Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is pushing the all systems go button on new experiences and developments at Disney parks around the world. At last month’s D23 Expo 2017 in Celebration, Florida, Chairman Bob Chapek unveiled an impressive line-up of new Disney moments, starting from before guests even arrive for a Disney vacation to the memories they take with them when it’s over.
Chapek offered a sneak peek at more than a dozen new experiences and projects in development, with a phalanx of imagineers in tow to provide details of the creativity, imagination and innovation behind these endeavors.
“On the heels of the many new and incredibly popular experiences that just debuted this year, the best is yet to come. We have ambitious plans for our parks and resorts around the world,” Chapek said. “We’re investing in the guest experience like never before, and we’re doing it all in way that is only possible at Disney!”
The line-up includes:
Immersive Theme Park Experiences and Attractions
A First Look at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Star Wars stories will come to life in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the newly announced name for the Star Wars-themed lands. There will be two anchor attractions, including one that puts guests right in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance where guests will feel like they are inside a hangar bay on a Star Destroyer. Guests will also have the chance to fly the Millennium Falcon, where each guest is critical to the mission’s success. Then there are the many characters that guests will meet, including BB-8, Chewbacca, Rex and Kylo Ren. Representing the largest single-themed land expansion at 14 acres each, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open in 2019, with the first land debuting at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, then at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando.
Timeless Transformation of Epcot Revealed
Looking ahead to the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World, there are grand plans to complete the transformation that started with the debut of New Fantasyland in 2014. Chapek announced plans across Epcot to realize the original vision of the park while making it more timeless and relevant to today’s times.
Patterned after the number one family attraction at Disneyland Paris, Ratatouille will be added in an all-new space in the France pavilion at World Showcase. Epcot will also see the addition of a brand new E-ticket attraction based on the rockin’ and action-packed world of Guardians of the Galaxy, the next step in how guests can encounter these characters at Walt Disney World Resort.
In Future World, a new Green Mission at Mission: SPACE will take guests on a stunning tour around the Earth, and an updated Orange Mission will make the trip to Mars even more spectacular. Adjacent to Mission: Space will be a new restaurant that will invite guests to travel high above the earth for an unforgettable dining experience.
Thrills Planned for Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom
Disney remains at the cutting edge of deeply immersive, creative storytelling that draws guests into new worlds, and it is a legacy that lives on in every new Disney Parks experience. The first-ever Mickey-themed ride-through attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, will come to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. With a new original story and lovable attraction theme song, this state-of-the-art ride-through attraction will take guests on a journey inside the wacky and unpredictable world of Disney Channel’s “Mickey Mouse” cartoon shorts using new technologies that transform the flat cartoon world into an incredible dimensional experience.
Chapek also announced that the most popular attraction at Shanghai Disneyland is coming to Walt Disney World Resort. A Tron-themed attraction will be added in a new area near Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom. Additionally, a new live entertainment theater coming to Main Street, U.S.A., based on the iconic Willis Theater in 1920s Kansas City.
Pixar Fun and More Happiness
In addition to announcing the summer 2018 opening of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, John Lasseter, unveiled plans for Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure. The pier will take on a totally new look as more favorite Pixar characters and stories come to life, from The Incredibles, to Inside Out to even more Toy Story. Plans for a Pixar Fest at Disneyland Resort in 2018, a limited-time event, will include a new fireworks spectacular as well as special characters and entertainment moments. The Pixar Play Parade will return to Disneyland Resort — this time at Disneyland Park — and the Paint the Night Parade will move to Disney California Adventure as one of Disney’s longest parade routes.
Disney Cruise Line to Double the Size of its Fleet by 2023
In another interesting turn, the company announced that Disney Cruise Line will add one more ship in its expansion to take family cruise vacations to the next level. Joining the other two new ships that were announced just last year, all three ships will be powered by one of the cleanest-burning fuels available, liquefied natural gas. When all three ships are completed by 2023, Disney Cruise Line will have nearly doubled the size of the fleet.
Immersive Hotel Concepts
Also announced were projects that infuse even more exciting experiences for resort hotel guests in ways that are only possible at Disney. Ambitious plans are underway to create the most experiential concept ever, housed in an immersive Star Wars-themed hotel at Walt Disney World Resort. Dedicated entirely to the galaxy of Star Wars, it will be a one-of-a-kind experience where a luxury resort meets a multi-day adventure in a galaxy far, far away.
Adding to the immersive resort hotel slate, Disney’s Hotel New York — The Art of Marvel at Disneyland Paris will transport guests to the action-packed world of Super Heroes, including Iron Man, The Avengers, Spider-Man and more. Guests will be able to explore the Marvel Universe through its comic art, films, Super Hero costumes and more, displayed in the style of a contemporary art gallery.
Seamless Transportation Options
Completing the immersion loop for a Disney vacation is an all-new Minnie Van service that will provide a point-to-point transportation service, Disney style. Additionally, a new transportation system called Disney Skyliner will give guests a birds-eye view of Walt Disney World Resort. This system will connect Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach resorts, as well as the proposed new (vacation club:) Disney Riviera Resort, with Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot.
Counting the Ways at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts started some 60 years ago as a new kind of entertainment families could experience together, immersed in detailed and vibrant storytelling. Walt Disney’s vision now includes a collection of six of the world’s leading family vacation destinations — Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, Calif.; Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.; Tokyo Disney Resort, Urayasu, Chiba, Japan; Disneyland Paris, Marne-la-Vallee, France; Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, located on Lantau Island; and Shanghai Disney Resort, Pudong New District, Shanghai, China. In addition, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts includes the Disney Cruise Line; Disney Vacation Club; Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa; Adventures by Disney, a guided group vacation experience to popular destinations; and Walt Disney Imagineering, which creates and designs all Disney parks, resorts and attractions.