Sunday 16 August 2015

D23 Parks and Resorts Round up

Today saw the Parks and Resorts presentation at the 2015 D23 conference in Anaheim, California. We got a sneak peak at the future of Disney theme parks both in the U.S. and internationally. We saw some new details about existing projects, as well as some official announcements of some heavily rumored projects at WDW and Disneyland. So here is a quick official Round Up of what has been announced at D23 so far.

Firstly, before the big presentation today, we heard an official name for the restaurant that is being constructed on the Adventureland Veranda, the Skipper Canteen. The restaurant (as suspected) will have a Jungle Cruise theme, with a cute little back story that ties it to the Society of Explorers and Adventures.

The next big announcement was Star Wars Land. This is the biggest announcement of D23 so far, for both WDW and Disneyland Resort. Firstly, both Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland are going to get a new 14 acre land. The expansions are the biggest in park expansions that either resort has ever had. It will be anchored by 2 E-ticket rides, one that is connected to the Millennium Falcon, and one that will be connected with the up coming Episode 7. There will also be a Cantina, which will reportedly be serving Blue Milk. The big twist thus far is that the land will be from a "new" planet which has never before been seen. It is unclear whether this planet will be featured in one of the upcoming 5 announced Star Wars movie, or if it will be an entirely novel planet.

The announcements about Star Wars were tempered by the statements that it is going to take some time. In the meantime both Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios will be featuring a temporary attraction called the "Star Wars Launch Bay" (into the former Innoventions pavilion at Disneyland and the former Animation pavilion space at Disney's Hollywood Studios). A similar attraction to this has been mentioned for Shanghai Disneyland also. We are also going to see an expansion to the Star Wars Weekends, to be the "Season of the Force" at both DHS and DL. There will be new fireworks for DHS and an overlay of Space Mountain for Disneyland called "Hyperspace Mountain". We also were told that there will be additional scenes coming to the existing Star Tours rides in the coming years.

Overall, this is a huge announcement, and if they can deliver on the hype they have built up it will be a huge delivery. We knew this was coming for DHS, but while there had been rumors about Disneyland, nothing to the scale of 14 acres had been suggested.

The second big announcement of this event was the official announcement of Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios. This will be an add on to the existing Pixar Place land, which will include an extra track for Toy Story Mania, and at least 3 additional rides. There will be a new ride Slinky Dog roller coaster, which will designed for families. There will be a new spinner ride themed to the Green Aliens, which will include a reference to the dreaded "claw". There will also be a clone of the Army man drop ride from the existing Toy Story Playlands in Hong Kong Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios Paris. In all this looks better than the existing Toy Story Playlands, but it wasn't quiet the detailed Pixar expansion we were hoping for.

We saw some further details about the Avatar expansion at Disney Hollywood Studios. The only major news (other than a really impressive looking model) was that the flying ride will be known as the "Flight of Passage". Everything else mentioned had been previously showcased.

Oh, did you know there was going to be a Frozen ride at Epcot? Of course you did, it's been freaking everywhere for the last year. Nothing new here.

Over in Tokyo, we saw some details of the recently announced expansion to Fantasyland in Tokyo Disneyland, with the Alice in Wonderland and Beauty and the Beast mini-lands looking quiet impressive. We also heard a little about the upcoming "port" in Tokyo DisneySea themed to mega-hit Frozen. Like everything else in that park, it looks like it will be annoyingly breathe-taking.

Next we saw details of the Iron Man Experience ride at Hong Kong Disneyland. This ride looks like a more modern version of Star Tours, although a lot of people are comparing the action taking place to Transformers. It will be interesting to see if how Universal has stepped up the simulator ride experience in the last 10 years has had an effect inside WDI.

We saw some enticing details on the Shanghai Disneyland project. Nothing which hadn't previously been discussed as far as I can tell. I think the idea here was to stir up a bit of state-side interest in the Shanghai development. It would be good if this park had some international sales going for it, just in case it doesn't take with the local community in China.

We rounded out the major presentation with a bit of official news, that had been strongly rumored. Soarin' Over California at Disney's California Adventure and Epcot, will be getting a new global film next year and will become Soarin' Over the Horizon. This film will match the previously announced film for Shanghai Disneyland.

So that's a quick round up of what we know so far. The convention continues for another day, so we may yet get a few more details. We'd still love to hear the new name for Disney's Hollywood Studios, but that is looking less and less likely.

If you want to check out my twitter account, you will see about a thousand tweets shared from people who were attending today's D23 session and quiet a few reactions. I'll give more of the reaction when I do this weeks News Update on Tuesday. Until then, Cheers!!


  1. The toy story rides sound super cute! Oh my gosh Alice in Wonderland & Beauty and the Beast mini-lands- eep!! I can only imagine would be super amazing!

    1. Yes, Heddie is excited about the Alice in Wonderland land in particular. Japan is on the list, and these lands will be old by the time we get there, but still cool to us!! Check out some of the concept art for it here: