During D23 Expo 2019, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Bob Chapek unveiled details on how Disney is bringing the next generation of immersive storytelling to life.
Chapek welcomed thousands of fans as he shared more about the ambitious plans in store for one of the most extraordinary periods of expansion in Disney history. From Star Wars: Galactic Star cruiser and the timeless transformation of Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort, to the Avengers Campus coming to both Disneyland Resort and Disneyland Paris, to the Disney Wish arriving on the high seas in January 2022, there are more ways than ever for guests to be front and center in their favorite stories.
“It was Walt’s vision for our theme parks to be places where Disney stories come to life in amazing ways, and with the world’s most creative and talented team of artists and dreamers, there’s no shortage of inspiration,” Chapek said.
The audience was amazed as Disney Legend Dick Van Dyke joined Chapek onstage for a sweeping performance of “Step in Time” to announce the first Mary Poppins attraction at a Disney park, coming to Epcot. Live music continued to swell in the auditorium as award-winning composer Pinar Toprak performed her new anthem for Epcot on piano. Noted singer Jordan Fisher also surprised guests with a sneak peek of the musical score for Disneyland’s new parade.
The morning was full of exciting announcements on plans for Disney parks, resorts, cruise ships and beyond:
Super Heroes Assembling Around the World
Avengers Campus Coming to California and Paris
Guests can suit up alongside their favorite Super Heroes at the Avengers Campus, beginning in 2020 at Disney California Adventure park and later at Disneyland Paris. Both campuses will feature the first Disney ride-through attraction to feature Spider-Man. The attraction will give guests a taste of what it’s like to have actual super powers as they sling webs to help Spider-Man collect Spider-Bots that have run amok.
As Super Heroes continue to assemble at both campuses, one of the iconic buildings in California will be the Avengers Headquarters. The building will become the future entrance to a brand-new E-Ticket attraction where guests will fly alongside the Avengers in an epic adventure to Wakanda and beyond when it opens in the next phase of development.
Avengers Campus will feature Pym Test Kitchen where Pym Technologies is using the latest innovations to grow and shrink food.
Guests will also find heroic encounters throughout the campus, including Ant-Man and The Wasp, Doctor Strange, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Super Heroes from Wakanda and Asgard, and Iron Man. Guests may even catch a glimpse of the Avengers along the rooftops of the Avengers Headquarters.
At Disneyland Paris, guests can extend their adventures at Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel, opening next summer. The hotel will celebrate 80 years of Marvel art and artists, with more than 300 stunning pieces on display. Rooms will include one-of-a-kind themed suites featuring favorite Super Heroes like Spider-Man, and guests can even meet these legends in a dedicated space.
A Star Wars Voyage Unlike Any Other
Guests are eagerly awaiting the immersive Star Wars vacation experience coming to Walt Disney World Resort. Star Wars: Galactic Star cruiser will be a glamorous ship – the Halcyon – where every window features stellar views into space. Guests will embark together on a two-night adventure that includes special activities, incredible dining, and a “spaceport” day on Batuu at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, inviting guests even deeper into their own Star Wars stories.
Disney Cruise Line Magic On and Off the Ships
With three new ships coming to the Disney Cruise Line fleet, there’s so much to look forward to on the high seas. Today, Chapek announced the first of the three ships – the Disney Wish – will be delivered in late 2021 and will set sail in January 2022. Reflecting the theme of the vessel, Rapunzel will grace the stern, representing her character’s wish to see the world. D23 Expo attendees also got a first look at the ship’s three-story atrium, inspired by the beauty of an enchanted fairytale.
Guests can also look forward to a signature island experience that celebrates nature and the spirit and culture of The Bahamas at a new Disney port of call located on the breathtaking island of Eleuthera at a place called Lighthouse Point.
Timeless Transformation of Epcot
Chapek shared more of the ways Epcot will stay true to its original vision while bringing timeless Disney storytelling to life with the magic of possibility. The park will be unified with four neighborhoods that each celebrate a unique aspect of what makes Epcot so special:
World Showcase will welcome the first attraction inspired by Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane, which will join the United Kingdom pavilion as an entirely new neighborhood.
Following the limited-time run of Epcot Forever, the new nighttime spectacular HarmonioUS will be the largest ever created for a Disney park, celebrating how the music of Disney inspires people the world over.
In summer 2020, the France pavilion will offer even more for guests to discover, including the much-anticipated attraction Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, as well as a delicious new restaurant called La Crêperie de Paris.
Also in the France pavilion, the classic Impressions de France film will be joined by an all-new “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along” in January 2020.
“Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360” will debut in January 2020in the Canada pavilion with new scenes and a new story.
In the China pavilion, “Wondrous China” will take guests on a spectacular journey across China, filmed and presented in a completely seamless 360-degree digital format.
The iconic Spaceship Earth will remain a voyage through time as the journey transforms with new scenes reflecting the universal nature of the human experience. A new guide and all-new narration will focus on the storytelling that brings people together.
