ANAHEIM — There was no shortage of news coming out of Disney’s biannual D23 Expo, with a ton of attraction, accommodation and theme park updates all aimed at “bringing the next generation of immersive storytelling to life”.
Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Bob Chapek led the popular fan event, officially D23 Expo 2019, at Disneyland in Anaheim.
The years ahead mark one of the most extraordinary periods of expansion in Disney history, said Chapek.
The announcements ranged from Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser and the transformation of Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort, to the Avengers Campus coming to both Disneyland Resort and Disneyland Paris, to the Disney Wish arriving in January 2022.
“It was Walt’s vision for our theme parks to be places where Disney stories come to life in amazing ways, and with the world’s most creative and talented team of artists and dreamers, there’s no shortage of inspiration,” said Chapek.
One of the biggest moments was when Disney Legend Dick Van Dyke, now 93, joined Chapek onstage for a sweeping performance of ‘Step in Time’ to announce the first Mary Poppins attraction at a Disney park, coming to Epcot.
The morning was full of announcements on plans for Disney parks, resorts, cruise ships and beyond. Here’s a roundup…
Guests can suit up alongside their favourite Super Heroes at the Avengers Campus, beginning in 2020 at Disney California Adventure park and later at Disneyland Paris. Both campuses will feature the first Disney ride-through attraction to feature Spider-Man. The attraction will give guests a taste of what it’s like to have actual super powers as they sling webs to help Spider-Man collect Spider-Bots that have run amok.
As Super Heroes continue to assemble at both campuses, one of the iconic buildings in California will be the Avengers Headquarters. The building will become the future entrance to a brand-new E-Ticket attraction where guests will fly alongside the Avengers in an epic adventure to Wakanda and beyond when it opens in the next phase of development.
Guests will also find heroic encounters throughout the campus, including Ant-Man and The Wasp, Doctor Strange, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Super Heroes from Wakanda and Asgard, and Iron Man. Guests may even catch a glimpse of the Avengers along the rooftops of the Avengers Headquarters.
At Disneyland Paris, guests can extend their adventures at Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel, opening next summer.
A Star Wars Voyage Unlike Any Other
While guests await the immersive Star Wars vacation experience opening at Walt Disney World Resort on Aug. 29, news came of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, billed as a glamorous ship – the Halcyon – where every window features stellar views into space. Guests will embark on a two-night adventure that includes special activities, dining, and a ‘spaceport’ day on Batuu at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, Disney Wish, coming in 2021
Three new ships are coming to the Disney Cruise Line fleet and the first of the new vessels – the Disney Wish – will be delivered in late 2021 and will set sail in January 2022.
Reflecting the theme of the vessel, Rapunzel will grace the stern, representing her character’s wish to see the world. The ship’s three-storey atrium will be ‘inspired by the beauty of an enchanted fairytale’.
Disney Wish passengers will also be able to experience the new Disney port of call on Eleuthera, at Lighthouse Point.
Epcot will be unified with four neighborhoods, each celebrating a unique aspect of what makes Epcot so special, said Chapek.
World Showcase will welcome the first attraction inspired by Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane, which will join the UK pavilion as an entirely new neighbourhood.
Following the limited-time run of Epcot Forever, the new nighttime spectacular HarmonioUS will be the largest ever created for a Disney park.
In summer 2020 the France pavilion will offer Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, as well as a new restaurant called La Crêperie de Paris. Also in the France pavilion, the Impressions de France film will be joined by an all-new ‘Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along’ in January 2020.
‘Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360’ will debut in January 2020 in the Canada pavilion with new scenes and a new story.
And in the China pavilion, ‘Wondrous China’ will be presented in a completely seamless 360-degree digital format.
The iconic Spaceship Earth will remain a voyage through time as the journey transforms with new scenes reflecting the universal nature of the human experience, but with a new guide and all-new narration.
A new pavilion will be the home base for Epcot’s signature festivals, with views of World Showcase. The three-level structure will have one of the most remarkable designs at any Disney park, said Chapek, and will fast become a new icon for Epcot.
World Celebration will also feature great views at Dreamers Point, lush gardens, a wishing tree, an interactive new fountain and a statue celebrating the legacy of the original dreamer, Walt Disney.
Journey of Water, Inspired by ‘Moana’ will be a lush exploration trail where guests can meet and play with magical, living water. The Land pavilion’s new film ‘Awesome Planet,’ will begin welcoming guests in January 2020.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will feature the first reverse launch into space as part of a new family-friendly storytelling coaster.
An expansion of the Mission: SPACE pavilion, the new restaurant Space 220 will open this winter.
PLAY! pavilion will open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World. The interactive metropolis will have games, activities, and experiences ‘that connect them with friends, family, and beloved Disney characters like never before’.
50 Years of Walt Disney World Resort
Chapek says the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort will be one of the biggest ever. For the first time, the celebration will extend beyond Magic Kingdom to each of the resort’s four theme parks with highly anticipated attraction openings and new entertainment, food and beverage, merchandise, and more.
Planned to debut in late 2020, Disney Genie is a revolutionary new digital offering that will enhance the way guests plan for and experience a trip to Walt Disney World Resort. Chapek says Disney Genie will make planning easier and more fun by providing guests customized itineraries geared to princesses, thrill seekers, foodies, families and more. Guests will even be able to tell Disney Genie what they want to experience, and it will quickly evaluate millions of options to present them with an optimal day.
Next Generation of Animated Stories at Disney Parks
The new Magic Happens parade is set to debut in spring 2020 and will feature floats, costumes, and beloved Disney characters from ‘Moana,’ ‘Coco,’ ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ and more – all led by Mickey Mouse and his pals.
D23 2019 attendees got a first look inside Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in 2020 and Disneyland in 2022. Chapek also revealed a first look at the new area of Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland that will be home to this attraction.