Special thanks to Disney for the magical trip to Anaheim to cover the D23 Expo
As a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder, I was wickedly excited to find out what is in the works behind the wooden curtain at Hollywood Studios, I wanted to know if the Tomorrowland Speedway was going away for forever, and I wanted to hear (or not) about this rumored Star Wars hotel (TAKE MY MONEY!)
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek didn’t disappoint. Several Imagineers joined the presentation with details of what goes on behind the scenes in Imagineering and how they’re bringing imagination and innovation in Disney developments around the WORLD.
According to Bob, the best is yet to come at Disney parks. “We’re investing in the guest experience like never before and we’re doing it all in a way that is only possible at Disney!”
So what’s on the horizon for park goers? New lodging, new transportation options at WDW, new rides, and immersive experiences based on guests’ favorites.
This is exciting, y’all!
I’m going to go ahead and kick it off with the attraction I’m most looking forward to:
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
You read that right, the name for the Star Wars themed lands at both Disneyland and WDW’s Hollywood Studios is Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. We got to see exciting new details and a glimpse into two anchor attractions including one that puts guests right in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance where guests will feel like they are inside a hangar bay on a Star Destroyer.
Guests will also have the chance to fly the Millennium Falcon, where each guest is critical to the mission’s success.
Chapek also revealed many characters that guests will meet, including BB-8, Chewbacca, Rex, and Kylo Ren. Representing the largest single-themed land expansion at 14 acres each, Star Wars:Galaxy’s Edge will open in 2019, with the first land debuting at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, then at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando.
Sorry, fam. Cali gets it first. Luckily we’ll be able to get in for a sneak peek with our annual passes before it opens to the public!
Transformations at Epcot
Epcot is my family’s favorite park. We always greet the park with a ride through Spaceship Earth before stopping for our first bathroom break (I sorely miss the powdered soap, Disney). We enjoy going around the International Showcase sampling candy and wine from each country. We also love The Land and the ride inside that takes you through innovations in farming and food, but Future World has left us a little wanting in the past decade.
Looking ahead to the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World, there are grand plans to complete a stunning transformation. There are plans to realize the original vision of the park while making it more timeless and relevant than ever before.
Patterned after the number one family attraction at Disneyland Paris, Ratatouille will be added in an all-new space in the France pavilion at World Showcase near the Eiffel Tower.
Epcot will also see the addition of a brand new E-ticket attraction based on the rockin’ and action-packed world of Guardians of the Galaxy, the next step in how guests can encounter these characters at Walt Disney World Resort. So yeah. GUARDIANS!!!! A RIDE! And this one will not be like the awesome ride at California Adventure, it will be its own brand new thing. I can’t wait to hear the music James Gunn chooses for THIS ride!
In Future World, a new Green Mission at Mission: SPACE will take guests on a stunning tour around the Earth, and an updated Orange Mission will make the trip to Mars even more spectacular. The Green Mission will be kid-friendly, so those of us with children or (assumedly) with heart defects, should be able to enjoy the new Green Mission.
Adjacent to Mission: Space will be a new restaurant that will invite guests to travel high above the earth for an unforgettable dining experience. It will look like you’re in outer space dining among the stars.
A New Ride Takes the Place of The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
There has never been a ride featuring Mickey Mouse. Seems insane, right? Well, Hollywood Studios will be the first to get a brand new, first-ever Mickey-themed ride-through attraction titled Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. They will be using new technologies that transform the flat cartoon world into an incredible dimensional experience that doesn’t require 3D glasses! There will be all-new music and a fun story on this journey through the wacky and unpredictable world of Mickey Mouse.
The Magic Kingdom Gets a New Thrill Ride
Look, I love Disney and I love the Magic Kingdom, but let’s get real, there needs to be more thrill rides. Well, hold onto your butts, people, the highest rated attraction at Shanghai Disneyland is coming to Walt Disney World Resort. A thrilling, Tron-themed attraction will be added in a NEW area near Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom. So for now, the Tomorrowland Speedway is SAFE!
