New Rides and Old Favorites Coming to Disneyland, Disney World

September 11, 2022, 2:08 PM · Disney's corporate-wide 100 Years of Wonder celebration will kick off in January at the Disneyland Resort in California, with the return of the Magic Happens parade and the debut of two new night-time spectaculars, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D'Amaro announced today during a 100-minute "A Boundless Future" presentation at the D23 Expo in Anaheim.

World of Color: One at Disney California Adventure will be "World of Color like you’ve never seen it before," D'Amaro said, while Wondrous Journeys will fill the skies above Disneyland with a new projection and fireworks show, themed to all the 60+ Disney animated films.

Even before then, Disneyland guests will be able to enjoy visits from new park characters, including Hulk at Avengers Campus starting next week and the Mandalorian Din Djarin and Grogu in Star Wars_Galaxy's Edge starting in Mid-November.

Hulk character
Photo courtesy Disney

Early in 2023, in addition to the new shows, the new Mickey's Toontown will open, featuring the west coast installation of Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, which will be slightly modified from the Florida original.

Then in 2024, runDisney will return to the Disneyland Resort, while late in the year Tiana's Bayou Adventure will open, replacing Splash Mountain with a new theme and staging for the beloved flume ride.

"We want this attraction to be a love letter to New Orleans," Walt Disney Imagineering's Carmen Smith said. Several film cast members will voice the attraction, including Anika Noni Rose, D'Amaro said. Rose then comes to stage to perform "Almost There" and "Dig a Little Deeper."

Tiana on stage

Marvel Studios' Kevin Feige announced that the third attraction at DCA's Avengers Campus will "bring the multiverse to Avengers Campus," with a new ride that will put visitors in the middle of battle between all of the Avengers and all of their foes, led by a new villain King Thanos. "This is the Thanos that won," Feige said. "And the Avengers are not happy about that. So you have to help them."


King Thanos. Image courtesy Disney

D'Amaro also announced that DCA's Pacific Wharf land will transformed into Big Hero 6's San Fransokyo, though he provided no opening date or details for that, beyond confirming that it will include a Baymax meet and greet.

San Fransokyo
San Fransokyo at DCA. Image courtesy Disney

At Downtown Disney, D'Amaro announced that Din Tai Fung and Porto's are coming to the shopping and dining district. He also said - to great applause - that everyone at the presentation would get a Porto's pastry on their way out of the presentation.

Portos

Finally, D'Amaro announced that the Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland will be renamed the Pixar Place Hotel. Remember that Pixar Pier replaced the old Paradise Pier land in Disney California Adventure across the street several years back.

Walt Disney World

The Magic Kingdom also is getting Tiana's Bayou Adventure in late 2024, as well as the TRON Lightcycle Run roller coaster, which D'Amaro announced will open in spring 2023.

Also next year at the Magic Kingdom, Happily Ever After is returning, and the Hatbox Ghost is coming to the Haunted Mansion, following its successful return to Disneyland.

Hatbox Ghost
Hatbox Ghost. Image courtesy Disney

At Epcot, the Moana Journey of Water walk-through will open in late 2023, and Figment is coming back as a meet and greet character sometime next year. But the biggest news for the park is that Disney will replace Harmonious with a new World Showcase lagoon nighttime spectacular in 2023, celebrating Disney's 100th anniversary as a company.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney's sixth ship will be named Disney Treasure and set sail in 2024. Its theme will be "adventure," with Aladdin, Jasmine and their Magic Carpet as the Grand Hall characters, with that entrance hall to the ship drawing on influences from Asia and Africa.

The DCL will sail to Australia and New Zealand for the first time starting in October 2023, with the Disney Wonder repositioning via the Disney Cruise Line's first South Pacific voyages, with stops including Fiji and Samoa.

D'Amaro also said that work has started on Lighthouse Point in The Bahamas, which will be 90% powered by solar energy.

Lighthouse Point
Lighthouse Point. Image courtesy Disney

International Parks

Hong Kong Disneyland will be getting a new Walt and Mickey statue, with Walt sitting on the Griffith Park bench where he first envisioned Disneyland.

Walt and Mickey statue
Image courtesy Disney

Three Frozen-themed lands are coming to Disney Parks around the world, with World of Frozen opening in the second half of 2023 at Hong Kong Disneyland, a Frozen section of the Fantasy Springs project opening in late 2023 or early 2024 at Tokyo DisneySea and the third land coming to Disneyland Paris' Walt Disney Studios Park.

World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland
World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland. Image courtesy Disney

A new garden-filled promenade will lead guests to the Frozen land in Paris, and that promenade will include new Tangled-themed family attraction.

Shanghai Disneyland is getting its new Zootopia land, for which D'Amaro shared some new concept art, showing the windows from which the puppet characters we saw previews in the Disney Parks pavilion on the D23 show floor will interact with guests. Still no opening date, though.

Zootopia
Image courtesy Disney

For fans of Duffy and his friends, the cuddly crew that got their start at Tokyo DisneySea and other Disney Parks in Asia will be coming to Disney+ with a six-episode, stop-motion animated series next year.

