D23 recap: Disney announces its new theme park attractions

July 15, 2017, 2:43 PM · Today, Disney announced a number of impressive new projects scattered across their theme park resorts in the United States, Europe and Asia. At the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts panel during D23 Expo 2017, Chairman Bob Chapek revealed over a dozen new developments coming to Disney theme park resorts across the globe.

Disneyland Resort:

With the complete overhaul of Disney California Adventure Park and the 50th anniversary celebration at Disneyland, there has been a ton of investment at the Disneyland Resort over the past decade. In 2019, Disneyland will be opening Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge (formerly known as Star Wars Land), the first Star Wars themed area and the single largest Disney project to date. This themed area promises to take the concept of an immersive land to a new level, where everything is sculpted around the story of each individual guest.

Visitors can try their hand at piloting the Millennium Falcon on a mission for Chewbacca, where the actions of everyone will determine whether the mission is a success or a failure. After their flight, guests can go relax and sample a beverage at the cantina while listening to tunes from (former captain) Rex, now a DJ after dismissal following the Star Tours incident.

However, the First Order lurks in waiting, and those who follow BB-8 to the secret Resistance base may soon find themselves in a battle for their lives. Much is still unknown about the First Order Battle attraction, but two things have been confirmed...at least a portion of the ride will take place on a First Order Star Destroyer, and riders will come face to face with Kylo Ren during the experience.

While guests must wait until 2019 to visit Star Wars, next year the resort will host Pixar Fest, a celebration of every story in Pixar's catalogue of outstanding films. This celebration will bring with it new entertainment options (including a new nightly firework spectacular), new character greeting opportunities, and the return of the Pixar Play Parade, which will replace Mickey's Soundsational Parade as Disneyland's daytime parade. Pixar Fest will also see the return of the popular Paint the Night parade, but this time to Disney California Adventure Park and with an additional parade unit. Lastly, Pixar Fest brings with it a new Halloween event for Cars Land, which will begin this fall.

Pixar Fest also coincides with the opening of Disney California Adventure's newest themed area: Pixar Pier. A retheme of the existing Paradise Pier, the new area does away with the Victorian Boardwalk theme in favor of a traditional pier run by the Pixar gang. Inside Out, the Incredibles, and more will receive their own attractions, and there may be some additional Toy Story presence as well.

Lastly, Chapek dropped the news that a Marvel Superhero Universe themed area is currently in development for Disney California Adventure. While almost nothing has been confirmed, it is likely that this area will occupy the unused space behind Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout! The area will feature attractions themed to Spider-Man and The Avengers, but further specifics will be revealed at a later time. An opening date has also not been decided, but it will definitely be after Star Wars opens at Disneyland (making this one likely 2020-2022).

Walt Disney World Resort:

Less than two months ago, Walt Disney World opened Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom. This project represents the culmination of a major overhaul for that park, and it has made Animal Kingdom a must visit park rather than the third or fourth choice for most Walt Disney World visitors. In the coming years, the focus shifts to the other three parks as Walt Disney World begins preparations for their 50th anniversary in 2021.

Next year, Toy Story Land debuts at Disney's Hollywood Studios, adding two new and much needed family attractions to the park. The year after, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge will open. This land will be 99% identical to the installation at Disneyland, but it will open later in the year.

In addition to these attractions, Disney's Hollywood Studios will be opening Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, the first Mickey-themed ride at a Disney park. A high-tech family dark ride, this attraction will replace the Great Movie Ride, which is scheduled to close for good later this year. While based on the IP of Mickey Mouse, the attraction features a completely original story: Guests are joining Mickey and Minnie for a viewing of a new Mickey Mouse short. However, Goofy arrives with a train and invites everyone to take a ride with him. What follows is a wacky and unpredictable adventure as guests cross from the real world into the world of the cartoons. Advertised as a 2.5-D ride, this attraction will use physical sets and new technology to transform the flat world of the cartoons into something unlike what has been seen before. The attraction is complete with its very own theme song and, in true Disney fashion, more hidden Mickeys than any other Disney attraction. An exact opening date was not given, but all Walt Disney World projects are scheduled to be completed by 2021.

Over at Epcot, major changes are on the way as the entire park is set to transform. While there is no intention to alter the overall theme of the park (it will always be Future World and World Showcase), the park will be transformed into something that is timeless, relevant in the modern world, and, at the request of many visitors, gives an experience closer to what is expected from a Disney park. The entire project will be performed in phases, with the first phase to be complete by the park's 40th anniversary in 2022.

Coming to World Showcase, the France Pavilion is receiving a clone of Ratatouille from Walt Disney Studios Paris. This attraction will be built in an all new expansion of the pavilion, and will not replace any existing rides. In addition, a brand new film will be replacing Reflections of China, shot with modern digital cameras and carefully shot to produce a seamless viewing experience. While other projects were not announced, it was confirmed that several other projects to bring Disney IP to the countries representing their films are in development, and it is possible one or more of these could be announced at a later date.

Down in Future World, the big news is that Ellen's Energy Adventure is being replaced by a new E-ticket attraction themed to the Guardians of the Galaxy. While details were not provided, given the IP it is likely that this attraction will be Epcot's first roller coaster or some other type of high-adrenaline attraction.

In addition, Mission: Space will be receiving a complete overhaul with two new missions. Orange Mission will continue to be a flight to Mars, but the experience is updated to improve the attraction quality. Green Mission, however, is a completely new Earth orbital mission that is more focused on the sights and less on the action. (Update: The new missions will debut next month, in August.)

Lastly, Mission: Space will now be accompanied by a full-service restaurant where guests dine in space.

Not to be left out, the Magic Kingdom is receiving a couple attractions over the next five years. Opening on Main Street U.S.A. is a new theater bringing a large-scale live entertainment venue to the park. Modeled after the Willis Theater in 1920s Kansas City, this will fit in right alongside the existing buildings on the street. Performances here will be announced at a later date.

Then, in 2021, Magic Kingdom will open Tron Lightcycle Power Run, a clone of Shanghai Disneyland's most popular attraction. This ride will be added to Tomorrowland directly adjacent to Space Mountain, and will not require the removal of any existing attractions.

Walt Disney World's big plans don't stop at the boarders of the theme parks, as several non-park projects were also announced. None of these is more exciting than a new Star Wars luxury hotel coming to the Hollywood Studios resort area.

Much more than a hotel, this is a brand new concept for a multi-day immersive adventure. Not only is the hotel themed to the Star Wars galaxy, but every guest will live and breathe Star Wars from the moment they enter until the moment they leave.

Using mock windows, guests will feel like they are aboard a starship traveling the galaxy, and nothing aboard will break that illusion in any way.

In addition, Walt Disney World is adding their 15th Disney Vacation Club resort, Disney Riviera Resort, which will be added to the Epcot resort area.

With more visitors than ever, Walt Disney World will also be expanding their transportation options. Beginning soon is Disney's Minnie Van service, a resort-wide point-to-point transportation option that allows guests to travel around the resort without ever interrupting the feeling of Disney. (Update: The service starts this month for guests at the Boardwalk and Yacht & Beach Club resorts.)

For those who desire a more scenic option, Disney Skyliner is an aerial gondola system connecting the Epcot and Hollywood Studios areas. With stops at Epcot's International Gateway and the main gate of Disney's Hollywood Studios, in addition to Disney's Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach, and Riviera resorts, transportation will be both fun and efficient throughout a majority of Walt Disney World. This serves as a more economical and more efficient alternative to extending the Walt Disney World Monorail System, and is likely the direction Disney will go when pursuing future transportation options.

Disneyland Paris:

While content was light from this resort, it was announced that this will be the location of Disney's first Marvel-themed resort hotel. Dubbed Hotel New York, the resort will focus on the world of superheroes and feature Iron Man, the Avengers, Spider-Man, and more.

Much of the hotel will feel like a contemporary art gallery, putting the entirety of the Marvel Universe on display. While no theme park additions were announced in Paris, there is speculation that an announcement will be done at a later time to reveal future developments at those two parks.

Asia Parks:

Little was said about any of the Asian parks, as all of them have announced their plans on their own. However, it was confirmed that Toy Story Land will open at Shanghai Disneyland in 2018. Unlike the Disney's Hollywood Studios version, it appears that this area is mostly a clone of those added to Walt Disney Studios Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.

