Let’s Talk about Those Other Disney Projects from D23
While discussing the 2022 D23 Expo, we’ve prioritized everything that impacts the American theme parks.
I’ve been a bit short-sighted, though. After all, we’ve watched multiple European and Chinese Disney attractions influence American parks.
We wouldn’t even have Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT if not for Disneyland Paris!
So, we should pay attention to what’s happening overseas as well. Let’s talk about those other Disney projects from D23!
Okay, this themed land matters the most out of everything we discuss today.
I say this because part of the Disney Parks panel involved an impending change at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
While park officials didn’t commit to DinoLand U.S.A. makeover, they strongly hinted that it’s coming.
Specifically, Disney stated that Zootopia and Moana themed lands appear likely as DinoLand replacements.
I’d like to see how Disney’s private illustrations distribute the land for these projects. But I’ll presume for now that Animal Kingdom’s themed land echoes the Shanghai one.
That’s exciting because Disney showed this clip of a Zootopia Audio-Animatronic (AA):
That’s Benjamin Clawhauser, the adorable cheetah police officer from Zootopia.
While the dialogue is Mandarin, it hints at the fact that this ride will involve a Gazelle concert. Who’s Gazelle? Remember this Disney hit song?
International superstar Shakira voices Gazelle in the film and sings Try Everything.
Also, at the 1:20 mark of that music video, you understand the potential promise of Zootopia. It fits perfectly with Animal Kingdom’s theme.
After all, we’re talking about a world of anthropomorphic animals! Imagineers could have so much fun creating this place.
Disney hopes to open the themed land, possibly named City of Zootopia, by the end of 2023.
During the D23 panel, park officials showed images of the streets and buildings coming to Zootopia. They were impossibly kawaii, as is Officer Clawhauser.
While we should expect the Animal Kingdom version of Zootopia to vary at least somewhat, the AAs and attractions could be the same.
Once Disney creates tech like Project Exo, it often tries to reuse the concept.
Still, an American Zootopia must fit with Animal Kingdom’s existing structure. So, I expect more deference to nature here than at the Shanghai Disneyland version.
Arendelle: World of Frozen
I’m not saying we will definitely get an American version of the Arendelle themed land…but it is highly likely.
Disney is currently constructing Arendelle at Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, and Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris Resort.
That’s half the Disney theme parks in the world that will open World of Frozen themed lands.
Also, the Disney Wish celebrates Frozen with a fully themed dining experience.
Folks, Disney is all-in on Frozen, and I doubt that they stop with Frozen Ever After at EPCOT. You should expect more in a few years as word of Arendelle spreads.
Realistically, we know this themed land must be excellent AND in high demand if Disney is building three of them simultaneously.
Imagineers have established the setting for Arendelle as between the events of Frozen and Frozen 2. That means Elsa is still queen.
As one of her first initial decrees, Elsa proclaims Summer Snow Day. If that sounds familiar, you’ve been paying attention!
Oaken offers a Summer Snow Day Blowout in the movie, and Frozen Ever After reinforces the concept.
So, we already possess a decent idea of how the theming will look at Arendelle. But then again, it’s kinda obvious. It’ll look like the movies!
Right now, Hong Kong Disneyland fans appear the most fortunate. Its Arendelle should open first.
Construction on the building exteriors is nearly complete, and the place looks like the kind of picturesque miniature you’d use as a Christmas decoration.
Looking at the photos makes me want to grab an electric blanket and sip some hot cocoa. Disney has encapsulated the Norse charm of Frozen.
Of course, if you’ve paid attention inside the ride building at Frozen Ever After, you already knew this. It’s some of the same architecture.
Okay, I’m getting waaaaaaaaaaaay ahead of myself here, but I’m eyeballing that Space Mountain update pretty hard.
For those of you who missed the announcement, Tokyo Disneyland intends to reimagine its Tomorrowland.
In a way, this park follows the same path as Magic Kingdom, which will complete its Tomorrowland updates next spring.
Disney has used Tron Lightcycle Power Run and its unique lighted canopy structure to change the visuals at Tomorrowland.
At Tokyo Disneyland, park officials will do the same with Space Mountain. Disney will tear down the original version and replace it with something new.
You heard me. We’re talking about a 2027 version of Space Mountain. I cannot imagine how hot that roller coaster will be.
Notably, the images from Space Mountain show that it changes color at night. It’ll create the glowing backdrop for the entirety of Tomorrowland.
Obviously, Magic Kingdom doesn’t need that, while Disneyland Park likes its seasonal Hyperspace Mountain Star Wars theme.
Still, I strongly suspect that Disneyland officials are at least toying with the notion of doing something similar.
I doubt Magic Kingdom would replace the original version of Space Mountain, but Disneyland is fair game.
The visuals for the upcoming Space Mountain re-theme seem straight out of a Jules Verne novel. They’re sublime. This is the most exciting current Disney project for me.
Other International Updates
Disney also revealed an Elsa Audio-Animatronic for the Tokyo DisneySea version of Arendelle.
I think it looks eerily similar to the one that functions as the centerpiece at Frozen Ever After.
However, many critics lament that the special effects on those AAs are prone to tear up or look fake at times.
Disney has suggested that it has streamlined the tech since Frozen Ever After opened in 2016. So, I’m curious how much of that is hype versus real.
Also, apropos of nothing, Hong Kong Disneyland announced the impending addition of a Best Friends statue.
I’m mentioning this just to make you happy. Somewhere on the other side of the world, people love Disney just as much as you do.
We’re all inspired by a man who sat on a park bench, watched his daughters play, and suddenly invented the concept of the theme park.
I love that so many Disney parks immortalize that moment, as it’s why they all exist.
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