My apologies for this being a few weeks late, but I thought it was still relevant. Here are our Top 5 Announcements from the D23 Expo:
Top 5 Announcements
1. Tron Coaster at the Magic Kingdom
The Tron Coaster coming to the Magic Kingdom ranks number one on our list because it brings another E-Ticket attraction to the park without taking away anything of significance. The Coaster, initially built for Shanghai Disneyland, is not a perfect roller coaster in that it’s ride time is pretty short. Hopefully, the Imagineers can make this attraction a little longer than its Shanghai counterpart. This attraction will go a long way in revitalizing Tomorrowland. It will also alleviate the long wait times for the Magic Kingdom’s most popular ride, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
2. Star Wars Resort
There are not too many details known about the future Star Wars Resort. However, this makes number two on our list because of the immense potential this idea holds. A stay at this resort will not be like a stay at a typical hotel. It will be a completely immersive experience where guests will live out their own Star Wars story. This revolutionary resort concept will let guests dress up as if they were from the Star Wars universe, and go on a Star Wars adventure coming into contact with Star Wars characters along the way. Additionally, all of the windows will look into space to create the feel of staying aboard a spaceship. In all likelihood, if executed correctly, this new resort will be immensely popular with guests lining up to hand over whatever Disney is asking guests to pay.
3. Epcot Future World Refresh
Bob Chapek unveiled artwork depicting a completely remodeled Future World. I’m not talking about Guardians of the Galaxy, I’ll get to that in the Bottom 3. Epcot’s Future World is in desperate need of a refresh. The ugly and dated Innoventions and “Pin Shop Plaza” area will finally be refreshed when this project comes to fruition. However, we’ll have to see how much of the above artwork comes to a realization and how much is just Blue Sky. There’s a lot of demolition and infrastructure work required to create that much open space. We’ll see how much of an investment Disney is going to make into this. In the end, it will give Epcot a fresh new fee. While we’ll be losing the Innoventions buildings, they’re not being used for much anyway.
4. Disney Skyliner Gondola System
The Disney Skyliner coming to Walt Disney World could be the Monorail for a whole new generation. When I was growing up, the Monorail was always the first “attraction” we rode on our way to the Magic Kingdom. Now the gondolas will be the same thing to those staying at the Epcot Resort Area, Pop Century, Art of Animation, and Caribbean Beach Resort that are traveling to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
The benefit of this new transportation is twofold. First, it makes it much easier for guests staying at these Resorts to get to these two parks (thus also increasing the value of staying at these Resorts). Second, it will also make these Resorts much more accessible to those already visiting Epcot or Hollywood Studios. I could see myself taking an afternoon break from the parks to get lunch a Caribbean Beach Resort, something I’ve never done before. Disney has already started making some improvements to the facilities at these Resorts to accommodate the higher demand. Therefore, I’d expect to see the rates for these Resorts to increase too.
5. Ratatouille Ride
The Ratatouille attraction from Disneyland Paris will find a home in France at Epcot. It is a trackless ride through the world of Remy from his point of view. I put this at number five because I’m excited for a new attraction to come to Epcot. However, I would have loved to see a new country added to Epcot instead of adding more characters for World Showcase.
I’m not in favor of characters in World Showcase. I’d prefer attractions that feature the actual countries, but I’m happy that they at least have a cohesive concept for World Showcase now. World Showcase will soon be a place to see countries and the characters and films they have inspired. Get ready for more character-based attractions coming to World Showcase. The positives of this (besides getting a great new attraction) are that Frozen won’t seem so out of place now, and as far as we currently know, Impression de France will remain.
Bonus: Mission Space Update and Restaurant
Here’s a little bonus for our list. We included the update to Mission: Space and new space-themed restaurant that will be adjacent to the pavilion. Bob Chapek stated he wants attractions for Epcot that are “More Family Friendly, More Relevant, and More Disney,” and that’s just what this attraction will be. This update will bring a new adventure to the Green Side of Mission: Space. The green side is the gentler of the two versions. It will now have its own identity and will bring a much more family-friendly feel to an attraction that previously has not had that reputation. I’m excited about the Space-themed restaurant. It seems to have a great theme, and hopefully, the food will be great too. Theme-wise, I see this as the Space counterpart to The Coral Reef, which has always had a strong theme and sense of placemaking.
Bottom 3 Announcements
1. Guardians of the Galaxy in Epcot
Guardian of the Galaxy looks like it will be a great attraction (especially given the Imagineers’ recent track record). Future World needs new attractions, and the Universe of Energy needs a replacement. However, Guardians of the Galaxy is not the attraction to put in Future World. It just doesn’t belong here. I’m sure the Imagineers if given the freedom, could come up with a crowd-pleasing attraction.
Guardians of the Galaxy belongs in Hollywood Studios (a park that needs more attractions). This also starts a frightening trend of placing the current hot property anywhere that has space for an attraction. What’s next? A Rogue One attraction in Animal Kingdom because they have room where Rafiki’s Planet Watch currently sits. This is frightening because 10 or 20 years from now the parks will lack any sense of theme or placemaking. If they continue to haphazardly just drop IP based attractions where there’s a need for a new attraction, the result will be four theme parks in Orlando that are all relatively similar and lack their own identities. Finally, the reason they gave for this attraction going into Epcot (because Peter Quill visited as a child) is an insult to theme, story, and, most of all, the fans at the D23 Expo that had to listen to their “reasons” for shoehorning Guardians into Epcot.
2. Mickey Ride replacing the Great Movie Ride
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be a new attraction coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It seems like it will be a great attraction using modern technology. Kevin Rafferty described it as 2.5D, an attraction that would have a 3D feel without the glasses. Rafferty’s excitement for this attraction made me feel like this could be something special. It’s also great that Mickey will finally be getting his own ride.
Now for the downside, which wasn’t announced at the Expo, but later on the Disney Parks Blog. The Great Movie Ride closes on August 13 to make way for this new attraction. It’s such a shame that we’re losing a classic, MGM Studios opening day attraction. It is one of the few animatronic heavy attractions left at Walt Disney World. It’s especially frustrating when Hollywood Studios is so short on attractions. However, they are replacing The Great Movie Ride instead of just adding Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway else ware. It could have easily gone where the Star Wars Launch Bay sits since that won’t be needed after Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opens. Besides losing one of my favorite attractions, I’m fearful that after Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opens, there will still only be less than ten rides at Hollywood Studios. This situation will create very long lines given the demand and increased attendance that is expected when Star Wars opens.
3. WDW’s Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge will open after Disneyland’s
This is sort of a stretch because I was having trouble coming up with a Bottom 3. It was announced that WDW’s Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge would open after Disneyland’s. From the perspective of a Walt Disney World guest, this is a little disappointing and will make the opening a little anticlimactic compared to Disneyland’s.
Overall, the Parks and Resorts presentation was packed with tons of announcements, an unprecedented amount. We have a lot to look forward to over the next five years at Walt Disney World.