Blue Sky

In what might turn out to be the most controversial segment of the presentation, Imagineering's Chris Beatty and Walt Disney Studios' Jennifer Lee joined D'Amaro on stage to tease several potential projects for Disney's Animal Kingdom and Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. For DAK, the trip teased Zootopia and Moana-themed concepts to replace Dinoland, while in the Magic Kingdom, they suggested Coco, Encanto and - to wild applause - a Villains-themed land to go behind Big Thunder Mountain.


Concept art for Moana and Zootopia at DAK.

There is as much chance of seeing all five of these concepts come to life at Disney World as there is of us seeing that Mary Poppins attraction for Epcot's United Kingdom pavilion that Disney announced at the previous D23 Expo. (And that was confirmed to me by a source in the company after the presentation.) But Disney apparently has decided that it wants to get into the game of fueling fan rumors, rather than leaving others to introduce and control that narrative.

Plus, this way, Disney can get an early read on fan reaction as it floats these trial balloons to its most dedicated fans. The early take? Villains was the runaway favorite of the five concepts trialed here.

D'Amaro transitioned from the Blue Sky segment to wrap the presentation on a hopeful note.

"Disney is a company of unrivaled creativity, and we are never, never going to stop working towards that," D'Amaro said. "We're never going to stop surprising. We're never going to stop the delighting and pushing the boundaries of where we should all go together."

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Replies (69)

September 11, 2022 at 11:47 AM

I think we’ll learn more about the third attraction at Avengers Campus too.

September 11, 2022 at 1:18 PM

An Avenger's ride where you have to help them win a battle? Please tell me it's not another shooter.

Very stoked to hear about the change to Pacific Wharf, it's so sad and incongruous right now.


Okay, so the Tiana ride:
Tiana is opening a grocery store inside of an abandoned salt mine. That's filled with "critters."

That's the honest-to-god story of it. A grown woman is opening an underground grocery store filled with raccoons and rats and such. I guess the drop represents your efforts to escape with your dirty groceries without getting rabies?

September 11, 2022 at 1:45 PM

Still watching ... But the real story is what's going on with PLAY!

Waiting.

September 11, 2022 at 1:46 PM

Let’s Go Chapek!

September 11, 2022 at 1:52 PM

Shame that Disney's already throwing in the towel on Enchantment and Harmonious, but I do applaud them for at least recognizing guest feedback and adjusting as needed.

San Fransokyo at DCA sounds pretty cool though.

September 11, 2022 at 2:02 PM

Blowing out the back of the MKP for 'Cocoa' and 'Enchanto' ... YEAH ... "Let's GO Chapek!"

September 11, 2022 at 2:04 PM

And "villains"?! ... YEAH ... "Let's GO Chapek!"

September 11, 2022 at 2:26 PM

Pretty underwhelming overall, but that was expected going in. Wanted more detail on Fantasy Springs but unsurprised that OLC wants to do that themselves. On the plus side it’s good to see they recognize they need to fix Dinoland, and the Villains land is a cool idea that got easily the biggest cheer of the presentation, hope they go through with that, but with how slow their construction has been it seems like it’ll be the 2030s before either of those concepts see the light of day.

September 11, 2022 at 2:39 PM

Not so fast, TH. These are blue sky concepts which mean sh-t at this point. With Disney’s track record, this will be another New Fantasyland expansion - value engineered and underwhelming. And that’s if it ever gets built. I’d rather have the Rivers of America and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
What happened to the PLAY pavilion, and Mary Poppins, and the Spaceship Earth redo. And Moana and Zootopia taking over Dinoland USA? No wonder Joe Rohde left the company. LOL! Good luck with that.
Let’s Go Chapek! (clap…clap…clap, clap, clap)

September 11, 2022 at 2:43 PM

Really Keith? That's the best ya got? "What ifs"?

Um ... okay.

(Chuckle)

September 11, 2022 at 2:51 PM

Honestly Keith Schneider, you come here HOPING Disney fails ... You WANT them to fail ... Your message to the 170,000 Disney cast members is that you WANT their company to fail.

Seriously?

Instead of saying "Great concepts" ... "Great ambitions" ... I want this to become a reality: ... You offer "Let's go Chapek"?

On behalf of someone speaking for a Disney cast member family, thanks.

September 11, 2022 at 2:58 PM

TH, are you mental? You were just boasting about the announced what ifs (blue sky concepts). And now you’re projecting?
Let’s Go TH! (clap…clap…clap, clap, clap)

September 11, 2022 at 3:01 PM

TH, Disney should be better than this, but all they seem to care about is taking the money and running.
Get a set, TH.

September 11, 2022 at 3:03 PM

@Benny 27: Notice you did not address my comment to Keith Schneider; He wants Disney to fail and will spin news to accommodate that convicton.

September 11, 2022 at 3:05 PM

@TH Creative so basically, you think disney should be hailed as a flawless God and that everyone who criticizes them and chapek should die. Got it loser.