With much in store over the next half-decade, it certainly looks like there is plenty for Disney fans to look forward to on the next visit to their Disney resort of choice.

Replies (96)

July 15, 2017 at 3:59 PM · What does "green mission" mean for Mission Space? I am kind of losing my mind at all the cool things being announced. I LOVE the Runaway Railway ride concept. My kids LOVE Mickey and Minnie and it will be so fun to FINALLY have a ride all about them. And having it be like going into a movie short is so perfect for the Chinese Theater. They are going to turn my least favorite park into the best park. I just wish that EPCOT would get cool countries added to the showcase. i am not excited about Spain or Brazil. I feel like the mexico pavilion already represents Spanish/Latin culture and wish they would add something like Egypt, Russia, Australia, or Greece to the showcase instead. I also wish that every pavilion had a ride. Want a Mary Poppins ride in the UK pavilion.
July 15, 2017 at 4:03 PM · Bummed out about Great Movie Ride, but the rest sound awesome!
July 15, 2017 at 4:20 PM · Did they show any concept art of the tail lights that the other Orlando theme park operators will be looking at for the next few decades?
July 15, 2017 at 4:21 PM · Anything about new pavilions?
July 15, 2017 at 4:29 PM · Stupid Guardians of the Galaxy. Stupid Energy.
July 15, 2017 at 4:33 PM · Disneyland resort was neglected this year
July 15, 2017 at 4:34 PM · TH Creative please celebrate all Theme Parks in Orlando . It is fantastic at last that Disney is adding all these updates and as an annual pass holder I can't wait to experience them all, but also I want Sea World, Universal and Lego Land to create amazing experiences as well , to continue to make Orlando where I live and work the best vacation destination. on Earth .
July 15, 2017 at 4:34 PM · Thanks for the great coverage, AJ! I've been following along from here in the middle of the Gulf of Alaska, but I have added new entries for the confirmed upcoming WDW rides at the end of our What's New and Under Construction page, where you also can find the concept art for the new rides if you follow the links.
July 15, 2017 at 4:39 PM · Looks like we were three for three on major ride predictions for Epcot and the MK - Guardians, Ratatouille and TRON, though we were off on TRON going in behind Speedway instead of replacing it.
July 15, 2017 at 4:43 PM · Pixar Pier is most surprising news and Great Movie Ride is replaced with a Mickey Runaway Railway ride. That's different too.

No news about Marvel Land at DCA and how Bugs Land is affected. Maybe later.

July 15, 2017 at 4:47 PM · Man, I just feel like I wasted 90 minutes of my life watching the presentation on Periscope. They should have called this the "Walt Disney World" presentation.

Seriously, less than 10 mins focused on DL resort? I feel especially bad for DLP fans that are seriously only getting a hotel. I have been waiting a long time for this presentation. What a let down. Well if you're a WDW fan then you must be over the moon right now.

For us Disneylanders, this was terrible. The announcement of Marvel Land was literally an after thought, with ZERO concept art or details! Paradise Pier to become Pixar Pier? Not a fan. Might as well call the park, Disney's Pixar Adventure. I'm happy that Paint the Night is staying at DL resort, but that's not something new we're getting, just a transfer. i'm just glad I didn't waste my money going to this event!

July 15, 2017 at 5:00 PM · Most excited about TRON!
Superb in Shanghai.
July 15, 2017 at 5:05 PM · @TH Creative : haha savage
July 15, 2017 at 5:08 PM · FWIW, I think that Nintendo land will deliver more than well for Universal, even as Disney adds all these wonderful new attractions. Just need to spend even more time (and money) in Orlando! (RIP SeaWorld, though.)
July 15, 2017 at 5:25 PM · @TH Have you ever heard of Nintendo Land? You seem to be a bit oblivious to the fact that it's a thing now.
July 15, 2017 at 5:34 PM · Can't wait for all that! (tough I'll have to wait. A lot.)

Very curious to what will be done with Guardians. I thought it would be like the Tron coaster, but with Tron going on MK, it'll probably be something else.

Very sad for The Great Movie Ride. I'd have preffered for them to have updated the ride instead of replacing it whith a Mickey one, but I know it'll probably be better for Disney.

July 15, 2017 at 5:47 PM · All of it sounds exciting. I can't wait to see more details on all of this. The new table service restaurant by Mission Space sounds interesting. Is it wrong that I hope that Wall-e flies by with an extinguisher in a space scene?
July 16, 2017 at 7:48 PM · Wow. Just wow. So much magic coming to the parks. I applaud every move they are making. Goodbye Okay Movie Ride. Goodbye Massively Dated Ellen Ride. Hello AWESOME New Stuff. What an amazing day.

My only regret is that it appears the Tomorrowland Speedway will be saved. Oh well, at least it will gobble up people and keep them out of the line for the Tron Coaster!

Thanks for the coverage, AJ!

July 15, 2017 at 6:23 PM · Well, taking this with a grain of salt. I'm old enough to remember all the plans the 1990s "Disney Decade" were supposed to give us that never came to be. But this sounds good (although sad to see Movie Ride gone) and nice to see WDW getting some long-overdue overhaul.
July 15, 2017 at 6:23 PM · Well, taking this with a grain of salt. I'm old enough to remember all the plans the 1990s "Disney Decade" were supposed to give us that never came to be. But this sounds good (although sad to see Movie Ride gone) and nice to see WDW getting some long-overdue overhaul.
July 15, 2017 at 7:06 PM · Curious as to whether there's any news on the new hotel for DLR?
July 15, 2017 at 7:52 PM · In a (sort of) related story Universal is gonna build more hotel rooms on the old Wet & Wild property for people who are coming to experience the new Disney attractions. So that's helpful.
July 15, 2017 at 7:54 PM · I'm assuming the never appropriately themed Jumping Jellyfish will become the Green Army parachute drop found in Hong kong. Goofys sky school being rethemed again? Walt Disney World is definitely where it's at the next few years. Very little reason to visit Disneyland.
July 15, 2017 at 8:12 PM · ^Except that the Disneyland Resort is getting the Star Wars expansion first, as well as Marvel Land, a new Pixar parade, a new Fantasmic, Pixar Pier (whatever that means), and they still have the best version of Pirates in North America. Might be the place to be in 2019 or 2020, then back to WDW in 2021....
July 15, 2017 at 8:50 PM · I like that they are keeping the Speedway AND adding Tron. Why get rid of something kids love when you don't have to to add something new. I just wish they would update the speedway also..... it could use an update.
July 15, 2017 at 9:23 PM · Does the lack of announcement mean that the rumored Fantasyland expansion in Disneyland is gonna be pushed back/cancelled?
July 15, 2017 at 9:53 PM · The new Mickey looks scary. @_@

I am so hyped on the Star Wars Hotel.

Disney spending money like their Comcast! The new attractions hopefully will bring in alot of revenue into their resort experience.

July 15, 2017 at 10:13 PM · WOW!

Did not actually all the rumors before D23 would come true.

But with Universal experiencing double digit growth Post-Potter versus single digit growth at Disney.

Disney had to double down on its theme parks especially knowing they can no longer rely on ESPN as their cash cow.

Plus knowing Universal's 3rd gate is around the corner, (would not be surprised to see the announcement before 2020) Disney had to step up its game.

I do agree with Robert: RIP Seaworld. Unless they do something major and massive soon, I question whether they will be left standing in 2021.

Pardon for using a baseball analogy but how can seaworld survive hitting singles and doubles when Disney and Universal are hitting Triples, Home runs and Grand Slams.

July 15, 2017 at 10:29 PM · Glad Speedway is not being replaced. That is a rite of passage for young kids, and I will never forget my children driving the cars for their first time. It is not for everyone, and they need electric cars, but it does not need to be replaced. Very curious about the world showcase attractions. I hope they are country specific. Ratatouille is fine, but I don't want any more Frozen like attractions that are fictional settings in the showcase. I like the movie ride, so I am not happy about that, but it is the biggest set of announcements probably in their history. If I won the Powerball, I might have to move into the Star Wars hotel as a permanent resident (but not in Carbonite). Now, I hope Universal steps it up for their mystery land purchase, and maybe we will get a fifth gate announcement at the next D23.
July 15, 2017 at 11:22 PM · Wasn't the Guardians ride supposed to be Florida's version of Tron? I'm curious to see what the new ride system will be, as well as where this new space restaurant is supposed to go (Odyssey seems most likely).

