MickeyBlog News for November 22nd, 2021
The Walt Disney Company held Destination D23 this past weekend.
During the event, we learned more about the roadmap for upcoming theme park experiences.
We’ll talk about them and more in the latest MickeyBlog News.
The Toontown Redesign
When was the last time you visited Mickey’s Toontown? If you’re a Disneyland fan, the answer is probably the last time you were at the park.
Those of you who hang out at Walt Disney World would say that it’s been a while. Disney redesigned that themed land as Storybook Circus a decade ago.
For this reason, Disneyland fans have worried about the future of their version of Mickey’s Toontown.
Well, I’ve got good news that will sound like bad news at first. Mickey’s Toontown will shut down in March of 2022…BUT WAIT!
Park officials are closing this area to redesign and modernize the section. Disney wants it to tie together better with the upcoming E-ticket attraction there.
So, in early 2023, Mickey’s Toontown will return with a stylish new look that pairs perfectly with Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
The Disneyland version of that ride should debut during the first half of 2023 as well.
In fact, presuming everything goes well, it could open at the same time that Mickey’s Toontown returns.
Disney’s focus with the redesign is making Mickey’s Toontown even better for children. It will include two new playgrounds as part of the update.
When you first enter Mickey’s Toontown, you’ll see one of these spaces, CenTOONial Park.
Then, in the center of the area, you’ll find an interactive water fountain that is the icon for the themed land.
Just announced! Mickey’s Toontown in @Disneyland park will transform into a vibrant symphony of sights, sounds, & sensations – featuring some all-new play experiences for families and young children. This ambitious reimagining is set to debut in 2023! https://t.co/Z87dRpzOfB pic.twitter.com/IRKXFBb2H5
— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) November 15, 2021
The takeaway here is that Mickey’s Toontown will close for the body of a year, starting in March. However, after that, it’ll return better than ever…and with a new ride!
The MagicBand Surprise
Destination D23 hosted its parks presentation last Saturday. You can read a summary here, and MickeyBlog posted a bunch of individual stories.
However, two or three news items towered above the rest. One of them is the surprising resurgence of MagicBands.
Just a few months ago, I was planning a eulogy for them when Disney revealed MagicMobile.
With that technology, MagicBands turned redundant, as most of society takes their phones everywhere.
In fact, just this past week, Disney enabled room charges on MagicMobile.
Now, you can tap your phone, and the system will bill food and merchandise to the form of payment listed with your room. It’s easy peasy.
So, MagicBands qualify as dying tech, right? WRONG!
Disney just doubled and tripled down on MagicBands. The company had previously confirmed that a new version, MagicBand+, would debut in 2022.
Now, we’ve learned about a new feature for MagicBand+. It’ll revive the old park tech known as Glow with the Show.
Remember the Mouse Ears, Mickey Wands, and other accessories that lit up in conjunction with nighttime presentations?
Fun fact: those never stopped working. Disney just stopped emphasizing these products with merchandise.
Well, the mini-display on the upcoming MagicBand+ will light up and pulse with the beats of various Disney shows, just like it used to do with World of Color and the like. Speaking of which…
Disneyland Resort will add MagicBand+ in 2022. You read that right.
MagicBands aren’t just rising from the ashes. They’ll be available to use at Disneyland as well.
We just added several more years to the lifecycle of MagicBands. This one’s a stunner.
Other Destination D23 News
Let’s quickly tear through the list of all the park features Disney just confirmed will come back in 2022. They include:
- World of Color
- Main Street Electrical Parade (Disneyland only)
- Fantasmic! (at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
- Festival of Fantasy Parade (Magic Kingdom only)
Disney also reported two new offerings at Walt Disney World. First, magic Kingdom will replace Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire with Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire.
Meanwhile, EPCOT’s World Celebration area will add a new Quick Service restaurant. You’ll find Connections Café near Creations Shop and Club Cool.
Speaking of EPCOT, Disney didn’t provide an exact date yet, but it did update the schedule for a new roller coaster.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will officially debut during the summer of 2022.
That was the only one of the planned EPCOT additions Disney mentioned, at least with a date attached.
At Disneyland, Downtown Disney will undergo a makeover during 2022. The former AMC Theatre space will turn into an entirely new section of restaurants and shops.
Disney will close Earl of Sandwich, Sugarboo & Co., and Starbucks permanently to make room for this expansion.
All three stores will remain through the holidays and then close forever in January.
Finally, we should talk about Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.
Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro showed off a working Lightsaber during the presentation, proving they’re real.
Unfortunately, guests staying at the hotel won’t get to use them. Instead, Disney is saving them for characters onboard the Halcyon, the cruise ship.
We learned that one of these guests is Gaia, a famous musician who will perform at Crown of Dining Room.
Fun fact: You can already hear some of her music at Oga’s Cantina!
Other Disney News for the Week
Disney has paused its requirement for cast member vaccination in Florida.
A recent state ruling declared corporations unable to mandate vaccines for employment.
While that matter gets settled in federal court, which could take a while, Disney will pause its policy.
In an official statement, the company confirmed that more than 90 percent of cast members have gotten vaccinated anyway. So, it’s mostly a non-issue.
This week, the other huge story that I’d typically cover more is the opening of Cirque du Soleil’s Drawn to Life. Here’s a short clip about it:
Opening night went so well that the performers received a standing ovation at the end. So, you should add this one to your Disney Springs to-do list.
Perhaps the most welcome news of the week for park fans is that Disney finally confirmed that Cavalcades are permanent. YAY!
Finally, we learned the DISNEY ON BROADWAY performers at EPCOT in January/February. They are:
Arielle Jacobs (Aladdin) & Adam Jacobs (Aladdin)
- January 14th
- January 16th through
- January 17th, 20th through 21st
Kerry Butler (Beauty and the Beast) & Telly Leung (Aladdin)
- January 15th
- January 18th through
- January 19th, 22nd through 23rd
Heidi Blickenstaff (Freaky Friday, The Little Mermaid) & Robert Creighton (Frozen)
- January 24th
- January 26th through
- January 27th, 30th through
- February 31st, 3rd through 4th
Kara Lindsay (Newsies) & Dan DeLuca (Newsies)
- January 25th
- January 28th through
- February 29th, 1st through
- February 2nd, 5th through 6th
Ashley Brown (Mary Poppins) & Josh Strickland (Tarzan)
- February 7th
- February 9th through
- February 10th, 13th through
- February 14th, 17th through 18th
Kissy Simmons (The Lion King) & Michael James Scott (Aladdin)
- February 8th
- February 11th through
- February 12th, 15th through
- February 16th, 19th through 20th
There will also be a special all-star performance on February 21st to end the event.