September 11, 2022 at 3:07 PM

So Benny27 is guaranteeing that WDW will shut down completely after UEU opens?

Wow.

Are you and Keith Facebook friends?

(Chuckle)

September 11, 2022 at 3:11 PM

Now TH is playing the victim. Keep score everyone. First TH was projecting, now he/she/they is playing the ol’ boo who woise me card. Whatcha got next, TH?

September 11, 2022 at 3:14 PM

TH has gone from suck to blow (Spaceballs!). Maybe Disney should use this IP to replace Dinoland USA.

September 11, 2022 at 3:16 PM

Keith, could you just confirm you want Disney to Fail?

September 11, 2022 at 3:19 PM

Benny: "You know theme park insider will take their side since they can't tolerate criticism of disney"

Me; So (a guy who joined this twenty-plus years community TODAY) is questioning Robert Niles' objectivity?

Wow.

September 11, 2022 at 3:42 PM

Tron opening spring 2023 just doesn't make sense. I would say that was the worst announcement.

The Blue Sky wasn't anything official so I don't have an opinion one way or other because they're just concepts.

Disney won't close but Universal with Nintendo world is going to be a second harry potter gate that is going to pour them money like when the wizarding world first opened. Disney doesn't need to make announcements they need to thin out their parks as thats guest number one complaint and they're doing it by raising prices and not adding anything big. They just added Ratatouille and Guardians and soon to be Tron. They will rest on those for the time being until they need to start keeping up with Epic Universe. Maybe Disney thinks Epic and the cohesiveness with the other universal parks won't be successful and they're resting on those laurels possibly.

September 11, 2022 at 9:44 PM

And now TH is making false accusations. So sad.
I want Disney (and TH for that matter) to be better. They should be better.
“Oh oh, take the money and run.”

September 11, 2022 at 3:44 PM

Shane: "Tron opening spring 2023 just doesn't make sense."

Me: It absolutely makes sense as it is in step with a marketing strategy celebrating the 100th anniversary.

September 11, 2022 at 3:56 PM

Benny the Rookie posts: "Epic universe is going to do amazing with killer unique rides and low prices."

Me: A woman just posted at this link that her one day with a family of four at Universal cost them $1,113.

https://www.yahoo.com/video/family-rip-off-1-113-131853799.html

So tell us rookie, three years from now, when people crash into UEU ... How much will one day for a family of four cost?

September 11, 2022 at 3:55 PM

I’m glad they’re changing up Avengers Campus to be based in a separate universe than that of the MCU…Having it take place in a particular time frame in relation to the MCU was always inhibiting exactly what they can do with the characters and theming…This way they can vastly open up the story they want to tell…

September 11, 2022 at 4:03 PM

Warning here to keep comments about the presentation and not directed toward each other.

September 11, 2022 at 4:10 PM

Overall, imo this was a pretty lackluster D23 parks panel. I was really hoping for some more big announcements so that Disney could strike back against Universal and steal some of the hype away from EU. This was their chance and they kinda fumbled the bag.

The most exciting part to me was the possible Magic Kingdom expansion but I couldn't help shake the feeling that they were being very specific with their words. I can't recall exactly what they said but they kept stating along the lines of "it might happen" and "concept art could be countless versions of the idea". It's smart to not build yourself into a box and promise things that might change but I feel like saying these things is a disingenuous way to say that "we may change things or cancel things, we don't even know yet". Even with the Zootopia and Moana AK stuff, they kept emphasizing that "there are so many ideas that different pieces of concept art could show". It's a smart method but I can't help but feel like it's a cheap way to announce projects.

I'm also really nervous about the Avengers E-ticket. With the promise of different characters, they'll probably build a bunch of screens so that it'll be easy to change out heroes and villains. I really like this concept of a multiverse attraction and King Thanos. I find it really promising and intriguing if executed correctly, but I hope it's just not a bunch of screens. Also, going by the concept art which "shows different ideas for different versions of an attraction so we may change it anytime blah blah blah", it shows what could appear to be a trackless dark ride vehicle but I'm not sure. The original concept art back in 2019 showed individual flying seats. Seemed like a more fun attraction physicality experience but ig we'll just have to see.

Finally, two things. 100 Years of Wonder better have more stuff than the 50th anniversary of WDW and Tron opening in Spring 2023 was probably the most disappointing part of the panel.

September 11, 2022 at 4:09 PM

Villains has been a theme park fan dream since God was a boy. To hear Disney reference it in such a public forum borders on historic. The idea of blowing out the borders of MKP counters (adds to) the UEU investment in Central Florida.

What starte as a "ho-hum" presentation ended in a major announcement for the Central Florida economy.

2030 is gonna be AWESOME!

September 11, 2022 at 4:46 PM

TH, yeah, and monkeys might fly outta my butt (Wayne’s World!). Another likely IP to take over Dinoland USA.
Say, how’s that “gate crasher” Harmonious at EPCOT doing? Oh, it’s being shelved. And the daytime fountains STILL aren’t working.

(Chuckle)

Be better Disney.

