Disney just announced major theme parks news on the first day of Destination D23, the fan club event held at Walt Disney World.
After Bob Iger patched in to give a quick video message to thank D23 members and acknowledge the historical celebration of the company’s 100th year, Josh D’Amaro then made several announcements about the company’s “boundless growth,” including:
Encanto and Indiana Jones at Animal Kingdom—maybe. In perhaps the biggest, yet still not confirmed news, Disney announced a South American-themed expansion to replace Dino-Land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Disney World. Encanto and Indiana Jones are being CONSIDERED to be featured at this land. As in, they may or may not be featured at the land that may or not come to fruition. Consider my excitement tempered, especially considering how this diverges from the (admittedly speculative) Encanto-at-Magic Kingdom announcement made at D23 EXPO 2022 last year.
“Beyond Big Thunder Mountain” expansion to the Magic Kingdom remains in the works, and is anticipated to be on the scale of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Pandora – The World of Avatar
A Pirates of the Caribbean-themed lounge is coming to Adventureland at Magic Kingdom Park. We don’t exactly know where or what it will consist of, and Disney said it would share more soon. Expect long lines for this one!
A new Zootopia-themed show is coming to the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Disney revealed that the show will take guests through the different biomes that comprise Zootopia. This is somewhat of a swerve from the previously speculated (and strongly hinted) Zootopia themed land at Animal Kingdom, but color me intrigued.
Test Track—of all rides—is being reimagined, drawling inspiration from World of Motion. Though unexpected, this ride is due for a re-up.
DCA Avengers Campus Attraction. We got a first look at the new ride vehicle for the brand new multi-verse themed attraction coming to Avengers Campus! The ride design “combines elements of Tony Stark’s time-suits with Xandarian jump points and Wakandan technology.”
A new Country Bear Musical Jamboree is coming to Disney World in 2024, featuring reimagining of favorite Disney songs n
New EPCOT Fireworks Show. We now know the new nighttime spectacular replacing Harmonious at EPCOT: “Luminous The Symphony of Us” will debut on Dec. 5, 2023! Because why be Harmonious when you can be Luminous? (I’ll stop.)
Quick Hits. Disney announced several, less consequential updates as follows:
Ashoka Tano will become part of Star Tours.
Asha, the main character from the upcoming film, Wish, will come to EPCOT, Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris.
Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana officially opens October 16 (though with all the media, cast member, and annual passholder previews, if feels like it’s been open for years).
Figment will start meeting guests at the Imagination Pavilion, starting tomorrow, September 10, 2023.
The World Celebration neighborhood in EPCOT opens this December.
The Hatbox Ghost is coming to the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom November 20. You will be able to see him when you pass the attraction’s Endless Hallway.
Disney Cruise Line
Fan of the sea? Disney Cruise Line’s new ship will be called the Disney Adventure.
Additionally, Disney’s new island destination will be called Disney Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point.
We also got sneak peaks at the World of Frozen (at night!), opening November 20, 2023, at Hong Kong Disneyland, a look at Zootopia coming to Shanghai Disneyland later this year, The Kingdom of Arendelle over at Disneyland Paris, and a look at the new Fantasy Springs opening at Tokyo DisneySea opening Spring 2024.
What We Didn’t Get
Absolution. Another year and another event primarily consisting of announcements of announcements. There are a couple of swerves from last year’s announcements, too; primarily the nixing of Zootopia land at Animal Kingdom, and the new Encanto and Indiana Jones areas being considered for a South American themed land at Animal Kingdom. Disney again hinted at major news for Magic Kingdom, but kept mum on any details. Lastly, no major announcements for Disneyland. I would’ve appreciated something about a potential Avatar-themed area heading West.
Of course, we are heading into a busy season for the international parks, as major Frozen lands, a Zootopia land, and Peter Pan and Tangled areas are set to premiere in the near future. Maybe Disney wants to spread the news cycle as wide as possible, I’m not sure. What I’m sure is that Disney World needs news to be confirmed before fans get excited.
There you have it—those are the major announcements coming to the Disney parks! What are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments!