Early yesterday morning (August 25th), the chairman of Disney Parks, Products and Experiences, Bob Chapek, took the stage at the D23 Expo to provide new details for previously announced projects and experiences at Disney Parks around the world, as well as to announce new projects and experiences in front of an enthusiastic audience of Disney fans and regular park goers. Needless to say, the coming years are going to be exciting times for Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars fans alike, and we’ve got a list of all the biggest reveals at this year’s Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products panel:
A (MOSTLY) WHOLE NEW EPCOT –
By far the biggest project currently underway at any Disney Park is the reimagining of Epcot. While Disney announced some time ago that Epcot would be getting a massive makeover, much more detail was provided at D23 Expo as to just how much change we can expect for Disney World’s second largest park. Even though World Showcase will mostly remain as is aside from a few additions and small changes coming to a handful of pavilions (see below), Future World will undergo major changes over the next several years. Here’s a summary of what was revealed at this year’s panel:
The Four “Neighborhoods” of Epcot
After its transformation, Epcot will be divided into four “neighborhoods”, with one neighborhood being World Showcase. The other three neighborhoods will be located in the now “Future World” section of Epcot at the front of the park. The west side of Future World – home to Soarin’, Living With The Land, The Seas With Nemo and Friends, Turtle Talk With Crush, Journey Into Imagination With Figment, and Innoventions West – will become the “World Nature” neighborhood, while the east side – home to Mission Space, Test Track, the now extinct Universe of Energy (soon to be replaced by a Guardians of the Galaxy themed coaster), and Innoventions East – will become the “World Discovery” neighborhood. The center section of the current Future World, which features Spaceship Earth as its centerpiece of sorts, will become the “World Celebration” neighborhood.
While we don’t yet know everything that will be included in each neighborhood, as far as we know most – if not all – of the rides in these areas seem to be safe and will remain after the remodel. New attractions and experiences revealed for the new Future World area are the previously announced Guardians of the Galaxy coaster, the new space themed restaurant, and the all new PLAY! Pavilion coming to the World Discovery neighborhood, while the newly announced Moana themed water experience and the new Land Pavilion film, Awesome Planet, will be added to the World Nature neighborhood. World Celebration will see a few updates to Spaceship Earth, including new narration and music, a new entrance design, a new nature-based area called Dreamers Point, and a new pavilion which will be a three-level structure that will serve as the central hub for Epcot’s many festivals and feature a nature park on the top floor with spectacular views of the World Showcase Lagoon.
Two Brand New Pavilions
As mentioned above, a couple of new pavilions have been announced for Epcot’s current Future World area. More details were provided for the previously announced PLAY! Pavilion, which will find its home in the World Discovery neighborhood (aka the east side of Epcot). According to Disney Parks Blog, guests will “discover an interactive city bursting with games, activities and experiences that connect you with friends, family and beloved Disney characters – both real and virtual”. This explanation, along with the description of a “digital metropolis“, makes us think that this pavilion will have attractions that are heavily screen-based in some way, though it does sound as if their will be physical walk-around or meet & greet characters located in this pavilion as well. Not many other details have been revealed as of yet, but we do know that Edna Mode will star in some sort of experience revolving around fashion and that Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webby will be a part of some type of water balloon fight experience that guests can somehow participate in. As of right now, the PLAY! Pavilion is set to open before Disney World’s 50th Anniversary in 2021.
A second new pavilion will also be built in the center area of Future World, which will soon be reimagined into the World Celebration area. The bottom floor of this yet unnamed pavilion will be plaza level, while the second floor will be the expo level. The third floor will be a nature park of sorts, covered with trees and offering a bird’s eye view of the World Showcase Lagoon for the nighttime spectacular.
A New Name for a New Coaster
While Disney Park guests have known for a while that the Guardians of the Galaxy will soon take over the former Universe of Energy building as well as expand into new territory beside it, little has been revealed about what these two gigantic buildings would have inside of them besides a rather large show area and coaster track complete with rotating cars that turn to face the storytelling elements. Aside from learning that it will be Disney’s first “reverse launch” coaster, the D23 Expo also gave us a name so we can finally stop referring to it simply as the “Guardians Coaster”. This thrill ride will be called “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind” and is set to be the first “‘other-world’ showcase pavilion” at Epcot (we aren’t exactly sure what they mean by “pavilion” since it’s technically just a ride at this point, but we are excited to see if more is added later to make it into a bigger area with other experiences or attractions).
Dinner In Space
The D23 Expo panel also provided new details on the unique space themed restaurant currently being built in Future World East (soon to be World Discovery). This restaurant, called Space 220, will include panoramic views of outer space and of earth from “220 miles up.” Space 220 is said to be an “expansion of the Mission: SPACE pavilion” and is set to open later this year in winter of 2019. As revealed previously, it will be a table service restaurant that will serve “internationally-inspired cuisine” to guests as they sit high above the earth’s atmosphere and look out upon breathtaking out-of-this-world views.
Moana Moves Into Epcot
Only two new experiences have been announced so far for the World Nature area (Future World West), one of which is a new nature film, Awesome Planet, coming to the Land pavilion sometime in January 2020. The other new experience announced at D23 is a unique trail inspired by Disney’s Moana that will feature “magical, living water” that guests will be able to interact with. This area will be called Journey of Water, Inspired by “Moana”.
A “Harmonious” New Nighttime Spectacular
While Epcot Forever will be taking the place of IllumiNations in October of this year, it will only be a temporary replacement. Sometime in 2020, HarmonioUS will become Epcot’s nightly firework show and is stated to be the “largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park”. Much more than a simple firework show, Disney Parks Blog describes this fantastic spectacular as having “floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, lasers, and more”, and all of these elements will combine to tell the story of how Disney music inspires people all around the globe.
The UK Pavilion Welcomes Cherry Tree Lane
Perhaps the most surprising and unexpected announcement at D23 this past weekend is that Mary Poppins is coming to the UK pavilion in World Showcase. While the classic character has frequently greeted park guests in the pavilion throughout the years, she and the Banks family will have a much larger permanent presence in Epcot once Cherry Tree Lane is added to the UK pavilion. A Mary Poppins themed attraction will also be built, though at this time we aren’t sure exactly what kind of attraction it will be.
Ratatouille’s Opening Date Revealed
Another new attraction coming to the World Showcase is Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure – a ride that is expected to be identical to the popular family ride at Disneyland Paris. This ride will be the first Pixar based attraction to be added to the World Showcase, even though Coco has had a small presence in Mexico for a while now with both a display and short outdoor musical show. Though not many details were discussed at the Expo, we now know that the Ratatouille ride is set to open in the summer of 2020.
Three New Films and a New French Restaurant
The remaining Epcot projects discussed at D23 were all previously announced, but a few more details were provided. China’s new 360 film will be called “Wondrous China“, while Canada’s new film will be called “Canada Far and Wide“. Though the “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along” show coming to France originally sounded as if it would be a live show along the lines of the Frozen sing-along show in Hollywood Studios, it now seems that it may be some sort of film instead. We still aren’t completely sure, but we do know that it will be directed by Don Hahn.
Finally, La Crêperie de Paris will open in the France pavilion in the summer of 2020 alongside Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
NEW EXPERIENCES and LAND COMING TO DISNEYLAND
Though most of the major park news at D23 revolves around Epcot in Walt Disney World, a few big announcements for Disneyland California were also a part of the Expo. The first announcement was that a new parade would be making its way down Main Street in Disneyland, and then more details were provided for the Marvel superhero themed area coming to Disney California Adventure – including a major new attraction announcement. A few new details were also revealed for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which is a ride being built in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
In Spring of 2020, Disneyland’s new parade, “Magic Happens“, will become the new daytime parade for the Happiest Place on Earth. The parade will include new float designs, a new song, and several familiar characters, including Moana, Miguel and friends from Coco, and Sleeping Beauty.
Avengers Assemble in DCA
As part of the Marvel additions coming to several Disney Parks around the globe, Avengers Campus was revealed at the name of the new superhero themed area coming to Disney California Adventure Park (as well as the superhero area in Disneyland Paris, which will also be getting a Marvel themed hotel that we really wish was being built in California too). Designed to be a place for the Avengers to find and “recruit the next generation of Super Heroes”, this land is one part of the bigger Marvel storyline connecting all the super hero areas in Disney Parks around the world. In Disneyland California, the previously announced Spider-Man themed ride will be the first attraction to open in Phase One, which will give guests “a taste of what it’s like to have actual super powers”. Also coming in Phase One are the Ant-Man themed restaurant – Pym Test Kitchen (we see what you did there, Disney) and a Doctor Strange themed area, which appears to be for some sort of show or interactive experience.
The biggest and most exciting announcement for Avengers Campus, however, is that an Avengers themed E-Ticket ride (meaning it’s a major attraction) will be coming in Phase Two (date yet to be revealed). Surprisingly, more details than we expected were given at the Expo, though we aren’t sure just yet what kind of ride it will be – although it seems that it will most likely be heavily screen-based. According to Disney Parks Blog, guests will board a Quinjet and “fly alongside the Avengers in an epic adventure to Wakanda and beyond”. They also stated that “an all-new innovative ride system” will be constructed that will put guests “in the middle of this action” – apparently as part of the Avengers team. As longtime fans of the MCU, we couldn’t be more excited to experience this ride for ourselves in the (hopefully) near future!
OTHER BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS
Disney Parks updates, expansions, and additions usually steal the show at D23 Expos, but there were a few other exciting announcements revealed during the Parks, Experiences, and Products panel, including a new Disney themed Cirque du Soleil show coming to Disney Springs in Florida and a new island in the Bahamas for Disney Cruise Ships to visit. A new cruise ship, the Disney Wish will also arrive in 2022, as well as a brand new digital and app experience, Disney Genie, which will start helping guests plan their Disney vacations sometime in late 2020.
Though the new details revealed about the Star Wars hotel coming to Disney World are certainly exciting, especially the announcement that both kids and adults will be able to train with lightsabers, we might be just as excited to hear that the Disney Store will be coming to select Target stores across the country and a new Target location will be built in close proximity to the four Walt Disney World theme parks. Not much was revealed at D23 about these new miniature Disney Store locations within Target or exactly which Target locations would be participating, but we will be sure to keep an eye out for any new developments in this highly anticipated new project!
With all of these new announcements revealed at D23, we can’t wait to see all of the exciting additions and updates coming to the Disney Parks around the world! Be sure to subscribe to our email list and our YouTube Channel to be the first to know about all of our upcoming articles and videos discussing the changes to the parks over the next several years, including all of the updates and new details revealed about each of these projects as they are announced!