September 11, 2022 at 4:31 PM

Wow, WDW is getting spoiled.
Best announcement was Figment, man I thought; now they are going to redo the ride and have Figment prominent in the attraction. Maybe it gets to its original length to tell a new and unique story about this popular purple dragon. In the meantime, helping the crowds and wait times a bit.
But it's much better, it's a meet and greet. As if Disney was reading my mind.

September 11, 2022 at 4:53 PM

TH says " It absolutely makes sense as it is in step with a marketing strategy celebrating the 100th anniversary."

I say "Disney takes almost 6 years to make one copy of an existing attraction.

Universal makes a giant additional park with state of the art attractions in same time. Theres a disconnect there. Disney can hold an attraction for 100 anniversary I get that but its just another not consumer friendly decisions they've done in the past year with the others.

September 11, 2022 at 4:57 PM

Shane: "Universal makes a giant additional park with state of the art attractions in same time."

Me: That sounds awesome. If you can tell me where to get tickets I will go there tomorrow.

September 11, 2022 at 5:03 PM

The real story is that WDW has a vision to blow-out the back of the most successful themed entertainment model on the planet (Magic Kingdom park). If they started that effort TODAY, in six years (2028) they would counter any Central Florida competition. And theme park fans should loudly applaud that intent.

September 11, 2022 at 5:17 PM

That is freakin awesome that Disney is about to add some huge new additions to MK. It would have been easy to open up Tron and Tianas in 2024 and let MK sit untouched for the next decade and a half or so but I'm glad they already have some neat stuff laid out for the future even after that. This is a win for all theme park fans especially those who frequent the most popular park in the world.

September 11, 2022 at 6:00 PM

I’m really not impressed by the event today. We heard very little about anything other than attractions that were already announced prior. I know TH is doing his happy dance in regards to the “possible” expansion of the Magic Kingdom but I can’t help but to temper my enthusiasm for that project, IF it ever happens at all. We all remember the amazing attractions promised a few years back by Chapek and the boys regarding the redo Of Spaceship Earth, The Play Pavilion and Mary Poppins amongst others. There’re now gone like dust in the wind.
The Villains area (which they MIGHT build) could be fun, but why am I expecting an east coast version of the DCA Halloween event Villains grove? I see them going with this model of a meet and greet with a restaurant and a gift shop and then calling it a day.
I really do enjoy Disney but I’m sorry, the mouse really did drop the ball as of recent. In a few years I CAN see the situation of mom an dad talking to their kids Bud and Sis and telling them they’re going to EPCOT to see Moana the shape of water and a Coco meet and greet and kids respond with “But we wanna go to see Mario and Harry Potter and Toothless the dragon”.
If we’re going to be honest, Disney World is not going out of business, but I see them losing some serious market share over the next 5 to 10 years with the road they are on.

September 11, 2022 at 6:24 PM

Yawn - Maybe they’ll announce a new fully immersive hotel where you can play princess for 3 days for $5k.

September 11, 2022 at 6:44 PM

Looks good overall even though obviously a lot of it Blue Sky stuff and we know how things can change but still not bad. Hope a bit more of WDW but does seem they're not trying to compete direct with Universal on "epic" stuff but build on what they have which might be a better strategy down the line. I still trust Disney overall so some of this looks well worth waiting for.

September 11, 2022 at 7:21 PM

When do you think the new Avengers ride will debut? Also, San Fransokyo in California Adventure?

September 11, 2022 at 7:32 PM

The very FACT that we know Disney is considering an MKP northwest expansion over the next three, four, ten years is enough to crow about. The click bait vlog garage band, wannabe on the outside industry can flounder as they choose. But stop and THINK! Mr. Disney bought all those acres in Florida SPECIFICALLY for elbow room for all of his dreams. This PUBLIC announcement of the intent to blow-out the northwest corner of MKP is noteworthy ... By any reasonable standard

September 11, 2022 at 7:33 PM

Instead of "blowing out" one of the sectors of Magic Kingdom, I think it is more likely that we see Rivers of America drained/filled-in and Tom Sawyer Island flattened (sorry, Robert).

I certainly wouldn't shed a tear over losing those, along with the Liberty Square Riverboat.

Of course, if Disney does truly expand the perimeters of the park, what does that mean for the railroad? Another re-route?

September 11, 2022 at 7:36 PM

Yikes, it's very clear those bluesky concepts were just created to save face. They even presented it as if they're giving a new seminar to new Imagineering students as opposed to it being an actual announcement. A lot "what if we place a ride here that we don't have a story for yet one day." If these concepts do develop, they're so new that the first of the 3 lands wouldn't break land until near 2030, well after Epic Universal. Zootopia makes more sense in DHS than AK & Moana seems silly after already ill-placing it into Epcot, Joe Rhode dipped for a reason. Even the lack of concept art for Avengers & PATF are telling, where's the direction? Not impressed

September 11, 2022 at 7:54 PM

Why wouldn't they "break land until near 2030"? As opposed to 2024?

