Take a Sneak Peek at the D23 Expo and Disney Parks Pavilion

September 9, 2022, 1:43 AM · The 2022 D23 Expo opens Friday morning in Anaheim, but Disney invited me and other select reporters for a preview of the fan event tonight. So join me for a first look at this year's D23 Expo.

We started the evening in the Anaheim Convention Center's arena, where Walt's recently restored Grumman Gulfstream I plane stands on display.

Walt's plane

Disney CEO Bob Chapek welcomed us to the event and noted that the plane would be moved to the Palm Springs Air Museum collection, where it will go on display starting December 5 - Walt's birthday.

We then toured the new Walt Disney Archives pavilion, Step In Time, which features photo ops from major creative milestone in The Walt Disney Company's 100-year history, including a delightful collection from Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion.

Haunted Mansion

And Star Wars icons from Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm.

Star Wars

You can watch my walk-through video of the exhibit on TikTok and Instagram.

But I know what you really want to see - the Disney Parks pavilion.

We did not get any early news dumps from Disney Parks Chairman Josh D'Amaro Thursday night. And there were no elements in the pavilion obviously covered up pending their reveal in D'Amaro session on Sunday morning. But we did get some nifty models of coming attractions, including this ride vehicle for the new Zootopia ride at Shanghai Disneyland.

Zootopia ride vehicle

And we got a couple of large models of the new Toontown coming to Disneyland next year. Here is the El Capitoon Theater entrance for the west coast installation of Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway.

Mickey's Toontwon

And the Centoonial Park across the street, with expanded play areas at the entrance to Toontown.

Centoonial Park

We also got a first look model of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, the rethemed Splash Mountain.

Tiana's Bayou Adventure model

I spoke with WDI Vice President Carmen Smith in my video above, about the importance of this rethemed to "The Princess and the Frog." Disney also announced that Eudora’s Chic Boutique Featuring Tiana’s Gourmet Secrets will open in Disneyland's New Orleans Square on September 20, in anticipation of the Tiana ride's debut in late 2024.

Finally, the pavilion includes the new statue of Walt Disney - Walt the Dreamer - that will be coming to Epcot's World Celebration as part of that Walt Disney World park's ongoing makeover.

Walt the Dreamer

Stay tuned for coverage of the Disney Parks presentation at the D23 Expo on Sunday morning. Plus some surprises, too!

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Replies (19)

September 9, 2022 at 4:31 AM

I would love it if they recommitted to the Mary Poppins ride and Cherry Tree Lane development in the UK pavilion at EPCOT

September 9, 2022 at 8:21 AM

Toan's Bayou Adventure?

September 9, 2022 at 8:25 AM

No PLAY Pavilion? Nothing new stateside? So Disney is gonna take it on the chin from Universal and UEU? So sad.

September 9, 2022 at 11:59 AM

I am a bit surprised they don't have a diorama of EPCOT showing all of World Discovery, especially since it's gone through some changes since the initial announcement.

Aside from the aforementioned MMRR at DL and Tiana's River Adventure, the only other US parks announcement I expect would be an opening date for Tron. Sadly, I think Play Pavilion is still years away if it's even still in development, and Mary Poppins is nothing but a pipe dream now.

September 9, 2022 at 12:17 PM

Universal should be concerned about USF and IOA also taking it "on the chin". No new attractions announced or rumored for the original UO parks. UEU could very well cannibalize those parks' attendance as well. With construction costs increasing to unprecedented levels I worry there will be no money left in the Comcast checkbook after they pay for the new park.

September 9, 2022 at 12:52 PM

Really hyped about Fantasy Springs, which had all four(!) of its attraction vehicles on display. Looks like Peter Pan is indeed going to be a 21st Century take on Peter Pan's Flight, with some sort of immersive simulator experience (the vehicles look a bit like Universal's SCOOP cars, in fact) that bring you up into the skies above London and Neverland. Tangled is, as expected, a slow-moving boat ride bringing you to see the lantern festival.

The more exciting pair is the Frozen ride, whose boat design appears to be identical to that of Shanghai Pirates (suggesting we will get that ride system in a much more accessible country), and the Tinker Bell attraction, which was rumored to be a standard flat ride but now looks like it could be a themed dark ride experience.

I have absolutely no expectations for the domestic parks and will be pleasantly surprised if anything substantial is announced (and even if it is, it's 50/50 at best that it is ever built). The Tiana overlay of Splash Mountain looks breathtakingly cheap, with almost nothing changed on the exterior of the attraction except for the head-scratching removal of the hollowed out tree trunk atop Chickapin Hill, and the sweaty announcement of "16 new characters!" when they're plainly just re-skinning the currently existing animatronics is incredibly cynical.

September 11, 2022 at 10:02 AM

Not so fast, TH. With the opening of UEU, UOR will legitimately become a 5-7 day vacation stay exclusively on Universal property. IOA, USO and UVB will only benefit with the opening of UEU. And WDW will be taking it directly on the chin, question is will it be a knockout blow (that’s what she said).

September 9, 2022 at 2:03 PM

NBCU needs to step up and do its own D23 Expo-style event. That said, putting the Parks reveal show on Sunday morning pretty much locked the Disney Parks pavilion into focusing on previously announced attractions - since there would be so little show floor time after the Parks presentation. Yes, we got some nice detail here (please do watch the video!), but that's incremental news for people who have been paying attention. The real stuff - I hope - is coming Sunday.

September 9, 2022 at 3:02 PM

This is exciting! JUST ANNOUNCED: #AvengersCampus at Disneyland will be expanding, including a new attraction! More will be revealed on Sunday in Disney Parks & Experiences' panel! #D23Expo

September 9, 2022 at 3:54 PM

They announced the third attraction for Avengers Campus at the last D23 Expo, so re-announcing an old announcement is not all that exciting to me. But we'll see what Sunday brings.

September 9, 2022 at 4:03 PM

Robert Niles, yes, I hear what you’re saying. But I feel this time will be different. Yes, we’ll indeed see what happens on Sunday.

September 9, 2022 at 4:12 PM

happy to hear they will be making avengers campus an actual, honest to god land at some point in the future. who knows, they might even plant some trees in that bad boy one of these days.

September 10, 2022 at 1:05 PM

Yawn … the only big deal will be price increases next year !

September 10, 2022 at 9:50 PM

The year 2025 will be a very interesting year for theme Park enthusiasts. Universal's Epic can be a potencial game changer for the orlando scene, but as TH correctly pointed out, universal must mantain a careful balance not to eat too much of their own cake ( in the the form of crowds ). I cannot help it but wonder what exactly will Disney do?? They will not make a 5th gate any time soon ( if ever )i cannot predict the future, but i would not be surprised if Disney actually rises prices ( again ) and then present themselves as the prime-plus vacation destination and make universal look like the poor man's disney World. Universal probably will make very atracttive offers putting packages for 5-7 days vacations for their own resort with the New Park ( the call of the New) while disney rides the nostalgia train for as long as possible. Amazing new rides will reinforce central floridas already impressive roll call of atracttions, as the theme Park wars rages on ( for our benefit ).

September 11, 2022 at 9:40 AM

The year 2025 is when Disney gets put on its a$$ by Universal and the following years after will bring more lands and attractions based on Nintendo, Illumination and Dreamworks Studios, Universal Monsters and eventually The Hobbit/LotR (with Universal). And Disney will continue to pinch its pennies while diluting it’s brand by fighting the BS culture wars.
Bye bye Disney.

September 11, 2022 at 10:56 AM

Keith, for better or for worse, the Disney fan base its way too big ( and a little sttuburn ) to be diluted in Just a few years. Actually it plays out to chapek & co plans to reduce crowds and charge more. People will Flock to universal New offerings and better prices while disneys will cater to nostalgic families and niche fans (star wars for example ). Orlando will continúe to bebefit from the international market, as the american vacation cycle is Just too short

September 11, 2022 at 11:50 AM

Pablo, you forget that their are millions of independent theme park goers with little to no loyalty or devotion to Disney or Universal that just want to have fun. You think they will go to Universal with their newest and best theme parks, restaurants and resorts hotels IN THE WORLD or Disney with their handful of underwhelming new additions and the discontinuation of even more average guest benefits? Plus all the disgruntled Disney fans that have had enough of Disney’s nickel and diming and virtual signaling that will certainly find greener pastures at Universal for years to come. At least all the loyal Disney fans will have their precious parks all to themselves.

September 11, 2022 at 12:18 PM

N0 i do not forget. Its Just that Disney is kicking everybody in the nuts rigth now and still there is a 2 hour line in the jungle Cruise. Disney fans are very slow to react as a crowd. And I sospect that will continúe even when epic opens.

September 11, 2022 at 12:50 PM

I'll believe those Middle Earth rumors when we see them. We've been hearing about Tolkien at Universal for at least 10 years now.

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