I just returned from the spectacular D23 Expo in Anaheim, California as a guest and writer of Living by Disney. What an awesome, chaotic, invigorating, overwhelming and exciting time! This year the expo expected nearly 100,000 Disney, Star Wars and Marvel fans to converge into the Anaheim Convention Center – and boy did that number feel accurate!
A few of the BIGGEST panels are usually the hardest to get into – Disney Legends, Marvel and LucasFilms and the infamous Parks, Experiences and Products panel. These panels are usually first thing in the morning and do require HOURS of waiting (sometimes overnight) if you want to be one of the lucky 7,000 fans in the D23 Hall.
This year, I was able to attend the Disney Legends and Parks panels. The parks panel is the most anticipated of the whole weekend. This is is where Josh D’Amaro, Chairman, highlights all of the Disney news and information and reveals insight into future plans. Let’s jump right in and see what was shared with Disney fans in attendance!
Walt Disney World
- Happily Ever After returning 2023 after the 50th Anniversary celebration ends on March 31, 2023. BEST. NEWS. EVER!
- Hatbox Ghost is a Disneyland Haunted Mansion legend and he is now being added to the Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World sometime in 2023.
- TRON opening in Spring 2023 – I wish this was happening sooner, I feel like we’ve been waiting forever.
- Magic Kingdom expansion in an area beyond Big Thunder Mountain potentially happening in the future. Early brainstorming and renderings showcase ideas for attractions and areas such as Coco, Encanto and a long awaited (and anticipated) Villains area. These are all concepts, nothing is carved in stone yet.
- Figment character meet and greet coming back to EPCOT in late 2023. No details on an update or expansion of the Imagination Pavilion.
- The World Celebration area in EPCOT will be completed by late 2023. It will include a life-size bronze statue of Walt Disney called “Walt the Dreamer”. Those who attended the Expo got to see this beautiful new statue in person.
- In World of Nature, where Soarin’ and the Nemo attraction currently reside, Moana’s Journey of Water will join them in late 2023. We got our first look at Tefiti that will be part of this attraction.
- New nighttime spectacular replacing Harmonious coming to EPCOT next year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company.
- Dinoland transformation coming to Animal Kingdom. Some of the early ideas and concepts include attractions and areas representing Moana and Zootopia.
- New nighttime spectacular coming to Disneyland to celebrate 100 years of the Walt Disney Company.
- RunDisney will be returning in 2024 to Disneyland after a 5-year absence.
- Mandalorian and Grogu, the newest meet and greet, will be added in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. There is no word yet if he is coming to Walt Disney World.
- Toontown is well underway and scheduled to reopen in 2023. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction will be well integrated with Disneyland Park’s theme.
- New Retail Store – Eudora’s Chic Boutique Featuring Tiana’s Gourmet Secrets – Opens in Disneyland Park on September 20, 2022.
- “Magic Happens” parade will return to Disneyland Park next Spring 2023.
- Pacific Wharf transforming to San Fransokyo from Big Hero 6.
- New updated World of Color to celebrate 100 years.
- Hulk is coming to Avengers Campus.
- King Thanos is coming to a new multiverse inspired attraction in Avenger’s Campus. It will depict a world where Thanos won and we are in the fight to defeat him.
- “We Belong Together”, a Pixar Musical Review, is planned for 2023.
- Downtown Disney will be getting a lot of new restaurants and shopping locations, including a very popular California bakery called Porto’s.
- Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is becoming Pixar Place Hotel.
Walt Disney World and Disneyland
- Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will open on both coasts in late 2024. It picks up where the movie left off. Tiana is running her restaurant and is in search of an ingredient she’s missing. Attraction goers become part of the story and help her find them.
- Disney confirmed that many of the original voice actors from the movie, Princess and the Frog, will lend their voices once again to narrate this new attraction.
- Disney’s 6th and newest ship will be called Disney Treasure, and is planned to debut in 2024. The newest ship will have an adventure theme, unlike previous ships which are mostly princess themed.
- The cruise line is headed to Australia and New Zealand for South Pacific adventures, including Fiji and Somoa.
- The new island, Lighthouse Point on the island of Eleuthera, is stunning. Ninety percent of its power will be solar. It is planned to be up and running as of 2024.
- Duffy and friends are getting a new show on Disney+. Duffy is extremely popular in the International Parks, and often isn’t seen in the US parks. That will change in the future. Disney is listening, and understands the US fans love Duffy and friends just as much.
- Hong Kong is getting a gorgeous new Walt and Mickey statue for the 100th inspired by the moment that Walt thought up Disneyland on that park bench watching his daughters.
- “World of Frozen” construction is well underway in Disneyland Paris, Tokyo DisneySea and HongKong Disneyland, with an opening date scheduled for sometime next year.
- Paris is getting a Tangled themed attraction.
It’s an exciting time for Disney and their fans. There is so much to look forward to leading into next year and beyond. Disney is truly thinking outside the box and brainstorming ideas for a boundless future!