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The Walt Disney Company’s D23 Expo, a biennial exposition event held for fans, is known for big announcements. And this year was no exception. Bob Chapek — chairman of Walt Disney parks, experiences and products — revealed the new stories and experiences coming to Disney resorts around the world.
“Our mission is to create magical memories that last a lifetime,” Chapek said. “Every inch of our parks should be magical, and every attraction should tell a story that resonates with guests of all ages. That’s why we’re putting more Disney, more Pixar, more Marvel and more ‘Star Wars’ into our parks, and bringing Disney magic to nearly every corner of the globe.”
Here’s a look at what we learned during the most recent D23 expo, held in Anaheim, Calif., at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Avengers CampusChapek revealed that the highly anticipated Marvel-themed land coming to Disney California Adventure and Disneyland Paris will be called Avengers Campus. The new land will be connected to existing Marvel content at Disney parks worldwide through a storyline about the Avengers’ new recruiting campaign.
“Not only are we creating immersive lands, attractions and character experiences; we’re also crafting an interconnected story to tie them all together,” said Scot Drake, portfolio creative executive for Walt Disney Imagineering.
As part of this global initiative, Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) has founded the Worldwide Engineering Brigade (WEB) to develop super-powered technology. When phase one of Avengers Campus opens in 2020, clients will be invited into WEB to check out the latest invention: the Web-Slinger, a vehicle that allows anyone to sling webs like Spider-Man.
But when things don't go as planned, guests are recruited to complete a real mission.
Spider-Man isn't the only hero on campus. Clients will also meet Ant-Man and the Wasp; Dr. Strange; Star-Lord and Gamora; Black Widow; Thor; Black Panther; and Iron Man.
“We know this universe is all about these incredible characters,” Drake said. “So, we’re going to bring them to life in extraordinary ways and put clients right in the middle of the action.”
By far, the biggest cheer during the expo came when Chapek announced that Avengers Campus in California will not only be home to the Spider-Man attraction and Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, but also a brand new E-Ticket attraction as part of phase two. During this epic adventure alongside the Avengers, clients will step onboard a Quinjet and fly to Wakanda.
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Chapek also noted that Walt Disney World will introduce another new “Star Wars”-themed experience: Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. It will build on the groundbreaking level of immersive storytelling of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in both California and Florida. Clients will check-in for a two-night stay onboard the Halcyon starship, which will take them on an intergalactic and interactive journey to a galaxy far, far away.
“It’s the perfect vacation for those with a sense of adventure,” said Ann Morrow Johnson, executive producer and creative director for Walt Disney Imagineering. "The choices you make will affect the course of your journey and, ultimately, determine how your ‘Star Wars’ story unfolds."
The Halcyon will also offer clients well-appointed cabins — each with galaxy views — onboard dining and an excursion to Black Spire Outpost on Batuu. Plus, passengers will get to face off against a training remote while wielding a lightsaber, just like Luke Skywalker did when he was learning to use The Force.
Epcot TransformationIn preparation for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021, Chapek indicated that a multiyear, parkwide transformation at Epcot will celebrate the park’s legacy attractions while also introducing new content. To do this, he explained, Epcot will comprise four neighborhoods: World Showcase, which will explore the world’s cultures; World Nature, which will be dedicated to understanding and preserving the natural world; World Discovery, where stories about science, technology and intergalactic adventure will come to life; and World Celebration, which will connect guests with Epcot’s unique DNA and with one another.
“The ideas that Epcot embodies are the power of hope, the power of possibility, and the power of wonder,” said Zach Riddley, Walt Disney World portfolio executive for Walt Disney Imagineering. “Our team is creating experiences that bring these ideas to life in ways that will resonate with guests of every generation.”
One of Epcot’s new experiences is the first-ever “Moana”-themed attraction. Journey of Water is an exploration trail that allows clients to learn about the importance of the natural water cycle while interacting and playing with magic living water, just like Moana did in the animated film. Another first is a “Mary Poppins”-themed attraction on Cherry Tree Lane, a new neighborhood in the United Kingdom Pavilion. Plus, the popular Remi’s Ratatouille Adventure attraction from Disneyland Paris will come to the France Pavilion in summer 2020.
Chapek also broke some exciting news about the previously announced “Guardians of the Galaxy”-themed indoor coaster. In 2018, he revealed that each cab of the “storytelling coaster” will rotate to direct riders’ attention toward the action; at the latest D23Expo, Chapek announced that the ride will also have a reverse launch — so it will be called Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
Even More Disney NewsDuring D23 Expo 2017, Chapek announced the first-ever Mickey Mouse-themed ride-through attraction coming to Walt Disney World in 2020. Since then, Disney has announced that it is also coming to Disneyland in 2022. Both versions of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway take riders on a journey through the wacky world of cartoons. And, with the help of technology, clients also become part of the story.
Disney is additionally bringing stories to life in Asia. The animal-packed “Zootopia” is coming to Shanghai Disney Resort, where guests can meet Judy, Nick, Flash and the rest of the pack, as well as experience a major attraction that combines storytelling and state-of-the-art technology. At Hong Kong Disneyland, meanwhile, a new, immersive “Frozen”-themed land features two attractions: Frozen Ever After, inspired by the popular attraction at Epcot, and Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs, a coaster that sends riders on a wild downhill ride through Arendelle. Clients will also experience Elsa’s powers when she conjures a “winter in summer” day.
The DetailsD23 Expod23.com