Four D-23 Announcements We Expected and Two We Didn’t Get
With the 2019 D-23 Expo in the books, we can take a look back at the event to figure out what just happened. Disney undoubtedly caught most spectators off-guard with their series of announcements, although loyal MickeyBlog readers weren’t surprised by some of the reveals.
Since we aren’t dealing in MickeyBlog Rumors this month, let’s check the scorecard to see how we did over the past year. Here are the four crucial park changes we expected and two we didn’t get.
The New Epcot
By this point, you know that Disney will divide Epcot into four quadrants. I first discussed possible changes to Spaceship Earth last October. A couple of months later, I evaluated Project Gamma, warning that fans of Innoventions might have only a year or two left to enjoy this section. I oversold that one. Disney closed up shop quickly.
The new plan is an exciting one. Epcot will evolve into one park with four worlds: World Celebration, World Nature, World Discovery, and the World Showcase. It’s a clever re-imagining of my favorite theme park. The unfortunate byproduct is that Disney will have construction walls up from now until (at least) 2021.
Park officials did confirm the projected changes coming to Spaceship Earth. However, they didn’t state that the attraction will close for two years or more as feared. We’re still in wait-and-see mode on that one.
The Mary Poppins Ride
Some Disney fans expressed disappointment over one aspect of D-23. These folks wanted more new rides announced during the convention. Of course, we ALL want Disney to build a slew of attractions every few years. And the company’s legitimately doing that, with Ratatouille and Guardians of the Galaxy rides in the offing.
The closest thing to a surprise at D-23 involved one of the best moments. Beloved Hollywood icon Dick Van Dyke made a rare public appearance to announce a Mary Poppins ride coming to the United Kingdom Pavilion at Epcot.
MickeyBlog readers shouldn’t have been surprised by that news, though. We’ve mentioned the potential of it on multiple occasions over the past year, starting with last August’s rumors.
Disney executives always loved this idea as a way to marry the past of the company’s film division with the future of the parks. The only sticking point with this attraction involved the middling box office performance of Mary Poppins Returns. Thankfully, Disney made the right call here by providing a beloved character with a fitting attraction. It’s going to be a low-key ride for Mary Poppins fans.
Back in May, I confidently stated that a Spider-Man attraction was headed to Disney California Adventure (DCA). I knew because I’d seen the blueprints. Disney CEO Robert Iger didn’t do a good job of killing the story, either.
During a live conference, the company’s own leader couldn’t remember whether Disney had acknowledged this existence of a Marvel-themed land or not. And that statement alone guaranteed that such a themed land was in the planning stages.
During D-23, Disney revealed not just an upcoming Spider-Man attraction but a bold strategy overall. Three different parks will host Avengers Campus themed lands. Hong Kong Disneyland is the leader in the clubhouse with two Avengers attractions already open to the public, Iron Man Experience and Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle. Disneyland Paris and DCA will soon follow suit.
The major announcement is an upcoming Phase Two E-ticket attraction at DCA. The Avengers will battle some supervillain in a team-up akin to Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Plus, Pym Particles will improve the menu at a restaurant filled with gigantic and tiny food. Both the Phase Two ride and the eatery are new information.
Avengers Campus is going to be wildly popular, perhaps even surpassing Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. And MickeyBlog told you about it back in the spring!
A Cruise on Land
While I didn’t have the name quite right back in April, I did let you know the underlying concept of the Star Wars-based hotel. Even back then, plenty of leaks suggested that Disney wanted guests to board the Chandrila Star Line.
While the premise is difficult to grasp at the moment, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is a space cruise…on land. Iger has tasked his Imagineers with the seemingly impossible. Disney’s greatest minds must create an immersive experience that simulates outer space travel in a standard dwelling.
In the April rumors piece, I said that the theming “dictates that you’re a traveler in deep space, not a Walt Disney World tourist.” I added that the rumored name is “the first time in the history of the company that an official resort didn’t have some sort of acknowledgment that it is a hotel.” While I didn’t get the name quite right, that statement is still valid.
Disney’s expecting guests to distinguish between Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge the themed land and Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, the oddly named hotel. That’s a big ask and a bit of a risk. But the concept of a land-locked resort simulating an intergalactic cruise is just…wow. That’s Imagineering at its most daring. I’m so impressed.
No Brazil Pavilion?
Perhaps the most unexpected development at D-23 didn’t actually happen. Reports came out the day before the start of the event that Disney would construct a Brazil Pavilion at the World Showcase.
The models on display at D-23 certainly supported this belief. In fact, a partner in the project seemingly leaked the news on social media. In a now-deleted tweet, the person indicated that they were traveling to Brazil to find and train cast members for the project.
Only, Disney never confirmed the pavilion. To the contrary, the model showed the transformation of the Mexico Pavilion with a Coco theme. Additionally, the Mary Poppins attraction was revealed.
For a while, rumors circulated that park officials had limited funds for the World Showcase at Epcot. Those three projects were a re-theming of the Mexico Pavilion, the Mary Poppins ride, and a long-anticipated Brazil Pavilion.
We appear to have gotten two out of three, which is lovely. Still, Epcot’s long overdue for a new pavilion. Here’s hoping that Brazil is still in the works, just not announced yet.
No New Rides at the Other Walt Disney World Parks?
I’m going to cheat a bit here and throw together a few of my huge misses at once. Don’t judge me. It’s a tough gig!
Over the past 18 months, several locations at Walt Disney World seemed ripe for expansion. Rumors of new attractions at all four parks persisted. During the D-23 Expo, however, only one park got anything. That’s the Mary Poppins ride at Epcot.
The other places were shut out. In other words, Disney’s Animal Kingdom isn’t rebooting DinoLand U.S.A. with a new theme like Zootopia or Indiana Jones Land. They’re not getting a Pandora – The World of Avatar expansion yet, either.
For that matter, Disney’s Hollywood Studios doesn’t have an Indiana Jones Land. And Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland project apparently doesn’t include a replacement for Stitch’s Great Escape. Wreck-It Ralph must not want to wreck the new Tron area.
In short, Disney executives have chosen infrastructural enhancements over rides as they build toward the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World. It’s totally the right call since the parks added three very good-to-epic themed lands since the summer of 2017.
Plus, Disney still has those Tron, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Ratatouille rides coming over the next 24 months. I haven’t even mentioned Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway or Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, either.
That’s five high-quality rides already on the docket, and now Mary Poppins is added to the mix. It’s completely understandable why park officials didn’t announce any other attractions this year. Disney already has a full slate.