I still question the practicality of the gondolas, given that storms with lightning are common during the summer in Orlando. However, it is definitely better than nothing.

Also, is the Ratatouille restaurant coming as well?

July 15, 2017 at 11:22 PM · Sea World will survive, competing in the aquarium/roller coaster park segements, not in the theme park segment, which it was never really good at anyway. Just look at Ocean Park, Hong Kong.
July 16, 2017 at 12:11 AM · Jaw dropping news. All of these new goodies will give me plenty of excuses to keep going back to Orlando and Anaheim.

Nice to see a clone from the Asia parks (finally!).

July 16, 2017 at 1:13 AM · So Excited! The only downside is trying to figure out when to go from NZ (where options are a little more limited and visits far more intermittent)
July 16, 2017 at 1:20 AM · Please no more roller coasters - the odd one is fine but too many and it begins to lack sophistication
July 16, 2017 at 1:20 AM · RE: Daniel Galvan

I live in Hong Kong.

Ocean Park is at least building 2 on site hotels plus a water park.

While Seaworld does have Aquatica next door, on site hotels for them is still a dream for them at this point.

Also, the Zhuhai-Macau-Hong Kong bridge will open soon and it will make it a lot easier to visit Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai which although has been only open for 5 years is already 12th in annual attendance globally.

Chimelong Ocean Kingdom will present more serious competition to Ocean Park than Hong Kong Disneyland currently does.

Seaworld Orlando needs to seriously bulk up, Infinity Falls just isn't enough.

July 16, 2017 at 3:06 AM · This all sounds so great - am going to WDW in September this year, so will have to plan to go again maybe in 2021.

I am surprised nothing was mentioned of illuminations at epcot - I thought it was a slam dunk that this show is changing. Also that nothing was said about the imagination pavilion. I did have a faint hope that MK may get a night parade back for my visit in late September - can I assume this is unlikely to happen now?


July 16, 2017 at 4:39 AM · Firstly, Well Done TPI for your predictions. Your premium grade Sri Lankan tea leaves have done you proud! Exciting! Exciting! Exciting! Huge investment over the next 5 years overlapping with the current spend. Certainly Universal and Comcast's financial strategy has kicked Disney into gear.

I would have closed the Speedway as it so dated and cumbersome but can appreciate its fan base. It was my grandson's favourite ride when he visited in 2013. However, both MK additions are spot on.

Epcot's re-invention will evolve over time but I would have personally preferred a new attraction in Future World over a Mission: Space restaurant in Phase 1 as Epcot has its fair share of restaurants already but Future World is becoming desolate. Minor gripes.

For theme park fans, in general, the "war" being fought out between Disney & Comcast is truly fantastic for us Orlando theme park crazies.

Keep fighting!

July 16, 2017 at 5:08 AM · I've watched Disney largely sit on their hands in Orlando for many years while Universal built big. And as a result, we haven't been to Disney in about 5 years, even though out youngest child was too young to remember going. Meanwhile, we've carried annual passes for Universal and Sea World for the past several years.

But wow! Disney just fired a huge shot. They all but dwarfed any possible announcement forthcoming about Nintendoland. I think the only thing that could truly compete with the news out of D23 is a 3rd Universal park with Nintendoland as a major land. If their announcement is the rumored Nintendoland replacement for the current kid's area at Universal Studios, Disney has already won the next 5 years.

July 16, 2017 at 5:45 AM · Jeremygary - Comcast will be thinking equally as big so it is fantastic to be a theme park fan.
July 16, 2017 at 6:59 AM · Very excited with all the changes and can't wait for the new Mickey ride. Sorry folks I love old movies but GMR had become a bore. Even a new attraction like Tron, which I'll never ride, will be exciting for those who can. Personally I prefer something more creative and unique than another coaster.
July 16, 2017 at 7:02 AM · By the way, I love the look of the Mickey on the new attraction. He has that original look to him. His look may fit in much better with what Disney is trying to do with the ride.
July 16, 2017 at 7:08 AM · Seriously one of the best WDW hauls at D23 I've heard. Really good to see MK getting a Broadway theater. Excited for the Mickey ride! I've been on Great Movie Ride maybe three times in the ten years I've been going (passholder for many of those years). Great to hear about Tron but a bit disappointed that Speedway will stay. That is imo the worst attraction at any resort and some parks have been removing them (boring and takes up lots of space). Other than that, good news all around. I will start saving for the Star Wars resort now! Hopefully in the next few years we will get the new pavilion(s), a redo of Imagination (keeping Figment though), a return to the old ending of Spaceship Earth, and a new nighttime parade (let's do a "Paint the Night" treatment only with SpectroMagic). :)
July 16, 2017 at 7:09 AM · @Mike R: I thought the same about Illuminations, but then realized a lot of these changes at Epcot are so many years out, perhaps that's an announcement they are saving for later, maybe even for the next Expo. I also get the sense from other stories, that Disney expected Siemens to renew as a sponsor so perhaps--and this is just a guess--more was planned to be said for both Spaceship Earth and Illuminations?
July 16, 2017 at 8:19 AM · I'm excited to see Disney investing heavily in the Orlando parks again. Our family used to be annual Disney World visitors, but switched over to Universal around 2006 because there were better incentives for staying on site, especially the fast pass. Then they started building like crazy, and going to Universal reminded us of going to Disney in the nineties: every year, something new! It helps that our family's favorites in pop culture include Potter, Simpsons, and Nintendo. I am personally beside myself with excitement for Super Nintendo World, though I fear for my bank account once I hit the merchants in that area. Hope the annual pass still gives a discount then!

We do a Disney trip every 6-7 years now, so we should be back there once this new stuff is open. I think it will be our best Disney trip this century! So many new things to do!

July 16, 2017 at 9:00 AM · They should have kept the Great Movie Ride, and built Mickey from scratch. All well, hopefully they will make a similar new ride someday. Other than that everything sounds fine.
July 16, 2017 at 9:54 AM · Wake me up when they create something as fully immersive as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Looks cute though.
July 16, 2017 at 9:54 AM ·
July 16, 2017 at 9:55 AM · Good article, AJ.

TH Creative is wrong as usual. Universal will continue to gain market share at Disney's expense. The reason is simple: Disney's policy is to maximize profits by restricting access to their most popular attractions. It's the same strategy that De Beers uses with diamonds: create an artificial scarcity and price gouge the public.

Universal wants to maximize profits too, but their strategy is to maximize profits by gaining market share. Universal will continue to gain market share by offering the public a superior value. Universal will not roll over and play dead just because Disney is investing in the American parks in a big way for the first time in decades.

Disney fans should be grateful to Universal fans for forcing Iger and his gang of greedy bean counters to invest in the American parks. But knowing Iger and Chapek, these parks will be fantastic, if you're a member of the One Percent and have money to burn. The rest of us have a choice: go without or take out a second mortgage on the house.

People are wrong when they say Walt is spinning in his grave. The spirit of Walt is alive and well at Universal Studios!

