Zach Riddley standing in front of an Epcot monitor with Spaceship Earth in the background.

io9 was invited to preview the latest expansions at Disney World as part of the ongoing 50th anniversary celebrations.

The Ratatouille Adventure in the France pavilion opened last year, and in a few weeks the new space travel adventure "Guardians of theGalaxy: Cosmic Rewind" will be opening. For a theme park centered around exploring the cultures of far-off places, environmental biodiversity, the future of travel, and festivals highlighting how people celebrate seasons around the world, it leaves us wondering how popular Disney is selected to be highlighted in a park that has always been billed as more than just It was supposed to be where Disney's experiment for a community of tomorrow tested out new innovations for the sake of humanity.

On our visit, io9 talked to Imagineer and creative portfolio executive about recent changes at the park, including how mashing up Disney's popular IP comes with deep considerations to homage the core of the park.

While the parks are open, we are seeing the evolution of Epcot on full display. What can you tell us about the next phase of the transformation?

The park I went to as a kid is one of the things that is great about being an Imagineer. I have to think about how to make this park better. It is the largest transformation that we have taken on and we have been able to get a lot of the elements out for people to experience them. The center of the park with Spaceship Earth is one of the four neighborhoods we use to organize the park. There is a center planter that you can use to create these moments.

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Next-Level Sound can be experienced.

Theater-like sound surrounds you with spatial audio with dynamic head tracking.

The light show during the Festival of the Arts is similar to the Muppets.

Yes, take the Rainbow Connection.

io9: Bring it back.

It's amazing to see. It is a great icon to be so emotional. This place can be programmed in the same way that Spaceship Earth is in terms of lighting, music, and color. We have over 12,000 of these, and so takeRainbow Connection, but completely immersed. The spirit of it underlying all of the ideas is what I think. We can have new topiaries for Flower and Garden later on in the Food and Wine Festival. One detail that you may know is the illuminated pavement. This was a design feature in the park. We got new technology and we put it in the shape of the Epcot logo. Things like bringing back touches of that are what it is.

I had written about it as a child, but I didn't get to see it until I was an adult. There are sustainable resources that pay homage to the core themes of his plans in Disneyland's Tomorrowland. Can you tell me a little bit about that? Is that going to be seen in some of the future environments as well?

It is about possibility for us. It is magic and possibility. The park is about people and things that inspire us. We looked at some of the timeless ideas, stories that Disney can bring a unique entry into, but also something that you could experience in 20 years. You are still getting that aspiration so that we don't create a situation where we move past it to find it. These timeless stories are what we call them, because they are in the themes that Epcot uniquely can bring. The showcase of all that technology is the greenhouse on Living With the Land. This is a good example of how intellectual property from Disney and Epcot come together. The Journey of Water is an experience that is coming as part of the vision. The World Nature neighborhood is on the other side of the park that is adjacent to The Land and The Seas.

io9: Yes, the themes of Moana fit perfectly.

The idea for Journey of Water is celebrating the cycle. You get a chance to meet water the same way as in the film, and we have some really fun experiences as you move through this trail that are totally unique, invented for this. The importance of preserving water, like the cycle of water, is important for us to understand its role and to preserve it as a resource. The idea of the Epcot story is based on real ideas and real things that inspire us, but then actually take you into that experience. That is what we believe the unique space of Epcot can bring to life.

How do you balance keeping enough and finding ways to bring back some of the things that fans of the park know and love?

It has a unique personality and design legacy. A lot of the choices that we have been making, not only in individual experiences, but even the logos bringing back the original park, go back to the original park. How do you bring that back together? You only do it here. We have it here, but then bring it forward in ways that are fresh and relevant for fans who have never been here before. That is the ultimate success with the transformation.

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