2022 D23 Expo Parks Panel Final Thoughts

We’ve had a D23 Expo filled week here at Wandering in Disney, covering all of the theme park announcements and adding commentary to each post. Before we move on to a new week and add thoughts about the Expo in general, as well as several other posts, it seemed like adding one more look back may be in order. We’ve added our assessment about each announcement individually but what about the Parks announcements as a whole? In this post, we’ll take a look at what the projects announced mean to the Disney Parks going forward.

As a first time D23 Expo attendee, it’s hard not to get swept up in the pomp and ceremony of these events. Even with practice digging through the fluff of Disney Parks Blog posts to find actual information, gathering with 7,000 Disney fans makes for excitement. Add in the live (and quite good) musical performances, the ‘free’ giveaways and celebrity sightings and it’s hard to stay rationale about what’s going on.

HEA MK blue and gold

That’s what Disney had going for it, as well as a recent history of some elaborate announcements at the Parks Panel at D23 Expo. On the other hand, this is a strange moment for the company. Two days before the Parks presentation, CEO Bob Chapek was booed on stage due to many fans being frustrated with Disney’s decisions, among other reasons. Many of those decisions have come in the park. There was a nervous energy when Josh D’Amaro came on stage and, frankly, that didn’t subside for the hour and a half.

The whole presentation struck an odd tone and I didn’t feel all that differently then than I do now, a week later. In general, Disney offered quite a few updates, announced some smaller additions while making vague mention of big plans down the road. This event didn’t change the current trajectory of the Disney Parks at least not yet. Let’s dig into those three different categories.

SSE from fountain night Epcot

We’ll start with the updates, even if there isn’t much to comment on. There were opening seasons in 2023 given for Tron and Runaway Railway, the former has been under construction for the latter half of my 20’s and I’m no longer in my 20’s. There’s certainly some frustration with that and with the general idea of Disney selling these things as new projects when they’ve been working on them for 5+ years. Admittedly, I might not be in the prime demographic for that. I’m probably more unfavorable 😉

Perhaps because much of the news fell under the update category is why there was seemingly a blue sky meeting in the middle of the presentation. I’m of two minds on the DinoLand and Magic Kingdom potential expansion news. During the presentation I was left wondering why they were doing this? Why speculate about what you might do instead of just announcing? They’ve canceled so many D23 Expo announcements in the past, why not take the risk now? Maybe the potential of this news is just too big to make an official announcement and then cancel it.

I don’t know why they felt the need to mention those potential projects. I’m pretty confident in saying that there are other projects that they didn’t announce on the docket that are more sure things. But a lack of other big expansions at WDW, pressure from Universal and keeping fans at bay all come up as possible reasons.

Dino AK Dinoland

On the other hand, it’s very exciting to know what could be coming next. Without rehashing the merits of Zootopia in Animal Kingdom or the lack of non-IP storytelling, Disney knowing that they need to keep pushing the envelope with expansion is what all fans want to hear. We might not agree on what the expansion should be but the simple possibility is exciting. Setting all cynicism aside, maybe that’s what D’Amaro and company were shooting for with that aspect of the presentation – possibility!

While the possibilities of the future are enticing, what was actually announced was less than expected. I’ll it get out of the way that I love nighttime spectaculars and I’m excited that Disneyland Resort is getting a new slew of them, as well as a returning parade. That’s fantastic news! In that same vein, I’m happy that they’re making a quick change from the lackluster 50th anniversary entertainment with a new Epcot show and the return of Happily Ever After. That’s great!

I’m not diminishing those additions, they’ll be boons for the parks, but where are the rides? By my count, there wasn’t a single new ride announced since the Avengers Campus third attraction was announced at the previous Expo then delayed and then announced again. Some of the meet & greets are intriguing but those aren’t full blown attractions.

Looking forward, 2023 looks like an exciting year for the Disney Parks domestically and internationally. There are even a few projects that stretch into 2024, notably the Splash Mountain retheme to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. But Disneyland Resort and WDW don’t have many plans beyond those. I was expecting more in that regard.

Maybe that will be the way forward for the Disney company. They may wait to announce things until construction is visible. I doubt it but that’s one explanation for the domestic clean slate of 2025 and beyond.

Between the lack of announced projects and not having a single non-IP theme park project in the works, I came away underwhelmed by the Parks Panel. I’m very surprised that there was no mention of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland or further expansions in Epcot. I’m excited for the nighttime show additions and intrigued by possibilities but ended up leaving the panel with more questions than answers.

What did you think of all of the D23 Expo announcements? 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!

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