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Everything we learned at Disney’s parks panel at the 2022 D23 Expo

Everything we learned at Disney’s parks panel at the 2022 D23 Expo

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A masked family walks past Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Orlando Sentinel | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

Disney’s theme parks are on the rise after the coronavirus pandemic closed its domestic and international locations in 2020.

Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products division’s revenue is growing, and the company is seeing steady growth in attendees, room nights booked and cruise ships.

During its most recent earnings, Disney mentioned that its new Genie+ and Lightning Lane products helped boost average per capita box office revenue during the quarter. These new digital features were introduced to enhance the guest experience and allow park visitors to skip the lines at the main attractions.

The company said it has been able to bring back park-related experiences such as character encounters, theater shows and nighttime events at Disneyland, which has allowed it to increase capacity at its parks, CEO Bob Chapek said at the time. Disney has limited attendance since it reopened after a round of pandemic closures in early 2020 and instituted a new online reservation system to control crowds.

The company continues to add new features and attractions to its theme parks and cruise lines, which Disney VP of Parks, Experiences and Products Josh D’Amaro unveiled Sunday at the D23 Expo.

D’Amaro welcomed “The Mandalorian” executive producer Jon Favreau to the stage to announce that The Mandalorian will appear with animatronic Grog in Galaxy’s Edge as part of Earth’s costumed characters available to meet and interact with. He will arrive in November.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek revealed on Friday that California-based Disneyland would get a third attraction at the Avengers campus. The ride is based in the multiverse, with riders battling villains from different universes, including King Thanos.

Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige made an appearance in person, while Mark Ruffalo, who plays the Hulk, made a video appearance revealing that the Hulk will be at the park for a meet-and-greet event. The version of the Hulk was developed as part of Project Exo and will arrive at the park next week.

(L-R): Jonathan Becker (R&D Imagineer), Josh D’Amaro (President, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products), Richard-Alexandre Peloquin (Research Engineer).

Christian Thompson

Disney California Adventure’s Pacific Wharf will be transformed into San Fransokyo from “Big Hero Six” and include a chance to meet Baymax, the helpful healthcare robot. In addition, the Paradise Pier Hotel will become the Pixar Place Hotel.

Downtown Disney is adding several new restaurants, including Porto’s Bakery and Cafe and Din Tai Fung.

Disneyland’s Toon Town land is getting a version of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction from Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida, along with several cosmetic updates and a new playground for kids. These updates are expected in 2023.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, which replaces Splash Mountain, takes place right after the events of “The Prince and the Frog” and follows Princess Tiana as she searches for the missing ingredient for a carnival party. The trip is scheduled to reopen at the end of 2024.

A model of Tianan’s Bayou Adventure, which will transform Disneyland’s Splash Mountain, is on display during the Walt Disney D23 Expo in Anaheim, California on September 9, 2022.

Patrick T. Fallon | Afp | Getty Images

D’Amaro said music will be a huge part of the ride and the film’s cast will return to lend their voices to the attraction. Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Tiana, took the stage to sing “I’m Almost There” and “Dig a Little Deeper” from the 2009 animated film.

D’Amaro announced that Disney is creating a new nighttime Epcot to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary. In addition, Journey of Water, inspired by “Moana,” which was already announced in 2019, will open in late 2023.

Also coming to Epcot is Figment, a fan-favorite purple dragon who will be returning to the park for meet and greets in the future.

Additionally, the Hat Box Ghost will appear next year at the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World.

D’Amaro showed footage of his test ride of the Tron Light Cycle Run and noted that the ride is scheduled to open in the spring of 2023 at the Magic Kingdom.

Disney’s sixth cruise ship is called “Disney Treasure” and celebrates Walt Disney’s love of adventure. The Great Hall is inspired by “Aladdin” and features a statue of Jasmine and Aladdin riding a magic carpet.

D’Amaro said the “Disney Wonder” will now travel to Australia and New Zealand starting in October 2023.

The company is also opening a new island resort located in the Bahamas called Lighthouse Point. D’Amaro said 90 percent of the electricity used at this location is generated by solar power.

Duffy and Friends, the cute plush characters from Shanghai Disney Resort, are getting their own stop-motion series on Disney+.

D’Amaro also showed new images of the land of Zootopia featuring the animatronics of Grand Officer Clawhauser. No date has been set for the official opening of the plot.

Hong Kong Disneyland is getting a new Walt Disney statue inspired by Walt watching his children ride the carousel and inspiring the launch of Disney’s theme parks. The park’s Frozen-themed land will open in the second half of 2023.

A new pedestrian walkway will be added to Paris, connecting its new Frozen-inspired area to the rest of the park, and a “Tangled” themed attraction will be added to the new garden area.

Tokyo Disney Resort is also adding a new land to its park based on “Frozen,” “Tangled” and “Peter Pan,” called Fantasy Springs.

Tokyo Disneyland’s Space Mountain will undergo a makeover in 2024, with a new plaza to be completed in 2027.

At the end of the panel, D’Amaro discussed the “blue sky” projects the Imagineering team is working on. There are projects that are still in development and may not eventually see the light of day.

D’Amaro spoke about the possibility of renovating Dino Land at Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. Original ideas for the space include the possibility of bringing “Zootopia” into the park, including its different areas and species of animals, or even “Moana”.

At the Magic Kingdom, Disney asks the question, “What’s behind Big Thunder Mountain?” The company teased that an area based on Coco could be in that location or “Encanto.” Maybe both.

D’Amaro even teased the possibility of reviving Disney’s villain-infested area of ​​the Magic Kingdom as well. The audience burst into applause at this suggestion. For the most part, villains appear during Disney’s Halloween specials.

“We will never cease to delight you,” he said.


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