Disney's biennial D23 Expo kicks off this weekend, and we are expecting the usual flood of news about upcoming projects at the Disney theme parks around the world. But what news are you most hoping to hear this weekend?
The highlight of the expo for theme park fans should be Disney Parks chairman Bob Chapek's presentation at 10:30am on Sunday. I will be covering the presentation live from inside the hall, so please check Theme Park Insider on Sunday morning for all the news and our reactions to it. But theme park news can drop at any time during the event, which makes the D23 Expo weekend one of the most exciting of the year for Disney and theme park fans. (Remember that Disney officially announced Star Wars land four years ago during the Disney Studios presentation, not the Disney Parks one.)
I suspect that many of us are hoping that Disney blows us away with some surprise, but there are four big milestones looming for the parks — any one of which could merit fresh reveals at the expo. And there's that big, secret company project that Disney has teased on the D23 Expo schedule, too.
Disney California Adventure's "Marvel" land
This satellite campus for Stark Industries is slated to open next summer in the old A Bug's Land space, so it would seem natural that Chapek would give us a fresh batch of concept art for the land, including the name for its Spider-Man ride. This is the next big project to open at a Disney park, so it's time for Disney to start managing fan expectations here. Does Disney go all-in on the hype machine for this one... or does it lay up and try to shift our attention to other projects, thus suggesting that this superhero-themed land might not be the big deal that some fans were hoping for?
Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary
The world's most popular theme park resort celebrates its 50th birthday on October 1, 2021. We know that the Magic Kingdom is getting an installation of Shanghai Disneyland's Tron Lightcycle Power Run coaster, almost assuredly in time for that anniversary. And Epcot is getting that new Play pavilion by then, too. How much detail will Chapek give us about what everyone expects will be the biggest celebration in Disney World's history? And will Disney move the D23 Expo to Orlando for a year to celebrate in 2021, as well?
Epcot's 40th anniversary
One year after Disney World turns 50, its second gate, Epcot, celebrates its 40th birthday. We expect that Epcot will be welcoming the opening of both its new Ratatouille dark ride and Guardians of the Galaxy coaster by then, but will Chapek give us more details about those experiences... specifically, their opening dates? And what about that reimagined park entrance that Disney has announced?
The Walt Disney Company's 100th anniversary
Remember that the "23" in D23 stands for 1923, the year that Walt and his brother Roy founded what is now The Walt Disney Company. That means the company will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023, just four years from now. There's a chance that the 100th anniversary is the secret company project that Disney promised to announce at D23. But if that is something else, what might Disney announce as a celebration at its theme parks? After the relatively mediocre 100 Years of Magic celebration of Walt's 100th birthday in 2001, fans will be looking for something much, much bigger for the company's centennial.
The secret project
We've speculated on this one before, with the knowledge that this is something that will not duplicate announcements coming during the Disney Parks or Disney Studios presentations. But that does not mean that the secret project will not involve the parks (or the studio) in some way. Could Disney be staring its own social network or getting into the ISP business, as we've envisioned, or this just be the kick-off for the centennial celebrations? We will find out later this week... but is this going to be the biggest news of the expo for theme park fans or not?Tweet
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