In 2018, Disney California Adventure's Paradise Pier will be transformed into Pixar Pier. // © 2017 Disneyland Resort
Feature image (above): A new e-ticket attraction based on “Guardians of the Galaxy” will be coming to Epcot. // © 2017 Walt Disney World Resort
D23 Expo — which is essentially Comic-Con for Disney fans — is known for being the place where big Disney news is revealed.
This year, Bob Chapek, chairman for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, did not disappoint. He provided announcements about exciting new attractions and magical experiences at Disney’s U.S. parks from coast to coast.
In Anaheim, Calif., Disney Imagineers will be working overtime to bring new experiences to Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure Park.
Spencer Goldfarb, a teenager based in Southern California and a self-proclaimed “avid Disney fan,” attended D23 Expo and says he believes Disney is aiming for a new type of theme park experience.
“The new era of Imagineering will bring fully immersive experiences and interactions to park guests,” Goldfarb predicted.
Among the new immersive experiences is the 2018 reimagination of Disney California Adventure’s Paradise Pier as Pixar Pier. At the new waterfront area, beloved Pixar characters and storylines will come to life, including those from “The Incredibles,” “Inside Out” and “Toy Story.”
To mark this transformation, the entire resort will celebrate Pixar Fest, a limited-time event that will introduce a brand-new fireworks spectacular in Disneyland. Two fan-favorite parades will also return for Pixar Fest, but they’re swapping routes: Pixar Play Parade is moving across the esplanade to Disneyland, and the spectacular Paint the Night parade will light up one of Disney’s longest parade routes in Disney California Adventure, with a new float joining the nighttime experience.
To build on the popularity of Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout!, Disney California Adventure will introduce an expansion to the attraction. The Guardians will be joined by Spider-Man and the Avengers in an immersive universe where, Chapek promises, park guests will get the chance to team up with their favorite super heroes like never before.
Walt Disney World Resort
Looking ahead to its 50th anniversary in 2021, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida has a number of expansions and new attractions planned.
On the heels of Pandora — The World of Avatar (which Goldfarb believes has begun a new golden age of theme park entertainment), another immersive land is set to open at Walt Disney World in summer 2018. Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will allow park guests to explore Andy’s backyard with their favorite “Toy Story” characters, as well as experience two all-new “Toy Story”-themed attractions. These include Slinky Dog Dash, a family coaster where riders zip through turns and drops created by Andy to stretch Slinky’s coils to the max; and Alien Swirling Saucers, where flying saucers soar around while trying to avoid being captured by “The Claw.”
Additionally, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is replacing The Great Movie Ride, which will allow guests to join Mickey and his friends inside the cartoon world. The first Mickey-themed ride-through attraction features many surprises, including a new theme song and a new experience that Disney is calling “2 ½ D” because no glasses are required.
Kevin Rafferty, a Walt Disney Imagineer, says the new technologies invented for this attraction will turn the flat world of a cartoon into a “dimensional display of amazingness.”
“This is one of the boldest, most impossible things I’ve ever worked on in almost 40 years of being an Imagineer,” he said.
Epcot will see the addition of two new attractions by 2021: A “Guardians of the Galaxy”-inspired attraction in Future World, and a “Ratatouille”-inspired attraction in the France Pavilion. The first, an e-ticket attraction based on the “Guardians of the Galaxy” world, honors the original vision of Epcot’s Future World as “the place to experience the excitement and adventure offered by space travel.”
The second attraction, similar to 4-D Ratatouille: The Adventure at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, will allow guests to shrink to Remy the rat’s size and embark on a daring chase through the movie’s Parisian restaurant, including experiencing the kitchen’s sights, sounds and smells.
The highest-rated attraction at Shanghai Disneyland is also coming to Walt Disney World in time for the resort’s 50th anniversary. Built in a new area next to Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom Park, Tron Lightcycle Power Run is a coaster-style attraction that takes riders into Tron’s high-tech universe on a train of two-wheeled Lightcycles.
Lastly, Walt Disney World is introducing two new transportation systems to make it easier for guests to get around the resort. Disney Skyliner (which Goldfarb notes is reminiscent of the classic Disneyland Skyway attraction) will offer a bird’s-eye view of the resort for guests traveling from Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach Resorts to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot.
A second new transportation service will feature Minnie Mouse-themed vehicles. The red-and-white-spotted “Minnie vans” will take guests anywhere they want to go at the resort, and clients can make arrangements for the private vehicle from their smartphones.
“Since we’re all about exceeding guest expectations and making every aspect of your vacation uniquely Disney, we’re creating a new point-to-point transportation service in a way that only Disney can do,” said Chapek of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.