What Should We Expect at D23 in Two Months?
Welcome to July! While you may not believe it, the year is more than halfway over.
Also, as Disney theme park fans, we’re only two months away from the seminal event of the year!
The 2022 D23 Expo starts on September 9th. What could Disney announce during this event? I have thoughts…or maybe we should call them hopes.
Why D23 Matters
Let’s start with the basics in case you’re unfamiliar with this event.
Disney bills the D23 Expo as the ultimate fan event. What that means for you is that Disney announces projects that will thrill you, the fan.
The seminal event at the D23 Expo is the Disney Parks, Experiences and Products symposium.
Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro will host this event on September 11th. Historically, Disney has used this forum to reveal its most ambitious park plans.
We’re talking about Pandora – The World of Avatar, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, among other highlights.
You can think of the Disney Parks, Experiences and Products event as the highlight moment this year for all significant theme park news.
However, Disney also hosted a D23 event last year at Walt Disney World.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort held a somewhat improvised D23 theme park showcase that…didn’t reveal much at all.
For this reason, expectations remain somewhat muted for the 2022 event. Disney is just now recovering from the pandemic.
Also, supply chain issues continue to prove problematic, and the economy might be entering a recession.
For these reasons, Disney may not reveal much at this year’s D23 event.
From the optimist’s perspective, Disney just offered CEO Bob Chapek a three-year contract extension, though.
Former Imagineer Joe Rohde famously discussed the five-year windows for major Disney projects.
Chapek ostensibly has that time now for new park enhancements. So, his recent career fortune may lead to a more ambitious D23 event.
Since Chapek knows he’s likely to be here for a while, he could choose to be a bit more daring. So here’s hoping for that!
What could D’Amaro announce on Disney’s behalf? Let’s examine a few possibilities.
Disney recently opened the new Disney Vacation Club expansion at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
You can think of that resort as the first step in Disney’s reinvigoration of its prized monorail resorts.
Part two will involve the expansion coming to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
Personally, I weep at the thought of it since the new buildings come at the expense of Luau Cove/the Spirit of Aloha show.
Still, you expect additional specifics about Disney’s plans for the new resort. In fact, that’s the business model at the moment.
Disney’s American resorts have maintained near-maximum occupancy for the body of 2022. As such, management knows it needs more guest rooms.
The inventory crunch isn’t exclusive to Walt Disney World, either. We’ll actually get a Disneyland Hotel expansion a year before the one at the Poly.
Since that new hotel tower is at a more advanced stage of construction, Disney will assuredly provide more details about what to expect there.
Don’t sleep on what a massive story this is, either. Disneyland Hotel claims the title of oldest theme park resort on the planet.
Adding a new tower there should reinvigorate a property that dates back to 1955!
Disney also might provide updates on other current resorts, particularly Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.
The resort will have operated for six months by then. So, a kind of state of the union address makes sense as Disney plots the resort’s course beyond its opening rush.
I don’t expect any movement on Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge, but other hotel updates wouldn’t surprise me. I’m afraid Reflections is dead, my friends.
Some people I trust swear that the worst is over when it comes to Disney’s nickel-and-diming.
One of them has led me to believe that some improved Disney official resort amenities are right around the corner.
I won’t provide specifics for fear of getting your hopes up artificially. Still, a positive announcement involving extra hotel amenities would be perfect for D23.
Similarly, Disney could provide insights on some previously delayed projects like the Spaceship Earth reboot and the Mary Poppins attraction that remains in limbo.
In truth, we could use substantial clarity about what’s still in play at EPCOT. For example, the PLAY! pavilion hasn’t received an update in ages, and that’s just one example.
Park officials previously announced plans to reinvigorate the entire front half of EPCOT. Some of that stuff kinda vanished. Is it coming back or not?
For that matter, will we finally gain clarity about the long-anticipated Journey into Imagination reboot?
Also, I think Disney appears likely to provide additional details about The Princess and the Frog re-theming at Splash Mountain.
Disney may feel added presume to announce some big stuff, too. Remember that Universal’s Epic Universe will open in 2025 at the latest.
So, word of its themed lands and attractions will slowly leak over the next two years.
Disney officials must combat that by offering proof that Walt Disney World will remain the best theme park in the area.
My belief is that Disney will take D23 seriously for this reason. Otherwise, it’ll cede several news cycles to its competitor as well as the perception that Universal’s trying harder.
The Wishing and Hoping Stuff
I’ve had people point-blank tell me that I’m wrong about Zootopia rumors at Disney’s Animal Kingdom…and I very well may be.
However, park officials usually announce new themed lands like this one at events like D23.
If we are getting Arendelle or Zootopia or Indiana Jones Land, we’re likely to find out for the first time at D23.
Similarly, the most famous debacle at the 2019 D23 event involved the Brazil pavilion.
Several sites ran with the rumor that Disney would announce this pavilion at D23. When that didn’t happen, even some cast members sounded surprised.
By all accounts, Disney had performed some early recruiting of potential cultural representatives for said pavilion.
Also, the World Showcase is long overdue for new pavilions. We haven’t had any since the 1980s!
Disney could also provide some clarity about expansion plans involving the Disney Skyliner or maybe an alternative for the recently canceled Brightline station at Disney Springs.
I’m holding out hope that Chapek and D’Amaro may add some spicier announcements. Unfortunately, Disney fan morale is at a lower ebb at the moment.
A few wins at D23 could go a long way in reinvigorating the loyalists who have kept the parks in business throughout the years.
Speaking of which, what would you like for Disney to announce at D23?