September 11, 2022 at 8:11 PM

Story updated. Comments with personal attacks posted after my warning have been deleted. If you made such comments before my warning, now would be a good time for you to delete those. Thank you for helping to keep the discussion welcoming to all.

And I have some really, really interesting stuff that I learned after the presentation that I will be able to share later. Stay tuned.

September 11, 2022 at 8:37 PM

@TH Creative the MK projects are so bluesky they won't even be considered to be constructed for a long time, if they even make it out the blueSky phase. I'd say the earliest realistic wouldn't be at least until 4-6 years from now until they start construction, these things take a long time and these projects are clearly just new ideas right now.

September 11, 2022 at 8:52 PM

Reading into this a bit more I can see why Robert called it controversial and some folks are unhappy. The blue sky segment does seem a bit of like a carrot at the end of the stick type of deal. I dont like the fact that they filled up the presentation with "maybes."

But lets not lose sight that they did confirm an e-ticket ride for avengers campus which is a major win for the disneyland resort. Im not so happy about the San Fransokyo part. I like the last remaining vestiges of California in that park. We'll see how it turns out.

September 11, 2022 at 9:08 PM

IMO this "Epic Universe is a game changer and Disney is screwed if they don't respond to it" thing is total nonsense to me. I see Epic Universe as nothing more than a cash grab with attractions that should have been added to the other two parks, but to each his own. Disney will be fine, people go to Disney World for Disney World, not for Universal.

Also I hope to god all of these IP minilands do not actually happen. If there is one thing the world does not need more of its IP minilands.

September 11, 2022 at 9:24 PM

would love to see what was on the table for the e-ticket in california adventure's avengers campus before chadwick baseman passed away. I have no doubt what they put together will be fantastic, but a Wakanda and black panther-centered attraction would have been something special.

otherwise, sounds like a lot of what we expected — but certainly not much to complain about on my end. I would love a more thoughtful revamp of pixar pier that brings some of those attractions up to the standard of the rest of the park, but that's just My Blue Sky Phase.

September 11, 2022 at 10:13 PM

I have a blue sky thought: How about it not take 5 years to open a replica roller coaster. UO will have an entire theme park with hotels open in less time than it took Tron Lightcycle Run to open. The most hilarious part is that the roof is already showing aging signs, and it still wont be open for at least 6 months!

September 12, 2022 at 12:20 AM

Not a word was mentioned about when Magic Bands are coming to DLR? I know they previously said late 2022, but no update? Are they still happening?

September 12, 2022 at 8:23 AM

What I find REALLY ironic is how Disney seems to be deploying a similar strategy that Universal used back in August of 2019. At that time (before the pandemic) everything was coming up Disney. Galaxy's Edge was opening on both coasts. Harmonious, the Ratatouille and Cosmic Rewind attractions were under construction. The Skyway was getting ready. There was a new resort announced for the old River Country property. The TRON coaster was waiting in the wings. And Disney+ was about to launch -- which would put the Disney brand in millions of American homes. Faced with the prospect of being eclipsed by their (sort of) competitor, on August 1, 2019, NBC/Universal announced it would be building another theme park in Central Florida. But they offered no details on the park. They did not disclose any of the themed lands or anything else specific. It seemed like they just wanted to announce something to make sure people knew the company had vitality. Now, with UEU opening in 2025, it strikes me that Disney may be using the same tactic. Announce some big "blue-sky" concepts with few details -- this avoids them going "out of sight, out of mind" I suspect the MKP expansion will be up and running in 2027 ... ish.

September 12, 2022 at 8:37 AM

TH, knowing the snail’s pace that Disney builds things I honestly believe that those three Blue Sky concepts, if they happen, would open for 2031. That would be for the Resort’s 60th anniversary and would give them something to promote for that year. In regards to these projects D’Amaro has said they are in the earliest of concept design.
Understand we are still dealing with Bob Chapek and he’s not exactly known for signing blank checks to make things happen. I would honestly love to see a bad-booty Villains land of my dreams, but that would cost money and a dedication to do things right. I want Chapek and the boys to knock this one out of the park, however, I’m tempering my enthusiasm as so far we’ve all been burned before by the current practice of over promising and under delivering.

September 12, 2022 at 9:10 AM

Let's split the difference and call it 2029 ... :o)

September 12, 2022 at 9:21 AM

TH, Summer 2029 it is ;o)

September 12, 2022 at 9:29 AM

I think Disney has become a victim of its own success. D23 has provided an outlet for them to play to their biggest theme park fans, and they've had a reliable pipeline of new attractions, park modifications, and future concepts to feed the assembled masses. The problem is that Disney could not possibly maintain the momentum from massive announcements like PtWoA, Galaxy's Edge, and other additions that have become landmark attractions, particularly given that the pandemic has disrupted supply chains, labor markets, and otherwise derailed attempts to keep the parks growing at a brisk, steady pace.

However, I do think the Blue Sky announcements were a bit of a cop out, and would lean towards Robert's assessment that these were used more as an informal public poll to read potential guest reactions to these concepts than an actual sneak preview of attractions seriously in the works at WDI.

