Big news for Animal Kingdom, plus some long anticipated dates were announced at this year’s Destination D23 event in Walt Disney World.
During “A Celebration of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” hosted today, September 9, by Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro, we were given a look into the future of Disney parks.
Let’s take a closer look at all the announcements!
Walt Disney World
Most of the announcements today were centered around Walt Disney World, which is great news for WDW fans, since we really didn’t get too many details on anything at the big D23 Expo last year.
And, although we didn’t get all the info we were hoping for (still no word yet on what exactly is coming “beyond Big Thunder Mountain”), we did get a few surprises and some dates for openings.
Here’s what we learned:
Probably the biggest news of the day comes from what we heard about the plans for Animal Kingdom.
Zootopia show (replaces current It’s Tough to be a Bug)
While we don’t have a date, a brand-new show centered on the animated hit Zootopia is in the works for the iconic Tree of Life.
In this upcoming experience, you’ll get to explore the various biomes briefly seen in the movie. What’s more, you’ll be journeying alongside familiar faces like Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde.
Yes, it is always tough to see an original attraction leave a park, BUT if you’ve ever seen “It’s Tough to be a Bug” you’ll know that this show – while very on-theme for Animal Kingdom – has a tendency to terrorize both children and adults. For goodness’s sake, giant SPIDERS descend from the ceiling while bugs “crawl” across your backside.
It will be fun to see a show in that incredible theater without having to hear children cry out of fear.
“Tropical Americas” (Re-Theming DinoLand U.S.A.)
Last year Disney began the discussion on the re-theming of Dinoland U.S.A. One of the ideas that was tossed around was to bring some of the Zootopia elements that we’ve seen Disney install at Shanghi Disney. But, it looks like they’ve moved away from that idea (although they are bringing a Zootopia show to the Tree of Life theater) and instead are heading towards something a bit more….tropical.
Described as a “Tropical Americas” land, new experiences inspired by the Academy Award-winning film “Encanto” and the always thrilling Indiana Jones are on the drawing board for a reimagined land within the park.
For those who may not know, Disneyland Park has an Indiana Jones themed attraction that utilizes the same ride vehicles and track as Animal Kingdom’s DINOSAUR attraction, which could make a reimagination of that attraction less expensive.
Final plans are still not complete, so it could still be awhile before we see any in-park movement on any of this reimagining.
In EPCOT, we will see several large projects finally wrap up, a new nighttime spectacular revealed, and a classic attraction reimagined.
Figment Meet and Greet (opening September 10)
The space over in the Imagination Pavilion is complete and Figment will begin greeting guests beginning on September 10.
Test Track (reimagining)
No word on when it will happen, but look for Test Track to once again be reimagined with help from Chevrolet.
This will be just one of many evolutions for this attraction that started with the original World of Motion.
Luminous The Symphony of Us (new nighttime spectacular)
We have a date for the new nighttime spectacular at EPCOT: December 5, 2023.
We didn’t get too many details (yet), but we do know that this new show will include fireworks, fountains, lasers, lighting effects, and, of course, lots of music.
Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana (opening details revealed)
Mark your calendars for October 16, 2023, because that’s when Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana, will officially make its splash in EPCOT.
Located in World Nature, Journey of Water promises to be an immersive, walk-through experience like no other.
And that’s not all!
Also debuting on October 16 is Moana herself, gracing World Nature with her presence. You’ll find her in her very own special area, conveniently situated near Journey of Water.
As you may remember, Moana recently began greeting adventurers over in Animal Kingdom, too.
World Celebration (Opening December 2023)
It is almost time for the walls to (finally) come down. That’s because World Celebration is scheduled to open THIS December!
As you may know, World Celebration will be the glue that ties together the two other fresh faces in EPCOT—World Discovery and World Nature. This completes the trifecta of newly imagined neighborhoods at the park.
Asha (from the upcoming Disney film Wish) will be coming to EPCOT, Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris where she will greet guests.
There was so much talk after D23 last year about the blue sky discussion that was held on stage where the Imagineers talked through a future expansion to the park in what they dubbed “Beyond Big Thunder Mountain”.
If you look at an aerial image of that area, you’ll see that there is a ton of space available for a new land. And, while no further details were revealed, the discussion on what is being planned continued with the promise that the final plans will be “bigger than New Fantasyland” and on par with the immersion of lands like Pandora and Galaxy’s Edge.
