‘Oh, I’ve been to Walt Disney World, I don’t need to go again’, said no-one ever. One of the things I love most about the happiest place on earth is that it’s ever-evolving. One of the best places to hear all the news and future plans for the Disney Parks and Resorts is D23 Expo, Disney’s official fan club’s brilliant biannual gathering, billed as the ultimate Disney fan event, which took place in Anaheim over the weekend. There have been some pretty jaw-dropping announcements, so if you’re a Disney fan, grab a cuppa, and I’ll take you through what’s coming up at Walt Disney World, Florida (and a few bits from the other parks too). Excuse all the artist’s impressions but obviously that’s all there is at the moment, apart from the pic I took of the hoarding hiding the new Toy Story Land!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios are getting the lion’s share of all the good stuff, it seems, with the new, 14 acre Star Wars-themed land Star Wars – Galaxy’s Edge, opening there in 2019 (and also in Disneyland Park, Anaheim, apparently just slightly earlier).
Another one for Disney’s Hollywood Studios: work is well underway on Toy Story Land, which will shrink guests to the size of a toy – it’s due to open in 2018, and will feature a family coaster attraction called Slinky Dog Dash, plus Alien Swirling Saucers, with the cute little aliens from Toy Story flying around and trying to capture guests in their toy rockets with ‘The Claw’.
New attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is due to replace The Great Movie Ride (which I actually kind of loved and will close on 13th August), this new ride, located inside the Chinese Theatre, will take guests through the movie screen, directly into a Mickey Mouse cartoon. Clever new technology means that it’s ‘dimensional’ rather than 3D, so guests won’t need to wear glasses.
Epcot’s not missing out either, with the announcement that the brilliant Ratatouille will be coming to the France pavilion (if you love the Disneyland Paris version, you’ll understand how fantastic this news is) by 2021.
Also due to arrive by 2021 is a brand new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction within Future World, replacing Ellen’s Energy Adventure inside Universe of Energy (no, me neither) which is closing in August.
Another really exciting announcement is the new aerial transportation system, Disney Skyliner, which will connect Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to four resorts. The cable car-like ‘skyway’ featuring individual gondolas will connect Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, as well as a planned new Disney Vacation Club property, Disney Riviera Resort. There’s no opening date for this yet.
A few updates were announced to existing attractions, including a new film for the China pavilion, an updated orange mission for Mission: SPACE, due to reopen in August (sorry, but barf – I just can’t do it), as well as a brand new (gentler?) green mission, which will take guests on a tour around the Earth. Also, right next to Mission: SPACE there’s going to be a brand new table service restaurant where ‘guests can travel high above the earth’ – there’s no opening date for this one so far.
The biggest news for Magic Kingdom Park is the exciting announcement that Shanghai Disney’s popular Tron attraction will be coming to Tomorrowland in a new area near Space Mountain.
Also coming up at Walt Disney World, Florida, there are plans for a new live entertainment theatre located off Main Street, USA which will serve as a new venue for live shows and events.
Walt Disney World Resorts
You know I’m a huge fan of the perks guests receive when staying in a resort hotel, and the biggest announcement was the astonishing news that a brand new, Star Wars-themed hotel will transport guests to a galaxy far, far away, with some fantastic-sounding immersive experiences in store (please let there be dressing up) – no clues as to where this will be located as yet.
Also announced was the aforementioned, and spectacular-looking Disney Riviera Resort, the 15th Disney Vacation Club property is due to be located near Epcot and will include a rooftop restaurant with spectacular views of the nighttime shows at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Opening date TBC.
The cutest news by far is that of the new Minnie Van service – starting very soon, this lovely new transportation service will allow guests to arrange their own private Disney vehicle directly from their phone, complete with a cast member who will then drive them anywhere they want to go on property. I WANT A MINNIE VAN!!
Ooh also, not Florida, I know, but Hotel New York at Disneyland Paris is due to be re-imagined and become Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel. The hotel will be receiving a full ‘Marvel makeover’, immersing (there’s that word again) guests in the action-packed world of Marvel, featuring Iron Man, The Avengers, Spider-Man and more. Guests will be able to explore the Marvel Universe through its comic art, films, and superhero costumes, displayed in the style of a contemporary art gallery – it sounds amazing.
Disney Cruise Line
The exciting news is that yet another new DCL cruise ship is in the plans, bringing the new ship count to three. As well as the two new ships already announced, with planned completion dates of 2021 and 2023, the third ship is scheduled to be completed in 2022. There are no design plans or names yet, but all three ships will be the same size and have about 1,250 guest staterooms – just slightly larger than the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy.
The live action remakes are coming thick and fast, with Emily Blunt starring in Mary Poppins Returns (with a rumoured appearance of Dick Van Dyke), along with Hamilton’s Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, composer and lyricist (and writer of my favourite song in Moana) Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack (who’s kind of Bert). We have to wait until Christmas 2018 for this one, but I bet it’ll be worth it.
Guy Ritchie’s new Aladdin film also got a mention, with the news that Will Smith will play the genie and Egyptian-Canadian actor Mena Massoud will play the title role. Pink Power Ranger Naomi Scott will also star as Princess Jasmine, but there’s no release date so far.
Phew, I think that’s most of it. It’s all SO EXCITING! Highlights for me are obviously the new Disney Cruise Line ships, the fabulous sounding new Star Wars – Galaxy’s Edge, and OMG those Minnie Vans! Thanks to Disney Parks for all the pics/artists impressions.