Huge Japan D23 News Update
All Disney fans know about the D-23 Expo. It’s a biennial event wherein The Walt Disney Company unveils previously unknown details about impending projects. Generally, the focus is on their Parks & Resorts division, with the 2017 show becoming legendary for its series of shocking announcements.
In the wake of this expo, you may have expected to wait until D-23 2019 to learn more about upcoming attractions. Well, I have some great news for you! There’s a second, less heralded D-23 show that’s also held every other year. This one takes place in Japan. Specifically, the D-23 Expo Japan 2018 took place this past weekend, and it had its fair share of surprising announcements, too! Here are the news highlights from the show!
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway Gets a Date!
Well, a date is a bit of an exaggeration. Let’s say that it gets a year instead. Disney confirmed that Disney’s Hollywood Studios will debut the first Mickey Mouse/Minnie Mouse ride ever, and it’ll happen sooner than expected. The target date is 2019, roughly the same timeframe as the opening of Star Wars Land: Galaxy’s Edge. Presuming that Disney keeps this date – and they’ve done well in this regard in recent years – Hollywood Studios attendance will spike dramatically next year.
We also learned a bit more about the attraction. It’s going to have some classic Disney elements. The most important one is a theme song. In the early days of Disneyland and Walt Disney World, many attractions married musical accompaniments to the ride experience. Disney’s moved away from that over the past 30 years. Since they’re building an instantly iconic attraction, however, the company will honor its roots with a Runaway Railway theme song.
The start of the attraction is fittingly a cartoon short. Mickey and Minnie will head out for a lovely afternoon drive, only to notice a train driven by their pal, Goofy. The world’s most famous mice will board the train to help, allowing guests to enter a 2.5-D world where you don’t need special glasses to see vivid 3-D special effects. Disney promises an “incredible multi-dimensional experience.” And you’re only a year and a few months away from experiencing it!
A Hint at a Future Change at Hollywood Studios?
Several of the D-23 reveals involved international parks, understandable given the location of the event. One of the most intriguing changes will take place at Walt Disney Studios Park. This gate at Disneyland Paris will undergo several changes over the next few years. The primary explanation is that Disney is now the majority owner, and they plan to become 100 percent shareholders.
With Disney in charge, they want to alter the perception of “EuroDisney.” It’s already the most visited tourist attraction in Europe over the past quarter-century, but it’s generally viewed as the Disney park most in need of upgrades. Well, Disney’s already planning a major one. The former Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith will shut down for good.
In the place of the former roller coaster, Disney will repurpose the space as an Iron Man attraction. The company describes the new iteration as “a high-speed, hyper-kinetic adventure where guests can team up with Iron Man and the Avengers.”
The presumption is that they’ll do an overlay similar to what happened with Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! If that’s true, it’ll remain a roller coaster, one with a strong Marvel tie-in rather than the current Aerosmith connection.
Given that Disney is prioritizing its own IP at the parks now, the move makes perfect sense. And this location is ideal since the EuroDisney complex is in the process of converting one of its properties to Hotel New York—The Art of Marvel. The new look will debut in 2020. Disney offered some new images on their official park blog if you want to see an artist’s rendering of the hotel rooms.
The huge question for Mickey Travelers is whether this decision hints at a future change at Walt Disney World. Will Disney’s Hollywood Studios follow suit by converting their Aerosmith roller coaster, too? The situation’s more complicated there due to Marvel’s existing license at Universal Orlando Resort. Many analysts believe that a resolution is likely. At some point, Disney will simply buy back the rights to employ these characters at their own theme parks. When that happens, the Aerosmith roller coaster is probably ready for its last ride(s).
Hong Kong Disneyland already has an Iron Man attraction. Iron Man Experience is a 3-D motion simulator that plays out like a combination of Soarin’ around the World and Avatar Flight of Passage. Disney describes it as “the most popular attraction at Hong Kong Disneyland.” Since Hong Kong Disneyland is also in the process of improving its quality, they too are building through Marvel intellectual property (IP).
During D-23, Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek confirmed that construction on a second Marvel attraction is underway. This ride will tell the story of Ant-Man and The Wasp, the married Avengers from the comics who star in the summer 2018 movie release of the same name.
According to Chapek, the most impressive duo this side of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will anchor the ride. They will “fight Arnim Zola and his army of Hydra swarm bots in a thrilling new adventure.” If you’re not up on your Marvel comic book characters, Zola is this guy in the movies, but he’s since become this…guy? In the comics, he rather ridiculously looks like this. So, Imagineers will have a lot of fun choosing the look for the villain on this attraction.
We Have a Date for Pixar Pier!
Hey, Disneyland fans! Save the date for June 23rd! And I don’t mean for a wedding. In fact, if any of your friends plan to get married on that day, tell them that they need to cancel. There are bigger things afoot. Pixar Pier finally debuts on June 23rd. It’s one of the most momentous days of the 21st century at the Disneyland Resort. Disney California Adventure is sure to have a swarm of people relishing in the new Pixar theming.
As you already know from reading MickeyBlog, Pixar Pier will feature four “neighborhoods.” The movie franchises of The Incredibles and Toy Story are the basis for the first two neighborhoods. Inside Out is the source material for the third, while the fourth is an amalgam of various other Pixar tales. The IncrediCoaster will debut at the same time as Pixar Pier, so it’s a huuuuuge day for Mickey Travelers.
Disney also announced some other park-based Pixar news. Paint the Night will return with a new Incredibles float. It features Mr. Incredible, his buddy, Frozone, and Elastigirl. Apparently, Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack all appear, too, but Disney hasn’t said how yet. Also, Disney dropped the bombshell that an Inside Out attraction will eventually anchor its neighborhood. If done right, this ride will do for kids of the 2020s what Figment did for children of the 1980s. (I miss hair metal.)
Guarding a Massive Galaxy
The press release for D-23 suggests that Disney unveiled a great deal of new information about the impending Guardians of the Galaxy ride at Epcot. Having watched the event and read the transcript, I find this description exaggerated. We really only learned two new facts about the upcoming roller coaster, although both items are important.
The first is that Disney’s claiming that this roller coaster is huge. They’re saying that it’s one of the longest enclosed roller coasters in the world. Presuming this statement isn’t exaggerated, too, Guardians of the Galaxy should be one of the longest roller coaster rides in Disney history. Most of theirs, while wonderful, skew toward the short side. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is only about 70 seconds, as an example.
Disney has also promised that the Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster is a “one-of-a-kind family attraction (that) will feature a brand-new, innovative ride system.”
The Hotel at the Edge of the Galaxy
D-23 featured an amazing promise about the Star Wars Hotel being constructed beside Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We already knew from prior announcements that the Star Wars experience would begin the instant that guests arrived at the hotel. We weren’t clear on the specifics until now, though.
The latest news suggests that the integrated theming of the park and the hotel will marry the experience. Once you arrive onsite, you’ll “board a star ship and depart with your fellow guests on a multi-day Star Wars adventure.” Don’t expect an actual star ship boarding at the hotel, of course. They’re describing theming, at least as far as we know thus far.
Disney confirmed that the Star Wars resort will connect directly to Galaxy’s Edge. Presumably, hotel guests will enjoy a special entry point at this section of the park. The company promised that the Millennium Falcon won’t stand apart as the only space ship at the new land. They revealed that life-sized X-wing fighters will also be on display to add to the theming. Disney has indicated that an “impressive fleet” of them will populate the park. We don’t know yet if they’ll be spread out or stationed in the same primary area.
The underlying premise is that all park guests staying at Star Wars Hotel live out their own “Star Wars stories.” That’s a deft bit of theming that integrates nicely with the Star Wars universe. One of the most recent films, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and the upcoming blockbuster, Solo: A Star Wars Story, use that premise. If Han Solo and Jyn Erso can live out their stories onscreen, you’ll feel like a movie star when you pursue your Star Wars story, too. Give Disney credit here. They’re tying together a lot of pieces in ambitious fashion.
The specific tease that should excite guests is that they’re citizens of the galaxy at Star Wars Hotel. Sure, they live at the Galaxy’s Edge, but the hardscrabble existence makes the stories better, right? Disney’s aiming high on the immersion.
Star Wars fans are certain to flock to Walt Disney World to see if the reality matches the hype. Of course, it’s not the only park receiving a Star Wars Land, which does lead to as yet unanswered questions about how a person’s Star Wars stories translate at Disneyland and any additional themed Star Wars lands. We’ll have to wait for another few months to discover the answers to these questions.
News about Tokyo Disneyland
Given the location of the event, you understand why a lot of news centered on Japan. Perhaps the oddest news item was the confirmation of an Adventures by Disney trip. The destination is…Japan. That announcement didn’t do much for the people who were currently in Japan when they heard it, but it’s wonderful news for you and me.
Mickey Travelers can book a trip to Tokyo and other parts of the country starting this spring. I’m going to level with you here. There’s a real chance I’ll be on the trip with you, as my wife’s been begging to go to Tokyo Disneyland for years now. This trip probably seals the deal for her. If you want to join us, contact a Mickey Travels expert to plan your Adventures by Disney vacation.
The other big Tokyo Disneyland news is the confirmation of the long-rumored Baymax/Big Hero 6 attraction. Given the film’s setting of San Fransokyo, it’s the perfect location for the ride. Of course, it won’t be the only new attraction.
The park’s currently undergoing its biggest expansion ever. They’ve got lots of attractions in progress including a new Beauty and the Beast area plus a ride themed to the music from the film. Disney’s also revealed a version of Soarin’ will debut at the park over the next few years. From the wording, it’s unclear whether they’re speaking of a new iteration of the ride or not. I’ve looked at some of the speculative imagery online, and the ride cart strikes me as Soarin’ meets Peter Pan’s Flight rather than traditional Soarin.
The final two news items involve a character meeting and a stadium venue. The meet-and-greet is with Minnie Mouse, who will hold court at a “new design studio.” The venue is what Disney promises as the first “full-scale, live entertainment theatre” at the park. Disney did NOT, however, confirm the recent rumors of a third land coming to Tokyo Disneyland. You should view those rumors as speculative and positively even unfounded for now.
I think I speak for all of us when I say that the idea of a third park at Tokyo Disneyland is the dream, though. Tokyo DisneySea is already arguably the best theme park in the world. I drool at the thought of a park that raises the bar from the already-lofty heights set by Tokyo DisneySea. One day soon, I’ll write a full article explaining why Tokyo DisneySea is so beloved among theme park analysts.
Thanks for visiting MickeyBlog.com! For a free quote on your next Disney vacation, fill out the form below!