D23 - Parks and Resorts
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Bob Chapek took to the stage Saturday afternoon at D23 Expo to show off their offerings for the next two years. Often seen as Disney’s secret weapon, Parks and Resorts accommodate for almost a quarter of the company's earnings. This was an opportunity for them to prove that they are serious about the competition they are seeing from Universal Studios, SeaWorld and Merlin Entertainment.
Starting off strong, the first topic was Star Wars. Rather, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. These new lands are set to open in 2019, with Disneyland Resort opening first. While similar in nature, these two lands are set to be slightly different. Both will feature two attractions, one being trackless, the other being an interactive simulator. But perhaps the biggest selling point is the unique characters who will be roaming and interacting with guests. This, however, we would learn is not the biggest announcement Disney have.
Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is set to get an overhaul before its 50th anniversary in 2021. Starting with Disney's Hollywood Studios, Toy Story land will open next summer. The land which is similar to Hong Kong and Disneyland Paris is set to accommodate both thrill seekers and children. The main attraction is a rollercoaster based on Slinky Dog as well as a teacup style riding featuring the Aliens. This park’s former headline attraction, The Great Movie Ride, is set to be replaced with a new ride based on the big cheese himself, Mickey Mouse. Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, is a new dark ride attraction based on the new Mickey Mouse shorts. The story of this attraction is Mickey and Minnie are on their way to a picnic when they bump into Goofy who has somehow become a train engineer. Oblivious to what could happen, they board the train with Goofy. I do not need to tell you what happens next. This attraction is set to use Walt Disney Imagineering's newest technologies, bringing the cartoon world of Mickey Mouse to life. No date has been given on the attractions opening, but we can assume that this will be before Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary.
This isn't the only park seeing some attention at Walt Disney World. Magic Kingdom is seeing a brand-new rollercoaster straight from Shanghai. Tron Light Cycle Power Run is a high-speed rollercoaster based on 2010's Tron Legacy. This rollercoaster is set to be built between Space Mountain and Tomorrowland Speedway. This is despite rumours that it would be replacing the latter entirely. Furthermore, Main Street USA will see a brand-new theatre. This theatre will be modelled after the Willis Theatre in Kansas City. A production for this theatre is yet to be named.
Seeing a much needed upgrade is Walt Disney World’s transportation infrastructure. Linking three hotels and two theme parks, is a new skyway system Disney is calling Disney Skyliner. This gondola system isn't unlike the Emirates Airline in London. Furthermore, Disney is launching a new Uber-like service, they are calling Minnie-Vans. This point to point transportation system is set to allow guests to travel to any area of Walt Disney World they wish.
Perhaps the biggest news of all, is Epcot. Many rumours were proven correct as the Guardians of the Galaxy will be moving into Future World, replacing Ellen's Energy Adventure. The Guardians of the Galaxy will guide you through a rollercoaster that is set to follow Epcot's original message.
Though we are not seeing a new pavilion in World Showcase, we are seeing an expansion in some pavilions. France is set to get the popular Ratatouille: The Adventure from Disneyland Paris. This attraction is widely lauded as one of Disney's best attractions. Because of this, we will see new areas of France.
The China Pavilion, which does not have a large attraction of its own, is set to have a new Circle Vision style attraction. This will be the first Circle Vision attraction which is digital and seamless. One final glimpse into the future of Epcot, was the addition of a new restaurant which is set to send guests out of this world, featuring panoramic views of space.
It’s not just restaurants that will be taking guests out of this world. Walt Disney Imagineering is designing a hotel experience which will send guests into the world of Star Wars. This hotel will be a multi-day experience and is set to be one of the most immersive experiences Disney's ever created.
On the West Coast, Disneyland will be seeing a year of Pixar next year. Pixar Fest will be a year-long festival celebrating the best of Pixar's creativity and characters. These ‘event years’ are not new to Disney. Disneyland Paris used to have event years almost every year. These are aimed to drive growth in the parks and increase attendance. Highlights of this event year include, the takeover of Paradise Pier to become Pixar Pier, and the addition of the Pixar Play Parade in Disneyland Park. Paint The Night is set to return to Disneyland Resort, however it will debut at Disney's California Adventure.
As promised, Marvel’s presence in DCA will grow, though new attractions haven’t been named, it’s confirmed that Spider-Man and the Avengers will be the characters for them.
Disney have just completed their buyout of Disneyland Paris. Their first big announcement as whole owners is that the Hotel New York will feature Marvel characters and artefacts. This is likely to be the first of many Marvel changes to Disneyland Paris, I expect Walt Disney Studios will see the addition of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT’, the first of many Marvel attractions coming to Disneyland Paris.
These announcements have only proved that Disney are on top of their game when it comes to tourism. The next few years are set to see increased growth across all the resorts around the world. Whether it be Star Wars, Mickey Mouse, Marvel or Pixar, the future of the Disney Parks looks bright.