D23 Expo 2017: A First Look At What’s On The Horizon At Walt Disney World

What an incredible weekend filled with exciting announcements out of the D23 Expo 2017! If you’ve been following along with Zeek, Rachel, and I on Behind The Magic Podcast, you know we’ve been speculating for months about what we would hear at the convention this time around. We talked at length about several of the rumors including a Mickey Mouse attraction coming to Hollywood Studios, Guardians of the Galaxy and Ratatouille coming to Epcot, Tron at Magic Kingdom, a new Star Wars Themed Resort, and even the new Disney Skyliner. Zeek and Rachel were lucky enough to be at D23 this weekend to get all of the latest information live! Here’s everything that is confirmed so far courtesy of Disney


WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT OVERALL:

Several projects and updates were announced for Walt Disney World Resort including a new line-up of attractions at Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, new resort hotel experiences and concepts, and two new transportation options.

DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS:

  • Star Wars-themed land update – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the name of the new Star Wars-themed land opening in 2019 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, after the opening of the land at Disneyland Resort. Guests will encounter several characters, including:
    • BB-8
    • Chewbacca
    • Rex
    • Kylo Ren
  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway –  In this game-changing attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will feature an original story that will take guests on a journey inside the world of Disney Channel’s Emmy Award-winning “Mickey Mouse” cartoon shorts using new technologies that turn the flat cartoon world into an incredible dimensional display. Located inside the Chinese Theatre, this new attraction will replace The Great Movie Ride, which will close Aug. 13, 2017. Opening for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be announced at a later date.
  • Toy Story Land – Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is scheduled to open summer 2018.

EPCOT:

In preparation for the park’s 35th anniversary, Epcot will continue to evolve to make it more timeless, more relevant, more family and more Disney, while staying true to its original vision beginning with several newly revealed offerings.

  • “Guardians of the Galaxy” – Epcot will have a brand new E-ticket attraction within Future World based on the rockin’ and action-packed world of Guardians of the Galaxy. This is the next step in how guests can encounter these characters at Walt Disney World Resort. To make way for this new adventure, Ellen’s Energy Adventure inside Universe of Energy will close Aug. 13, 2017. The new attraction will open by the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort in 2021.
  • “Ratatouille” – Within World Showcase, in an all-new space in the France pavilion, a new “Ratatouille”-inspired attraction will take guests on a dazzling chase across a kitchen with the sights, sounds and smells of Gusteau’s Parisian restaurant. Patterned after the number one family attraction at Disneyland Paris, the new attraction will open by the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort in 2021.
  • China pavilion – To showcase the splendor and majesty of China, an updated film will be added using a next-generation digital camera system to film a brand new, seamless Circle-Vision show for the
    China pavilion.
  • Mission: SPACE – In addition to an updated Orange Mission, a brand new Green Mission will take guests on a stunning tour around the Earth, with younger cadets joining the adventure for the very first time. Mission: SPACE will reopen this August.
  • New restaurant – Adjacent to Mission: SPACE, a new table-service restaurant will invite guests to travel high above the Earth for an unforgettable dining experience. The new restaurant will be managed by Patina Restaurant Group and an opening will be announced at a later date.

MAGIC KINGDOM PARK:

  • “Tron”-themed attraction – The highest rated attraction at Shanghai Disneyland is coming to Tomorrowland in a new area near Space Mountain. Opening will be announced at a later date.
  • Live entertainment theater – Based on the iconic Willis Theater in the 1920s Kansas City where Walt lived after he left Marceline, this new addition to Magic Kingdom Park will be located off of Main Street U.S.A. and will be an entirely new venue for world class entertainment. Opening will be announced at a later date.

RESORTS:

  • Disney Riviera Resort – The proposed 15th Disney Vacation Club property will be located near Epcot with a rooftop restaurant that has unbelievable views of nighttime spectaculars at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Opening will be announced at a later date.
  • Immersive Star Wars-themed hotel – An immersive Star Wars-themed hotel will be the most experiential concept ever. Dedicated entirely to the galaxy of Star Wars, guests will have a one-of-a-kind experience where a luxury resort meets a multi-day adventure in a galaxy far, far away. Opening will be announced at a later date.