Here’s what else we learned about Magic Kingdom:
Tavern near Pirates of the Caribbean (new restaurant or bar)
We don’t have a lot of details (yet) but a new Tavern will be coming to Adventureland.
Located near Pirates of the Caribbean, it will “extend the story of Pirates of the Caribbean”.
Although they didn’t say, to us the artwork kind of gives off Oga’s Cantina vibes in that it looks like it might be on the smaller side but heavily themed. We will just have to wait and see what the final plans reveal.
Country Bear Jamboree (Magic Kingdom)
Exciting news, y’all! The Country Bear Jamboree at Walt Disney World is getting a tune-up, and come 2024, our furry friends will be back with a brand-new act.
Are we sad to see those classic songs like “My Woman Ain’t Pretty (But She Don’t Swear None)” and “All the Guys that Turn Me On Turn Me Down” retired? Eh. Not so much.
It is time to give their set list a little refresh. For those unaware, there are several pieces that use outdated and inappropriate references. And while this is definitely a classic attraction, some new music seems like a good start to making it a new classic for guests in 2024 and beyond.
Here’s what we know so far about what to expect:
When the curtain rises on the revamped show, expect the bears to put their own country twang on some of your favorite Disney tunes. And get this—the Imagineers are teaming up with musicians straight out of Nashville to make sure the new act is as authentic as is possible with singing bears.
Don’t worry, the show will keep its fun and light-hearted spirit, and all your beloved characters like Trixie and Big Al will be back to steal the spotlight. We’ll be excited to see what they come up with.
Haunted Mansion Hatbox Ghost (Magic Kingdom)
Just in: Get ready for some spooky news! The legendary Hatbox Ghost is set to haunt the Haunted Mansion attraction at Walt Disney World in Florida, starting this November!
Joining Josh on stage for this thrilling reveal was none other than Disney Imagineer Daniel Joseph.
It was also revealed that the Hatbox Ghost will be materializing as you venture through the Haunted Mansion’s eerie Endless Hallway.
Not much news for Hollywood Studios, but we did hear a bit about some new adventures coming to Star Tours.
Star Tours – (New Adventures coming in 2024)
Starting next spring, you’ll find Ahsoka joining the lineup on the much-loved Star Tours ride at not just Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida but also Disneyland Park in California and Disneyland Paris. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen new adventures added to this attraction.
(For those who’ve already binged the exclusive Disney+ series, Star Wars: Ahsoka, you’ll be thrilled to know she’s also recently made her debut in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland.)
News on Disneyland was pretty sparse, but we did hear more about the new attraction coming to Avengers Campus – primarily about the ride vehicle.
Brent Strong, the executive creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering, gave us a sneak peek at this cutting-edge ride vehicle. And let me tell you, it’s a mash-up of some of the coolest tech in the Marvel Universe. Think Tony Stark’s time-suits, Xandarian jump points, and Wakandan wizardry all rolled into one!
While not an official Destination D23 announcement, we thought it was important to include Disney Cruise Line’s unveiling of the Disney Treasure, which occurred on Tuesday, September 5.
The Disney Treasure officially set sails on December 21, 2024, with 7-night voyages from Port Canaveral.
Disney Cruise Line Castaway Club Members can book the Disney Treasure as early as September 12, 2023. Bookings will open to all guests on September 20, 2023.
Read all about the Disney Treasure, including its Jungle Cruise-themed lounge, the very fancy Epcot-inspired Tomorrow Tower Suite, the Coco dining experience, and so much more!
Disney Cruise Line updates
Thomas Mazloum, president of Disney Signature Experiences, joined Josh on stage to discuss significant updates regarding Disney Cruise Line’s future. The cruise line is preparing for an unprecedented period of growth, with three new ships currently in development.
Disney Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point is also in the works as a sparkling new island destination.
And talk about authentic! Disney teams are working hand-in-hand with gifted artists and cultural advisors in the Bahamas. Together, they’re crafting an experience that will highlight the island nation’s natural splendors, rich traditions, and artistic flair.
Disney Adventure (new ship)
Say hello to Disney Adventure, the latest addition to the Disney Cruise Line fleet!
Currently under construction in Germany, this ship is making waves for being the first Disney vessel to chart a course from Singapore through Southeast Asia.
Rest assured, the new ship will offer the familiar Disney service, storytelling, and entertainment that fans across the globe have come to love and expect. Stay tuned for more details as they unfold!
