All the Announcements from D23’s Destination D 2018
This past weekend, D23 held a premiere event, Destination D: Celebrating Mickey Mouse. While not a true D23 convention, officials from The Walt Disney Company still used this opportunity to announce several critical updates about their theme parks. Here’s all the Disney news you need to know from Destination D.
Star Wars Land
Why should I make you eat your vegetables before you get dessert? Let’s start with the most exciting topic from this year’s event, and that’s Star Wars Land. Disney previously revealed that they would host a pair of topflight attractions at the new themed land. Today, we learned their names.
Until now, we’ve called them the Millennium Falcon and The First Order attractions. From now on, we’ll know them as Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Disney also provided a video of each one. I’ll politely say that the Rise of the Resistance clip is a bit more engaging than Millennium Falcon’s, which is a barely more than a teaser with logo. The Resistance video is allegedly from inside the attraction. So…wow!
Since we’ve known for a while what the two rides would entail, the most noteworthy aspect here is the confirmation that the Millennium Falcon attraction will reinforce the overriding theme of Galaxy’s Edge. It’s the last major outpost prior to a dangerous part of space. Since it’s far away from the government in power, the planet of Batuu is a smuggler’s haven. And the pilot of the Millennium Falcon isn’t above an illicit run, presuming that the money’s right.
Disney surprised guests with a couple of other major announcements related to Star Wars Land. The first is that guests will use the Play Disney Parks app to experience many of the promised immersive elements of the land. Park officials had previously promised guests the ability to become a part of their own Star Wars stories. It remains to be seen if there are other ways for this to happen, as the early reception of Play Disney Parks is tepid at best.
The most pleasant surprise involving Star Wars Land involves the music. John Williams, the artist whose compositions are closely associated with the Star Wars franchise, will score the themed land! Yes, he’s created new musical accompaniments for Stars Wars Land! You may listen to some of his new work with the London Symphony Orchestra here.
More about Star Wars Hotel
Finally, Disney released imagery for the upcoming Star Wars Hotel, which will open 18-24 months after Star Wars Land. It reinforces the promised theming. Guests will embark on a transfer from a docking bay to a transport pod. It will carry you to a luxurious starship that includes “space-view cabins” and “high-end dining”, the type you would expect on the intergalactic equivalent of the Titanic.
The pictures show the expected room designs. Alert viewers will notice a large (King or Queen) bed for parents plus bunk beds built into the walls for kids. There’s also a BB-8 on the table/nightstand, a kind of futuristic Amazon Echo. On first glance, I thought this was just for effect, but I now believe that Disney might decorate each room with a BB-8 as a way to sell the premise for kids.
Of course, the strongest example of selling the premise is the window. In these illustrations, children point out the “window” toward planets in the solar system. Yes, in lieu of a conventional hotel view, Star Wars Hotel will have digital projections of outer space. Your kids will believe that they’re in outer space due to the immersive themed elements! For that matter, even as an adult, you might buy into the idea. It’s extremely impressive.
Also at Hollywood Studios…
Disney also confirmed a longstanding belief among theme park analysts. Their upcoming attraction, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, will debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios next fall. This target date is the same as Star Wars Land, which isn’t a coincidence. Park officials will need the world’s first Mickey Mouse attraction open to counter the traffic flow into Star Wars Land. Sure, Toy Story Land is a nice start, but Hollywood Studios will need more.
Part of that “more” is a new nighttime presentation! Wonderful World of Animation will debut at Hollywood Studios in May of 2019. Park officials promise a show with state-of-the-art digital projection akin to what we see with Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom…or the holiday project on Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. This show will do projection mapping on the Chinese Theatre.
In case you’re wondering, Disney didn’t announce what will happen to the two shows currently hosted in the same area. The best guess is that Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular will remain in some form, whether it’s at the Chinese Theatre or somewhere else in the park. Disney Movie Magic, on the other hand, isn’t a lock to stay since it covers some of the same themes. Either way, MickeyBlog will alert you to impending changes far ahead of time so that you can plan a trip before any Disney presentation ends.
Other Nighttime Show News
Disney announced not one but two new nighttime shows at World Showcase Lagoon. Don’t get excited, though. We already knew about one, and the other is a limited engagement. Epcot Forever will work as the bridge from IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth to a permanent exhibition coming in 2020. Epcot Forever sounds pretty great on its own, though. It will feature classic Epcot songs plus “special effects kites” in addition to the standard fireworks and lasers.
The main thing we learned about the 2020 show is when it will arrive at Epcot. Disney has promised massive floats and choreographed fountains akin to what IllumiNations has now, only with 20 years of technological innovations. Intriguingly, the show will have custom-built LED panels, too. I look forward to seeing how those are incorporated into the replacement show. It has lofty expectations, as IllumiNations is generally deemed the gold standard in nighttime presentations.
While we’re talking about Epcot, there were three more tidbits revealed during Destination D. The first is that the new E-ticket attraction at the France Pavilion is officially named Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. The pavilion will also add a Beauty and the Beast singalong show. Meanwhile, over at the Canada Pavilion, Disney’s filmed an update/replacement for O Canada, the Circle-Vision 360° presentation.
Park officials confirmed some new shows at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom, too. At Disneyland, Mickey’s Soundsational Parade will make a return engagement. It started in 2011 but then ended in 2018 as Disney prepared some future updates. On January 25, 2019, it will come back.
A week earlier, Magic Kingdom will present Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration. It’s scheduled to run from January 18th through September 30th in 2019, giving you strong reason to plan a trip to Walt Disney World in 2019. Disney’s even offering a version of this parade at sea! Guests on the Disney Cruise Line can watch Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Party at Sea. Just, you know, pretend like you’re surprised since I already spoiled it for you.
At Destination D, Disney brought a gondola from the Disney Skyliner for guests to inspect. This statement isn’t a surprise or anything, but the theming on these is absolutely adorable. You will LOVE riding in one.
Also, we learned the name of the upcoming nature resort at Bay Lake. It’s Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge, and it will feature 900 hotel rooms and Disney Vacation Club villas. Before that happens in a couple of years, however, Disney will open another new resort. Disney kindly provided pictures of Disney’s Riviera Resort, another project currently scheduled to debut in the fall of 2019.
Stating the obvious, you’re going to want to visit Walt Disney World during the fall of 2019. Seemingly EVERYTHING will open then. Talk to an agent at MickeyTravels to book the vacation that will allow you to see all of this new stuff coming within the next year.