The 2017 D23 Expo held at the Anaheim Convention Center in California was perhaps the most exciting presentation offered by the legendary Disney fan club since its inception in 2009. It was during three magical days in July—the 14th, 15th and 16th—that Disney CEO Bob Iger, among others, made show-stopping announcements about changes and additions coming to the Walt Disney World Resort in time for the resort’s 50th anniversary on October 1, 2021. And while there are some of us who don’t relish the idea of change, we can take heart in knowing that Disney World changes are always exciting (except for the disappearance of the Main Street Electrical Parade—please, Disney, please bring it back!). Disney fans of all ages are in for some amazing surprises and will no doubt be delighted and thrilled about new things coming down the pike to central Florida. Here are 10 things to start getting really excited about!
10. Toy Story Land – opening June 30, 2018
We have waited and waited, and soon our patience will pay off! That’s because the long-dreamed-of and hoped for Toy Story Land will finally open on June 30, 2018! Disney invites Guests to “play big” by being shrunk to the size of a toy. The setting of Toy Story Land is Andy’s backyard, and fun and surprises are around every corner of the 11-acre playland! Climb aboard the Slinky Dog Dash family coaster and hold on tight! Then enjoy Alien Spinning Saucers, a new attraction in which Guests blast off in a toy rocket and take a wild ride through space. Will you be the Claw’s “chosen one?” After the rides, head to Woody’s Lunch Box for quick-service eats, as well as ice cream soda floats! How many days ‘til June 30??
9. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway – 2019
At the D23 Expo in Japan, Disney confirmed that this fun new “2 ½-D” experience will be completed and opened sometime in 2019. It replaces the Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which was in operation from May 1, 1989 until it closed in August of 2017 to make way for the new attraction—the first ever to feature the main Mouse himself! The attraction begins with a viewing of an animated short during which Mickey and Minnie are getting ready to go on a picnic. Then, thanks to the brilliance of Disney’s Imagineers and Disney magic, Guests will be transported into the zany world of the cartoon short. Disney calls it a “2 ½-D” experience, meaning that no special glasses will be needed for the attraction. We were sad to see the Great Movie Ride leave, but it’s time Mickey had an attraction to honor him. He’s the mouse that started it all, remember?
8. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – 2019
“Star Wars Land,” as it’s being referred to by Disney fans everywhere, has been under construction for a while now—since April of 2016—and Star Wars fans are going to be blown away! The new land will encompass some 14 acres, making it Disney World’s largest single expansion since each of the four theme parks were built. It is slated to open sometime in 2019—the same year that will see Star Wars Episode IX, the final chapter in the “Skywalker Saga.” Anybody up for piloting the Millennium Falcon? You’ll be able to do exactly that once this new land is open. In another attraction inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Guests will be cast into the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance!
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7. Star Wars-themed hotel – 2021
Also announced at 2017’s D23 Expo is the addition of a brand-new Disney Resort hotel, and this time, it’s a Star Wars-themed resort. Bob Chapek, Chairman of Disney’s Parks and Resorts calls the resort “our most experiential concept ever.” That’s because this resort will be different in a big way from other Disney Resort hotels—Guests will become “active citizens” in the Star Wars universe, and every experience will be different. Every window will have a view of space. The hotel itself will have the appearance of a starship—both inside the structure and out. There is even talk of droids and other Star Wars creatures serving as hotel staff. We can’t wait to see exactly how this Resort hotel will look and operate. It promises to be an experience unlike any other!
6. The Disney Skyliner – TBA
This brand-new gondola system will be somewhat reminiscent of the Skyway that used to service lands inside Magic Kingdom, but this system will connect Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and a new Disney Resort not yet built with Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at EPCOT. Disney is spending some $3.8 million just for electrical services related to the new gondola system. The Skyliner system will include six stations where Guests can be dropped off or picked up, and each gondola will feature different Disney characters. Forget the Skyliner as a mode of transportation! It sounds like it’d be fun to ride, even if you aren’t using it to get from one point to another!
5. New TRON-themed coaster – TBA
Disney is familiarizing a new generation with the story of TRON by bringing it to dazzling life in the form of a brand-new roller coaster experience at Magic Kingdom. What better place to build this futuristic coaster than Tomorrowland? Many Disney fans assumed the new coaster would replace the somewhat dated Tomorrowland Speedway, but thankfully, the new attraction will be built on an expansion pad north of Space Mountain and will not close any of our beloved Tomorrowland attractions (yea!). When TRON: Lightcycle Power Run opened at Shanghai Disneyland in summer of 2016, it was an instant success with Guests. The Magic Kingdom version is slated to open in 2021, in time for Disney World’s 50th anniversary.
4. Ratatouille attraction – TBA
Ratatouille: The Adventure opened at Disneyland Paris in 2014 as a 4-D experience to a captive audience of Guests, and it was well-received at Disney World’s Parisian counterpart. So Disney is bringing a similar attraction to the France pavilion on the World Showcase at EPCOT. EPCOT is due some upgrades and additions, don’t you think? Specific details are not readily available yet, but we do know that the EPCOT version of Remi’s ride will have Guests shrinking to the size of a rat and racing to safety in a chase across the kitchen floor of the famous Gusteau’s restaurant. Is it too late to suggest a Ratatouille-themed water ride that realizes Remi’s whitewater tour in the sewer? No matter what kind of ride it is, we can trust the Imagineers to bring us a fascinating experience!
3. Disney’s Riviera Resort – TBA
Disney’s fifteenth DVC resort is coming to Disney World and will be located adjacent to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort near EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Its design will be inspired by the glamour and beauty of the South of France. The resort will include 300 rooms of various sizes and layouts. Perhaps one of the most intriguing amenities of this new resort hotel is its rooftop restaurant that will offer Guests breathtaking views of fireworks over EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. That 180-day dining reservation window will be more important than ever!
2. Guardians of the Galaxy attraction – TBA
The curtains closed on Ellen’s Universe of Energy one final time in the fall of 2017 to make way for an exciting new attraction at Future World at EPCOT. In keeping with EPCOT’s theme of the future, space and progress, a new Guardians of the Galaxy indoor roller coaster (think space travel!) will be built where Ellen used to teach us about dinosaurs and fossil fuels. Guardians of the Galaxy—Mission: BREAKOUT! opened at Disney’s California Adventure in early 2017 and has been a hit with Guests ever since. Once the EPCOT version is open, it will be one of the world’s longest enclosed roller coasters, and Bob Chapek, Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman, says the new coaster will offer Guests “a new innovative ride system”—wonder what that means!
1. New outer space-themed restaurant – TBA
Have you ever wanted to board a rocket and fly to outer space, just to have dinner while gazing at Earth from afar? That experience isn’t too far away, thanks to a new space-themed restaurant coming to EPCOT. The new restaurant promises to deliver an “out-of-this-world dining experience.” It will be operated by the Patina Restaurant Group, which currently operates the Tutto Italia and Via Napoli restaurants at EPCOT, as well as the Morimoto Asia restaurant at Disney Springs.