Additionally, a new live entertainment theater coming to Main Street, U.S.A., based on the iconic Willis Theater in 1920s Kansas City, will bring world-class entertainment to the park. There was no announcement as to what will be shown in the theater, but it will likely be a brand new show.
Toy Story Land Opening at Hollywood Studios
If you’ve been to Hollywood Studios lately, you’ve noticed work being done on the upcoming Toy Story Land which will include a roller coaster called Slinky Dog Dash in addition to Alien Swirling Saucers and other fun attractions. It was announced that Toy Story Land will open summer of 2018!
Pixar Pier to open at Disney California Adventure
In addition to announcing the summer 2018 opening of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Chapek was joined by Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios John Lasseter to unveil plans for Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure. The pier will take on a brand new look as more favorite Pixar characters and stories come to life, from The Incredibles, to Inside Out to even more Toy Story.
Chapek also announced there is more Pixar in store during Pixar Fest at Disneyland Resort. Starting in 2018, this limited-time offering will include a new fireworks spectacular as well as special characters and entertainment moments.
As part of the celebration, the Pixar Play Parade will return to Disneyland Resort – this time at Disneyland Park – and the fan favorite Paint the Night Parade will move to Disney California Adventure, one of Disney’s longest parade routes.
Disney Cruise Line will Double the Size of its Fleet by 2023
Chapek surprised the crowd by announcing that Disney Cruise Line will add one more ship in its expansion to take family cruise vacations to a whole new level. Joining the other two new ships that were announced just last year, all three ships will be powered by one of the cleanest-burning fuels available, liquefied natural gas. When all three ships are completed by 2023, Disney Cruise Line will have nearly doubled the size of the fleet.
Immersive Hotel Concepts – Star Wars
THIS is ridiculous and Disney can just start taking my money right.now because I want to be among the first guests to experience this immersive hotel where every window looks like you’re looking out at space. So you get the experience minus the muscle atrophy. I still don’t understand quite how it’s going to work, but I want in on it.
Chapek confirmed ambitious plans to create the most experiential concept ever in an immersive Star Wars-themed hotel at Walt Disney World Resort. Dedicated entirely to the galaxy of Star Wars, it will be a one-of-a-kind experience where a luxury resort meets a multi-day adventure in a galaxy far, far away.
Yeah, you read that right – a Multi-Day adventure, complete with costumes and a unique storyline for each guest.
Immersive Hotel Concepts – Marvel
Adding to the immersive resort hotel slate, Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel at Disneyland Paris will transport guests to the action-packed world of Super Heroes, including Iron Man, The Avengers, Spider-Man and more. Guests will be able to explore the Marvel Universe through its comic art, films, Super Hero costumes and more, displayed in the style of a contemporary art gallery.
I told Kyle we had to go to Paris as soon as it opens, and he totally agreed, so Europe, we’re coming for you.
New Disney Vacation Club property Coming to Walt Disney World Resort near Epcot
It was also announced that the latest Disney Vacation Club property, Disney Riviera Resort, is coming to Walt Disney World Resort near Epcot and will be one of the hub locations for a new form of transportation for Walt Disney World Resort guests.
Seamless Transportation Options
A fun Minnie Van service was announced, but not any details other than it will be a point to point transportation service. I get the feeling it will be like a Disney-owned Uber service in an ADORABLE red and white polka dot Chevy sponsored vehicle, but I could very well be wrong. The goal is to give guests an even more seamless resort vacation from start to finish. If you’ve used Walt Disney World’s bus system, you know that this change will be MUCH appreciated.
This one I’m really excited about. I remember being a young girl and always wanting to go on the Skyway that took you from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland at The Magic Kingdom. Chapek announced a whole new transportation system called Disney Skyliner that will give guests a birds-eye view of Walt Disney World Resort. This brand new system will connect Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach resorts, as well as the proposed new Disney Riviera Resort, with Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot.
I’m SO excited to have a transportation option from the value resorts to the parks, and the opportunity to introduce my children to a ride that was similar to one of my favorite rides from Magic Kingdom from my childhood.