Disney kicks off theme park reveals at D23 Expo preview

August 22, 2019, 11:56 PM · Disney previewed its D23 Expo for invited media tonight, with Disney Parks chairman Bob Chapek offering a few reveals to get the theme park news flowing.

Chapek spoke to gathered reporters in front of the Walt Disney Parks pavilion on the D23 Expo show floor, where he announced that the Marvel-themed lands coming to Disney California Adventure, Walt Disney Studios Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland would be called "Avengers Campus."

Because everything in the MCU has to be an acronym, "Campus" stands for "Centralized Assembly Mobilized to Prepare, Unite and Safeguard." The new land will feature the previously announced "Worldwide Engineering Brigade" [WEB] that will work with the Avengers to recruit new heroes around the world.

Chapek will detail Disney's theme park announcements during the Disney Parks presentation on Sunday morning, but he also dropped a couple more reveals tonight, including a Moana-themed "Journey with Water" experience at Epcot. The ongoing transformation of that Walt Disney World theme park dominates the pavilion with a video presentation of project concept art along its back wall.

Chapek also revealed some detail about the upcoming "Star Wars hotel" at Walt Disney World, including the news that Disney really doesn't want people to think of it as a hotel.

Disney World visitors will be able get more information about Epcot's transformation when a new "Walt Disney Imagineering presents the Epcot Experience" exhibit opens in the Odyssey Events Pavilion in October. Stay tuned to Theme Park Insider for more news from the Sunday morning presentation.

Before Chapek spoke, tonight's media preview began with the reveal of that "Secret Company Project" that, well, we probably made way too much of after it mysteriously appeared on the D23 schedule. We got the news in the Disney+ pavilion, where we heard that the project is "One Day at Disney," a coffee-table book and Disney+ documentary featuring the work of several Disney cast members around the world. Good Morning America's Robin Roberts — who will be inducted as a Disney Legend Friday morning — took the pavilion stage to share the news.

We also were invited to preview the Walt Disney Archives' "Heroes and Villains" costume exhibit, featuring dozens of costumes from Disney films and television series.

The sold-out, three-day 2019 D23 Expo opens Friday morning with the Disney Legends induction ceremony, which Disney will livestream on D23.com.

Replies (31)

August 23, 2019 at 12:38 AM

@robert nice bumping into you on the street outside the expo tonight Hope I didn’t make you lose your train of thought! You can already see “WEB” high above Disney California Adventure—there’s a large silver beam atop a silver pole hovering over Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree with those letters stenciled on it. Spotted it yesterday. (Can share the pic if you’d like. Zoomed in to see if it said WED or WEB.)

August 23, 2019 at 1:51 AM

>>Because everything in the MCU has to be an acronym, "Campus" stands for "Centralized Assembly Mobilized to Prepare, Unite and Safeguard

It sound like someone really wanted it to spell campus :p

August 23, 2019 at 2:23 AM

So...how long after they debut will the new Epcot street performers get cut?

August 23, 2019 at 2:28 AM

Hi Joseph, thanks for saying hello! Always a pleasure to meet readers... even if I am a bit scattered after a press event.

August 23, 2019 at 4:48 AM

Great article of a disappointing first day at D23.

August 23, 2019 at 6:10 AM

CAMPUS? Wow hopefully the attractions are better than the name. I am also surprised that they are continuing with the SW hotel after the lackluster response so far to GE.

August 23, 2019 at 6:36 AM

..... "after the lackluster response so far to GE"

Let's wait and see what happens after Thursday, to really see what people think of SWGE. After all, the hotel is at WDW, and not in CA.

Also ......
"Here is the model of the “Star Wars hotel,” the Halcyon ship from the Chandrila Star Line that is your home on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser adventure"

Now ..... if only they were building the hotel to look like the Starcruiser .... I think even I would try and save up my $$ to stay there ... !?!?

August 23, 2019 at 6:47 AM

"Great article of a disappointing first day at D23."
The event hasn't even started yet, and the park announcements don't happen until Sunday. I don't get how some small things being announced the day before the event starts can be considered a "disappointing first day"??

August 23, 2019 at 8:08 AM

I think some people expect far too much from these events. The fact of the matter is that most of us know what they're going to announce, so when Disney finally lets the cat out of the bag, it's ultimately disappointing because it offers nothing beyond what is already widely known. Also, Disney may even withhold details that have been rumored but deliberately conceal during the announcements. Considering that this was just a "teaser" for the media, and not part of the formal announcement, it's not worth getting our panties in a bunch over.

I will say that "Avengers Campus" is about the dumbest name for a land in recent memory (right up there with Pantopia). I also hope people are prepared to be disappointed in the attraction announcement for this new land, because it's been widely rumored that GotG:MB is considered to be the e-ticket attraction for the land, meaning that the rumored Spiderman attraction will ultimately be a lesser experience. However, given that MFSR is considered the d-ticket to RotR's e-ticket status, the new Marvel attraction might be pretty good based on the quality of the Falcon. I'm just not getting my hopes up for this new land knowing that Disney has already had to trim the plans way back because of space issues caused by the City of Anaheim flexing their muscles.

@Joseph - I noticed the "WEB" scribbled on top of that beam too, along with a bunch of other signatures meaning that the beam represents the tallest structural steel in the land. Considering that this beam is probably only about 30-40 feet off the ground, it gives you an idea of how small this new area will be, and that guests should temper their enthusiasm for this announcement.

August 23, 2019 at 8:19 AM

Agreed with Russell on the larger point about D23s and about Avengers Campus. On the first point, 2017's D23 announcements were by far the most substantial in ages (ever?), which may skew expectations for this year, when I'm expecting far less in the way of real announcements. On the second, man, every release about the Marvel land gets more and more underwhelming. I don't want to go to a Silicon Valley campus to be lectured about quasi-fascism by Robert Downey Jr., good lord.

August 23, 2019 at 10:20 AM

I remember when the Guardians Tower came out and everyone said to wait to see how it looks with the rest of the land. Well it looks like it will still clash with everything around it.

August 23, 2019 at 10:41 AM

In honor of the Avengers "Campus" I've decided to establish my workplace as the Collaborative User Based Intelligence Creating Lasting Energy, or, CUBICLE.

August 23, 2019 at 11:19 AM

Secret Disney project is a book and a series. Spider Man ride will be a training exercise for recruits, but obviously something very wrong will happen. It will be compared to the Spider Man ride at Universal, widely regarded as one of the best rides in the world. Galaxy's Edge is meh. I wonder how Bob Chapek will be received by the crowd at the Parks panel.

August 23, 2019 at 11:33 AM

It's so funny, that Disney has forced themselves into a position where they're saying "We won't be collaborating on any future Spiderman films... but please come check out our brand new state of the art Spiderman ride".

August 23, 2019 at 11:47 AM

@AngryDuck - Let's be real here, the blame for the state of the Spiderman film franchise can be placed on both sides. Disney/Marvel demonstrated to Sony/Columbia their ability to develop engaging movies under Kevin Feige with Homecoming and Far From Home, but Sony wants to go it alone again even though the Amazing series and Venom were lackluster to mediocre. Marvel was desperate when they started selling off their properties to the highest bidder back in the late 80's early 90's, and now they have to face the consequences of those decisions. Disney is stuck between a rock and a hard place because of this, and if Sony doesn't want to play ball, then Disney/Marvel will just have to move forward without the Webslinger.

Really, this situation isn't much different than Universal's Marvel license. If Disney really really wants it back, they almost assuredly know the amount of money that would get the deal done.

August 23, 2019 at 11:57 AM

I actually like the Avengers Campus as it's basically an open joke in Marvel Comics how acronym-crazy people are. A classic bit is when Norman Osborn wants his new agency to be called HAMMER and tells an aide "I don't care what words spell it out, just pick some and use the acronym." So it does fit.

And happy to see Epcot finally get love at last, it's been long overdue.

August 23, 2019 at 12:48 PM

@Russell Meyer They had a perfectly good deal. Disney made a ton from merch alone. Sony wants to continue that but Di$ney is greedy and wants more. Di$ney never were able to play with the other kids, that's why Potter is now at Universal making their lives miserable.

August 23, 2019 at 1:06 PM

Not really OT. Sony wanted to exert more creative control AND have the ability to spin characters off outside of the MCU (like Venom), which could harm the continuity of the entire MCU, a hallmark of Marvel's success. Also, Sony wanted to leave Disney/Marvel at their current revenue split when it was totally obvious that Disney/Marvel was pulling the greater weight. The deal that brought Spiderman into the MCU and spawned Homecoming and Far From Home was always meant as a trial, and even though Sony set what were considered obscene revenue metrics that the movies had to make, the Marvel team still exceeded them, primarily to Sony's benefit.

It was Marvel's creative team that forged the success of the current Spiderman series, and Sony just rode along, collecting profits greater than any other franchise they've produced over the past decade. Sony wanted to continue to let Marvel do all of the heavy lifting while sitting back and letting the cash roll in. Marvel, recognizing how much they were contributing to the success of the new iteration of the character and the overall power of the MCU, wanted a bigger cut commensurate with their effort.

I will say that the rumored revenue split that Disney/Marvel offered was pretty obscene, but Sony wasn't budging from the previously established split while setting even more absurd metrics for future productions that would force Disney/Marvel to relinquish rights if they weren't met.

Honestly, Sony owes Marvel a huge thank you for saving Spiderman, and if they really want to go it alone again, I wouldn't be surprised to see them crawling back to the Marvel creative team in 5 years after they run the character back into the ground again.

August 23, 2019 at 1:30 PM

Yeah...can't say I'm particularly excited about Avengers Campus. After seeing how much of a debacle Galaxy's Edge has become, I'm skeptical of any large scale project in Disney's future. Hopefully they can pull it off, but for now I'm not holding my breath.

I am amused by how many fans are up in arms over the secret project, however. Given the sudden appearance with no preamble, I figured it would be something relatively minor from the start. Just another example of why it's always a good idea to keep expectations in check.

August 23, 2019 at 1:46 PM

"After seeing how much of a debacle Galaxy's Edge has become"

Would you care to elaborate on that AJ? Galaxy's Edge is not what I would consider a debacle (not even close), though you could probably say that the way they've handled the opening and the delays of RotR border on being debaculous. Bob Iger definitely has some egg on his face after touting that Disney didn't even need to market the new land to see record crowds, but does the CEO's pompousness make the land a debacle?

August 23, 2019 at 1:53 PM

Russell, Help me out here... "I'm just not getting my hopes up for this new land knowing that Disney has already had to trim the plans way back because of space issues caused by the City of Anaheim flexing their muscles." Are we talking about the failed eastern gateway project and the re-allocation of that space are are other factors causing issues?

August 23, 2019 at 1:58 PM

Speaking of acronyms, I can't wait to hear what's going to happen with the Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow (EPCOT)

August 23, 2019 at 2:03 PM

Yes - The rumor was that Disney was going to open up some space behind GotG:MB to create the Marvel land without having to take out Bug's Land. When Anaheim poo-pooed that plan, Disney had to re-calibrate the Marvel land which would now occupy a much smaller footprint by taking over Bug's Land, and would have to downsize/eliminate the land's major attractions.

What was going to be an ambitious undertaking on a similar scale to Galaxy's Edge is going to be much smaller. But hey, at least we're getting an Ant-Man Brew Pub out of it!!

August 23, 2019 at 2:03 PM

Sony can handle spider-man just fine on their own. They made probably the best spider man movie of all time just last year (spider-man: into the spider verse). They also had a very successful trilogy of spider-man movies back way before disney had anything to do with super hero movies. Yeah the amazing spider man films were not amazing, but every film company/studio has their ups and downs.

August 23, 2019 at 2:58 PM

I'm pretty sure the issue with Spider-man will be handled BEFORE the next film is released. At this point, there's no script or pre production. The current "standoff" is most likely only temporary (much like the cable providers & broadcast networks)

I think the media story behind it presented it as a "done deal" & Spider-Man is never to return to the MCU....

In reality, both sides stand to lose a bit of financial luster if this were to continue(not to mention the creative quality of the films). Far From Home did a billion because it was directly connected to Endgame. We all saw what happened with The Amazing Spider-Man films (with Andrew Garfield).

There is still PLENTY of time for both parties to head back into negotiations. Again, it's not like the next film has started production.

@ carademau. Yes, Sony can handle Spider-Man just fine, but financially....being connected to the MCU gives the films a bigger worldwide boost. Far From Home is the highest grossing film worldwide BECAUSE of the MCU......Into The Spider-verse was great, but box office wise.....it can't compare.

August 23, 2019 at 3:09 PM

In terms of Avengers Campus.....I'm fine with it, lol. Could there have been a better name? Sure....but that probably won't mean much to guest when the the land is up & functioning.

I also think people are being too hard on GE....Only CA is open & it's signature attraction isn't even operating yet & it's being written off as a failure...when in reality it's FAR from that. One can be disappointed in the land.....but that doesn't mean it failed.

If it's regarding crowds, GE is not a separate theme park with a separate admission. If GE is doing badly, then the rest of Disneyland is doing badly because they both are on the same ticket.

Now, one can argue the media hype machine (which includes Disney) took it to even 10....that doesn't mean the land isn't a success. If Disney hadn't done reservations (which were scooped in a few hours)there would've been HP style lines.

We have to look at the context (or at least wait until WDW's version opens)

August 23, 2019 at 3:11 PM

Maybe someone can approve a budget to go back and make Mission Breakout less poop colored to better match the rest of Marvel Land. Also, why did they pick this whacky CAMPUS theme? They couldn't have come up with some sort of idea that could thematically tie in to Mission Breakout? That ride not only looks out of place but story wise doesn't fit either.

