What Happened to All These Announcements from the D23 Expo in 2019?
This past weekend saw the long-awaited D23 Expo, a fan event full of first looks, announcements, and updates about the future of all things Disney.
On Sunday, fans around the world tuned in to watch the livestream, as chairperson Josh D’Amaro hosted the panel on Parks, Experiences, and Products, and it was a fantastic couple of hours full of amazing announcements about brand-new and exciting offerings coming to the Disney Parks and beyond!
The panel was amazing, but there were some parts that left us scratching our heads. Earlier this week, I wrote a post about the things we didn’t hear announced at the convention, despite our best hopes!
One major talking point following the panel was the lack of consistency between this year’s expo, and the one that happened back in 2019. At the Parks panel that year, so many amazing things were announced to be coming soon to the parks, yet many of these announcements seemed to have been shelved, forgotten, or lost, with no mention of them at all since.
Today, I’m going to take a look at these “lost” announcements, see where each of them went, and speculate on the future of each one.
A Note on the Pandemic
Of course, back in 2019 we had no idea about the scale of the upheaval that would be caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The long park closures affected progress on many of the resort’s plans, causing an unfortunate yet unavoidable stopper on a lot of the dreams Imagineers had hoped to create. This was especially true in advance of the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World back in October 2021.
However, during the Parks panel this year, Josh D’Amaro did express his delight at being able to report that the Imagineers were “back on track” following the pandemic.
What he didn’t say was whether or not this track looped back to the projects announced in 2019, and that’s the question that has left us scratching our heads today.
The Epcot Overhaul
Reading through this article, you’ll notice that the vast majority of the “lost” announcements are central to Epcot, over at Walt Disney World.
The 2019 Expo was full of announcements for this ever-developing park, with many revelations – such as the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind coaster, Harmonious nighttime spectactacular, and Awesome Planet movie – all appearing as promised in the past couple of years.
One such attraction was the Epcot Experience, which took over the Odyssey Events Pavilion from October 2019. In this experience, guests were able to get a physical preview of the vision of Epcot that was presented at the expo.
This attraction closed to guests in early 2022, and seems to have taken a lot of these dreams and plans with it. Read on to learn more about the attractions and experiences that seem to have disappeared since the last D23 Expo, and join us in wondering – will we hear of them again?
A big Epcot plan from D23 2019 that we haven’t heard anything about this year was the Play! Pavilion, a fantastic, high-tech new area that was to take over the Wonders of Life pavilion in the park.
Dubbed as an “interactive city,” this pavilion was set to be a playground full of unique games, activities, and character adventures. It really did sound awesome!
Of course, the pandemic threw a spanner in the plans for this pavilion to open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World in October 2021, but we aren’t sure of whether the project is still going ahead today.
Mary Poppins Attraction
Much to the delight of fans, it was also reported that the UK Pavilion at Epcot would receive an attraction inspired by Mary Poppins. Little more was revealed, except that the attraction would center around the Banks’ family home, on 17 Cherry Tree Lane.
It was announced at a shareholder call in March this year that this project had been placed on hold, shelving it without further insight on whether or not the practically perfect nanny will fly into the World Showcase any time soon.
Spaceship Earth’s Big Re-Imagining
One of the big plans that I think most of us were especially excited for was the re-imagining of Epcot’s most iconic attraction, Spaceship Earth.
The plans were going to shift the focus from progress to storytelling, with a brand new narration and score.
The attraction was set to close for a lengthy refurbishment in May of 2020, however since the whole resort closed because of the pandemic, the development didn’t happen.
In June of 2020 it was confirmed the works would be delayed, and that was the last we heard. Nothing to do with Spaceship Earth was announced at the D23 expo this past weekend.
Many die-hard fans of the current version of Spaceship Earth will likely be thrilled about the lack of progress in this area. After all, it is one of those iconic attractions that many guests wouldn’t want to see changed.
But, others will agree that the ride seems somewhat dated, and the storytelling idea would be a welcome upgrade to the well-loved attraction.
However, no matter what side you take in this argument, the lack of update at the expo makes us unsure whether or not the overhaul is still set to happen after all.
Back to the World Showcase, and another attraction we never saw or heard from after the D23 Expo 2019. Wondrous China was set to be a brand-new circle-vision 360 film, an update to the current film showing within the China Pavilion at Epcot.
Although this project was shelved, we will say that the Canada Far and Wide film, that was announced at the same time, did “pan out” over at the Canada Pavilion.
Why we still don’t have Wondrous China, however, remains a mystery.
Another Epcot project we have been waiting on is Dreamers Point. This area was set to make up the exit to Spaceship Earth, and would offer guests a fantastic spot for taking in views over the World Showcase.
A statue of Walt, a wishing tree, and a “story fountain” were also said to be added to this area, which sounds like it would have been a gorgeous, laid-back area to enjoy.
Reflections: A Lakeside Lodge Resort
A huge project announced at the 2019 expo was the development of Reflections: A Lakeside Lodge. This ambitious project was set to be the newest Disney Vacation Club resort at Walt Disney World, and land between Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge was marked out in readiness.
A Princess and the Frog-inspired restaurant was also announced for this resort, which was set to be inspired on the beauty of the natural environment around us.
Although we got a glimpse of construction efforts back in 2021, nothing has been mentioned or seen about this resort project since the expo’s initial announcement.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Now, this is a bit of a wildcard entry on this list, because it is a project that was mentioned during the expo this year.
The awesome Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway attractions were announced for both Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort back at the 2019 expo, with the Disney’s Hollywood Studios ride slated to open in 2020 (which it did.)
However, the Disneyland attraction was slated for opening in 2022, but this aim was obviously affected by the pandemic. Progress is still underway on the attraction over on the West Coast, and this was confirmed by Josh D’Amaro at the expo this year. However, a solid date for the ride’s opening is still yet to be announced.
In fact, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is just one of many attractions and experienced that we are still waiting on a date for, as detailed in my last article here. So, it looks like we’ll be keeping our diaries open for a bit longer, as we wait to hear more information!
What’s most interesting about the lack of information regarding each of these updates at the D23 Expo this past weekend, is that it leaves us in further confusion as to the future of their development.
Is the fact that they were not mentioned at all a sign that they are not going to be going forward any more, as though forgotten? Or, is it just that the projects are still going to happen, and there was just no information ready to be shared just yet?
Either way, we’ll be keeping our ears to the ground. Of course, we’ll be sharing everything we learn here on MickeyBlog, and over on our social channels too – the best places to look for all the best Disney parks news, history, updates, facts, and more!
Featured Image Credit: Disney