First, I am confessing that I did not attend the D23 Expo in Anaheim this year. I am a D23 member but the Expo, which is held every other year, always seems to fall at a very tough time for me to travel which is right when my kids are starting school. So we get to enjoy all the other bloggers posts from the Expo and hear all the news from our home. We wanted to bring you a quick summary of all the news that was announced and give you our thoughts.
The biggest news at the Expo is always the park news that get announced, and this year had some big stuff!
Disney Park News
Star Wars Themed Lands
Bob Iger announced that new Star Wars themed lands would be built at both Disneyland and Disney World (14-acre lands). While this is exciting for Star Wars fans everywhere, there was no date or even time frame given as to when this will even be done. They are anticipating the new lands will be somewhere behind ToonTown at Disneyland, and in Hollywood Studios at Disney World. If your little ones aren’t Star Wars fans right now, don’t worry. By the time they actually build these lands, they will be old enough to be fans.
Star Wars Launch Bay
This new area will be added soon to Disneyland in Tomorrowland and in the Animation Courtyard at Hollywood Studios at Disney World. It will include interactive games for guests as well as merchandise and food. Expect to see this in the parks this year in anticipation of the new Star Wars movie coming out this December.
Soarin’ Over The World
We are pretty excited about this new addition to the parks! Soarin’ Over California will be upgraded to a new film called Soarin’ Over the World which will be in both parks in 2016. The film will have upgraded sound and picture quality since it will now be laser projection (unlike Soarin’ Over California which is 70mm format).
Toy Story Land
Disney announced another new land coming to Hollywood Studios…sometime in the future. Toy Story Land will have a family-friendly roller coaster as well as new rides and added track to Toy Story Midway Mania. John Lassetter is part of this new project and he does an amazing job with theming (think CarsLand and Bugs Land) but he is kind of hit and miss with rides (think Luigi’s Flying Tires and Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train). We love Toy Story Midway Mania, and if the new rides live up to this caliber, it will be amazing! But rumors are they may resort to more carnival style rides, like DinoLand in Animal Kingdom, which most guests don’t like. There was no date announced on when this land would see the light of day.
Animal Kingdom Additions and Nighttime Show
Animal Kingdom is still under construction for the new nighttime spectacular, Rivers of Life, as well as the Avatar-themed land (formerly called Pandora). The nighttime show is set to be quite an amazing show using all their tricks and thrills from Illuminations and World of Color. They also announced the new ride in Avatar-land will be “Flight of Passage” and the aim is for it to feel very real for guests. The last big change at Animal Kingdom is extending the Kilimanjaro Safaris into a perpetual dusk. Not sure how the animals feel about all the changes!
Star Tours Addition
If you are like us and have been on Star Tours again and again to see all the different story lines, then you will be so excited that they are adding a new story line soon for the newest movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”! No word on when it will be in the parks but I would assume it will be about when the movie comes out in December.
Space Mountain Change
A temporary addition is coming to Space Mountain to promote Star Wars. Yes, more Star Wars. It will temporarily be Hyperspace Mountain and include new effects and music. This will primarily be at Disneyland.
New Frozen Ride at Epcot
Norway at Epcot is currently under construction with the closure of the ride Maelstrom that will be transformed into the new ride, Frozen Ever After. While little is still known about what this ride will be like, we did learn that the wonderful husband and wife duo that created all the music for Frozen, Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, are helping put together the soundtrack for the ride. If we are lucky, we will come out singing “Let it Go”!
Disney Movie News
Along with all the park news, there was some updates for Disney movies that are coming soon.
- “Gigantic” is being made that is a retelling of the Jack and the Beanstalk tale; this is a being brought to us by the same team that brought us “Tangled” and the music is being written by the “Frozen” team of Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Can’t go wrong with that, right?
- “Jungle Book” is being remade and will be out in theaters in April 2016
- “Moana” will be a new Disney Studios digital animation movie coming November 23, 2016. It will have the first Polynesian Disney Princess.
- “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” will be the next sequel for the franchise and this movie will bring back Orlando Bloom along with Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush
- “Alice Through The Looking Glass” is a sequel to the quirky “Alice in Wonderland” movie starring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, a role he will reprise in this sequel. It is set to be released in May of 2016
- Pixar is releasing a series of sequels which is a little disappointing but here are some of them:
- “Toy Story 4” – If you felt that “Toy Story 3” was a beautiful wrap up of a wonderful tale, your not alone. But for some reason, Pixar is revisiting Woody and Buzz again for another story that centers around the love story of Woody and Bo Peep. Right now it is set for June 2017.
- “Finding Dory” – Sequel to “Finding Nemo” that centers around the character of Dory. Ellen Degeneres will reprise her role as Dory. This should be released in June of 2016.
- “Incredibles 2” – We are actually excited about this getting a sequel as we felt the story had more to tell – Brad Bird, the original writer of the first movie is working on this project and we anticipate it will be great
- “Cars 3” – Yes, another Cars. We kind of feel like this one has run its course, pun intended. But they are working on another Cars movie.
- “The Good Dinosaur” is an original movie from Pixar (yes, it’s new!) and it will be released this fall (November). We are looking forward to a new story.
That is a wrap up of all the news from the D23 Expo. While a lot of exciting ideas were announced from Disney, there wasn’t really an idea of when a lot of these projects will be finished. I think there are a lot of Disney fans who would like for the construction projects to move at a faster pace. Just think that it took Walt Disney one year to build Disneyland. It took current Disney over 3 years to add an expansion on Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom. So don’t get so excited about some of the building projects. It could be a long time before we see them finished.