September 14, 2022

D23 highlights: These Disneyland, Disney World Additions Will Have Fans Itching to Go Back

Disney fans have a lot to look forward to in the next couple of years at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro dropped a slew of new announcements Sunday at Disney's D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, including opening dates for several highly anticipated attractions like TRON Lightcycle Run and "blue sky" ideas like an area overrun by Disney villains.

"We're always, always in search of Walt's great big beautiful tomorrows," D'Amaro said.

Here are the biggest D23 announcements for Disney World, Disneyland, and other Disney properties around the globe, which will all be celebrating Disney's 100th anniversary next year.

What's coming to Disney World

  • "Happily Ever After" will return to Magic Kingdom next year with new updates.
  • TRON Lightcycle Run will open in spring 2023 in Magic Kingdom.
  • The Hatbox Ghost, a Haunted Mansion icon at Disneyland, will come to Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion next year.
  • A new nighttime spectacular is in development for EPCOT and will debut in 2023.
  • Figment will make character appearances at EPCOT next year.
  • Major transformations at the center of EPCOT will open to guests in late 2023. They include Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana, a new experience in the coming World Nature neighborhood. "It's the story of water on our planet," D'Amaro said. "As you make your way around the trail, you'll interact with the water and discover that it kind of has a mind of its own."
  • When Tiana's Bayou Adventure opens at Disney World and Disneyland in late 2024, it will feature the familiar voices of many of the actors who worked on "The Princess and the Frog." Disney Executive Creative Producer Charita Carter said the attraction, which is replacing Splash Mountain, also will use mists "like a painter's canvas to create this amazing sense of aura, which is going to be different from anything that you have seen in an attraction." Disney currently projects images onto the water in the Wonders of Light nighttime spectacular at Disney California Adventure and Harmonious at EPCOT.
  • Disney is exploring a retheming of Animal Kingdom's DinoLand that could incorporate "Zootopia" and "Moana," but it's still very early in the "blue sky" ideation process, D'Amaro said.
  • In the same vein, D'Amaro, Walt Disney Animation Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee and Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Portfolio Executive Chris Beatty said they're exploring a land "beyond Big Thunder Mountain" at Magic Kingdom that could include Santa Cecilia's Dia de Los Muertos celebrations from "Coco," the Madrigals' enchanted Casita from "Encanto," and a place overrun by Disney villains.

What's coming to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure

  • A towering Hulk will begin making appearances at Avenger's Campus next week.
  • Mando and Grogu from "The Mandalorian" will begin making character appearances at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in mid-November.
  • The "Magic Happens" parade will return next spring.
  • While every Disney park will celebrate Disney's 100th anniversary starting next January, D'Amaro said Disneyland will be the heart of the celebration with platinum-infused decor, new looks for Mickey, Minnie and their pals, and two new nighttime spectaculars: "Wondrous Journeys" at Disneyland and "World of Color - One" at Disney California Adventure.
  • When Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway opens in Mickey's Toontown early next year, D'Amaro said, "we're going to make some very special adjustments to ensure that this version fits perfectly into our Toontown story," compared with the version already at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida. He also said Mickey's Toontown would step "into a new era of inclusive experiences" with its reimagining.
  • A new multiverse-centered attraction coming to Disney California Adventure's Avengers Campus will allow guests to fight alongside all the Avengers, against every foe from every time period, according to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, who joined D'Amaro on stage at D23. "And you're going to meet a new villain, King Thanos," Feige said. "This is a new version of Thanos, for the very first time, coming into the MCU via this attraction. ... This is a Thanos that won, and the Avengers are not too happy about that, and you have to help them." No opening date has been announced.
  • California Adventure's Pacific Wharf area is being reimagined as San Fransokyo, from "Big Hero 6," and guests will have the chance to meet Baymax. D'Amaro said this is still in early stages of development.
  • Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel will be renamed Pixar Place Hotel when its reimagining is complete. "You'll feel like you walked right into a Pixar art gallery," D'Amaro said. "You'll see new interpretations of characters like Woody. Buzz will be there, Mike, 22, Miguel, Dante and all the Disney Pixar characters that you can think of." There will also be a "Finding Nemo"-themed splash pad. No opening date has been given.
  • RunDisney races will return to Disneyland in 2024.

What’s planned for other Disney properties

  • Disneyland Paris' 30th anniversary celebration will continue through next September, and a new "Pixar: We Belong Together" show will debut next year. A new "Tangled"-themed attraction is also headed for Disneyland Paris.
  • World of Frozen will open at Hong Kong Disneyland in the second half of 2023. The park is also getting a new statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse next year, which depicts the moment Disney saw his kids on a merry-go-round and his imagination was sparked to eventually create Disneyland.
  • Tokyo Disney's Space Mountain transformation will begin in 2024 and debut with a new plaza in 2027.
  • No new announcements were announced for Shanghai Disney Resort, but D23 attendees were given a first look at the park's coming Zootopia land.
  • Disney's sixth cruise ship will be named Disney Treasure.
  • The Disney Wonder will being sailing in Australia and New Zealand late next year.
  • Disney is developing another island destination in the Bahamas called Lighthouse Point, 90% of which will run on solar energy.

Copyright 2022 USA Today, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
From By Eve Chen, USA Today.

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