Zootopia, Moana, Coco, Encanto, and Disney villains — oh my! Can you imagine any of these themes coming to the most magical place on earth? Well, they’re all a possibility.
While there weren’t that many big Walt Disney World announcements at this year’s D23 Expo “A Boundless Future — Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products” panel, there were quite a few teases of the potential that could come to both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.
To be clear, these are not confirmed projects. They are something Disney is currently discussing, aka “blue sky” ideas, so these could change.
But, the fact is that Disney is talking about the possibility of bringing some of the following to Disney World, which is exciting in itself.
Near the end of the panel, Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Jennifer Lee, Creative Chief Officer of Walt Disney Animation, and Chris Beatty, Creative Portfolio Executive of Walt Disney Imagineering, stood on stage together showcasing concept art and ideas of real conversations they are having about transforming select areas of Disney World.
This particular section of the panel was a bit confusing to some, so we’re here to try to explain it as best as we can.
Let’s take a look!
What does “blue sky” mean?
Blue sky is simply a form of creative thinking and discussions to help come up with ideas for the future.
Right now, Disney is in the process of looking to the future of what they may want to bring to the parks, specifically Disney World — or at least that’s what they’re sharing with the public.
They probably have other ideas in mind that they just aren’t ready to announce yet.
While D’Amaro, Lee, and Beatty, shared at D23 Expo 2022 details to audiences of what could come to both Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom, nothing is set in stone.
They are currently in the development stages of transforming different parts of Disney World.
And while some fans (including us) may be underwhelmed by this year’s Disney Parks panel at D23 Expo (and unsure about the following blue sky brainstorming session), it’s actually exciting.
There’s no denying that the pandemic impacted a lot of Disney’s plans and now they’re trying to move forward in a positive way by (hopefully) giving guests and avid park goers what they want — fresh additions.
Like Walt Disney once said himself about the West Coast park, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”
And that’s what Disney is doing — moving forward and thinking about the future. A lot could change (and probably will), so don’t get too wrapped up in the details.
Let’s allow Disney to flesh out their ideas and see where they eventually land. They could even confirm some or all of the following at the next D23 Expo!
This part of the panel was certainly a fun look behind the curtain. Who doesn’t want to be a fly on the wall of a meeting involving Disney creatives?
Disney’s blue sky ideas for Disney World (at least for right now)
Animal Kingdom’s DinoLand, U.S.A.
We can’t argue that DinoLand, U.S.A. needs some tender loving care.
It’s pretty much — sorry for the upcoming pun — extinct.
Yes, there are the cute Fossil Fun Games, TriceraTop Spin, Donald’s Dino-Bash!, several Quick Service locations, The Boneyard play area, and, of course, DINOSAUR, but, it’s lacking that Disney magic.
Most people don’t know the backstory to this land, making it feel less than magical to many. Not to mention, Primeval Whirl is no more.
As Disney teased, there is a chance DinoLand could be transformed to include Moana and/or Zootopia themes.
Again, neither of these are official, but they make sense for Animal Kingdom. It will definitely be interesting to see how (and if) Disney chooses to move forward with any of these concepts.
However they decide to shape DinoLand, this seems to be at the top of Disney’s list and we hope we can see a change sooner rather than later.
Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland
Have you ever wanted to go beyond Big Thunder Mountain Railroad? That’s a question D’Amaro, Lee, and Beatty proposed during the D23 Expo panel. They also answered it — well, kind of.
We never really thought about going past Big Thunder Mountain, but now we can’t help but think about it.
In some early concept art that was shared for this blue sky session dubbed “Beyond Big Thunder Mountain,” there’s a chance one day we could see Encanto and Coco living in harmony or individually past the wildest ride in the wilderness.
Or, better yet — a villains area? Possibly even a 5th gate all about villains?
D’Amaro, Lee, and Beatty chose their words carefully when discussing this particular idea, so we’re not exactly sure what they’re thinking.
But, what we do know is that for a very long times fans have hoped for villains to be integrated into the parks somehow.
Specifically, they’ve wanted a brand new theme park all about Disney Villains with Maleficent’s castle as the centerpiece.
It’s hard to say for certain if any of this will ever come true, but it’s exciting to think about seeing these ideas brought to life.
Other Disney World projects that never happened
Ever since it all started with a mouse, multiple projects have been scrapped left and right. Not every idea can move forward.
Let’s take a look at just a few of the projects that Disney ended up leaving on the cutting room floor.
Have you ever noticed dragons at Animal Kingdom? Yes, you read that correctly. Dragons!
Check out this welcome sign that you can see as you enter the theme park all about animals and conservation.
Do you see the dragon in the middle? Well, that’s leftover from the time when Disney planned to incorporate both dragons and unicorns into a section called “Beastly Kingdom” that would be located inside Animal Kingdom.
Beastly Kingdom was initially supposed to be in the former area of Camp Minnie-Mickey and the now current Pandora: The World of Avatar.
The land was going to include both good and evil creatures, like unicorns and dragons. There was also supposed to be a tribute to Fantasia and a Loch Ness-themed restaurant.
As we showcased above, there are still hints of Beastly Kingdom in the park. Plus, as you cross the bridge from Discovery Island into Pandora or if you’re dining at Nomad Lounge, look across the water and you can see remnants from the once planned land.
New Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom almost looked a little different thanks to what was supposed to be “Pixie Hollow”.
At the 2009 (and very first) D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, Disney announced the expansion to Fantasyland, which we now know as “New Fantasyland.”
Initially, Pixie Hollow was part of this transformation, which was set to replace Mickey’s Toontown Fair along with a new Dumbo attraction and area.
Pixie Hollow was going to embody all things pixies, including giving guests the chance to meet Disney Fairies.
However, Pixie Hollow was scrapped and Disney decided to focus just on Dumbo giving us Storybook Circus.
Pop Century’s Legendary Years
Disney’s Pop Century Resort is one of our favorite Value resorts on Walt Disney World property for a multitude of reasons.
The resort represents different eras of time, aka the “Classic Years,” like the ’50s, ’60s’, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.
But, the hotel almost expanded to include the “Legendary Years”. There was supposed to be a separate part of the resort featuring the ’00s to the ’40s just across the bridge that now connects to Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.
At one point, construction even began but quickly came to a halt after in 2001 and ended up being abandoned.
Eventually, the Legendary Years section was turned into Art of Animation.
World Showcase attractions
Can you imagine the Japan Pavilion having its own roller coaster? Well, that was an idea back in the day.
As you can see in concept art below and as detailed by HistoryAtDisney on Twitter, a Mt. Fuji roller coaster was once an idea.
“The coaster would have raced in and out of the mountain much like the Matterhorn in Disneyland,” according to the Twitter account. “This projector wasn’t approved due to Kodak [a Disney sponsor at the time] not wanting Fuji Film in the park.”
Also, if you walk back into the Germany Pavilion to order food from Sommerfest, you’ll see a beautiful mural.
This was originally supposed to be the entrance to a boat ride that was going to be built called the “Rhine River Cruise”.
The attraction was announced in 1976, but was permanently shelved by 1982.
Which blue sky idea intrigues you the most? What would you like to see happen “Beyond Big Thunder Mountain” or in DinoLand? Tell us in the comments!
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