We got just a tiny update on what is happening over at Disneyland Paris, including a glimpse at where the dreamy new Frozen-themed land is coming to life.
Shanghai Disney Resort
Prior to the Disney Parks announcements at Destination D23, on Tuesday, September 5, Disney Parks Blog shared more details about the new Zootopia-themed land coming to Shanghai Disney Resort later this year.
Zootopia: Hot Pursuit
This brand-new attraction gives guests the chance to become a rookie police officer at the Zootopia Police Department (ZPD).
The ride is set after the film timeline, where residents of Zootopia are gearing up for a big concert celebrating Zootopia Day featuring Gazelle.
Per Disney, “When you walk into the ZPD for orientation, you’ll be greeted by Officer Clawhauser. Suddenly, an alarm sounds and you’ll be whisked away to an emergency briefing delivered by Chief Bogo where you’ll learn that Gazelle has been kidnapped — on the day of the anticipated concert!”
Guests then are assigned to back up Officer Judy Hopps and her partner, Nick Wilde, who is now officially a police officer.
As you set off on an action-filled police chase, you’ll “traverse across Zootopia’s iconic terrains, sliding across the ice of Tundra Town, prowling for fugitives through the streets of Sahara Square, sharing a too-close-for-comfort encounter at Mystic Springs Oasis, and plummeting from the canopies of the Rainforest District all in pursuit of Bellwether and her gang to track down Gazelle.”
You’ll be able to catch a glimpse of a range of Zootopia characters, like Fru Fru and her father Mr. Big, Koslov the polar bear, Flash the sloth, Yax the yak, Duke Weaselton the weasel, and the Hopps family!
These characters will not only interact with each other, but also with guests from the windows of Zootopia’s buildings.
A selfie with Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde at the Zootopia Recruitment Station will also be available.
Treats and merchandise
Of course, there will be special Zootopia-inspired treats and merchandise.
Visitors will be able to purchase a paw-shaped popsicle, a Chocolate Marshmallow, or Officer Clawhauser’s favorite donuts from Jumbeaux’s Cafe (showcased in the movie).
As for shopping, Fashions by Fru Fru, owned by resident fashionista, Fru Fru, will be by the entrance of Mane Street. There will be “hundreds of different themed products including the Zootopia Cute collection as well as fun new headwear, apparel, accessories and more.”
The store will also feature two special areas themed after Yax and Duke Weaselton.
Hong Kong Disneyland
In some very exciting news, Disney confirmed on Friday, September 8, that the highly-anticipated “World of Frozen” opens November 20, 2023 at Hong Kong Disneyland.
The land embodies all things Frozen and gives guests the chance to feel as if they have walked into the town of Arendelle.
You can expect:
Frozen Ever After (as seen at Epcot)
This ride takes you on a journey to the North Mountain where Elsa’s Ice Palace awaits as part of the Summer Snow Day celebration.
You’ll meet Olaf and Sven, and, of course, complete your adventure with Anna, Elsa, and Olaf waiting to welcome you back.
Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs
This is the first Frozen-themed coaster anywhere in the world. You’ll even spot Olaf and Sven, who are helping “to power the attraction as they work together to pull the sleds to the top of the lift hill.”
Before hopping on the ride, you will even spot Oaken in his Sauna and walk by a column he’s working on that is carved with Trolls.
Golden Crocus Inn
Named after the national symbol of Arendelle, this is a new dining location offering “delicious and diverse cuisine.”
Tick Tock Toys & Collectibles
As the name says, this is a toy shop filled with toys, collectibles, and keepsakes. It is operated by a wood carver and his wife.
You can find a selection of candy and frozen treats at this sweets shop that’s named after the Northern Lights.
Playhouse in the Woods
Located in the forest, this is Anna and Elsa’s childhood Playhouse that has been opened to celebrate Summer Snow Day! You’ll be able to enjoy a unique interactive play experience within the playhouse
Tokyo Disney Resort
Here’s a fresh peek at what’s on the horizon for Fantasy Springs at Tokyo Disney Resort. Get ready, because this eighth themed port at Tokyo DisneySea is pulling out all the stops!
On deck for the new area are Rapunzel’s Forest, Peter Pan’s Never Land, and Frozen Kingdom. Each of these lands is drawing inspiration from your favorite Walt Disney Animation Studios films.
Mark those calendars—the grand unveiling of Fantasy Springs is set for 2024.