July 16, 2017 at 10:54 AM · For those who say Disney will be the best. Let me say what Universal has in plan:

IoA project
USF Project
WnW hotels and entertainment options
Fourth park
VB expansion

July 16, 2017 at 11:40 AM · Ha ha @ Barry Zuckerkorn, that's funny. If one somehow doesn't believe that Pandora isn't as immersive as WWoHP, then Star Wars Land will be, but even moreso. Hogsmeade is decent, but a visible show building a light overlay of Duelling Dragons lessens the experience. Diagon Alley is world class, but no better than Pandora, and likely will be greatly exceeded by Star Wars Land. Anyway, I'm sure you must be kidding.
July 16, 2017 at 1:08 PM · Wow. I'm stunned but i think this is evidence of how current management feels about the Disneyland Resort. They basically just pulled down their pants and took a leak all over their Anaheim property. Just before they said anything about Marvel in DCA, after an hour long presentation on the billions and billions of dollars going to be spent in Orlando, I was expecting the next announcement to be that they were tearing down the Anaheim property and closing up shop to further fund their REAL resort.
However, they did announce some fantastic overlays to the pier and Carsland. Just awesome.
Anaheim can't even get another hotel TRULY greenlit and construction going, even though the other hotels are full almost all year, while Orlando gets new resort after new hotel after new DVC resort after new Downtown Disney double in size after new lands year after year after year.
Meanwhile Anaheim resort fans are on their knees begging for a new parking lot to start construction. My favorite is when people use the "we just got Carsland" excuse as to why major resort expansion has shut off or the last 5 years. In that same time Disney has spent twice the amount that the DCA remake cost in Orlando and are now virtually spending 20 times the amount in Orlando.
After this, I can't imagine why ANYONE except locals would go to the DLR instead of Orlando for a vacation. You would have to be an idiot to make that choice. In what originally looked like a possible DLR decade, Orlando is actually leaving Anaheim even further and further in the dust in terms of experience. The" Walts Park" excuse is now almost laughable because Orlando will be just so much more quality of an excperience than Anaheim. DLR will be closer to a Knotts Berry Farm experience than to a WDW experience.
This presentation was just stunning!!!!
July 16, 2017 at 1:12 PM · @thedrumman No way Jose. But good luck with all that.
July 16, 2017 at 3:56 PM · Does disney have problems getting permits to build at DLR? Also i would imagine they have to be careful with how they allocate the available space given the location of the resort and balance that against any future expansion plans.

As a uk visitor who has been to DLR, WDW and Disneyland paris,( i will be very interested what disney will do at paris now that they have full ownership) i feel while WDW is fantastic DLR has an air about it that makes it seem more magical. It does seem unfair that disney is not planning/has not announced any major plans for that park but i also feel that disney has long neglected WDW. Between my visit in 2007 and again in 2013 there was a redesign of fantasyland with one new ride open in MK (little mermaid - not one of their best efforts!) And a ride at the studios that was being built in 07. In six years that was the sum total of the interest in WDW! Oh and 7DMT which was late opening. Since then, what? Pandora which is very good but took far too long to build and a rather poor ( according to my 7 year old niece) frozen ride. DLR visitors, you have my sympathy but as someone who is more likely to visit WDW than DLP, I say Bring It On! Or "about bloody time"!!!!!

July 16, 2017 at 4:40 PM · 76.184---if you have been to DLR. it is so so busy, all of the time. Evidently, they are having problems, with the city getting the new parking lot approved. disputes with neighboring hotels, over business/customer access.

orlando, is just lucky, that when disney built it, it had tons and tons of money to buy tons and tons of land, to not have these problems.

sometimes, being the first trailblazer (DLR), in the entire world. While, a prestige thing, is a downside.

July 16, 2017 at 5:43 PM · It's super annoying when you're trying to follow all the comments on a great thread like this and new, anonymous comments randomly appear scattered throughout each time you take a look. You have to essentially rescan the entire thread to see what new posts have popped up and where instead of just jumping to the bottom. Any way to fix this Robert?

Anyway, as for the announcements, I remember back during D23 in 2015 when news of Toy Story Land broke. I was very unimpressed then and am still very unimpressed now by Toy Story Land and laughed while thinking TH was an insane troll for declaring "Boom goes the dynamite!" upon that announcement as it was and still is such a lame development.

This year however, I could not agree with TH more and wish he had used the phrase again as now it is totally appropriate. Disney just dropped a bomb that will ensure their dominance in Orlando for the next two decades. My wife and I truly love both the WDW and UO resorts but agreed last night that the scope of Disney's plans make all the UO development seem small and unimpressive in comparison. We are still excited for the new UO projects but now beyond excited for all these new game-changing Disney projects. Well done Disney!

July 16, 2017 at 11:20 PM · For the past couple of years, I was drinking the Universal Kool-Aid. Even though I'd mostly been a WDW pass holder, I just kept looking at the Orlando scene and thinking...Pandora and Disney Springs and a Frozen overlay are great and all, but....look at what Universal is doing!!! They are killing it!

And kudos to Comcast for upping their game, because without them, we'd never get these INCREDIBLE new attractions and expansions in Lake Buena Vista, Florida!

WOW! I just coughed and spit out my kool-aid.

I'm on the west coast now, but you better believe I'm saving up for a full week of Disney whoring in Orlando in 2021 or 2022. It's never too late to start saving.

I'm beyond words. I can't even argue with TH at this point. Disney is back in my good graces - and then some!

July 17, 2017 at 7:03 AM · Now that the dust has settled, I'll give my thoughts...

First, as someone who has a trip planned to Orlando in October, some of the announcements are incredibly annoying. As if DHS wasn't already cut off at the knees, they announce that Great Movie Ride will close next month. With Pixar Place not scheduled to open until next spring/summer, DHS is down to just FOUR (4) rides (ToT, RnRC, Star Tours, and TSMM). How can Disney charge guests full admission for a park that has just 4 rides? Five isn't much better, but four is just a sad joke. Then if any of those four rides goes down or needs to be rehabbed over the winter, it's even worse. Guests have been complaining that DHS was a half day park before, but now that they're closing one of the few rides that were left (and one that at least took over a half an hour to experience), it makes DHS not even worth the price of admission and park hoppers a necessity for anyone considering spending any time in this pathetic excuse of a park. If we didn't already have park hoppers that we purchased long ago, there's no way we would even bother stepping through the DHS gates this fall. I certainly hope Disney puts some small touches in this park to make it bearable for those spending close to $100 for 4 rides (2 of which are identical clones to DL/DCA).

We were hoping that Energy would stay open through October so we could get one last ride, but alas. Not a huge deal for us and something we expected, but just a bit of a disappointment. I'm hoping Mission: Space gets a decent makeover. I never understood why this attraction stayed so static over since they split the missions. With screens and a very flexible ride platform, Disney could do so much more with this ride. However, I hope this rumored new Green experience is not a complete joke, which it could be. Seems like a complete waste of the load cycle and ride system to stuff people into those little pods if nothing is going to happen aside from some pretty pictures. I would hope the Orange experience gets a good bit of attention, but my guess is that they will further neuter what is one of the most realistic simulators on the planet. The restaurant in the old HP corporate area is a no-brainer, but I wonder how many guests will actually venture over there. It looks like it will be very much like the Coral Reef or Garden Grill, so it's going to have to distinguish itself with the food and experience, because food in the World Showcase is difficult to top. Garden Grill is nothing special, as evidenced by the ease to get reservations, but Coral Reef is one of the best seafood restaurants anywhere in WDW. Guardians coming to Energy will help to bring traffic over to this side of the park, but this new restaurant may still be a tough sell.

Clones clones clones...So once again, Disney decides it's going to celebrate anniversaries by building clones. A Ratatouille clone for EPCOT, a Tron clone for MK, and 99% carbon copies of Star Wars Galaxy's Edge. I'm all for re-purposing ride systems and even reusing themes on similar attractions, but Disney has some of the most creative minds on Earth, and the best they could do was to take blueprints from one attraction/land, and turn them 90-degrees and plop the same thing in another park? Didn't they learn anything from the DL-50th celebration? I want to go to Disneyland to see something that's a little different than WDW, but the way Disney continues to approach these cloning projects is to say, don't bother going to our other parks, just go to the one closest to you like Six Flags. Maybe I have raised the bar too high for Disney, but I expect better from the world-wide theme park leader.

The Star Wars hotel sounds awesome, but you better believe only the rich will be able to afford it. They already leaked some preliminary numbers for a room that projected a family or 4 would be spending over $1k/night
in the Star Wars hotel ($900 for double occupancy and extra fees for each additional guest in the room). That's more than some of the most expensive rooms currently available at WDW including the presidential suite at the AKL and concierge level at Grand Floridian. Everyone knew this was going to be expensive, but I think many average guests getting excited about this development should start looking at their 401ks and whether they're ready to cash them out so they can afford this experience. I know, supply and demand, but good grief!!!

