Today at D23 Expo 2022, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro shared a look into the future for Disney theme parks and beyond, with announcements that spanned new attractions, new lands, new shows, and so much more.
Singer-songwriter Jordan Fisher kicked off the show with a rousing performance of the popular anthem “Happily Ever After.”
D’Amaro took to the stage saying, ““It’s terrific to be together in person and connect with our fans again at D23 Expo. I love sharing in the excitement with them for what we have ahead of us.”
“As the world’s greatest storytellers, I’m thrilled to share the new and innovative ways we are bringing next-generation Disney magic to life across Disney parks and experiences.”
D’Amaro then thanked Fisher and dropped the news that “Happily Ever After” would be returning to Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in 2023.
It was the first of many reveals during the 2-hour panel, so let’s get into it all:
“It feels like home here.” D’Amaro said about Disneyland before welcoming Disney Legend Jon Favreau.
The two were talking about opening “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge,” when they were interrupted by The Mandalorian approaching with an animatronic Grogu on his hip.
This brought the announcement that the duo would be appearing in person at Disneyland in mid-November 2022. Favreau explained that he worked with Disney Imagineering to make sure the design was as authentic to the show as possible.
After he left, D’Amaro introduced President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige, by asking him when did Marvel start doing Broadway shows (referencing the “Rogers The Musical” performance during the Marvel panel yesterday).
“Broadway is our territory (referring to Disney on Broadway). I’m going to start making Marvel movies,” D’Amaro said.
“I wish you the best of luck,” quipped Feige.
The duo then began to talk about all the new things coming to “Avengers Campus” when they were interrupted via video by actor Mark Ruffalo, who plays the Hulk in the MCU.
He said there were some colorful superhero outfits at “Avengers Campus,” but maybe they should add a little green.
Saying, “How’d he get this number?,” Feige and D’Amaro were again interrupted by an actual Hulk in his “Avengers: Endgame” time traveling outfit. With Ruffalo providing the voice, the trio announced the Hulk would be appearing in person at Disneyland starting next week for a limited time.
That wasn’t the only “Avengers Campus” announcement D’Amaro and Feige made.
In conjunction with the “Multiverse Saga” announced by Feige at SDCC22, a never-before-seen third attraction with a brand-new story was announced for “Avengers Campus.”
Feige in explaining the ride said, “It will have the marvel heroes battling all the villains from everywhere…from everywhen.”
They then showed art of the big bad villain from the attraction: King Thanos, with a white beard. This is a more evil version of Thanos than the one the Avengers battled, according to Feige.
Feige left the stage, but D’Amaro kept adding more Disneyland Resort news:
Just around the corner from “Avengers Campus,” Pacific Wharf will be reimagined as San Fransokyo from the Oscar-winning Disney Animation film “Big Hero 6,”complete with a place to meet Baymax, as well as new spots to eat and shop.
At Disneyland park, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will invite guests into a cartoon world where toon rules apply, and Mickey’s Toontown will step into a new era of inclusive experiences for families of all ages when it opens in early 2023.
Progress continues on the reimagining of the Paradise Pier Hotel which now has a new name: Pixar Place Hotel. It will also have a new “Finding Nemo”-themed splash pad for families.
Over at the Downtown Disney District, more than a dozen new and reimagined locations will open. D’Amaro added to that list today with the announcement of Southern Californian favorite, Porto’s Bakery & Café will open in 2023. Interestingly, the brand has a location near Disneyland in Buena Park already.
For running fans, runDisney races will return to the resort in 2024, after a seven year absence.
After all those announcements, D’Amaro started a special segment introducing “Tiana’s Bayou,” the retheming of “Splash Mountain” coming to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 2024.
Imagineers joined D’Amaro onstage to discuss new story details for the attraction, and an image of the attraction lit up at night was shown.
D’Amaro also announced that several members of the original film cast will return to lend their voices to the attraction, including Anika Noni Rose as Tiana, Bruno Campos as Naveen, Michael-Leon Wooley as Louis and Jenifer Lewis as Mama Odie.
Rose then appeared in person and performed a medley of songs from “Princess and the Frog.”
At the end of his full presentation, D’Amaro shared news of the upcoming “Disney 100 Years of Wonder” (“Disney100“), the biggest celebration in the history of the company.
He said new décor, specialty food and beverages, character experiences and more will come to parks around the world, with the heart of the celebration rooted at Disneyland Resort.
Two new nighttime spectaculars will kick off in late January at Disneyland Resort as part of the celebration:
“World of Color – One” at Disney California Adventure will celebrate the storytelling legacy started by Walt Disney a century ago. D’Amaro said it’s going to be “World of Color” like you’ve never seen it before, with an all-new inspiring story told through some favorite characters.
“Wondrous Journeys” at Disneyland park will “ignite the wonder in everyone” and feature nods to all 60 Walt Disney Animation Studios films to date, taking viewers on a journey filled with artistry, music, storytelling and heart.
Special entertainment moments will also pop up across the resort, including the long-awaited return of the “Magic Happens” parade Spring 2023.
WALT DISNEY WORLD
In addition to “Tiana’s Bayou,” D’Amaro shared some news from Walt Disney World, now in the middle of its 50th Celebration.
EPCOT continues to evolve as part of preparations for it’s 40th Anniversary.
The next major milestone in EPCOT’s multi-year transformation will include the completion of the World Celebration neighborhood in late 2023. It will also be home to “Dreamers Point,” an inspiring new area where you can view the new Walt Disney statue called “Walt the Dreamer.”
“Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana” will also open in late 2023, inviting guests to follow the story of water on the planet, inspired by Moana’s connection to the ocean. One of its anchors will be the Goddess Te Fiti in all of her lush glory.
And an exciting return is in the works as fan-favorite character Figment will begin to do meet-and-greets with park guests by the end of 2023.
Finally, D’Amaro mentioned they are working on a crafting an all new nighttime spectacular at EPCOT for the “Disney100” Celebration, to debut in late 2023.
Over at Magic Kingdom, D’Amaro said TRON / Lightcycle Run will invite guests to enter the Grid in Spring 2023, and showed a video of him doing a test ride.
He also mentioned the Hatbox Ghost will materialize again at “The Haunted Mansion” in 2023. No date was given, but coincidentally, “The Haunted Mansion” movie comes out March 10, 2023, so my guess is the ghost may appear around that time.
More to Come
And that’s it for the first half of our coverage of the “Boundless Future for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products” hosted by Josh D’Amaro at D23 Expo 2022.
Part two is up covering all of the other parks and the Disney Cruise Line. Make sure you don’t miss it…lots of great news to share!
Which of the Disneyland and Walt Disney World announcements are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments!