D23 2019 Disney Parks News Roundup

In this post, we’re going to be collecting news from D23 that pertains to Disney parks. If you’re looking for Disney+ or Disney films or anything else, there will be little to none of that here.

I’ll be providing my quick take on the items. There’s a source list at the bottom for major sources, because linking to the same articles over and over doesn’t seem helpful. Brackets next to item titles will list the sources. We encourage you to read all source posts in full.

Epcot

As expected, Epcot is getting the most attention at D23 2019.

New Epcot Concept Art, Tag Line, and Logo [1, 3]

New Epcot Concept Art and a new logo have been released. Click to expand each (both Copyright Disney, Fair Use claimed). The new tag line is “the magic of possibility.”

A few things jump out about the art. First, the building that used to house Innoventions West is just completely gone, replaced by greenery and a water feature (discussed below). You can also see the completed Guardians coaster building (bottom left), and the former Wonders of Life pavilion spitting out some colors as part of its overhaul into the “Play” pavilion.

End of Future World [2, 3]

Epcot will be broken into four neighborhoods now: World Showcase, World Discovery (current Future World East), World Celebration (current middle of Future World), and World Nature (current Future World West).

You can read more about these areas, including the addition of a statue of Walt Disney and some other new structures, in the source posts.

Spaceship Earth “Transformation” [2, 3]

Details were limited on the transformation coming to Spaceship Earth, and that’s either because:

  1. It won’t be getting IP and Bob Chapek prefers to talk about things with IP

  2. It will be getting IP, and Bob knew how much people would freak out if he told us

We don’t know which. Spaceship Earth has changed a lot through the years, always remaining mostly a graceful testament to the Epcot of old.

spaceship earth.jpeg

To us, it remains shocking that such an ambitious attraction was built and continues to exist in a world Bob Chapek openly wants everything to be painted in Disney characters.

We’ll be watching this one closely, but we’ll also be riding Spaceship Earth as much as possible on our upcoming trips because whatever the changes, this version of the ride won’t be along much longer. No date was given for work to begin.

Mary Poppins Area and Attraction Coming to UK Pavilion [2, 3]

Details are limited, but the UK Pavilion will get a “Cherry Tree Lane” update which is expected to replace some of the rear of the pavilion. While we love this area, we love it because it is so rarely trafficked. It’s not surprising to see Disney want to squeeze more from this space.

A Mary Poppins attraction was also announced, though no details were give. We’re expecting this to be an enhanced character greeting similar to Enchanted Tales with Belle, but we can’t offer any reason other than “it makes sense” (low-budget, on-character, requires little space).

New Moana Attraction [1]

The aforementioned water feature is a new Moana attraction, Journey of Water. This is a walkthrough attraction that allows you “interact with beautiful, living water.”

Copyright Disney | Fair Use Claimed

Copyright Disney | Fair Use Claimed

I have no problem with bringing Moana (or any character) to Epcot if it’s done right. And I like the idea of an attractions that celebrates the human-nature connection near The Land and The Seas pavilions. Shade is a big plus if the pathway winds up looking like the concept art.

If there’s one problem I could see, it’s that this attraction is just “more walking.” Personally, I love parks that are heavy on exploration (think Epcot and Animal Kingdom). But I also know some people just want to kick back, ride rides, and watch shows (Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios).

That said, Epcot is getting at least two new rides in the coming years. Not every inch of the park was ever going to be covered in rides, and this seems a perfectly good use of some “empty” space between attractions.

Guardians of the Galaxy Coaster Updates [2]

The coaster will be named Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and will feature a “reverse launch” where you start the ride facing backwards.

Space Restaurant Updates [2, 3]

The restaurant next to Mission: Space will be called Space 220 and will offer “views” of Earth from 220 miles away.

Walt Disney Imagineering Presents… [1]

Beginning this October, the Odyssey building will be transformed to a Walt Disney Imagineering Presents… facility showing off the future of Epcot. I love the corresponding exhibit for Pixar Pier in Disney California Adventure despite my aversion to Pixar Pier. It’s cool to learn more about the imagineering behind things.

Copyright Disney | Fair Use Claimed

Copyright Disney | Fair Use Claimed

I’m not sure all the bright lights and colors are necessary in every piece of concept art. This is just going to be an exhibit allowing people to see the future of the park. This space is typically used to house Festival activities, so it’s unclear how those will be impacted.

The food service counter, which would be located at the bottom of the photo, is also rumored to be the home of the new Starbucks. This will certainly bring additional foot traffic to the exhibit (if the rumors are true), which is kind of a bummer because usually these things can be a good place to escape the crowds.

Other Epcot Updates [2, 3]

These aren’t “lesser” updates, but they’re more to the point or just updates on items that were previously announced.

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will open summer 2020 in the France Pavilion. The France Pavilion will also see a change whereby Impressions de France splits theater time with the new Beauty and the Beast Sing Along beginning January 2020.

We’ve got three new films coming to the park. A new circle vision film will debut in the Canada Pavilion in January 2020. A new film is also coming to the China Pavilion, but a date was not specified. A new film, “Awesome Planet” will debut in the Land pavilion in January 2020.

The new nighttime show, after the temporary Epcot Forever, will be called HarminoUS and will debut in 2020. The Play Pavilion will open in time for the resort’s 50th anniversary celebration, which should begin sometime in 2021.

Hollywood Studios

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway (Source)

The “updates” here are mostly concept art. We’re expecting a spring 2020 opening in Hollywood Studios and a 2022 opening in Disneyland. Attractions Magazine shared some shots of a model vehicle.

Magic Kingdom

With Magic Kingdom’s TRON expected to largely be identical to the ride in Shanghai Disneyland, the ride vehicles are nothing new. But here they are via The Dis.

Walt Disney World Hotels

Star Wars Hotel / Experience (Source)

The new Star Wars hotel will be called Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. We got a few updates on this but few hard facts. The hotel also got its own website.

The experience is going to be cruise-like. Guests will arrive and depart together, boarding the ship for a two-night adventure. No word yet on how you might visit the rest of Disney World during these two days, though it’s sounding mightily like the aim is for you to not do so.

The experience is going to be immersive. No real news here, but they are emphasizing that every window on the ship will have a view of the “galaxy.” From the moment you board, you’ll be a part of a story that changes depending on your activities and actions.

No dates or prices announced. While there have been rumors about pricing, I think other writers have it right, and we should wait for Disney to actually announce anything hard on this.

star wars hotel.jpg

Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Resort (Source)

The DVC resort will have a restaurant themed to Princess and the Frog. Other minor details were announced.

Disneyland

Magic Happens Parade (Source)

A new parade, the Magic Happens Parade is coming to Disneyland. The parade will debut spring 2020. The parade will (presumably) replace Mickey’s Soundsational Parade.

While I’ve never loved any parade, I’ve always thought sound and music were a cool theme. “Magic” is a much more generic theme. That said, there’s no sense in overthinking the parades. Magic Happens will have impressive floats from your favorite Disney stories (Coco [pictured], Moana, and Sleeping Beauty are confirmed), and that’s mostly what matters.

Copyright Disney | Fair Use Claimed

Copyright Disney | Fair Use Claimed

Avengers Campus

The new Avengers area at Disney California Adventure (and Walt Disney Studios Park, Paris) will be called Avengers Campus. We have a separate post where we’ve relocated our coverage of the Avengers Campus.

Copyright Disney | Fair Use Claimed

Copyright Disney | Fair Use Claimed

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line announced their fifth ship would be named The Disney Wish. The ship will begin sailing in January 2022.

Disney will begin operating a new port of its own at Lighthouse Point on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. In broad strokes, this is like Castaway Cay but not an entire island. But…

Joe Rohde, the visionary imagineer behind Animal Kingdom and Aulani (Disney’s Hawaiian resort) is the lead on this project. Joe talked about bringing Bahamian culture to the port.

As we’re huge fans of both Animal Kingdom and Aulani, we are incredibly amped to see what this port looks like. For us, this is truly the most important update of the panel, but we understand cruises are a niche interest.

Hong Kong Disneyland

Frozen Coming to Hong Kong (Source)

We’ve known for some time that Hong Kong Disneyland would be getting a Frozen-inspired area, and we got a few more details about that. We now know the land will include:

  • Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs, which looks like a coaster similar to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

  • Frozen Ever After, the popular Epcot boat ride

Last I Heard, the land will open 2021.

New Hong Kong Disneyland Castle

A model of the new castle (“Castle of Magical Dreams”) being built at Hong Kong Disneyland is present. Here are some shots from the twitter account of Ziggy Knows Disney:

Shanghai Disneyland [2]

Shanghai was discussed very briefly, getting only some non-details about the new Zootopia area coming to the park.

Other Items of Note

Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary

No updates on the precise dates of the celebration, but it will come to all four parks, not just Magic Kingdom.

New Cirque du Soleil Show

Disney Springs will have a new Cirque show, inspired by Disney animation. Previews start March 20, with a debut April 17. Tickets are now on sale.

Disney Genie (Source)

Disney Genie is a new digital planning tool targeted for an end-2020 release. The idea here is to save you all the trouble of planning by letting a Disney app do it for you. I have a few thoughts…

First, I barely trust a Disney app to make a single FastPass+ booking for me. The current app crashes or otherwise glitches constantly.

Second, Disney World IT needs a complete overhaul. People forget that systems for measuring wait times, regulating FastPass+ distribution, managing dinner reservations, providing GPS directions, etc. aren’t built to seamlessly work together.

You can’t just “link” two systems—let alone a dozen(!)—and achieve perfection. Magic Bands cost $1 billion to develop, and it’s clear IT needs even more than that to achieve lofty goals like doing all your planning.

Third, I think this will be mostly facade. This tool will be for people who would otherwise just show up to the parks and be overwhelmed. To that end, getting them on eight rides in a day at Magic Kingdom will probably be enough. Screenshot supporting this idea:

Screen Shot 2019-08-26 at 9.30.44 AM.png