Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek Announces Extraordinary Line-up of Experiences Coming to Disney Parks around the Globe. Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and a seventh cruise ship among the experiences coming for guests. You know where you can find me throughout pretty much all of 2019—somewhere Disney-related for Star Wars or Marvel adventuring. Disney, just take all of my money now.
At the D23 Expo panel on July 15, 2017, The panel opened with a memorable tribute to the legacy of beloved attractions, entertainment, and characters, in Newsies fashion fans enjoyed a special one-time-only performance of entertainment numbers from Disney Parks.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek welcomed nearly 7,000 fans as he unveiled more than a dozen new experiences coming to Disney parks and resorts and gave a sneak peek at much-anticipated projects in development. Several Imagineers joined the presentation by providing details of the creativity, imagination, and innovation in development around the world. Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios John Lasseter also shared his enthusiasm for plans to include a larger Pixar presence at Disneyland Resort.
Following the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade, Chapek hinted there are even more fan favorites in store from Disney Parks’ storied past.
In addition to the announcement that Fantasmic! was returning to Disneyland Park that night, two nights early in honor of the Expo, fans were treated to a glimpse of the new “Beauty and the Beast” musical production coming to the Disney Dream on Disney Cruise Line, currently in production in Toronto, and a special one-night-only medley of nostalgic entertainment numbers showcasing the heritage of Disney Parks. So many oohs and aahs. We saw Fantasmic! at Disneyland later that evening after having received special seating for the show.
“On the heels of the many new and incredibly popular experiences that just debuted this year, the best is yet to come. We have ambitious plans for our parks and resorts around the world,” said Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We’re investing in the guest experience like never before, and we’re doing it all in way that is only possible at Disney!”
From new lodging and transportation options that make getting around more fun, to original storytelling and immersive experiences based on guests’ favorites, Disney continues to provide unparalleled vacation destinations for guests across the globe in even more exciting ways than ever before.
Here's a look at what's coming to Walt Disney Resorts and Parks.
Immersive Theme Park Experiences and Attractions
An Unprecedented First Look at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Fans were elated to hear their Star Wars stories will come to life in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the newly announced name for the Star Wars-themed lands. Chapek shared exciting new details and a glimpse inside the two anchor attractions, including one that puts guests right in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance where guests will feel like they are inside a hangar bay on a Star Destroyer. Guests will also have the chance to fly the Millennium Falcon, where each guest is critical to the mission’s success. Chapek also revealed many characters that guests will meet, including BB-8, Chewbacca, Rex and Kylo Ren. Representing the largest single-themed land expansion at 14 acres each, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open in 2019, with the first land debuting at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, then at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando.
Timeless Transformation of Epcot Revealed
Looking ahead to the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World, there are grand plans to complete the transformation that started with the debut of New Fantasyland in 2014. Chapek announced exciting plans across Epcot to realize the original vision of the park while making it more timeless and relevant than ever before. Patterned after the number one family attraction at Disneyland Paris, Ratatouille will be added in an all-new space in the France pavilion at World Showcase. Epcot will also see the addition of a brand new E-ticket attraction based on the rockin’ and action-packed world of Guardians of the Galaxy, the next step in how guests can encounter these characters at Walt Disney World Resort. In Future World, a new Green Mission at Mission: SPACE will take guests on a stunning tour around the Earth, and an updated Orange Mission will make the trip to Mars even more spectacular. Adjacent to Mission: Space will be a new restaurant that will invite guests to travel high above the earth for an unforgettable dining experience.
More Thrills than Ever Planned for Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom
Disney remains at the cutting edge of deeply immersive, creative storytelling that draws guests into new worlds, and it is a legacy that lives on in every new Disney Parks experience. The first-ever Mickey-themed ride-through attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, will come to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. With a new original story and lovable attraction theme song, this new state-of-the-art ride-through attraction will take guests on a journey inside the wacky and unpredictable world of Disney Channel's Emmy Award-winning “Mickey Mouse” cartoon shorts using new technologies that transform the flat cartoon world into an incredible dimensional experience.
Chapek also announced that the highest rated attraction at Shanghai Disneyland is coming to Walt Disney World Resort. A thrilling, Tron-themed attraction will be added in a new area near Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom. Additionally, a new live entertainment theater coming to Main Street, U.S.A., based on the iconic Willis Theater in 1920s Kansas City, will bring world-class entertainment to the world’s most popular park.