TRANSPORTATION:

  • Disney Skyliner – This new transportation system will give guests a bird’s-eye view of Walt Disney World Resort. Disney Skyliner will connect Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to four resorts – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, as well as the proposed 15th Disney Vacation Club property, Disney Riviera Resort. Opening date for Disney Skyliner will be announced at a later time.
  • Minnie Van service – Starting later this month, the Minnie Van service is a whimsical, point-to-point transportation service that will help guests get around Walt Disney World Resort in a jiffy. Guests can arrange their own private Disney vehicle right from their smartphone, and a Disney Cast Member will drive them wherever they want to go around Walt Disney World.

501 WaysHeading to Disney World soon?

If you are planning a vacation to Disney World, be sure to check out these valuable resources to help you save time and money:

Which announcement are you most excited about?
Please leave a comment; I would love to hear from you!

D23 Expo 2017: A First Look At Star Wars Land

We’re already getting our initial bit of news out of the D23 Expo 2017…a first look at Star Wars Land! Check out what we know so far and these incredible sneak peek pics courtesy of Disney


During a special preview of D23 Expo 2017, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek unveiled a first look at the epic, richly detailed model of the Star Wars-themed lands under development at Disneyland park in Anaheim, California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida. This stunning exhibition, on display in Walt Disney Parks and Resorts’ “A Galaxy of Stories” pavilion at D23 Expo, is yet another example of the breathtaking new worlds, immersive storytelling and transformational guest experiences that set Disney apart.

“To say we are excited for the Star Wars-themed lands to open in 2019 is an understatement,” Chapek said. “All along, we have said this will be game-changing, and through the model we can begin to see how truly epic these immersive new worlds will be.”

Chapek plans to share exciting new details about the project during the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Hall D23 Presentation on Saturday. The model will remain on display at the pavilion throughout the weekend to give visitors an up-close look at what’s to come on this never-before seen planet. In addition, the pavilion will display models, artwork and media that provide a first-ever look at some of the locations, starships, creatures, and droids that guests will encounter when they visit this new planet.

At D23 Expo 2015, The Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced the Star Wars project to the delight of thousands of fans in attendance. The jaw-dropping new lands will open with two anchor attractions – one that gives guests the chance to pilot the Millennium Falcon on a customized secret mission, and one that puts guests right in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance. Representing the largest single-themed land expansion at 14 acres each, the Star Wars-themed lands will open in 2019.

However, guests don’t need to wait until 2019 to be immersed in the Star Wars galaxy. From special character encounters to fan-favorite attractions like Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, and interactive entertainment like Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, guests of all ages can experience Star Wars stories at Disney parks and resorts around the world. Click here to learn more about the Star Wars experiences currently being offered in Walt Disney World!


501 WaysHeading to Disney World soon?

If you are planning a vacation to Disney World, be sure to check out these valuable resources to help you save time and money:

Which new Star Wars Land attraction are you most excited about?
Please leave a comment; I would love to hear from you!

The Latest On Pandora – The World Of AVATAR


More news out of D23 Expo for fans of AVATAR! Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek gave lucky fans a behind-the-scenes look at what’s to come at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. He was joined by Imagineers as well as legendary filmmakers James Cameron and Jon Landau who shared new details about the expansion including information about the new E-ticket attraction.

Avatar 1During the session, Imagineer Joe Rohde said one of the things that has made work on this project so special has been the collaboration with the Oscar-winning team behind the film – James Cameron, Jon Landau and the rest of the Lightstorm team.

“We’ve been working side-by-side with Jim and Jon to make sure that what we do is true to the story, characters and vision for the beautiful, mythical, epic land of Pandora,” Joe said. “We’re creating a transformational experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.”

Avatar 4As part of the largest expansion in the park’s history, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will immerse guests into the mystical world of Pandora, and the entire park will transform after dark, offering guests longer days than ever before to experience this one-of-a-kind theme park.

The new themed-land, Pandora – The World of AVATAR, will give guests the opportunity to journey into the magnificent world of Pandora – a world that includes floating mountains, a bioluminescent forest and the winged creatures known as Banshees, giving guests a transformational experience they will never forget.

Flight of PassageThe new E-ticket attraction centerpiece of Pandora, AVATAR Flight of Passage, will allow guests to soar on a Banshee over a vast alien world. The spectacular flying experience will give guests a birds-eye view of the beauty and grandeur of the world of Pandora on an aerial rite of passage.

