Predicting the D23 Expo Announcements

This Friday through Sunday the D23 Expo takes place in the Anaheim Convention Center.  If you aren’t familiar with the D23 Expo, think of it as a festival for the mega-Disney fan.  At the Expo there will be presentations, announcements, panels, and models for fans to explore regarding everything from Disney films, television, theme parks, and more.  If you are in the Anaheim area and don’t have anything to do this weekend, I strongly recommend checking out at least a day of the expo.  If you aren’t able to make it, Lou Mongello of WDW Radio will be streaming most of it online and you can watch from home that way.

Since we are a Disney theme parks blog, the most exciting part of this event to me is the theme park announcements and updates.  In 2013 there wasn’t much in the way of announcements on what’s coming to the parks.  There were updates on lands and attractions that were already under construction but little else that appeased a very hungry Disney fan community.  As Melissa H. and I wrote last week, we’d be fairly disappointed if there weren’t at least a few announcements to come this year.  Why?  Mainly because the timing is just right for several big announcements.

Hogwarts Castle

The Disney Parks are at somewhat of a crossroads, with Universal pushing hard to take several days from guests vacations.  Disneyland isn’t in as much danger, as they are having one of the most successful times in park history, thanks in large part to the 60th anniversary offerings.  Still, there appear to be big changes on the horizon for the Anaheim Resort and making some announcements can tide over an antsy fan base.

While Disneyland may be able to hold off on announcing anything, Disney World can’t wait much longer.  Well, that’s not true.  They can wait as they long as they darn well please but Disney fans will not be so forgiving.  With the changing landscape of Hollywood Studios, Universal cranking out quality attractions nearly every year, and the Walt Disney World Resort being held as the crown jewel of theme park destination vacationing, it is time (maybe past time) for an announcement of what’s to come at the resort.  While Disney World is still successful from an attendance standpoint, loyal fans are growing impatient for enhancements.  As I’ve already alluded to, updates on Avatar and Disney Springs probably won’t satisfy fans hunger.

MK gold fw

With these thoughts in mind and inspired by (or just stealing) an old Disney Tourist Blog post, I thought I’d bust out the Predict-o-Machine (copyright pending) and let you know the chances of certain announcements being made.  I’m no insider and these are just my wild guesses of what announcements will be made and the likelihood, in percentage form, that they will be made.  I make most of these predictions based off of what I read (WDW Magic Forums and MiceChat are usually spot on) and trying to connect the dots (which is a dangerous game in my head).  The percentage I include is how sure I am that they will announce this at D23, not how sure I am that it will be built.  The percentage is very scientific, as I make it up off the top of my head.  Without further ado, here’s what could happen!

Star Wars Launch Bay in Innoventions (Disneyland) – 95% 

While I wish that Disneyland’s Innoventions would have gone with their original idea of using this space for a nostalgic Disneyland museum, this idea was nixed in favor of Star Wars coming to Anaheim before the movie comes out in December.  This project has been under construction for a few months already, with no official announcement from Disney on what’s inside.  In the MiceChat article I linked above, they said this was coming and mirroring what will take place in Shanghai Disneyland when it opens (although I would think this would be on a smaller scale).  For what it’s worth, they also said that something Marvel based will take place upstairs in this space.

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Pixar Place Expansion (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) – 80%

The rumor that Pixar Place will be expanded has been going around for over a year now.  While I don’t know exactly what would go inside of this or how big of a footprint they have to work with (it could be quite large), it makes a lot of sense to announce this happening and start work on it almost immediately.  This is an expansion that I think we could see open in phases, with phase 1 maybe opening in early 2017 and containing mainly B and C ticket attractions that are themed to Pixar films.  Toy Story Playland, which exist in Hong Kong and Paris, is an area with basic carnival rides themed to Toy Story.  While that’s not the highest quality, it would give Hollywood Studios some much-needed attractions.  I don’t think we’ll see a carbon copy of Toy Story Playland but something similar.  I am very confident that Disney would announce this phase 1 at the expo.  Something bigger will also come to that land but I’m less confident that they will announce that.  As for what that might be?  Maybe a mini-version of Cars Land (Jim Hill has said this would happen), A Monsters Inc. coaster (less likely), or something completely out of the blue.  Either way, I think they’ll announce something on this land and they will begin working on it, if they haven’t already, almost immediately.

