Everything Announced for Disney Parks at the 2017 D23 Expo
Every other year, the Walt Disney Company holds the D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center in order to showcase “all the magic, wonder, and adventure of Disney at this remarkable gathering created especially for the most passionate and loyal fans.” The Expo presents three full days of “inside-the-magic” experiences, including exclusive sneak peeks at upcoming films from The Walt Disney Studios, dazzling celebrity appearances, the Disney Legends ceremony, and the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibition, which spotlights crown jewels from Disney’s timeless legacy.
And of interest to theme park fans: a look at what’s coming from Disney Parks and Resorts and Walt Disney Imagineering. This particular presentation was held Saturday afternoon, and we have done our best to compile all of the new experiences coming to the 12 Disney Parks around the world in the near future.
Star Wars at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios
During the 2015 D23 expo, Disney announced plans to build immersive Star Wars lands at their two United States resorts. While construction is well-documented and already underway, on Thursday night of the 2017 Expo, fans were treated to the reveal of a scale model (50′ in size) of the Star Wars lands at the two parks.
— Star Wars (@starwars) July 14, 2017
The 14-acre lands on both coasts represent the largest single-themed land expansions at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. For an up close look at the model, check out this video below.
The lands will each hold two attractions; one where park guests pilot the iconic Millennium Falcon on a secret mission, and another adventure that puts guests in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance. Both Star Wars lands are scheduled to open sometime in 2019.
— TouringPlans (@TouringPlans) July 14, 2017
Be sure to check out this interview with legendary Star Wars designer Doug Chiang to see his thoughts on the model!
In the actual Disney Parks and Resorts Panel, we were given a name of these two new lands, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
For fans of the original Star Tours attraction, Captain Rex will be returning in a new role at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge; DJ in the new Cantina restaurants.
— TouringPlans (@TouringPlans) July 15, 2017
There was also some new concept art released for the lands’ attractions.
— The DIS (@TheDIS) July 15, 2017
Some First Order Atttaction concept art pic.twitter.com/qSgOPCmVLJ
— WDW News Today (@WDWNT) July 15, 2017
It was also mentioned that the Disneyland version of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge will open before its Orlando counterpart, opening sometime in 2019.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Star Wars wasn’t all that was happening in the near future for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It was announced that the Great Movie Ride, an original opening-day attraction at what was then Disney’s MGM Studios, will close on August 13 to make way for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) July 15, 2017
Runaway Railway will be the first ride at any Disney park featuring Mickey and Minnie. According to Disney, “the attraction will put you inside the wacky and unpredictable world of a Mickey Mouse Cartoon Short where you’re the star and anything can happen. This zany out-of-control adventure features surprising twists and turns, dazzling visual effects and mind-boggling transformations that happen before your very eyes.”
The ride will feature a new story and a new singable attraction theme song as well as a new experience that Disney is calling “2 1/2 D.” Walt Disney Imagineer Kevin Rafferty said teams are inventing new technologies that turn the flat world of a colorful cartoon short into a “dimensional display of amazingness.”
From Disney Blog: Great Movie Ride closes on Aug. 13 to make way for Mickey & Minnies Runaway Railway. pic.twitter.com/Gzb5wFeK6F
— Richard Bilbao (@RichOBJ) July 15, 2017
“This is one of the boldest…most impossible things I’ve ever worked on in almost 40 years of being an Imagineer. And you know what? That’s what I love about it. Well, that, and Mickey,” Kevin said. “This is not going to be a small attraction, it’s going to be game-changing.”
It was also mentioned that Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will feature more “hidden Mickeys” than any other attraction.
We also received an update on Toy Story land, which was announced during the 2015 D23 Expo. The area will open in Summer 2018.
Though not specific to D23, twitter user @bioreconstruct posted some drone photography today of the construction site of Toy Story Land’s Slinky Dog coaster, which is being manufactured by MACK Rides.
First theming is up at the Slinky Dog coaster! In Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios. pic.twitter.com/Fo5w6yllAL
— bioreconstruct (@bioreconstruct) July 15, 2017
Over at the Magic Kingdom, it was announced that the park would be receiving a Shanghai Disneyland Import, the TRON Lightcycle Power Run Coaster, which will be located in between the Tomorrowland Speedway and Space Mountain in a space that was not previously developed. Based on the concept art, you can almost say it’s confirmed that the Tomorrowland Speedway will continue to operate.
For a look at TRON Lightcycle, check out the video below!
Tron Lightcycle Power Run is scheduled to open at the Magic Kingdom in conjunction with the park’s 50th anniversary, in 2021.
Speculation: Below is potential location of the Tron coaster within Magic Kingdom. Looks like the Speedway track may be modified and perhaps we’ll see more fuel efficient vehicles as well. Maybe they’ll get the ones from Hong Kong since their ride is being removed soon. Don’t be surprised if the train has to close for a period of time for construction on the new coaster.
Elsewhere at the Magic Kingdom, it was announced that a new theater would be open on Main Street U.S.A, inspired by the Willis Wood Theater in Kansas City (where Walt Disney grew up and had his first job delivering newspapers).
Just released: Hi-res image of a new theater coming to Main Street U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom. Inspired by Kansas City’s Willis Wood Theater. pic.twitter.com/YqJGG6h8Hu
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) July 15, 2017
Speculation: Below is where we’re thinking the Broadway style theater will be placed.
