buffet.
But, Space 220 is a pretty big deal (did we mention how excited we are for it??). It’s a highly themed and super unique concept. Keep in mind that while World Showcase in EPCOT is known for being where it’s AT for sit-down restaurants in Disney World…Future World is pretty sparse. A new restaurant option in the front half of the park is a big deal! With that in mind, it’s likely that Disney will want to take advantage of the opening with a media event and press coverage touting the highly anticipated new restaurant.
Given the current distancing requirements, Disney’s inability to throw a big media event celebrating the grand opening could be contributing to the ongoing delay.
Upcoming Disney World Celebrations
October 2021 is a huge milestone for Walt Disney World, as the resort will kick off its 50th Anniversary Celebration. And even though Magic Kingdom was the only park to open on October 1st, 1971, the other parks, including EPCOT, are involved in the celebrations as well.
With these huge celebrations just around the corner, Disney may try to tie in the opening of Space 220 as well. This would give them something extra to tout as a special addition in honor of the anniversary.
Plus, it would also give Disney more time to wait out the vaccination process and lingering pandemic-related health issues. Disney could draw negative attention and backlash if they were to open something as highly anticipated as Space 220 during the pandemic, as it’s likely to draw large crowds.
While Space 220 wasn’t originally intended as part of the 50th Anniversary plans, it may make more sense for Disney to tie the grand opening into the upcoming celebrations later this year.
Finalizing Restaurant Details
As previously mentioned, things seem to be moving along nicely at Space 220 from the outside. But it’s possible that there are internal restaurant details that are still being ironed out.
We still haven’t seen a full menu for the restaurant, and they’ve been pretty vague about the type of cuisine they will specialize in, with a 2019 EPCOT park map describing the menu as “global cuisine.” This, combined with the previous Head Chef turnover, could mean there are some questions on the final menu offerings.
Plus, there will presumably be additional technical considerations for this Space 220 that aren’t a factor for other restaurants. From the elevator ride “up” to the restaurant to the panoramic view of space from the dining room, there are more details at play than an average restaurant’s decor.
It’s hard to say whether the immersive theming has played any role in the delay, especially without seeing the restaurant in action. But it’s definitely worth remembering that this isn’t your average interior design!
We’ve been dreaming about the day we can finally experience our first meal in “space” ever since Space 220 was announced. Disney has been pretty quiet on the causes for the ongoing delay — and potential grand opening date — for this restaurant, but we’re keeping a close eye out for any future updates. And, of course, we’ll be ready to suit up for a space meal as soon as Space 220 is cleared for launch!
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Which new EPCOT addition are you the most excited to experience? Let us know in the comments!