Star Wars Lands (Disneyland & DHS) – 50%

A few weeks ago this percentage would have been a big higher but I’m not sure that they have enough plans finalized to actually announce something.  I do think there will be one other big announcement aside from the two that top my list but I’m not sure what they will be.  Star Wars Land still seems the most likely out of the other options.  This is another area that I believe will open in phases (more so at Hollywood Studios than Disneyland), and we could see them announce phase 1 at the expo with a promise of more to come.  What would phase 1 include?  Maybe a spinner ride and the cantina?  We shall see (hopefully).  To refer back to that MiceChat article again, the E-ticket they believe is coming to Disneyland sounds extremely promising.

DHS

Disney’s Hollywood Studios New Name (DHS) – 35%

If Star Wars and Pixar are announced for the Studios then they might as well just go the whole way and announce the rebranding of the park.  This could be the start of the buildup to a grand new park when everything opens in the next 5 years.  Why is the percentage fairly low?  Because I’m not sure how much they will tell us about Pixar or Star Wars coming and they might not want to announce an entire rebranding all in one place.  Disney enjoys keeping their name in the news and making announcements at different times is an easy way to do that.

Marvel Land (DCA) – 30%

While I do believe that a Marvel Land is coming to California Adventure, I think they may wait on announcing this one.  MiceChat reports that this land will go behind the Tower of Terror but I think that the resort will first work on their parking structure and maybe start in on Star Wars Land around that time.  If they also start on Marvel at the same time then they are spending a ton of money all at once.  What I think is more likely is that they will do them in tiers – working on parking, starting Star Wars around six months later and Marvel another six months or a year after that.  While I think Disney executives are very eager to get Marvel into the Parks, I think the parking and Star Wars are more urgent.

ToT Disneyland

New nighttime entertainment (DHS and/or Epcot) – 25%

Melissa and I wrote about a possible Illuminations replacement at Epcot last week.  I’m pretty against that as Illuminations is my favorite show at Walt Disney World.  That might be the reason this percentage is so low.  I wouldn’t be surprised if something was announced to coincide with the opening of whatever is happening in Norway in Epcot.  I just hope it’s enhancements to Illuminations and not a brand new show.  As for Hollywood Studios, if they decide to announce a total rebranding of the park I would hazard a guess that a nightly fireworks show would be included in that.  Hollywood Studios is a sneaky good place for fireworks and having a nightly show there would be phenomenal.  I just don’t think they’ll announce everything that is coming to Hollywood Studios.

Anything else at Epcot – 22%

I don’t know about you, but I was feeling 22.  Why 22%?  The same reason as above, there’s a decent chance that they might want to announce something that will coincide with the Frozen take over of World Showcase.  There’s always the chance that they announce the re-imagination of the Imagination Pavilion or they finally add another country to World Showcase (a country not named Arendelle).  But, the rumors are lacking here so the percentage ends up being a little low.  Epcot does need some attention and I get the feeling that we’ll be surprised when they address it.

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Frontierland Expansion (Magic Kingdom) – 15%

This is a rumor that is floating around the WDW Magic forums.  While I don’t doubt its validity, I don’t think it’s far enough along to announce it.  It makes sense that this expansion would open shortly before Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021.  Because of that, they may wait to announce this.

Overhauling Tomorrowland (Magic Kingdom and Disneyland) – 5%

Most people who go to the parks will tell you that Tomorrowland desperately needs refurbished and another quality attraction or two.  Tomorrowland may get some attention in the future but there doesn’t seem to be any plans for it in the present.  Maybe at the next expo!

Outside look of Tomorrowland - DW

Anything with the Muppets – 1%

Just imagine, the Muppets get up for their panel at D23 discussing their new show.  To end the panel they show a brand new preview of the show (watch the real thing on September 22nd!) and then Kermit says “and we’ve got a brand new attraction coming to all Disney Parks across the globe! Aaahhhhhh (shakes body wildly)!!!!” Yeah, that’s the way it happens in my dreams.  Alas, that’s where it will stay.

Muppet Vision

Those are the predictions I have.  I’m hoping we get at least 3 of them and if there’s 4 or more, then I would be extremely excited.  I do think there will be plenty of updates shown, as well.  That includes Avatar, Disney Springs, Frozen in Epcot, Shanghai Disney and Rivers of Light in Animal Kingdom.

Was there anything I missed?  Please let me know in the comments!  We’ll be recapping any announcements that were made next week on the blog.  Thank you for reading!

– Andrew

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