August 23, 2019 at 11:14 PM

@Jay

I totally get that GE isnt fully open yet and that the E ticket will no doubt be amazing and cause greater guest turnout. That being said GE is officially open and it was Disneys decision to open the land prematurely. That was a poor decision and not something anyone needs to apologise for. I would contend that even if GE was packed it would still have been a poor decision from a guest perspective as it is lazy and bad show. It was Disneys expectation that the land would open to huge crowds just because its 'Star Wars'. They were wrong about that too. I also think it was in poor taste to open the land without the e ticket but with 2 upcharge experiences. It was a bad decision to cut back on the original plans and the 3rd attraction. I wont even go into the lack of OT content, the sequel trilogy issues or the unfamiliar planet choice.
Given Disneys many poor choices I think the criticism is warranted thus far.

August 24, 2019 at 12:28 AM

Russell, here's my reasoning: Galaxy's Edge was promoted as an extremely immersive themed land where guests could live their own Star Wars adventure. It was intended to be filled with performers to make the place feel like an actual locale in the Star Wars universe. However, much of that was cut due to budgeting reasons, and about a third of what was originally planned for the land was scrapped. Despite this, the land still cost over a billion dollars to build. Additionally, the build is plagued with issues, particularly in regards to Rise of the Resistance. Despite that, Disney decides to go ahead and open the land to the public, as there is massive anticipation and everyone is expecting the land to be a guaranteed hit that will blow Harry Potter out of the water.

What happens? Interest in the land is far lower than anticipated, which contributes to the quietest summer at Disneyland in a decade. Those who go have responses ranging from "It's good, but could have been better" to "It was pretty disappointing." Smuggler's Run, despite being a middle tier attraction in terms of capacity, has been drawing lines shorter than higher capacity E-tickets that have been around for decades. Guests aren't hanging around in the land, both because it feels somewhat soulless without the interactive effects and because there just isn't a whole lot to do. Merchandise isn't selling due to the cost, and the items that are have been experiencing stock shortages. Rise of the Resistance has been delayed several times, and from the latest I've heard they aren't even confident in a January opening at this point.

Now, a full disclaimer...I have not visited the land myself yet. However, a number of my theme park friends have gone at least once. One has gone several times and said the crowds seem lighter each time they visit. A couple others have said the land is exceptionally well done, but feels incomplete. One who is in town for D23 and is a huge Star Wars fan came away saying that they wouldn't recognize it as anything close to Star Wars if they didn't know that's what it was going in, and said they felt Mission: Breakout captured the idea of Guardians of the Galaxy better than Smuggler's Run captured Star Wars (they actually said Star Tours was more Star Wars than the whole of Galaxy's Edge). To me, all this says Disney massively missed the mark on one of their most expensive undertakings of all time.

Like I said, I haven't visited the land yet. I will not be going until Rise of the Resistance is fully operational, and I will visit with an open mind. However, when I'm seeing far more lukewarm reviews for Galaxy's Edge than I did for Harry Potter, Cars Land, Pandora, or even New Fantasyland, it makes me highly skeptical about anything else Disney is working on right now.

August 24, 2019 at 12:25 PM

AJ... That is an extremely humble and appreciated response.

I am a Star Wars fan and I also think the scraped 3rd attraction, the missing "interactive roaming droids" the lack of Resistance and First Order Military presence, Bounty hunters, and activity in the Resistance camp are weighing the whole land down.

Also the lack of alien presence and side shows... (Not necessarily the interaction with guest but, something to draw crowds). Even Lucas knew you had to have some levity. I also thought the shops themselves would have some live craft to add that element of realism. Harry Potter does not necessitate any of that however, a Star Wars experience absolutely requires it. It's a bit campy.

August 24, 2019 at 1:33 PM

As others have said, one of the problems with Galaxy's Edge was opening without Rise of the Resistance. However, it only highlights the other problems, mainly poor word of mouth for what's already there. It's the Star Wars that Disney wanted to force upon us instead of what fans wanted. Bob Iger decided to focus on the new trilogy after seeing dailies of the Force Awakens. Imagineering under Scott Trowbridge wanted the visitor to 'live their own Star Wars adventure', so they gave us a setting that no Star Wars fan is familiar with.

The problem with DCA 2001 was reluctance to spend money and a misguided concept, the problem with GE is not the money spent, but still a misguided concept.

Eisner decided to build DCA after he asked the question, "What do people want to do after they leave Disneyland?" and someone answered "See more of California!" Iger thought that people seeing GE would ask "Where are the new characters?" But he forgot that fans have a 40 year investment in the old characters.

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