We’ve finally made it to D23 Expo week! After some delays due to the pandemic, the fan event will take place at the Anaheim Convention Center Friday, September 9th through Sunday, September 11th. The final day (the 11th) will be more Disney Parks focused and when we expect the majority of the announcements about future projects. We’ll be there to cover all of the happenings so stay tuned! In this post, we’ll give a few predictions on what we think will likely be announced as well as a few wish list items!
After the tumultuous last few years, the D23 Expo should have a party like atmosphere. Like the rest of the world, most of the Disney Park projects have been in a holding pattern. That hasn’t held true for everything, as some attractions have opened like Cosmic Rewind in Epcot and other projects will open soon like Tron Lightcycle in Magic Kingdom and Toontown in Disneyland. The parks aren’t void of projects but they have less going on than nearly any other point in the last decade.
Does that mean we’re in for a slew of exciting new projects being announced this weekend? Honestly, I doubt it. There will certainly be a few but I expect the large showcase on the 11th to have more of a ‘look how far we’ve come!’ vibe. Disney Parks are nearly back to normal after 2020, with countless things having returned since the closure. Tugging at the heartstrings with videos based on those emotions is an easy PR move.
I don’t think a return date for the Disney Dining Plan or Hollywood Studios’ Fantasmic are worthy of a standing ovation but I do think it’s more likely we’ll hear about some of those things than a bunch of big projects.
That’s not to say the D23 Expo will be without huge news. Universal keeps making waves with the upcoming park in Orlando and Super Nintendo World in Hollywood. Disney isn’t blind to that and would like to steal some of that momentum back from Universal. The theme park wars are real! Disney balancing their current projects along with what they announce will be interesting to see. This is a post for another day, but the company is in a strange spot right now when it comes to the parks. I expect more announcements in a few years but they could surprise with a few out of nowhere!
Alright, let’s get to the predictions. I’ll bold the prediction and then give some commentary on what it is and how likely I think it will be to happen down below!
Opening and Return Dates Galore!
D23 always includes updates on existing projects and there are a number of them that are nearing completion. That means we’ll hear opening dates (or return dates) for many of those projects. I expect dates to be announced for the following:
- Fantasmic (DHS)
- Tron Lightcycle (MK)
- Mickey’s Toontown (DL)
- Disney Dining Plan (WDW)
- Moana’s Journey of Water (Epcot)
Along with those projects coming down the pike, I expect updates on Disneyland’s Downtown Disney, Paradise Pier Hotel and the DVC wing at the Disneyland Hotel. Elsewhere, I think we’ll hear updates on Epcot’s overhaul, Hong Kong Disneyland’s expansions and Tokyo DisneySea’s Fantasy Springs Expansion.
Disney Membership with Park Discounts and Inclusions
This is already sort of announced and I think we’ll hear more details on it at D23 but maybe it will be in the next few years. Disney has been exploring a membership service similar to Amazon Prime. No, you’re not crazy for thinking “Amazon sells things that are delivered to your home, Disney is an entertainment company” but here we are!
CEO Bob Chapek really seems to love corporate synergy and this is a way to further that by cross-selling. I’m somewhat skeptical of the plan but there’s reason for optimism as Amazon Prime is a service I enjoy and credit card rewards are a big reason why I travel as much as I do. I think a Disney Membership program would be somewhere between those two services.
Disneyland’s Tomorrowland Transformation
Rumors have been flying about Disneyland’s Tomorrowland getting a facelift. This actually started at the last D23 Expo when Disney announced a new Tomorrowland entrance would be coming. That hasn’t really happened yet and the rumors have grown to the whole land at this point. That includes adding in the Carousel of Progress and the PeopleMover and remodeling Space Mountain.
I’m not sure if any of those actually make sense, as I think we’re most likely to just see an aesthetic change in Tomorrowland. That alone would help the park quite a bit! A new Disney Vacation Club lounge is coming to the upstairs portion of Launch Bay, so I think some changes will be made to the downstairs as well. There are plenty of interesting options that could be announced here and I’m eager to see what’s coming!
Animal Kingdom Expansion and Dino-Rama Replacement
We’re getting into items that seem far less likely now. I’m hopeful on this one though as Dino-Rama sits in disrepair and, well, it wasn’t great to begin with. There’s plenty of rumors abound as both an Indiana Jones and Zootopia expansion have been talked about for what feels like years. I’m far more interested in an Indiana Jones expansion, as I think that fits into the the park’s thesis more than what we see from Zootopia. Although, animated animals dressed in full clothes does have a direct line to my funny bone.
While an expansion announcement makes sense, it’s also not talked about often. Animal Kingdom has received quite a few updates in the last decade so maybe there’s a feeling that it is someone else’s turn. That does seem a little bit silly, as Epcot and Hollywood Studios have so many ongoing projects that I’ve lost track of them all. Hopefully Walt Disney World gets some love and there’s something new announced here.
Disneyland Fantasyland Expansion
This one can also be filed under the ‘Been Rumored for Years’ folder. With Toontown being remodeled, Disneyland could turn its attention to Fantasyland next. There was an oft-rumored Frozen project that would take the place of the Fantasyland Theater but that may be a little less in the public consciousness now. Instead, could Disney clone one of the attractions that is being worked on at DisneySea or have a version of the new Beauty and the Beast attraction at Tokyo Disneyland? All of those would be boons for the park.
The issue here is the lack of space. Yes, they could remove the theater and gain some ground but you need more than that for a large attraction. There’s very little backstage area to roam around for Cast Members already, this would cut down on that even more! I think this is an obvious future expansion for Disneyland, as there’s not much room elsewhere, but it may not be as extravagant as people expect.
Epcot Pavilion Announcement
I’m leaving this open ended because there’s so many places Imagineers could go in Epcot. My personal preference would be a revitalized Imagination Pavilion, restoring the old Figment attraction while adding something inventive to the theater next door. That would add some good will to a project that has been debated to death.
Another option that’s kicked around often is adding a new World Showcase Pavilion. Brazil makes the most sense. Australia would be a fantastic addition. Switzerland could bring the Matterhorn? Something new here isn’t necessarily needed but would add some excitement to the ongoing Epcot transformation.
Avengers Campus E-Ticket
Avengers Campus opened last year in California Adventure with some fanfare, as WEB Slingers was added to the existing Mission: BREAKOUT! I’m hopeful that the previously announced but then delayed E-ticket will be re-announced at the Expo. The land could really use an exceptional ride and the synergy is there. If this is announced then here’s to hoping they do something fairly normal with the punctuation in the title. There’s only so much room for all caps words.
Smaller Things and a Complete Surprise
Everything I’ve mentioned thus far has been rumored somewhere on the internet. I do think there could be a big expansion that’s sneaking past all of us and is ready to be announced. I’m not going to call my shot, this is just the first time in years (not counting the pandemic years) that Disney doesn’t have a brand new land in the works at a stateside park. Do I think that will be announced? No, but I wouldn’t be absolutely shocked if it was.
Much more likely is a few smaller things that will be announced. Fireworks shows at both DL and WDW will likely be announced, I expect Happily Ever After will come back to Magic Kingdom and Disneyland will have a new show for the company’s 100th anniversary. Maybe Magic Happens (Disneyland parade) will finally have a return date. A Grand Floridian update is definitely in the works. There are a number of smaller items that should be announced and some of those, if history repeats, will be hallmarks of the parks for years to come.
What are you hoping to hear from the D23 Expo? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below! Let us know in the comments! Planning a Disney trip? Check out our Travel Guides to help you along the way! Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney. Please subscribe to the blog and like our social media pages, all of which you can do on the right side of the page. Have a wonderful day!
Categories: Rumors and Commentary