Epcot is seeing new additions in both World Showcase and Future World with the addition of a Ratatouille attraction in the France pavilion, and a new Guardians of the Galaxy E-Ticket Attraction that will replace Ellen’s Energy Adventure.
Similar to the 4-D attraction Ratatouille: The Adventure that opened at the Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris in 2014, guests will be able to shrink to Remy’s size and scurry to safety in a dazzling chase across a kitchen with the sights, sounds and smells of Gusteau’s legendary Parisian restaurant. This attraction will expand the France Pavilion. For a look at the ride in Paris, check out the video below.
Elsewhere in World Showcase, the China pavilion will be receiving a new Circlevision film.
— The DIS (@TheDIS) July 15, 2017
Over in Future World, Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye and their Dinosaurs are on the way out, to be replaced by Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
Epcot’s brand new E-ticket attraction will be based on the rockin’ and action-packed world of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and is the next step in how guests can encounter these characters at the Walt Disney World Resort. Like The Great Movie Ride, Ellen’s Energy Adventure will close on August 13.
Epcot just may be the perfect place for a “Guardians”-inspired attraction as you can see in the photo above – Peter Quill (aka Star Lord) actually visited Epcot as a kid!
There was also some Mission: Space news announced at D23. The films have been re-animated and now feature two different films for Orange (the more intense version) and Green (the less intense version.) The green film is designed to appeal more toward families.
— TouringPlans (@TouringPlans) July 15, 2017
There will also be a new table service restaurant opening soon at Epcot, located near Mission: Space. The restaurant will invite guests to travel into space for amazing dining experiences in the stars.
The new space restaurant will be operated by the Patina Restaurant Group. Patina Restaurant Group operates several other restaurants at Walt Disney World including Tutto Italia and Via Napoli at Epcot and Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs.
Both Ratatouille and Guardians of the Galaxy are expected to be open by 2021.
General Walt Disney World Resort
Outside of the parks at Walt Disney World, there were several announcements that are viewed as improvements for the entire resort, focused on lodging and transportation.
The biggest of these announcements centers around a fully immersive Star Wars Resort hotel.
According to Bob Chapek, this revolutionary new vacation experience will be a living adventure that allows guests to immerse themselves in an entirely new form of Disney storytelling.
“It’s unlike anything that exists today.” he said. “From the second you arrive, you will become a part of a Star Wars story! You’ll immediately become a citizen of the galaxy and experience all that entails, including dressing up in the proper attire. Once you leave Earth, you will discover a starship alive with characters, stories, and adventures that unfold all around you. It is 100% immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits.”
In other resort news, Disney is opening a new Disney Vacation Club property, the Disney Riviera Resort, the 15th Disney Vacation Club resort.
— KeytotheWorldTravel (@yourkttwtravel) July 15, 2017
There were also two new transportation options announced for Walt Disney World Resort, the Skyliner Gondolas and “Minnie Vans”
The “Skyliner” gondolas will connect guests at Disney’s Art Of Animation, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach Resorts with Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot. It was mentioned that they will a Disney Character motif.
The Minnie Vans will be a Disney transportation similar to Lyft or Uber, a point-to-point transportation service anywhere in the Walt Disney World Resort.
Over on the West Coast, they have a few tricks up their sleeve as well, starting with Pixar Pier at Disney’s California Adventure.
Pixar Pier will feature a brand-new look for the area now known as Paradise Pier, as some of your favorite characters come to life on this seaside waterfront. You will discover whimsical neighborhoods filled with characters from “The Incredibles,” “Inside Out” and even more characters from “Toy Story.” Building upon the evolution of Disney California Adventure park that began in 2007, Disney is building more new worlds for guests to step into and enjoy your favorite stories.
This permanent addition to the park will open during a new limited-time celebration taking place throughout the Disneyland Resort in 2018 — Pixar Fest! Experience the magical worlds of Pixar in brand new ways as the entire resort comes alive with some of your favorite stories.
At Disneyland park, this incredible celebration will feature a brand-new fireworks spectacular as well as the return of the guest favorite, Pixar Play Parade. The popular “Paint the Night” parade will return to Disney California Adventure park.
— Magic Mania ? (@MagicManiaInc) July 16, 2017
Also in California Adventure, their Cars Land will receive a new Halloween overlay call Haul-A-Ween
Cars Land HAUL-O-WEEN pic.twitter.com/kGlFKbTpLP
— WDW News Today (@WDWNT) July 15, 2017
One of the last things that Disney mentioned, though not in much detail, was the addition of more Marvel characters at the Disneyland Resort. Soon, the Guardians of the Galaxy will be joined by Spider-Man and the Avengers in what will become a completely immersive Super Hero universe at California Adventure.
These new stories will build on the success of the new and already popular Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT! and create a place where you can team up with your favorite Super Heroes like never before.
Non-Domestic Disney Parks
While much of the focus of this year’s D23 Expo Parks Panel focused on the U.S. Disney Parks, there was one more announcement from across the pond as Disneyland Paris’ Hotel New York is transforming into Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel.
“We’re going to create a hotel at Disneyland Paris that would make Tony Stark proud,” Bob said. “I’m thrilled to announce that Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel will transport our guests to the action-packed, inspiring world of Super Heroes including Iron Man, The Avengers, and Spider Man among others!”
Check back often, as we’ll be updating this post as more information becomes available.
What new ride, attraction or addition are you most excited about? Share in the comments section below.