A new pavilion will be the home base for Epcot’s signature festivals. It will provide a stunning view of World Showcase and an ideal spot to witness the park’s nighttime spectacular. This beautiful, three-level structure will have one of the most remarkable designs at any Disney park and will fast become a new icon for Epcot.
World Celebration will also feature breathtaking views at Dreamers Point, lush gardens, a wishing tree, an interactive new fountain and a statue celebrating the legacy of the original dreamer, Walt Disney.
Journey of Water, Inspired by “Moana” will be a lush exploration trail where guests can meet and play with magical, living water.
The Land pavilion’s new film “Awesome Planet,” which showcases the spectacular beauty, diversity, and dynamic story of the planet, will begin welcoming guests in January 2020.
Guests will ride on a daring adventure featuring the first reverse launch into space on Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. This thrilling, family-friendly attraction will feature a never-before-seen storytelling coaster that rotates to focus on the action, wherever it may be.
An expansion of the Mission: SPACE pavilion, the new restaurant Space 220 will open this winter as an out-of-this-world culinary experience with the celestial panorama of a space station, including daytime and nighttime views of Earth from 220 miles up.
PLAY! pavilion will open in time for the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World. In this interactive metropolis, guests will discover a city bursting with games, activities, and experiences that connect them with friends, family, and beloved Disney characters like never before.
50 Years of Walt Disney World Resort
Anniversaries are serious fun at Disney parks – and the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort will be one of the biggest ever. For the first time, the celebration will extend beyond Magic Kingdom to each of the resort’s four theme parks with highly anticipated attraction openings and new entertainment, food and beverage, merchandise, and more.
Planned to debut in late 2020, Disney Genie is a revolutionary new digital offering that will enhance the way guests plan for and experience a trip to Walt Disney World Resort. Disney Genie will make planning easier and more fun by providing guests customized itineraries geared to princesses, thrill seekers, foodies, families and more. Guests will even be able to tell Disney Genie what they want to experience, and it will quickly evaluate millions of options to present them with an optimal day.
Next Generation of Animated Stories at Disney Parks
New Magic Happens Parade at Disneyland Park
Set to debut in spring 2020, the new Magic Happens parade will come to life with an energetic musical score and a new song produced in partnership with singer-songwriter Todrick Hall. Celebrating awe-inspiring moments of magic that are at the heart of so many Disney stories, the parade will feature stunning floats, beautiful costumes, and beloved Disney characters from “Moana,” “Coco,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and more – all led by Mickey Mouse and his pals.
First Ride-through Attraction Featuring Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse
Attendees got a first look inside Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in 2020 and Disneyland in 2022. Chapek also revealed a first look at the new area of Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland that will be home to this exciting attraction, which will take guests on a journey inside the wacky and unpredictable world of Disney Channel’s Emmy® Award-winning “Mickey Mouse” cartoon shorts.
“Zootopia” at Shanghai Disney Resort
D23 Expo fans heard more details about the “Zootopia”-themed land coming to Shanghai Disney Resort. In addition to a major new attraction that blends storytelling and state-of-the-art technology to bring this favorite film to life, guests can expect immersive entertainment, merchandise, and dining options that can only be found in this mammalian metropolis.
Celebrating Animated Stories at Hong Kong Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland will celebrate some of the greatest animated stories of all time when the park’s castle transforms into the Castle of Magical Dreams.Drawing inspiration from 13 beloved Disney stories featuring princesses and heroines, the castle will feature adornments like Snow White’s apple, Cinderella’s coach, and Belle’s rose. The castle will be a canvas for new entertainment, including a daytime show and nighttime spectacular, and will be home to a new Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique where children can receive royal transformations.
As part of the multi-year transformation of the park, guests will be able to visit the world of Frozen, complete with all its sights, sounds, cuisine, and traditions. The area will feature two incredible attractions – a new coaster called Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs that takes guests on a winding journey through the kingdom, and Frozen Ever After, inspired by the incredibly popular family attraction in Epcot’s Norway pavilion at Walt Disney World Resort. Also, for the first time (in forever), guests will experience the full force of Elsa’s powers as she creates a beautiful “winter-in-summer” day.
First Cirque du Soleil Show Celebrating Walt Disney Animation Studios
A first-of-its-kind show will celebrate the magic of Walt Disney Animation Studios in a touching story brought to life by Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Imagineering, and legendary Disney animators. It will combine Disney storytelling and heart with Cirque du Soleil’s signature artistry. Previews will begin March 20, 2020, leading up to the world premiere on April 17.
Uniquely Disney Lodging
Chapek also shared more details about the previously announced Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge, a unique hotel and proposed Disney Vacation Club resort drawing inspiration from the wonders of nature and artistry of Walt Disney.
Bringing Magic into the Daily Lives of Families and Fans
The audience was the first to hear how Target and Disney will come together with a creative retail collaboration that encompasses experiential retail and merchandising – including the launch of 25 Disney stores within select Target stores nationwide on Oct. 4, with 40 additional locations opening by October 2020. The “shop-in-shop” will feature an enhanced Disney assortment of more than 450 items, including more than 100 products that were previously only available at Disney retail locations.
With so many exceptional experiences set for Disney, the best is yet to come.
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