Pixar Fun at the Happiest Place on Earth
In addition to announcing the summer 2018 opening of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Chapek was joined by Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios John Lasseter to unveil plans for Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure, where the pier will take on a brand new look as more favorite Pixar characters and stories come to life, from The Incredibles, to Inside Out to even more Toy Story. Chapek also announced there is more Pixar in store during Pixar Fest at Disneyland Resort. Starting in 2018, this limited-time offering will include a new fireworks spectacular as well as special characters and entertainment moments.
As part of the celebration, the Pixar Play Parade will return to Disneyland Resort— this time at
Disneyland Park—and the fan favorite Paint the Night Parade will move to Disney California Adventure, one of Disney’s longest parade routes.
Disney Cruise Line to Double the Size of its Fleet by 2023
Chapek surprised the crowd by announcing that Disney Cruise Line will add one more ship in its expansion to take family cruise vacations to a whole new level. Joining the other two new ships that were announced just last year, all three ships will be powered by one of the cleanest-burning fuels available, liquefied natural gas. When all three ships are completed by 2023, Disney Cruise Line will have nearly doubled the size of the fleet.
And of course, the new “Beauty and the Beast” musical production is coming to the Disney Dream on Disney Cruise Line, currently in production in Toronto.
Immersive Hotel Concepts
Among the announcements were projects that infuse even more exciting experiences for resort hotel guests in ways that are only possible at Disney. To the delight of fans, Chapek confirmed ambitious plans to create the most experiential concept ever in an immersive Star Wars-themed hotel at Walt Disney World Resort. Dedicated entirely to the galaxy of Star Wars, it will be a one-of-a-kind experience where a luxury resort meets a multi-day adventure in a galaxy far, far away.
Adding to the immersive resort hotel slate, Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel at Disneyland Paris will transport guests to the action-packed world of Super Heroes, including Iron Man, The Avengers, Spider-Man and more. Guests will be able to explore the Marvel Universe through its comic art, films, Super Hero costumes and more, displayed in the style of a contemporary art gallery.
New, Seamless Transportation Options
Completing the immersion so guests never have to leave the story while on a Disney vacation, Chapek announced plans that will make getting around Walt Disney World Resort even more fun. An all-new Minnie Van service will provide a point-to-point transportation service in a way that only Disney can do, giving guests an even more seamless resort vacation from start to finish.
Additionally, a whole new transportation system called Disney Skyliner will give guests a birds-eye view of Walt Disney World Resort. This brand new system will connect Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach resorts, as well as the proposed new Disney Riviera Resort, with Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot.
Disney Vacation Club
Leading up to the July 17 opening of Copper Creek Villas & Cabins, Chapek also announced the proposed 15th Disney Vacation Club property, Disney Riviera Resort, coming to Walt Disney World Resort near Epcot.
The next planned development for Disney Vacation Club will be an entirely new resort near Epcot called Disney Riviera Resort and that a new skyway transportation system will connect the new resort to other areas on Walt Disney World property.
“We’re thrilled to announce plans for a new Disney Vacation Club property called Disney Riviera Resort coming to Walt Disney World Resort,” Chapek said. “Our Vacation Club Members are among our most loyal fans, and we think that they will love what we have planned, especially the rooftop restaurant that will offer unbelievable views of nighttime spectaculars at both Epcot and Hollywood Studios.”
Estimated to open in fall 2019, this new resort experience is slated to be the 15th Disney Vacation Club property with approximately 300 units spread across a variety of accommodation types.
On July 17, Disney Vacation Club will welcome its 14th resort with the opening of Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, featuring 184 rustically elegant vacation accommodations including Deluxe Studios, one- and two-bedroom Villas, three-bedroom Grand Villas, and unique waterfront cabins.
True Disney Magic
Of course, the panel wouldn't be complete if they didn't tug at our heart strings. They told us a story and read a note from an autistic mom who had been trying to find a green balloon for her son toward the end of the night, and was failing as the balloons are typically sold out earlier on in the day. As a parent of a special needs child, I know how challenging it can be when your child has their mind set on something. They just can't move on. Two cast members took it upon themselves to go out back and make her a green balloon for her child to help complete the magic of the day.
I’ve been invited to an all-expenses paid trip to Anaheim. As always, all opinions are my own.