The Disney theme parks may be timeless and offer reassuring adventures with old pals such as Peter Pan, Dumbo, and the “it’s a small word” dolls. But they are also constantly evolving and introducing new attractions and experiences. Disney trumpeted the massive expansion underway at its worldwide collection of parks by offering details of previously announced additions and unveiling new developments at the D23 Expo recently held at the Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan.
Speaking to the eager fans assembled for the expo, Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek highlighted the many ways that Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm properties will find new homes in the parks.
Board a starship at Disney World
Disney’s most anticipated park developments are the two Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge lands set to open in 2019 at Disneyland in California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. Chapek didn’t reveal much additional info about the lands themselves, but he did get fans going gaga with pronouncements about the Star Wars-themed hotel planned for Disney World. It will be “seamlessly connected” to the Galaxy’s Edge land, and provide a way for Jedis-in-training to eat, sleep, and breathe the mythology for a multi-day adventure without ever leaving the Star Wars bubble.
In what sounds like a considerable departure from the typical hotel registration process, Chapek said that the “journey through space will begin as you board a star ship and depart with your fellow guests.” (Visitors would probably want to carefully check their luggage, as it might be tough to retrieve items left in their cars parked in the hotel’s lot.) No opening date was given for the hotel, but it would likely welcome its first guests during or before Disney World’s 50th Anniversary in 2021.
With Galaxy’s Edge already slated to open next year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it was surprising to learn at the expo that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway would also debut in 2019. Slated to take over The Great Movie Ride in the park’s Chinese Theater, passengers will be transported into the animated world of the wonderful, retro Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts broadcast on the Disney Channel.
Chapek told the crowd that the previously announced Guardians of the Galaxy E-Ticket attraction coming to Epcot would, in fact, be a roller coaster. And not just any thrill machine, but one of the world’s longest indoor coasters. Without specifying any details (or a planned opening date), he also promised that the Marvel attraction would introduce a “new, innovative ride system.” A Guardians pavilion might seem out of sync for Epcot’s Future World, but Disney has indicated that the story will reveal that Peter Quill (Star-Lord) visited the Disney World park with his family when he was a youngster.
Disneyland is Pixar land
Pixar Pier, the newly branded land that will supplant Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure, will welcome guests starting June 23 of this year. The existing California Screamin’ coaster will reopen as the Incredicoaster and feature the superhero family, the Incredibles. The movie, Inside Out, will inspire a future ride in the re-themed land.
Pixar Fest, a limited time celebration at both Disney California Adventure and Disneyland, will kick off April 13. It will include the return of the Paint the Night parade, which presents Pixar characters in stunning floats adorned with computer-controlled LED light arrays. Chapek announced that the procession would introduce a float based on The Incredibles.
So long Steven Tyler; hello Tony Stark. The Marvel Super Hero universe is invading the Walt Disney Studios Park, the second gate at Disneyland Paris. Classic rockers Aerosmith will get booted from the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster when the launched ride gets a makeover featuring Iron Man and his Avengers buddies, according to Chapek.
The Disney chairman also revealed that Hong Kong Disneyland would get its second Marvel attraction (an Iron Man simulator ride is the park’s most popular ride). It will star Ant-Man and The Wasp. Tokyo Disneyland, meanwhile, will welcome a ride based on the animated film, Big Hero 6, to its Tomorrowland. The park’s Fantasyland will expand to include an area themed to Beauty and the Beast. The resort’s second park, Tokyo DisneySea, will get its version of the popular hang gliding simulator ride, Soarin’.