Top 10 Moments from the 2022 D23 Expo
The 2022 D23 Expo is in the books, leaving Disney fans wildly optimistic about what comes next.
We just learned countless tidbits about various Disney attractions, resorts, and future plans.
While all of them are noteworthy in their own ways, some piqued my curiosity just a bit more.
Here are the top ten moments from the D23 Expo!
10. The Hatbox Ghost Heads to Orlando
While Disney announced new nighttime presentations and the opening timeframe for Tron Lightcycle Power Run, something else captured my interest more.
When the Hatbox Ghost debuted at Haunted Mansion, Magic Kingdom didn’t even exist yet.
The mischievous Happy Haunt vanished at Disneyland for 46 years before materializing once more in 2015.
Since then, Walt Disney World fans have begged for The Hatbox Ghost to appear at our version of Haunted Mansion as well.
Disney has finally obliged, as The Hatbox Ghost will become a permanent fixture at Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion in 2023!
9. The Next Mickey’s Toontown Debuts
When D23 opened on Friday, two scale models drew everyone’s attention.
One of them is the currently closed Mickey’s Toontown. Disney had indicated that this themed land would return in spring 2023.
However, park officials had remained secretive about the details. Thankfully, these scale models showed everything in store for next year.
Disney has renamed Gadget’s Go Coaster to Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Gadget Coaster, and two restaurants have gained two names.
From now on, you’ll dine at Good Boy Grocer’s Market and Café Daisy. Most previous sets from Mickey’s Toontown will survive the transition, though.
Also, Disney revealed that the Disneyland iteration of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will differ from the one at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
We don’t know how yet, but I took that as excellent news! Every Disney should be slightly different.
8. Disney Reveals Its Treasure
Disney Cruise Line didn’t receive as much attention as in 2019 because Disney had already revealed the road map back then.
Still, Parks Chairperson Josh D’Amaro had a few tricks up his sleeve. First, the executive announced some first-time cruise destinations/itineraries.
More importantly, D’Amaro revealed the name and theme for the upcoming vessel in the fleet.
You may recall that Disney commissioned three mighty vessels before the pandemic. The Disney Wish represents the first of them.
Thanks to D23, we know that the next one will celebrate adventure. It’ll have a Grand Hall themed to Jasmine, Aladdin, and their magic carpet.
The name of this ship is the Disney Treasure, which strikes me as a fitting selection.
7. We Witness Lighthouse Point for the First Time
During the cruise segment, D’Amaro also showed his visit to the next place Disney Cruise Line fans will love.
Soon, Castaway Cay won’t be Disney’s only private island. Instead, Lighthouse Point will join it as another exclusive getaway for people on Disney cruises.
At one point, D’Amaro showed himself standing on the beach. Then, the camera panned back to show the entirety of the island.
Friends, this place is massive! I cannot believe that Disney Cruise Line guests will have the whole place to themselves. It’s gonna be incredible!
6. The Hulk Arrives
When Disney+ showed The Imagineering Story, one of the episodes involved future Disney projects.
Some of the technology on display utilized gigantic (and tiny!) Audio-Animatronics (AAs). Imagineers referred to it as Project Exo.
One of the AAs took the stage during the parks panel, and it was truly incredible.
Disney has built a Hulk AA that must be somewhere in the range of 15-20 feet tall and thicker than a brick wall to boot.
In short, I totally believed it was the Hulk. This character greeting will arrive at Disney California Adventure next week, and I cannot wait to see it in action!
5. The Mandalorian Appears…with a Friend!
Still, another character’s arrival at the parks panel mattered more to fans.
At one point, director Jon Favreau stood on stage and came face to face with one of his creations.
Favreau is the genius behind the blockbuster Disney+ series, The Mandalorian. And he revealed that Disneyland had always played a character greeting.
Alas, the pandemic delayed those plans from 2019 until now. After he explained this, The Mandalorian took the stage.
Favreau noted that this character will appear at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge starting in mid-November.
However, that’s not the arrival I’m referencing as the most important to fans.
The Mandalorian brought a friend. It’s Baby Yoda! Yes, this character greeting will include them both.
Folks, you’re only about two months away from taking pictures with Grogu, the greatest star in the Star Wars universe!
4. Disney Hints at a DinoLand Replacement
Some of these announcements are challenging to rank since they may be vaporware.
Disney discussed some theoreticals but didn’t confirm they were in the offing.
Still, we all know that DinoLand U.S.A. desperately needs an overhaul. This themed land features only two attractions, one of which is a glorified carnival ride.
Park officials know this and have created the blueprints for a pair of replacements.
At some point, Zootopia and/or Moana themed lands might go into the space currently occupied by and surrounding DinoLand, U.S.A.
Frankly, this one would have made the top two if Disney had announced it would definitely happen. It’s a massive story, but it’s not real yet.
3. Tiana Searches for the Secret Ingredient
The other scale model that worked as a gravity well was Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
Guests crowded elbow to elbow to look at the plans for the upcoming Splash Mountain re-theme.
When the parks panel started its Tiana discussion, the entire crowd screamed with joy. It was an inspirational moment for everyone in the room.
We also learned the story that will drive the action at Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.
In the aftermath of The Princess and the Frog, the chef has become the darling of New Orleans.
As a civic leader, Tiana embraces her new role and seeks to throw a party. She’s missing the secret ingredient to cook the perfect dish, though.
So, Tiana grabs her gator buddy, Louis, and heads to the bayou to track down the component that will bring the dish together.
Frankly, this ride looks spectacular and should quell any lingering doubts regarding the re-theme.
2. Disney Wonders What’s beyond Big Thunder Mountain
I so badly want to place this moment in first place, but I can’t for the same reason as Zootopia.
D’Amaro and two other Disney icons stood on stage and speculated about what lies beyond Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom.
The giant screens in the conference hall show images of a plan for Magic Kingdom II. This place would possibly consist of at least three themed lands.
Alternatively, Disney could use the area to build a new theme park. In that eventuality, the executives strongly hinted that it’d be the Villains theme park we’ve discussed.
I went into detail about the idea in 2020. But unfortunately, the article went live on March 10th. Some stuff happened in the world on March 11th.
Anyway, Disney showed that a blue-sky development exists for this fifth theme park.
Even if that doesn’t happen, Disney would use the region beyond Big Thunder Mountain to build Encanto and Coco attractions…probably.
D’Amaro and his team stubbornly refused to commit to this suggestion.
So, Magic Kingdom II remains entirely theoretical for now. That’s why I cannot list it first. So, instead, that honor goes to…
1. King Thanos Rules All
I mean, come on! We’re talking about a new E-ticket attraction at Avengers Campus at Disney’s California Adventure.
This ride would introduce Marvel heroes and villains from across the multiverse.
Everyone that we’ve ever watched in a Marvel movie or television series could ostensibly appear at this attraction. And that premise allows for the impossible.
In Marvel-616, the MCU we know, the heroes have defeated Thanos and snapped him and his cronies out of existence.
Across the multiverse, other versions of Thanos exist. Somehow, only one of them has ever emerged (permanently) victorious, though.
This ride tells the story of that character, the Thanos who won. Disney calls him King Thanos and has even given him a shiny crown to emphasize the triumph.
On the ride, countless Marvel characters must work together, possibly with complete strangers, to thwart Thanos and defeat him once and for all.
This description sounds like the most daring Disney theme park ride ever attempted. I cannot wait, and I’m sure you agree.
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