I think the most surprising take-aways from D23 are:

1. D100 is a convenient fallback plan. Given the developments at Tron over the past few months (test running with real people over the past couple of weeks), I think Disney could get the coaster open in time for the Holidays, but the company's centennial means they don't have to rush the coaster, and can instead market it for the next version of the never-ending parade of anniversaries Disney fans are so obsessed with. D100 has also given Disney cover to replace underperforming attractions - Guest reviews of HarmonioUS have been universally indifferent, so WDI can perform some small tweaks to the show to try to improve guest satisfaction while saying those changes are for a celebration, not because the show itself is mediocre.

2. No Play Pavilion or other EPCOT Blue Sky concepts. I think this one is pretty big, because it looked like WDI was ready to deliver a grand transformation of EPCOT for the park's 40th anniversary, but it's clear so many of those plans have been scrapped and replaced with more financially restrained projects. Maybe GotGCR went over budget, and these changes are a result of that, but the consequences of the pared down EPCOT re-invention are pretty telling.

3. DCA modifications are ultimately underwhelming. These announcements really seemed like throw ins to satisfy needy guests. I do like the transformation of Pacific Wharf to San Fransokyo, but those changes are going to be very minimal and probably just cosmetic, as was done when Paradise Pier was transformed into Pixar Pier. The fact that they're framing this change around a character meet and greet demonstrates that there's really not much to this change. WDI doubling down on another Avengers CAMPUS e-ticket seemed wasteful if they were not ready to reveal a name or at least the type of attraction guests can expect. Disney already teased a potential Quinnjet/Wikanda attraction (rumored to be based on the FoP ride system), and this pivot and vague details tells me that Disney still doesn't know what they're going to do, and are not confident that they can access enough space to meet the visions that WDI have for this attraction. While San Fransokyo can probably be put into place sometime next year, this Avengers attraction feels even further off than it did when Disney originally announced the DCA expansion.

4. While Disney announced moves to address some of the warts across their parks (nighttime shows, Pacific Wharf, and Splash Mountain), there are tons of other sore spots in the domestic parks that were seemingly ignored. WDI presented a Blue Sky concept for Zootopia to replace Dinoland USA, but it's pathetic that Disney has no concrete plans to renovate/replace what is by far the tackiest, most disappointing space in any of their US parks. The Blue Sky concepts for the NW expansion of MK are nice and fun to think about, but do nothing for the warts across the park like the empty space where Stitch Encounter used to be, Tomorrowland Speedway, and others. I also found it odd that despite announcing changes to HarmonioUS and other nighttime shows/parades that Disney did not confirm the return of Fantasmic! to DHS despite the confirmed casting and rehearsals for the show.

Overall, I think Disney did what they needed to do with this presentation to show that the parks are continuing to move forward, and to help guests recalibrate their expectations as the pace of progress slows due to recent financial and business conditions. However, I think as a whole Disney needs to do a better job of communicating when projects are being scrapped or at least being downsized. The lack of information about Play Pavilion is very telling that the project is at the very least on thin ice, and possibly completely cancelled, but I think when Disney changes course or cancels a project that was originally announced (even if it's framed as Blue Sky), Disney owes it to the fans to provide that confirmation. The Blue Sky presentations were a clear attempt to control the narrative of rumors and projections about the future of the parks, yet far too often Disney throws ideas out there for public consumption and then just leaves them out there even when it's clear they've been abandoned. A simple, we're no longer looking at concept A, but are instead doing concept B would be a valuable tool for Disney to manage guest expectations than just leaving all these concepts out there floating in the wind.

September 12, 2022 at 10:19 AM

@Russell, you hit the nail on the head with your last paragraph. It's as if Disney is content operating under confusion and subterfuge. What's still on the docket, what's being altered, and what's cancelled hasn't been explicitly clarified. I understand D23 is a venue for corporate cheerleading, and that the company wants to present the most positive image possible, but if the suits really wanted to communicate effectively with the fans, candidness is key:

"We are so glad you all could join us here today to celebrate in-person. The past several years have been tough for all us. We faced a scenario unprecedented in the history of our company. Unfortunately, that meant making some tough decisions, closing the book on some truly amazing stories. X, Y, and Z are no longer in the plans. We had to modify our vision for A, B, & C. I understand your frustration. No one is more disappointed than I am. But this is what's necessary to continue our Imagineering story. And we will never stop dreaming. Together, we will enter a Boundless Future."

Would this off-the-top-of-my-head statement be disappointing? Immensely. But it's better than this Schrodinger's Cat of attraction status.

Even what they did announce has led to some head-scratching. Is Happily Ever After the show coming back or just the song (seems to be the show, thankfully!)? Are the international Frozen attractions going to be carbon copies of Frozen Ever After in EPCOT (That Elsa animatronic they showcased sure looks new!)? Is WDS still getting a mini Galaxy's Edge? At this point, just throw in another Tron clone, or heck a Daft Punk experience. They're probably the most recognizable French duo in music history.