July 17, 2017 at 7:23 AM · Russell: Exactly why I'm delaying my next Disney World trip by 3 to 5 years. Luckily Disneyland is right down the freeway where I live, but I anticipate the next trip (after my current AP expires in the fall) to be in late 2019 or 2020. Another Disney decade, but takes half of that for them to finish.
July 17, 2017 at 7:28 AM · I am bereft at the loss of GMR, a week before I arrive in Orlando. It's one of our favorites! Its got Great right there in the title!

I wonder though - where do we think this Main Street theatre is going to go? Is there unused space somewhere behind with just an entrance on Main Street maybe?

July 17, 2017 at 7:28 AM · Btw - thanks AJ for a good, concise article. Great to see all these news items in one place.
July 17, 2017 at 8:20 AM · @Anton - Well, we were already delaying out of our normal every 2 year routine waiting for Avatar (last visited in fall 2014), so it wasn't like we were going to wait another 2 years. FWIW, Pixar Place would not have been enough for us to plan a trip next year, and if Mission: Space goes down next year, then a 2018 trip would not have been any better than going this year. I just bothers me a bit that Disney expects guests to plan vacations so far in advance, yet they can make significant changes to the parks at the drop of a hat. The fact that DHS is going to go probably 9+ months with just 4 rides should be embarrassing to them. There's absolutely no reason they can't have GMR limp along another few months to time its closure with the opening of Pixar Place, especially in a park already handicapped by attraction closures over the past 2-3 years.

@Kelly - I would think the only place they could put it would be to the right of the main entrance (can't go on the left because of the fire station/main guest services and parade staging areas). The initial rumor was that Tron was going into the space between COP and Buzz or between COP and Space Mountain, but with Tron now confirmed north of Space Mountain, my guess is that this new Main Street Theater will have an entry between the Main Street Bakery and Uptown Jewelers and occupy the parking and backstage areas between the south side of Tomorrowland and Main Street. It's either that or the Town Square Theater is getting blown up (highly unlikely IMHO).

July 17, 2017 at 7:48 AM · It's true a new golden age to be a theme park fan. With all of these new announcements, what Universal Orlando has done in the last decade plus Nintendo Land, we are being hooked up to the extreme. Funny, I wasn't excited for Tron until I saw that darn rendering that slapped the reality of it happening into me. That is going to look so freakin good in that area.

Also, the announcements might not be over yet. Comic Con is happening soon, and that's where Guardians Mission Breakout was announced, so we might be getting more Marvel Land news for Disneyland resort from that. Also, Asian parks were not mentioned at all during this expo. The D23 expo for Japan is happening next February, so we might get more on what's next for Shanghai Disneyland, and further details on the expansions of both Disneyland Tokyo, and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Get ready everyone... these next five to ten years is going to be magical. Disney World has not done this much to its parks since the 90s. It's very exciting times.

July 17, 2017 at 8:20 AM · Holy cow, so much negativity in these comments! Not everything can be updated or built every single year. Someone wrote "Disneyland was neglected..." Yeah, it's a huge bummer they're not putting in Star Wars Galaxy's Edge, or a full update to Fantasmic, the DLRR, or more changes to DCA. Wait... Seriously people, ease up!
July 17, 2017 at 8:27 AM · And Marni said this is just the first half of what's to come from Disney in Orlando...

Much more is still to come.

July 17, 2017 at 8:30 AM · I can't agree with TH. This all does not put disney way ahead of universal. Disney is doing this all because of universal. We can all agree on that.

If you look at all the announcements, they're all 3-5 years out. These are all announcements way pass due. Universal still has nintendoland. Snow white mine ride although charming the whole fantasyland expansion was charming but did it add anything exciting. I think toy story is going to be another new fantasyland. Stars Wars land will be equal to nintendoland based on everything nintendoland is suppose to be or just a bit better. Theres going to be an announcement soon that a dueling dragons will close with a forbidden forest ride that will make that area even more amazing. Not to mention a third gate. The third gate is why disney is going all this. Its coming. Theres no reason why universal is building all these hotels. Its coming. And its going to be amazing given universals secret to success is actual amazing theming and details. Disney has not exactly done this or has a track record of doing it. I haven't seen pandora yet, but new fantasyland is proof and they do put out duds.

I too think the comments could be better implemented for easier reading of the conversation on hand.

This is exciting both parks win ill be going to both. I just don't think we can say disney is the clear victor given their past record on recent attractions. Soaring over the world and frozen overlay are another two just quick to mind that okay thats all you can do to make this better. I know they will make star wars land amazing but everything else im not so sure.

July 17, 2017 at 8:35 AM · Thanks Russell, that makes sense. In my head that was probably the spot.
July 17, 2017 at 8:56 AM · "The D23 expo for Japan is happening next February, so we might get more on what's next for Shanghai Disneyland, and further details on the expansions of both Disneyland Tokyo, and Hong Kong Disneyland."

I don't know if China will feel insulted if their Shanghai Disneyland plans were announced in Japan. Just saying.

July 17, 2017 at 9:08 AM · Also just wanted to say anyone thinking nintendoland is going to be a dud. If anyone is a gamer in here, then they know nintendo will have a hand in creating this land and it will be nintendo standard just like the JK Rowling standard for harry potter. It will be very immersive in every way shigeru miyamoto is playing a big part in designing the land. He is the mario and zelda creator and has created many other memorable nintendo games.

I think when universal announces their third gate the conversation of disney being way ahead of universal will be vastly different. Think about this this is disney reacting to everything universal is doing right. Lets give universal a chance to react to this.

July 17, 2017 at 10:15 AM · Toy Story Land -- too little, too late, as usual Disney.
Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway - meh.
Ratatouille - meh.
Guardians of the Galaxy - meh.
Mission Space restaurant - looks seriously awesome.
Main Street Theater - needed
Tron Lightcycle - looks seriously awesome
Star Wars Hotel - will reserve judgement until seen and experienced
Gondola - an eyesore
Star Wars Land - what is here looks great, but at 14 acres it is too small with too few attractions.

July 17, 2017 at 10:07 AM · @Shane - I too think Nintendo could be pretty epic for Universal. Another frequent poster here would not agree as he stated, "future attractions based upon a gaming system from 1979?" when comparing the likely Nintendo Land announcement to everything announced at D23. I'd say nearly 40 years of success over at Nintendo despite challenges from the likes of Sony, Microsoft, and others (like Atari, Sega, and others that no longer exist on the console market) demonstrates that Universal have a viable IP that can go head to head with anything Disney can put out there.

@DBCooper - "Star Wars Hotel - will reserve judgement until seen and experienced" I applaud you if you have the financial resources to experience this. I'm a HUGE SW fan (have hundreds of action figures and vintage toys), and we're pretty well-off financially, but there's no way on earth I'm spending $1000/night for this. If Disney really thinks people will pay $1k/night for this, then they need to have hundreds of rooms available so they can sell them at a more accessible level ($400-500/night).

July 17, 2017 at 10:49 AM · I would love to visit every one of these new Disney attractions... but alas, I have yet to get a fastpass reservation for Snow White. I'm sure it will be 20-years before I can actually ride any of these things (with the exception of the skyliner).

Comcast has said over and over that it sees theme parks as a major part of the company. Comcast has been grinding out new attractions and will keep on doing that. My prediction is Universal Parks got a HUGE capital budget increase this past weekend.

July 17, 2017 at 11:06 AM · I really have to agree on the cost of the hotel. My thoughts are that they leaked it to gauge what the reactions would be. I am a SW nut, and fairly well off, and I would not pay any amount quoted so far. I will point out that you can pay $225 a night at a Universal hotel, walk to a park, and get unlimited front of the line access to almost all attractions. That Star Wars hotel will need to have a gate entry like the California lodge at Disneyland and some special perks other than fancy windows and people in costumes to justify any price mentioned when Universal is doing things that are actually beneficial with their three top hotels. Granted, all of these announcements are great, but come on.
July 17, 2017 at 11:22 AM · I'm super excited about all of these announcements and look forward to many future trips to the Disney Parks. Thanks also for the great coverage.
Only downside is that I will now never be able to ride the Great Movie Ride. But that's what YouTube is for I guess.

Quick question for all the experts here about Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal, as I am not one. I love the Hulk and Spider-man rides over there (who doesn't), but will Universal ever upgrade that park with new Marvel attractions? Can it?

July 17, 2017 at 11:40 AM · Disney can price it wherever they want, because people will pay it (whether they can afford it or not). Honestly, Disney could jack up their theme park tickets to $200 and people would still pay it. It really depends on what Disney is trying to do with this hotel. Are they looking for a boutique hotel catered to the rich and snotty that can afford $1k/night (that could keep out the most hard core fans that might make the place even more authentic), or are they looking at a nice hotel that normal people can cash in some stock for a once in a lifetime experience at $500/night (allowing hard core fans not only to come, but come every few years creating a community of "regulars")? Clearly, if they price at the lower end of the spectrum, they'd have to have lots of rooms to meet demand. If they price at the $1k/night, they could get away with a few dozen rooms that would still have enough demand to be constantly sold out. Think of it as the "Cinderella's Castle Suite" for Star Wars fans. Really, they could go $2-3k/night and some crazy rich people wouldn't bat an eyelash, but I honestly think they're doing themselves (and the Star Wars brand) a disservice by making the experience inaccessible to the average guest. On the other hand, this is the trend that Disney has been following over the past few years with ridiculously priced upcharges that people book blindly because it has the Disney name associated with it. People with lots of disposable income have no problem throwing an extra hundred dollars a day into their trip for upgraded rooms, dessert parties, and behind the scenes tours, but I wonder how many lower income guests are getting left behind (or going severely into debt) with this trend. While Disney probably doesn't lament losing business from low income guests, they should start worrying when guests with 6-figure incomes don't come back as frequently or spend as much money in their parks.
July 17, 2017 at 11:51 AM · Wow, Disney is going screenz all the way. Screenz in all the rides, hotel and even restaurant. The next five years will be amazing to see all these announcement artworks get downgraded like Star Wars, Pandora and Toy Story Land. Can't wait to see if they deliver this time, but they need to they are losing market share by the minute.
July 17, 2017 at 12:17 PM · 1K a night is ridiculous. Is that official though?

@OT -- True, Disney fans that complained about "too many screens" should have an interesting time with this one. Even the hotel windows are screens :-D

July 17, 2017 at 12:38 PM · Not official, but widely reported. The level of details in the rumors suggest that it's either Disney putting out feelers to see if the price points are acceptable, or they're pretty close to reality (obviously subject to market forces). The $1k price point was mentioned quite frequently in the guest survey that Disney used to collect data prior to making the D23 announcement, which is probably where it's coming from.

The hotel window screens means they can put rooms in the backstage area of DHS (or in some other backstage area) without having to worry about guests breaking the illusion. The hotel could have a front facade that is highly themed, but like many dark rides, could just look like a giant shed from every other angle.

How much does anyone want to bet that the long-rumored Hogwart's Hotel is not far off from being reality?

July 17, 2017 at 12:53 PM · I'm in agreement on Comic-Con being the place for the Marvel Universe announcements for DCA. They teased just a little bit at D23 to leave it open for a big reveal at Comic-Con. I imagine there will be a little more detail provided on Guardians at Epcot as well.

As for as the Star Wars hotel, I think everyone should remember that this isn't just a "hotel" but a true experience. Think of it like dinner theater on steroids. It has been suggested that guests will be able to have different adventures/experiences within the hotel so that more time can be spent there.

I think we've only seen some of what's to come. Here's what was missing:

-Fantasmic upgrades at DHS (not likely until after TSL opens?)
-Indy replacement at DHS (not likely until after 2019)
-New night parade at Magic Kingdom
-Imagination updates
-Illuminations update or replacement
-Tomorrowland refresh at Disneyland (likely tba at 2019 D23)

Anyone else curious if the Pixar Play parade will be updated for Disneyland? Considering it is already running at DCA, it seems strange to move it to Disneyland without significant updates.

Also, Pixar Pier...also starring The Little Mermaid, Mickey's Fun Wheel, and Silly Symphony Swings. I'm really interested to see more details on this one!

July 17, 2017 at 1:18 PM · Swapping parades around at the Disneyland Resort is ridiculous. Disneyland needs to keep a nighttime parade, fireworks and Fantasmic full-time. Moving Paint The Night to DCA is unnecessary. If anything DCA should get its own nighttime entertainment.

Pixar Pier is yet another destruction of Disney's California Adventure, not an improvement. After the recent upgrades I though Paradise Pier was one of the best areas of the park. At this point maybe they should just rename the park.

Most of the changes at WDW are exciting and welcome! Tron, plus retiring and replacing dated, tired attractions at EPCOT and the Studios is great news.

July 17, 2017 at 2:42 PM · @Shane you make some great points. This is all because of Universal and everybody knows it. Disney was blindsided back in 2010 with the opening of Harry Potter and their hands were tied with all of their foreign investments. However, I don't think Universal will be announcing a third park anytime soon.

Universal has already answered Star Wars land and it's Nintendo. I am confident it is going to be huge and just as successful as Star Wars or Harry Potter. So why build the third park if Disney is still on the defensive? That third park is their trump card and I believe they're going to hold on to it as long as possible, cause when they use it, it has to beat any park Disney has. They have proven they can build a land as good as Disney, but they have yet to build a Disneysea, Epcot or Magic kingdom. They have a lot of room in IOA for near term expansion (toon lagoon and the rest of the Mythos land is expendable) and personally I think that, and Nintendo will get them through this onslaught coming from Disney. They still are experiencing double digit growth in their parks and have no need to rush. I think they should be most focused on buying properties to expand their resort sizes as much as possible.

July 17, 2017 at 2:24 PM · I don't get some of the negativity because these announcements are freakin' awesome! Disney is finally doing what a lot of us have been begging for for years - adding new rides and lands! And fixing Franken-Epcot!

Maybe we need a new hashtag - #ThankYouComcast

July 18, 2017 at 11:21 AM · Star Wars Galaxy's Edge...ugh, it doesn't exactly roll off your tongue, what were they thinking? They may as well call it Star Wars Planet We Haven't Seen Before. You know that everyone is still going to call it Star Wars Land. When Disney's California Adventure opened, the VP in charge was adamant that the cast members call it by it's full name, not DCA, but of course now everyone calls it DCA.

There were a few surprises, but most of the announced projects were already rumored, so I guess rumors do come true.

Pixar Pier? It's going to be so underwhelming if it's just a cosmetic overlay. What are they going to do with Mickey's Fun Wheel? Triton's Carousel? Golden Zephyr? Make the GZ like a wind up toy? But it's not in the movies. They need to add a new D or E Ticket to make this overlay worthwhile, or it's going to be worse than the new Fantasyland in MK. It's also interesting that all the Pixar celebrations for Pixar Pier will be in Disneyland?

The Mickey ride - they shouldn't do it with just the new shorts characters, I feel like they're just trendy and a flash in the pan. And what does a runaway train have to do with Hollywood? It should be a tribute to all the Mickey cartoons through the years. Duhhh?

Tron Coaster - should have gone to Epcot.

Star Wars Hotel - It sound like the guests have to dress the part during their stay, so the cost may include clothes. I heard it's a two day completely immersive experience, with scheduled experiences, so IMO it's worth the cost for a once in a lifetime experience.

July 17, 2017 at 3:09 PM · I wonder how much park admission at WDW will be in 2021? An annual increase of $20? $200 may not be far off!
July 17, 2017 at 4:43 PM · @ProfPlum -- don't worry, Disney will pass these costs straight on to their guests!

@Tim Hillman -- Yes, Disney should have been on this long ago, hence the negativity ;-D

Some of this is awesome, some of it is "meh", all of it is late to the party.

July 17, 2017 at 9:18 PM · No matter what Disney does any more, there is a lot of negativity toward them. It all sounds cool to me. I guess you can't please everybody.
July 17, 2017 at 11:16 PM · Clones or not,

WDW needs to disperse the expected record crowds in 2021 for their 50th anniversary and should have something new in each of their parks to achieve this.

My conspiracy thinking has me wondering that all these additions might have an ulterior motive and that is to tie up as many construction crews in Central Florida to delay Universal from building anything big from now till 2021. Just Saying =)

July 18, 2017 at 12:53 AM · Now that it's been a couple days, I'll go ahead and share my thoughts on these announcements...

-Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge: Based on the model, this land looks like it is going to be epic. I have no doubt the attractions within the land will be outstanding. I also have no doubt that Disney will go all out and create something unlike anything seen before. However, I am also worried, as it seems they are banking heavily on visitors being into the whole role play aspect, and that could have some very undesirable consequences. Serious Star Wars fans are going to love this, but I would not be surprised if casual fans or those who don't really care about Star Wars are turned off by it. Don't get me wrong, I am very excited about the area...I just hope Disney does a lot of testing and doesn't cold-open the area, which could make Volcano Bay's issues look minuscule.
-Pixar Pier: I'm not a fan of this, but at the same time it does make sense. DCA needs something quick to draw people to the park, and by labeling it the home of Pixar at the Disneyland Resort, families with younger children may give it a chance. I've also got a feeling that all future Pixar development at the resort will likely happen at this park. The only thing left is to change the name, as the park has now lost almost all of the California aspect it originally had.
-Toy Story Land: A lot of people don't like this addition, but I think it's a great idea for younger children and is much needed at DHS. I wouldn't plan a special trip for it, but I'd certainly check it out on a visit.
-Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway: When rumors were going around about a Great Mickey Ride, I wasn't that impressed. However, the final concept looks a lot better than rumors suggested, and if the Great Movie Ride has to go then this seems like a satisfactory replacement. Like Toy Story Land, it probably isn't a travel-worthy ride on its own, but it does seem to be well worth checking out.
-Ratatouille: I've heard that Paris had an exclusive on this attraction for five years, which is probably why the addition hasn't happened sooner. This is a perfect fit with what Disney wants to do to Epcot.
-Guardians of the Galaxy: Great attraction, wrong park. I was hoping Guardians would go into Hollywood Studios, as that seems to be the most natural fit for the IP.
-Mission: Space: I haven't been on the ride (yet), but upgrades are usually nice. That said, the new Green Mission does sound a bit dull. The restaurant looks cool, but Epcot has so many full service restaurants I'm not sure how popular it will actually be.
-Main Street Theater: Depending on how it is used, this is either a good thing or a neutral thing.
-Tron Lightcycle Power Run: Again, great addition going to the wrong park. This is what should be replacing Ellen's Energy Adventure at Epcot. Even though the ride systems are completely different, putting this right next to Space Mountain is sure to draw some comparisons, and possibly a sense of redundancy.
-Star Wars Hotel: I see lots of people saying this hotel is going to be outrageously expensive, and that is most likely true. However, I expect this to function much more like a cruise ship, where the price includes the whole experience and not just the room. Therefore, I'd look more toward the Disney cruises to estimate price rather than the Disney hotels. In any case, I don't think I'd personally want to stay here (visiting the Star Wars universe sounds fun, but living in it is a bit too much for me), but I'm sure many, many fans would take out an extra mortgage to include this experience in their vacation.
-Riviera Resort: No opinion, as I likely will never stay here.
-Minnie Vans: No opinion, as I likely will never use the service.
-Skyliner: I've been a huge fan of this project from the start, and I think this is really the future of mass transportation. From what I've heard elsewhere, the system is being designed to move 5,000 guests per hour in each direction and can operate in 40+ MPH crosswinds. I really don't see any negatives with this project at all.

Overall, a lot of good things are coming to Disney parks and resorts over the next several years. While I am slightly disappointed that Florida is getting tons of cool stuff while California's only major project is Star Wars, It makes a ton of sense for Disney to go that route right now. I'm looking forward to visiting Florida for the first time this fall...and then going back in 2022 to see all the new stuff.

July 18, 2017 at 6:20 AM · "However, I expect this to function much more like a cruise ship, where the price includes the whole experience and not just the room."

I could see that, but Disney Cruises are already some of the most expensive in the industry. Again, good for Disney to leverage their brand recognition to be able to charge guests a premium for their experience. Also good for Disney on following through with giving guests what they feel is value for their over-priced boat trip. I'd also note that some of the existing premium hotel rooms at WDW are some of the most expensive in the Orlando market, so Disney should have no problem charging 20-30% more than what most people think is fair and still get people to buy in and feel satisfied with what they're getting.

I have to agree with most of what you've said AJ. I think it's tough to criticize Disney for addressing so many of their parks' issues in one fell swoop, but there's something to be said for taking concepts and properly fleshing them out and placing them logically where they should go to maintain the sense of place for each of the parks. These announcements are all great and should get every theme park fan excited. However, I wonder if the four WDW parks are starting to lose their identity and instead of four unique experiences, the WDW parks are just turning into one giant 4-day (or more) theme park with multiple gates.

@Tim - I think the criticism of Disney here is fair. It's great that they're bringing all of these additions (and likely a few more that weren't announced over the weekend) over the next 5 years. However, I think the fact that so many of them were already leaked made them lose some luster. Let's face it, Disney could make Star Wars a giant sand box with a Pit of Sarlacc in the middle, sucking guests' wallets into the abyss with little else, and fans would still flock in record numbers and gladly throw their life savings onto Darth Vader's funeral pyre. I think there's something to be said about the generic look of Galaxy's Edge (I do think this is the right way to go with this), but long time fans have the right to be critical of Disney's apparent failure to capture the heart and soul of Lucas' original vision, and theme park fans have the right to complain that the east coast and west coast versions of this land will be 99% identical, eliminating the need/desire to see both versions. Certainly the Star Wars announcement had that wow factor that theme park fans were looking for, but the rest of the park announcements did very little to move the needle other than nods of affirmation that Disney NEEDED to do something regarding each addition/replacement. Disney has established a very high bar, and many critics and fans expect them to meet or exceed that bar every single time. Some recognize that every single addition cannot be an "E" Ticket, but others think that the Disney hype machine oversells their stuff, making it virtually impassible for any new addition to meet expectation.

July 18, 2017 at 7:58 AM · AJ said "-Guardians of the Galaxy: Great attraction, wrong park. I was hoping Guardians would go into Hollywood Studios, as that seems to be the most natural fit for the IP."

So it can draw comparisons with Star Wars Land?

"-Tron Lightcycle Power Run: Again, great addition going to the wrong park. This is what should be replacing Ellen's Energy Adventure at Epcot. Even though the ride systems are completely different, putting this right next to Space Mountain is sure to draw some comparisons, and possibly a sense of redundancy."

So it can draw comparisons with the Tron makeover at Test Track?

This is where I think Disney correctly placed the attractions in the right parks.

Guardians at EPCOT will be differentiated from the Guardians at California Adventure, which is in the Hollywood Backlot. I must also remind you that people said Avatar Pandora should be in DHS because it's a movie and movie attractions should be in a Studios Park despite the fact that Pandora fits in thematically better at Animal Kingdom. (Oddly, that argument never came up when Guardians replaced Tower of Terror.) Guardians will fit in better at EPCOT since it will be right next to Mission Space. And another Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is spared.

Tron will fit in better next to Space Mountain and for once, Space Mountain's extremely long line will be much shorter after Tron opens. DCA's Radiator Springs Racers used to have 120 minute waits before the Guardians makeover of Tower of Terror. Now, the lines are about even and sometimes hover around 60 minute waits.

July 18, 2017 at 10:29 AM · "So it can draw comparisons with the Tron makeover at Test Track?"

What "Tron makeover". There's no reference to Tron at TestTrack. That only comes from guests who say the interior design looks like the Tron movies. There's no reference to being in a computer and none of the vehicles that you can design resemble anything from Tron or Tron Legacy. This is a lazy, guest-created construct to help describe what changed from the original TestTrack to TestTrack 2.0.

"Guardians at EPCOT will be differentiated from the Guardians at California Adventure, which is in the Hollywood Backlot."

Why does where it's located need to be used to differentiate it from an attraction in California using a completely different ride system. The Guardians attraction for WDW was never proposed to use the DHS ToT. Disney could have theoretically re-skinned Rock 'n Rollercoaster, and still would have had enough differentiation for guests to know they were 2 different rides. The original ToT was NEVER in any danger, so any thought that it was "spared" is just folly. I agree that Pandora is better at DAK, and never thought it should have been at DHS. I haven't read much opinion to suggest that Avatar should have been located at DHS or was even proposed for that park since it was announced that Disney purchased the IP rights (which was before the Lucasfilm purchase).

