The Disney multimedia conglomerate pulled out all aces up its sleeves in the theme park game during their most recent D23 Expo annual conference. The company announced several planned developments and expansions at their Walt Disney World property in Orlando, Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California. The expo also reveal the content coming to Disney+, its online entertainment service scheduled for November.
All these surprises the House of Mouse is getting ready were announced in part to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Walt Disney World complex in Orlando, as well as to counteract upcoming initiatives by Universal and other competitors. Proposals include new hotel concepts, new park areas, existing sections up for remodeling, and severaled Disney attractions to be imported from other countries into the United States.
Here are the five biggest reveals for next year …
5 A Space Cruise
Rumors have circulated for months about a new Disney hotel based on the Star Wars universe. Disney confirmed that the hotel, called Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, will be more an immersive experience and less a place to leave your luggage. The goal is for every guest to “live” their own Star Wars narrative. The hotel’s opening date will be revealed on its official website.
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will simulate a two-day cruise, but in space. Guests can only book two-night stays, no more, no less. People who book the same date will arrive and leave the hotel as a group, on transports that will “fly” between Earth and the location of Halcyon, the spacecraft where they will spend their vacation. All the “windows” in the Halcyon will show starfields, the way those on a cruise ship would show the sea.
How big will the illusion be? The “crew” of the Halcyon will be fully committed to their otherworldy roles and will never drop the facade. Each individual will attend and serve cruise visitors, but will also have personal agendas and secret alliances to be revealed. The voyage includes an “excursion” to Batuu – actually Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the most recent land opened at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
4 An Old World Touch, Disney-Style
Disney usually exports rides from its North American parks to its other international locations. However, this time they intend to import some international flavor to their American destinations.
The first such initiative to open its doors will be Disney’s Riviera Resort, scheduled for December 16. This hotel will pay tribute to the castles, gardens, villages, fountains, arches and other European architectural elements that inspired Disney’s most iconic tales. The European influence will extend to its restaurant, Topolino’s Terrace. This rooftop terrace will serve gourmet French and Italian cuisine, as well as feature stunning views.
The Old World influence will also reach the most futuristic of Disney parks. Epcot, known for its focus on technology and culture, will celebrate Europe in the international pavilions of its World Showcase. The first attraction inspired by Mary Poppins will open here, as well as a successful French import, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, a fun Pixar-based 4D attraction from Walt Disney Studios at Disneyland Paris.
These changes are part of an overhaul planned for Epcot to refocuse the theme park as a celebration of the human experience. Plans include three new sectors – World Celebration, World Discovery, and World Nature – and attractions based on movies like Moana and Guardians of the Galaxy.
The list of imports also includes TRON Lightcycle Run, a roller coaster emulates riding a digital cycles through the Grid, a neon-tinted world inside a computer. This thrilling ride comes straight from Shanghai Disneyland and will be released at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.
3 The Next Marvel Superhero Is You
Since we mentioned the Guardians of the Galaxy, Disney will also launch several interactive experiences with characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Many these will take place at Avengers Campus, a new area opening at Disney California Adventure Park.
Aspiring superheroes will find a lot of inspiration there, with rides based on characters such as Spider-Man, Ant-Man, Black Panther and the Avengers. These include an “experimental vehicle” that will simulate how it feels to sling webs like Spidey or fly through Wakanda on the Avengers Quinjet. Characters like Iron Man, Black Widow and Doctor Strange will be around campus to “protect” visitors.
2 Between Acrobats and Animation
Cirque du Soleil, pioneer of the contemporary circus, is famous both for its original shows and for its tributes to popular culture (the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Soda Stereo and Lionel Messi). Now Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering will join forces for the first time to create a live show that will celebrate Disney’s animated classics.
Little is known about the unnanmed show. The official description refers to “a live acrobatic journey where an animator’s desk becomes the stage and drawings come to life. This love letter to the art of Disney animation is a celebration of life and all of its deliberate and unanticipated movements.”
This collaboration between Disney and Cirque du Soleil will open to the public on April 2020.
1 A Train Ride with Disney’s Rodent Royalty
Finally, the entire Disney empire began with the adventures of a certain black and white mouse. Now, for the first time, Mickey Mouse and his beloved Minnie will be the focus of a new ride for the whole family. Guests at Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will board a train, with Goofy as conductor, that will take them inside a cartoon world where comedy surpasses the laws of physics.
The rodent couple must interrupt their picnic, ride their roadster and save the day in this fun attraction. The art style is based on recent shorts with Mickey and his friends redesigned as vintage cartoons with a modern style of animation.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be located within the Chinese Theater replica at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando. Disney fans will be able to get on board starting spring 2020.
Discover more Disney Parks news from around the world at their official website.