All this to say: Disney right now is lacking a long-term vision. Jon Favreau comes out to announce a meet-and-greet. No mention of a "new reimagining of Galaxy's Edge" or anything else. Kevin Feige basically announced the same, but now with a toned-down version of the original Avengers E-ticket (gone are the jetpack ride vehicles, replaced by what looks like an expanded SCOOP RV--first released in '99). Instead of competition-inducing hype, Disney settled in using D23 to check off a bunch of boxes. Hatbox Ghost. Figment meet & greet (Josh initially leading the audience to believe Journey into Imagination was getting a revamp was a top-tier troll). New show. Old show. New show. Old parade.

And the Blue Sky segment served to compound these confusions. At the end of the day, Disney surpassed my bar-on-the-ground expectations, not with an explosive announcement or groundbreaking surprise, but by stepping over the bar.

September 12, 2022 at 10:37 AM

Russell = Spot On!

September 12, 2022 at 11:15 AM

To me, I don’t see anything as negative. I just hope Disney tries to add to instead of taking away or replacing. I think there is no need for a park to always need to have massive new construction. I would prefer to have a clean, well run park instead of construction zones everywhere.

The only thing that I would love Disney to do is to streamline wait times and fix what they have. It would be awesome to have a 20,000 Leagues attraction, but I would rather have them get back to having the best customer service in the business, which has slipped a little. The system to order food in advance is nice. The system for fast passes is not nice. Not a fan of lightning but it may be a slight improvement over the last iteration.

No way will new construction at Universal impact crowds. I look forward to the new Universal park, but nothing will take away from WDW. I also really, really like the walk through attractions. The treks at AK, dang near every country at Epcot, and Tom Sawyer are great. I would love a castle walkthrough like they have at DL but with Cinderella instead of Sleeping Beauty.

September 12, 2022 at 2:35 PM

Disney announces new attractions everywhere but Florida. Perhaps they did not WANT to announce anything new in Florida, just show what they COULD do if they want.

Maybe Disney are not happy with Florida/Orlando authorities...

September 12, 2022 at 2:40 PM

since i'm in orlando, my comments are WDW based...as much as i did enjoy harmonious the one time i saw it, have to admit it is about 8 minutes too long and the props in the lake are a HUGE daytime eyesore. here's to hoping they bring back a 360 show that can be seen from anywhere in world showcase without missing out on any visuals (unless you're downwind of the smoke). not sure why the delay with tron unless there are tons of show elements to install and also not sure how i feel about the splash mountain reboot but gonna have to do a wait and see on that one.

September 12, 2022 at 3:12 PM

walt disney world opened a new roller coaster this year, is opening another roller coaster next year and still the bloodthirsty cries will not be silenced.

2021? ratatouille attraction.
2020? opened mickey and minnie's runaway railroad.
2019? literally the best attraction of all time.

they didn't even take a year off for the pandemic! the complaint, literally, is that they're not opening two roller coasters in the same year! seaworld waited a FULL YEAR to open all of their coasters just because it was the more profitable thing to do — that's it! that was the reason!

booing ceo's is the moral thing to do, but there appears to be healthy attraction investment at orlando's chunkiest resort.

September 12, 2022 at 5:00 PM

@Jacob, I don't disagree! Looking at the pace of not just attractions, but lands pre-pandemic is pretty remarkable (Pandora, Toy Story Land, & Galaxy's Edge--one year after another).

Now there will be fans who, no matter want Disney does, will never be satisfied (barring the invention of a time machine that lets them pick a date in history to experience the parks, but the Imagineers haven't quite gotten there yet). I won't defend them.

But I think there is another vocal faction who simply want more attractions, not just for the sake of new experiences, but for an increase in park capacity. Mr. Chapek was quite candid in a recent interview that the ever-present price increases are measures to cool demand, and that there's not really much else they can do to make a more enjoyable, and less crowded park experience.

But that assumes the parks have a fixed supply! Disney is perfectly capable of building out new attractions and areas (especially on the massive amounts of land they own in Central FL) to increase the overall parks capacity and (ideally) reduce overcrowding in the park without needing to drastically increase the price.

Now, I don't fault the company for falling back on price increases, as it's the quickest way to temper demand without the need for years of planning and massive amounts of construction. But for whatever reason they've sometimes jettisoned adding more capacity in favor of adding a new experience to a pre-existing structure (see: MMRR, GotG:CR, TBA).

The capacity fans are concerned because as crowded as MK is, Disney is effectively only adding an additional ride of capacity with Tron. When TBA opens, MK will have the same capacity as it does when Tron opens, except then, since there's a new attraction, demand will also increase! Which means more price increases and the same vicious yield management cycle.

I understand that rides have a shelf life and must be updated for show, safety, or changing styles and tastes. Disney should absolutely update and modify rides to keep their attractions top-of-the-line, and I support all efforts at doing so. But they also need to add more to do, not just replace what's already there. Either they're unwilling or the capex is just too great.

Regardless, if they don't act sooner rather than later, prices will be on a joyless log flume ride: one without a drop.