Check out this video to get a sneak peek of what’s headed our way at Animal Kingdom!

When will we get to experience all of these incredible new additions to Animal Kingdom, you ask? Well, Disney has not released an official opening date yet. Rumors are that Disney has hit several delays with this project and we could be looking at a late 2017 or early 2018 opening. This could work nicely with the currently scheduled release of the film AVATAR 2 on December 25, 2017. Stay tuned, and I’ll keep you posted with updates as more information is released!

501 WaysHeading to Disney World soon?

If you are planning a vacation to Disney World, be sure to check out these valuable resources to help you save time and money:

Do you love AVATAR? Which part of the land are you most excited about?
Please leave a comment!

Details About Disney’s Animal Kingdom After Dark

DAK at Night 2

More exciting news out of D23 Expo! Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek announced the plans Disney has to transform Disney’s Animal Kingdom after dark with new nighttime entertainment and experiences offering guests longer days than ever before at this one-of-a-kind theme park.

Rivers of LightNew details were just unveiled, telling guests more about the show that will take place on Discovery River at the park, between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest. Expected to open next spring, “Rivers of Light” will be an innovative experience unlike anything ever seen in a Disney park, combining live performers, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery. “Rivers of Light” will magically come to life on the natural stage of Discovery River, delighting guests and truly capping off a full day of adventures at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

“This is going to be a ceremonial event that will happen on our lake,” said Imagineer Joe Rohde. “It takes the idea of the special nature of the animals that are in this park and turns it into a celebration of the beauty of these animals. It starts simply and humbly, continues to unfold and grow as bigger and more elaborate lanterns appear, and then huge curtains of water and light emerge from the water with animals within them. And ultimately it takes off into the sky.”

Safari at NightNew details were also shared on a new nighttime adventure: Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris. This popular attraction will be extended into the evenings next spring for an experience where guests will travel through the African savanna amid the magical orange glow of the setting sun and discover two species new to the attraction: African wild dogs and hyenas.

I am thrilled to see Animal Kingdom getting extended hours and evening entertainment. I love this park and I’m looking forward to being able to enjoy it at night!

501 WaysHeading to Disney World soon?

If you are planning a vacation to Disney World, be sure to check out these valuable resources to help you save time and money:

Are you looking forward to visiting Animal Kingdom at night?
Please leave a comment!

Toy Story Land Coming To Hollywood Studios

Toy Story Land

Toy Story fans received exciting news this weekend during the D23 Expo when Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek announced the plans Disney has to expand the Toy Story franchise presence in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Here’s the scoop on what we have learned so far courtesy of Disney:


Toy Story Land 2The reimagining of Disney’s Hollywood Studios will take guests to infinity and beyond, allowing them to step into the worlds of their favorite films, starting with Toy Story Land.  This new 11-acre land will transport guests into the adventurous outdoors of Andy’s backyard.  Guests will think they’ve been shrunk to the size of Woody and Buzz as they are surrounded by oversized toys that Andy has assembled using his vivid imagination. Using toys like building blocks, plastic buckets and shovels, and game board pieces, Andy has designed the perfect setting for this land, which will include two new attractions for any Disney park and one expanded favorite.

  • Family-friendly roller coaster – All on the back of Slinky Dog, this coaster will zip and zoom, plunge and coast as it takes guests on a fun, toy-filled adventure throughout the new land.
  • Alien saucers attraction – The famous little green aliens from the movie will take guests around for a spin in their very own flying saucers.  The music, lighting and sound effects add to the flurry of action, while “The Claw” looms over.
  • Toy Story Mania! – Guests glide into the Toy Story Midway Games Play Set and take aim at 3D objects in a variety of fast-paced games, with an expansion that adds a third track to this popular attraction.

No timeline has been released yet for the new Toy Story Land, but it is safe to expect at least 3 to 5 years of construction before it is complete. In the meantime, it looks like Disney will be giving us a few things along the way to keep the excitement growing!

501 WaysHeading to Disney World soon?

If you are planning a vacation to Disney World, be sure to check out these valuable resources to help you save time and money:

Do you love Toy Story? What new addition are you most excited about?
Please leave a comment!