Today’s Disney Parks presentation at the D23 Expo was hyped up to be a show-stopper and it can be safely said that Disney didn’t disappoint. Many of the recent rumors and theories about upcoming Disney World changes were confirmed along with a number of previously unreported surprises. Below is a complete rundown of what was announced today. There was a lot covered, so I tried to keep it organized by resort park.
Magic Kingdom Changes:
Tron Lightcycle: It had been rumored earlier this week that the Tomorrowland Speedway would close and make way for a Tron Lightcycle ride similar to the one in Shanghai Disneyland. Well, this has been partially confirmed. A Tron ride will be a great fit in Tomorrowland and really change that end of the park area pretty significantly. Interestingly, although no location for the Tron ride has been announced, it appears that the Speedway may be spared.
New Main Street USA Live Theater: Also announced was a new live entertainment theater that will be located off of Main Street USA. The theater will be based on Kansas City’s 1920’s-era Willis Wood Theater and will bring live entertainment to the Magic Kingdom. This theater will, presumably, be similar to the Hyperion Theater at Disney California Adventure. It should be noted that this was one of the better-kept secrets among today’s announcements. While many of what was discussed today were confirmations of industry rumors, this one flew a bit under the radar leading up to D23.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Changes:
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: Yes, in addition to having a very detailed model of the new Star Wars Land, we now know the 14 acre park area’s official name. Galaxy’s Edge will include two anchor rides- an immersive battle scene between the Resistance and the First Order and the Millennium Falcon, which you will have the chance to take the controls and “fly” the iconic ship. Current Hollywood Studios’ Star Was residents BB-8, Chewbacca and Kylo Ren will relocate from Launch Bay (which presumably will be moved) to Galaxy’s Edge and they will be joined by Rex, who will be the DJ at a new cantina in the land.
Here is a pretty awesome first-person video tour of the scale model of Galaxy’s Edge, which was also released today:
More information about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge can be found in my post from earlier this week including a video of the display model Disney has created and photos.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway: It was widely assumed that once AMC pulled their sponsorship, the Great Movie Ride was a goner. That was confirmed today when its Mickey-themed ride, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, was announced. This may come as a surprise, but this is actually the first-ever Mickey-themed ride-through attraction. The new ride will be based on the Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts that can be found on YouTube, on a dedicated channel in Disney resort hotels and occasionally on Disney’s various channels. Sadly, it was also announced that the Great Movie Ride will close on August 13th to make way for the new ride.
Toy Story Land: There wasn’t a huge amount of news about Toy Story Land at the session except for confirmation of the 2018 open target and reiterated the previously announced Slinky Dog Dash and Swirling Saucers rides.
Ratatouille: When Disney filed permits a week or so ago to develop backstage areas near the France pavilion, it was hypothesized that it was the first step in developing a new Ratatouille ride similar to the one in Disneyland Paris. Other rumors hinted the new ride would have a Beauty and the Beast overlay. Well, the rat won and a new Ratatouille ride is coming to Epcot. The new ride will likely be situated between the current France and Morocco pavilions.
Guardians of the Galaxy: There had been rumors in the past about a Guardians of the Galaxy ride coming to Disney World. This theory got kicked up a notch after the overwhelming success of Disneyland’s Mission Breakout ride earlier this year. Thankfully, the beloved Twilight Zone Tower of Terror appears to be safe on the east coast as the Guardians ride will be constructed in Epcot instead. Not a lot was announced about this one yet, except that it will be added to future world, and that it is related to the permits filed earlier this summer to expand the Universe of Energy pavilion. The existing Universe of Energy will close August 13th.
Mission: SPACE: It was announced today that Epcot’s Mission: SPACE attraction was going to get new content focusing on a new tour around the Earth and a mission to Mars. Also announced was a new space-themed Epcot restaurant that will be located adjacent to Mission: SPACE.
China Pavilion: It was announced that the China pavilion circle-vision movie will be updated.
Rumors not addressed at D23: It is worth noting that a couple of other big Epcot rumors did not come up today, namely a new Brazil pavilion and a new Coco overlay for the Grand Fiesta Tour in the Mexico pavilion.
Walt Disney World Resort Changes:
Star Wars Hotel: A new Star Wars-themed hotel will be constructed in Walt Disney World. Not a great deal was announced about it yet, but rumors about it were confirmed.
Disney Riviera Resort: The newest (15th) Disney Vacation Club resort was also announced. It will be located near Epcot and will have a rooftop restaurant that will give diners amazing views of the Epcot and Hollywood Studios nighttime fireworks displays. It is estimated that it will open in 2019 and include 300 unites of various types.
Minnie Van service: A new Minnie Van (get it?) service will be launching at Disney World it will be a point-to-point transportation service that will utilize vehicles decked out in Minnie Mouse wraps.
Disney Skyliner: The long-rumored Disney resort gondola system has been confirmed. The new high-in-the-sky transportation system will run between Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, Disney’s Riviera Resort, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
It is worth noting that there was nothing new announced for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Rumors have been swirling about a potential Zootopia World moving coming to the park, but for now that is still just a rumor. After a 2017 that saw the opening of Pandora and Rivers of Light, they’ve apparently decided to focus elsewhere for the time being.
Note: This post has been slightly edited. The original indicated that Tron would be replacing the Tomorrowland Speedway, which may not be the case after all.
So, what upcoming Disney World change are you most excited about? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!