September 12, 2022 at 5:06 PM

Underwhelmed is an understatement!

September 12, 2022 at 5:08 PM

I hear that — I guess my only pushback to that idea is that adding attractions doesn't really increase capacity, right? It just increases the number of guests who visit the park. That's why adding a variety of attractions (like Journey through water) while increasing the efficiency of existing attractions and adding new attractions all in tandem is so important.

I'm with you in spirit — if Chapek is going to be an austerity leader, everyone but shareholders will suffer in the short term. That particularly includes guests and cast members.

September 12, 2022 at 6:11 PM

Myhandsdontscan: "Chapek was quite candid in a recent interview that the ever-present price increases are measures to cool demand, and that there's not really much else they can do to make a more enjoyable, and less crowded park experience.

Me: Right on target!

September 13, 2022 at 3:37 AM

I've been busy and am just now taking a look at what was announced. My big takeaway is that the next couple years are a good time to visit Disney, but after that I should be able to take a nice long break without any worry of missing something big. Don't get me wrong, I'd love Zootopia at Animal Kingdom, but I don't see any way it opens before the park's next big anniversary in 2028. For the Magic Kingdom projects, I'm guessing it's early Blue Sky to decide what to add for the 60th anniversary, as it seems they know the 50th was a total disaster. That Marvel E-Ticket in California? I expect an 18-month 70th celebration to come and go before we're even talking about an opening date, and I really hope franchise fatigue doesn't befall the MCU before then.

Honestly, I don't think Disney's in the wrong for not building new attractions year after year. It's perfectly reasonable to space major investments a few years apart, and they've been doing them much closer than that between the mid-2010s and early 2020s. The problem is that it definitely feels like Disney was intending to start coasting on their brand for a while, and with increased prices and a decreased guest experience, there is much less desire to come back without something new to experience. After this presentation, I stand by my statement I've made before: By the end of the decade, Universal Orlando will be attracting more visitors per park annually than Walt Disney World. It will be interesting to see if Disney will be able to turn that around in the decade that follows.

September 13, 2022 at 9:16 AM

That's a HUGE gap to cover AJ, and I just don't see that happening any time soon. Based on the 2019 TEA attendance report, the average daily attendance for the WDW theme parks was @40k, while the Universal Orlando parks averaged @29k. Even if Epic Universe is a massive hit, it's not going to close a 10k/day gap in 10 years.

I do think Epic Universe will help UO level the playing field with WDW, but they'll still be second fiddle in the Orlando theme park market in terms of attendance.

September 13, 2022 at 6:00 PM

So here's my thinking, Russell...

Walt Disney World in 2019 drew about 58 million visitors when the TEA numbers for all four parks are combined, so Universal would need about 44 million visitors with three parks to beat Disney's per park numbers. In 2019, Universal drew about 21 million visitors, and if we assume Epic Universe will have a very similar visitor count to the two current parks, they'd be drawing around 31 million with three parks. Yes, that means they'll need 42% growth to catch Disney, which is a long shot.

However, in the five years before the pandemic, Walt Disney World only grew by 7%, and in that same timeframe Universal grew by 16%. During 2020, the gap also shrunk significantly. Disney hosted 18 million, while Universal saw 8 million, which represents only an 8% gap if the methodology above is used. I have also consistently heard from locals that Universal feels more crowded than ever, while this summer felt lighter at Walt Disney World than last despite looser restrictions. So, projecting Universal to gain ~10 million in attendance numbers in 2025 and then grow 15-20% after that, while projecting WDW to lose 5-10% of their attendance over the next decade, I think it's reasonable to say Universal has a shot at it. Obviously, this is a pretty simplistic analysis with a lot of assumptions, but I don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility.

September 13, 2022 at 6:58 PM

@AJ Hummel - Y'all are playing the attendance game. Disney is playing the profits game.

You wrote: "I have also consistently heard from locals that Universal feels more crowded than ever, while this summer felt lighter at Walt Disney World than last despite looser restrictions."

Universal doesn't have a reservation system. Disney does - and is smartly managing its attendance to keep their parks from feeling "more crowded than ever." Yes, Disney's attendance may be down, but that's by design. And as a result, their profits are way up. In the corporate business world, that's all that matters.

September 14, 2022 at 12:23 AM

Fair, Beacher, but if attendance is cut too much it's going to hurt profits. Right now, there's excess demand, but at the current price point and with the current offerings of Walt Disney World, I doubt such is as evergreen as it used to be. Plus, if you tell someone who wants to visit they can't visit because they can't get a reservation, they may look elsewhere and not return if they find the alternative sufficiently enjoyable.

I could very well be wrong, but to me Disney as it is right now feels like a bubble that's at risk of bursting. Short term, their strategy seems to be working, and I have a feeling they're likely to keep bringing in the dough for the next couple years. It's what's going to happen 3-5 years out that looks more troubling to me, as I've noticed more and more long-time Disney loyalists opting to take a hiatus in recent times and much less interest in return visits from those who have gone post-closure.

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