It doesn't matter what you put next to Space Mountain, any E-ticket would affect Space Mountain lines, as well as all of the other major attractions in MK. Let's face it, Disney hasn't added a true E-ticket to MK since Splash Mountain in 1992. Yeah, that's right, MK has puttered along with essentially the same E-ticket lineup for 25 years. Some could argue that 7DMT is an E-ticket, but it's really just a D+-Ticket, and even if you did say it was an E-ticket, that's just 1 "major" addition to the park in 25 years (over half the park's existence). Whether it's Tron, Guardians, Star Wars, Captain Marvel, John Carter, or whatever other IP Disney wants to throw on the concept, ANY E-ticket in MK is going to affect standby lines throughout the park. It also doesn't matter whether this was put right next to Space, over by Buzz, or right on top of Tomorrowland Speedway, any new attraction in Tomorrowland is going to be a welcome addition and help to revitalize an area in desperate need of direction. Honestly, the proposed entrance is probably the worst possible spot they could have picked, and Disney really should have bit the bullet to dump (or at least update to electric) the Speedway. Imagine if LightCycle were to be built on top of the Speedway, which resulted in a renovated attraction for youngsters (with new, faster, and eco-friendly cars), and a high speed big-kid coaster zooming overhead. The proposed location for Tron is highly suspect, and is going to eventually cause problems in an already tight corner of the park with now 2 E-tickets right next to each other. There's no other setup at WDW anything close to what they're proposing here (Splash and Big Thunder are probably the 2 closest E-tickets to each other in all of WDW, followed by ToT and RnRC). Walking between those 2 pairs of rides will seem easy after Tron is plopped next to Space (ever ventured between those attractions on a busy day?? Some of the most crowded areas in all of WDW outside of parade routes and fireworks viewing spots). Expect shoulder to shoulder crowds, oodles of strollers, and crying infants with their non-riding parents waiting for brothers, sisters, moms, and dads to get done riding the 2 E-tickets back to back. If this proposal comes to fruition, I don't want to be caught dead between these 2 attractions after 10 AM. It will be pure chaos. The actual lines might be shorter because of the 2 proximal major rides, but the crowds gathering around them will be a disaster waiting to happen.

July 18, 2017 at 11:27 AM · "That only comes from guests who say the interior design looks like the Tron movies."

That's exactly what is meant by the Tron makeover. The interior of Test Track has the Tron feel with a droll narrator. To have the similar interiors for 2 rides in the same park makes no sense despite having different vehicles. One will have to change and Test Track was already changed most recently.

"Disney could have theoretically re-skinned Rock 'n Rollercoaster, and still would have had enough differentiation for guests to know they were 2 different rides."

Of course, and the panic will fester for it is right next to ToT. My feeling is why even go "there" to DHS. Keep Guardians further away to dispel the notion. Besides, DHS should still retain a bit of Hollywood despite the Star Wars and Toy Story additions. The Hollywood Backlot will eventually be pared back to just the boulevard at California Adventure. Marvel Land is coming.

July 18, 2017 at 12:06 PM · I can kinda see your point about Tron, but Tron in Shanghai and TestTrack 2.0 are different enough from a design perspective to avoid comparisons. Plus the slight similarities could have been leveraged as a unifying aesthetic for a re-imagined FutureWorld. Top it off with a revitalized Mission: Space that furthers the "Tron" look, and you've got a "Space and Beyond Land" that stays consistent across the entire east side of FutureWorld. Who's to say this new Guardians ride (we still have no idea what type or ride system they're using) won't still have that "Tron" look to it anyway? The GoTG Universe is vast, and there's nothing stopping Imagineers from inventing a planet that looks like Tron where Groot, Rocket, Starlord, Gamora, Mantis, and Drax wage battle. With a 3rd movie already green-lit, the possibilities for the Guardians at WDW are pretty endless (only limited by any Avengers crossovers that step on the Universal-owned IP, i.e. Asgaard).

Do you really think putting a Guardians skin on RnRC would make people panic that ToT was endangered??? Why would Disney re-skin 2 attractions right next to each other to the same franchise? There's certainly precedence for a single re-skinned attraction to establish a new "land", but a second attraction would be a completely new or at least enough of a rework to differentiate it from the previous ride. This notion that DHS ToT is in any danger is a bunch of nonsense. Anyway, why does putting a Guardians attraction in EPCOT make ToT any safer than if Guardians was going in DHS? If the Twilight Zone license is lost unexpectedly, the easiest thing for Disney to do would be to copy GoTG:MB, and whether Guardians already exists in EPCOT wouldn't change the ease of that transformation from a budgetary standpoint (though the 5th Dimension Room at DHS would complicate things). However, Disney is smart enough to know they cannot dramatically change the original ToT without facing some serious backlash (it's practically reached "classic" status in the Disney attraction pantheon).

The "Hollywood Studios" in Disney's Hollywood Studios is about as meaningful as the "California" in Disney's California Adventure these days. Both parks will soon be devoid of any connection to their original namesakes, and Disney has already hinted that a name change would be coming to DHS at some point in the near future. With Pixar Pier and soon to be announced Marvel Land at DCA, that park is primed for a name change as well.

July 18, 2017 at 12:33 PM · Russell: I assume every thing has a master plan so to do one thing will change another. The Guardians makeover of Energy is the third change after Mission Space and the new Space restaurant whereas if they reskin any ride in DHS, it suggests a Marvel Land is coming, which might not happen due to contractual reasons. Seems like a reskin is a waste for Guardians if they can build an entirely new ride. This is in fact better for Disney World visitors. A reskin is a bandaid. Get a bigger bang with an all new Guardians attraction. What better choice than the huge Energy building.

ToT is not at risk, but to suggest it won't ever be at risk is nonsense. There were rumors RnRC is at risk due to the music licensing issue. Well, why not a two for one reskin? Solve two more licensing issues at once. Let's not go there for now as I already said.

July 18, 2017 at 12:49 PM · I hear you Anton. BTW, the "huge" Energy building is reportedly not even big enough to contain this Guardians attraction. Disney filed permits to move drainage ponds behind Wonders of Life to expand the footprint for this new attraction. That's why it was assumed that Energy was going to be Tron, because of the long, skinny runout needed to connect to the second show building. Who knows what this Guardians attraction will look like, or even when it will be complete, but it is a pretty interesting development, and one that might be a watershed moment for EPCOT (as much as Avatar is for DAK and Star Wars is for DHS).
July 18, 2017 at 2:20 PM · Russell, you've hit the nail on the head when highlighting that the 4 parks are losing their identity. Exactly my concern over the last couple of years and with these latest announcements Disney is making it loud and clear - all parks will be saturated with Disney owned IP regardless of each park's original concept. At this level theme parks have to continually evolve so nothing in "Theme Park World" stays the same. Whilst I love the overall announcements there are some strange decisions. I agree with those who think Tron should be at Epcot and Guardians at Studios and Star Wars should be aimed at everybody not just the die-hards. Exciting times though!
July 19, 2017 at 11:19 AM · I don't necessarily have an issue with the parks being saturated with IP. It's the parks losing their over-arching theme that's bothersome. It started with DCA taking the California out of the park. It's followed with DHS being neutered, and now EPCOT is following suit.

I have absolutely no problem with Pandora in DAK, and think Joe Rohde's pride and joy is right now the best of Disney's US "theme" parks, which could not be said 10 years ago.

Perhaps Disney has some plan in place to provide DHS and DCA a sense of direction/theme, but I just don't see one forming based on the announced additions. It's a mishmash of IP that has no unifying characteristic.

World Showcase is still the gem of EPCOT, and Ratatouille won't dramatically change that. However, FutureWorld needs a direction, and adding Guardians doesn't necessarily give fans any clues to where Disney is going with the front of the park (Tron would have done that). FutureWorld cannot exist in today's world in the way that it did in 1982, and I think the rational among us understand that. Again, I don't necessarily bemoan IP being injected in the park to make it more accessible/popular, but the D23 announcements did little to instill confidence that a Guardians ride will blend seamlessly into the park or even create a new, more modern version of EPCOT. Gunn's Twitter statements helped to keep the masses at bay, but you have to consider that he's on the payroll.

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