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D23 Parks and Resorts Announcements

Some major announcements!

It’s that time again – D23, the bi-annual Disney fan event has kept us hooked to our timelines and news feeds to see what the house of mouse is cooking up. The Parks and Resorts Panel certainly did not disappoint with their announcements of what is to come in the next few years for Walt Disney World.

Catch up here!

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Knowing the anticipation of fans for any details regarding the new Star Wars land, the Panel began with news of this. The name for the land will be – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The land will open in 2019 and it was announced that it will open at Disneyland first. So fans on the east coast will have to wait slightly longer than those on the west coast.

Also announced for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, a favourite character from Star Tours will become a resident of the new land! Some of you may remember Rex, your troublesome pilot from the original Star Tours attraction. Well, Rex has a new job now as a DJ at the local cantina! Also mentioned (but more details to follow) were details of the immersion being used in this new land. Guests will build a reputation which may come back to haunt them as they adventure around the Galaxy’s Edge. They may also collect galactic credits or be renowned for their piloting skills. We’re guessing that this will work using Magicbands but it all sounds pretty awesome!

Below, take a quick flight around the model of the new land due to open in 2019.

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway

It is hard to believe that to date there have been no attractions at Walt Disney World based on the mouse himself. That is soon about to change as it was announced that Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The ride will adopt a 2.5D experience so riders will not need to wear 3D glasses. The ride will replace the Great Movie Ride which will close on August 13th 2017.

Epcot Enhancements

It was announced a few months ago that there were some grand plans in progress with regards to Epcot. I feel as though the announcements made at D23 are just the beginning of a rebirth for the park.

Firstly, a Ratatouille ride (currently exclusively found at Disneyland Paris) will be added to the France pavilion in World Showcase. Initial reports state that the attraction will be ‘silimar’ to its French counsin so we are unsure as to whether this will be a clone of the one found at the parks in Paris.

Second, is a brand new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction. This will replace the Universe of Energy which is due to close on August 13th 2017 (same date as the Great Movie Ride closure at Disney’s Hollywood Studios). Both new attractions are slated to open in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021.

Also shared were some initial ideas for a redevlopment of the entrance gateway to the park. Initial concept art was shown but we’ll share more when we have it.


Rumours started circulating that Shanghai’s Tron attraction would be coming to the Magic Kingdom a few months ago. Although in these rumours it was stated that the ride would be replacing the Tomorrowland Speedway. It was announced at D23 that the Speedway would remain and Tron would become Space Mountain’s neighbour.

Shanghai Disneyland was a unique park and has proved to be a ‘sandbox’ for Disney with most of its attractions being unique. Tron Lightcycle Power Run is the park’s highest rated attraction. We are very excited for this E-ticket addition and think that this will fit in very nicely in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom. The new attraction is set to open in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniverary in 2021.

Check out ABC’s Bob Woodruff riding Tron at Shanghai Disneyland below.


Space Restaurant

A new restaurant has been announced for Epcot. Adjacent to Mission:SPACE the restaurant will be immersive much like Coral Reef Restaurant. Guests will feel as though they’re orbiting the Earth while enjoying fine dining. The restaurant will be operated by the Patina group which also currently operate restaurants such as Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs and Via Napoli at Epcot.

Star Wars HOTEL!

Yes, you read that correctly – a Star Wars Hotel will be coming to Walt Disney World. Details are sparse at the moment but rumours started circulating earlier this year due to a guest survey surrounding the idea. The results must have been positive as it is now becoming a reality. The experience will be totally immersive, apparently even down to the clothes that you wear. It also seems that the credits and reputation that you earn at Star Wars land will follow you here!

We are unsure how this will work for guests travelling from the UK yet. We imagine that due to the nature of the experience, the hotel will be pretty pricey and may not cater to guests staying for two or three weeks. It may be that Disney offer two or three nights at the hotel during your holiday as an add on. However we are very excited by this announcement.

Hopefully the hotel will also have its own cantina or blue bantha milk on cereal for breakfast!

New Transportation Options

As with many of the announcements from D23, rumours had been circling online about new transportation systems at Walt Disney World for a number of months. Most rumours seemed to circulate due to some permits that Disney filed for an overhead gondola system. This has now been announced and the Disney Skyliner system will link three of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels with Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. The hotels on the system will be Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach.

As well as the new Skyliner system, Disney also announced their fleet of ‘Minnie’ Vans. These are set to rival taxi companies Uber and Lyft. The vans will offer transportation for up to six guests to anywhere within the Walt Disney World resort (for a fee, currently $20 flat rate). If all of your luggage will not fit into one van, Disney will even provide a second one included in the price!


New Theatre

A new theatre is due to be constructed on Main Street USA at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. The new addition takes inspiration from the Willis Wood Theatre from 1920s Kansas City which is where Walt Disney lived after moving from Marceline. We are sure that it will be home to a fantastic Disney quality show; we are also excited at the prospect of a further air conditioned venue in which to beat the Floridian heat!

Toy Story Land

Finally, as you know – Toy Story Land is currently under construction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It was announced at D23 that this new land will open next year, in Summer 2018. The land will feature two new attractions – Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers. We’re sure that this will prove to be a popular addition to the park, especially as so much has closed or changed there in recent years.

So that concludes our overview of the D23 announcements. These are only the announcements relevant to Walt Disney World, other exciting announcements were made for Disneyland California and Disney Cruise Line as well as others. If you want to catch up with all of these check out the Disney Parks Blog post outlining everything announced at the Parks and Resorts Panel.

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