Saturday, August 15, 2015

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Announces New Lands, Entertainment and Experiences at D23 EXPO 2015 - Updated with More Artwork and Videos!

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Announces New Lands, Entertainment and Experiences at D23 EXPO 2015

Star Wars, Toy Story Land, Pandora – The World of AVATAR, Soarin’ and Iron Man among new experiences coming for guests

ANAHEIM, Calif. (Aug. 15, 2015) – Today, Disney announced a line-up of new attractions and entertainment coming to its theme parks around the world during the D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. 

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek gave 7,500 lucky fans a behind-the-scenes look at what’s to come.  He was joined by Imagineers working on these projects as well as legendary filmmakers James Cameron and Jon Landau who shared new details about Pandora – The World of AVATAR including the names of the land and E-ticket attraction – AVATAR Flight of Passage.  Fans also got a chance to see Marvel legend Stan Lee in a cameo appearance where he posed as an unsuspecting fan during Iron Man’s dramatic entrance. 

Among the many announcements Chapek shared were new and enhanced Star Wars experiences coming later this year to the Florida and California theme parks, plans for a new Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and more details on Pandora—The World of AVATAR, which is already under construction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  Chapek also shared that Soarin’ Around the World will make its U.S. film debut at Epcot and Disney California Adventure taking guests to new places around the world.  Additionally, fans got a preview of exclusive video of the first Marvel attraction planned for Disney parks, coming to Hong Kong Disneyland in 2016.

“From Disneyland’s 60th anniversary celebration to the anticipation of Shanghai Disney Resort, we’re in the midst of unprecedented growth and expansion around the globe,” said Chapek. “With these new announcements, we continue our legacy in creating innovative attractions, worldwide entertainment, and magical lands that take our guests into the worlds of stories they love.”

In addition to these announcements, Chapek talked about the exciting news announced earlier in the day by Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger for plans to bring Star Wars-themed lands to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando and Disneyland park in Anaheim.  Each 14-acre land will transport guests to a never-before-seen planet with two signature attractions, including a customized secret mission on the Millennium Falcon and an epic Star Wars adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle. 

Read D&M Star Wars Land special article with high-res artworks of the land HERE !

Here below are all details on each project and if you want to watch the full presentation here is the whole thing filmed by Mouse Planet!

Star Wars Enhancements & New Experiences
From a new Star Tours adventure to Star Wars Launch Bay, from a new Jedi Training Academy to "Season of the Force,” soon guests will be part of both new and enhanced experiences at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.

·         Star Tours – The Adventures Continue – Later this year, Star Tours will include a new adventure featuring locations and characters from the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, giving guests a new adventure in the Star Wars galaxy. 

·         Star Wars Launch Bay – This interactive experience will take guests into the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with special exhibits and peeks behind-the-scenes, including opportunities to visit with new and favorite Star Wars characters, special merchandise and food offerings.  Star Wars Launch Bay will be located in the Animation Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and in Tomorrowland at Disneyland park.  Also atDisneyland park, Star Wars Launch Bay will share the space with the reimagined Super Hero HQ, featuring opportunities to meet and take photos with super heroes like Captain America and Thor, as well as experience the returning Iron Man Tech Presented by Stark Industries.  Both experiences will be available for guests later this year.

·         Jedi Training Academy — A favorite of younger fans is reimagined with a new experience that includes new characters and a new villain to battle from the popular Disney XD series "Star Wars Rebels."

·         Season of the Force – This new seasonal event, beginning early 2016, brings new experiences to both coasts.  In Tomorrowland at Disneyland park, guests will explore the Star Wars galaxy with special entertainment throughout the land, themed food locations and more. 

     Guests also will be thrilled to climb aboard Hyperspace Mountain, a reimagining of the classic Space Mountain attraction, in which guests will join an X-wing Starfighter battle. 

     At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests will close out weekend nights with a new fireworks spectacular set to the iconic score of the Star Wars movies.

Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida
The reimagining of Disney’s Hollywood Studios will take guests to infinity and beyond, allowing them to step into the worlds of their favorite films, starting with Toy Story Land.  This new 11-acre land will transport guests into the adventurous outdoors of Andy’s backyard.  

Guests will think they've been shrunk to the size of Woody and Buzz as they are surrounded by oversized toys that Andy has assembled using his vivid imagination.  Using toys like building blocks, plastic buckets and shovels, and game board pieces, Andy has designed the perfect setting for this land, which will include two new attractions for any Disney park and one expanded favorite.

·         Family-friendly roller coaster – All on the back of Slinky Dog, this coaster will zip and zoom, plunge and coast as it takes guests on a fun, toy-filled adventure throughout the new land.

·         Alien saucers attraction – The famous little green aliens from the movie will take guests around for a spin in their very own flying saucers.  

The music, lighting and sound effects add to the flurry of action, while “The Claw” looms over. 

·         Toy Story Mania! – Guests glide into the Toy Story Midway Games Play Set  and take aim at 3D objects in a variety of fast-paced games, with an expansion that adds a third track to this popular attraction.

Here is the video filmed by The DIS of the Toy Story land announcement for Disney Hollywood Studios during the D23 Disney parks an dResorts presentation at D23.

After Dark at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Pandora – The World of AVATAR
As part of the largest expansion in the park’s history, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will immerse guests into the world of Pandora, and the entire park will transform after dark with new nighttime entertainment experiences, offering guests longer days than ever before to experience this one-of-a-kind theme park.

·         “Rivers of Light” – Expected to open next spring, “Rivers of Light” will be an innovative experience unlike anything ever seen in a Disney park, combining live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery. “Rivers of Light” will magically come to life on the natural stage of Discovery River, delighting guests and truly capping off a full day of adventures at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

·         Kilimanjaro Safaris – This popular attraction will be extended for a new nighttime adventure next spring, where guests will travel through the African savanna amid the magically extended orange glow of the setting sun and discover two species new to the attraction: African wild dogs and hyenas. 

Here is the video filmed by The DIS during the Parks and Resorts presentation yesterday, with the great Imagineer Joe Rhode!

·         Pandora – The World of AVATAR – Disney’s Animal Kingdom guests will journey into the magnificent world of Pandora at this new AVATAR-themed land – a world that includes floating mountains, a bioluminescent forest and the winged creatures known as Banshees, giving guests a transformational experience they will never forget.

From yesterday's Parks and Resorts presentation at D23 here is the video filmed by The DIS of the Avatar land announcement with James Cameron in person!

  AVATAR Flight of Passage – This E-ticket attraction, the centerpiece of Pandora, allows guests to soar on a Banshee over a vast alien world. The spectacular flying experience will give guests a birds-eye view of the beauty and grandeur of the world of Pandora on an aerial rite of passage.

Soarin’ Around the World in Florida and California
Next year, guests at Epcot in Florida and Disney California Adventure in California will journey to far-flung lands and fly above some of the world’s most unique natural landscapes and man-made wonders when the new Soarin’ Around the World makes its U.S. debut. 

Go behind the scenes with this short video making-of of Soarin' Over the World!

Iron Man Unveiled for Hong Kong Disneyland
Iron Man landed at D23 EXPO today for a special appearance, and soon Hong Kong Disneyland guests will have the opportunity to meet and take photos with the Super Hero himself. 

Set to open in 2016, Iron Man Experience will be the first Marvel attraction at any Disney park, taking guests on an epic adventure over the streets and in the sky above Hong Kong.  The adventure will begin at the new Stark Expo where guests board the Iron Wing to take flight and battle Hydra alongside fan-favorite Avenger, Iron Man.

And here is the 30 sec preview of the simulator ride movie of Iron Man Experience opening next year at HKDL!

Come back tomorrow for a video of the full D23 Parks and Resorts presentation!

Pictures: copyright Disney


Anonymous said...

My initial reactions on the news for the Studios:

Toy Story Playland looks better than the other versions in HK and Paris (although I should caveat that with the fact that I have only seen the HK version in person). I heartened by the fact that the roller coaster looks fairly substantial - more than just a Barnstormer. And the flat ride will give families with small kids something to do. TSPL in the other parks suffers from serious capacity issues; the different rides and apparent doubling-up of the teacup/UFO ride suggests that they are addressing this issue. [Side note: I think it's interesting that Dumbo in Shanghai is only a single spinner, especially when it's slap-bang in the middle of the park and they spent so much money recently doubling the one in the back of the Magic Kingdom].

If the entrance to Toy Story Mania is moved, as it looks likely will be the case, is this the end of Pixar Place? There will be nothing there, just a narrow walkway. Maybe it will be closed and become a backstage area. Am I correct in recalling that Pixar Place has to close when they run fireworks in the park? Maybe moving the entrance to Toy Story Playland can mean that regular fireworks shows can return to the park.

Star Wars Land I'm sure will be great. I'm not a Star Wars fan, so I'm not that excited about it but I'm sure the imagineers will do a great job. Hopefully the Imagineers can walk the delicate line between catering for the uber-fans and making it interesting and accessible to non-fans. The trouble with franchises like Star Wars is, while it's the best thing since sliced bread for fans, the scale and depth of the fandom and the extent of the mythology can make it inaccessible and uninteresting to non-fans. For example I like Star Tours but it would be more interesting to me if it was a standalone IP, rather than based on an IP that I do not know and don't care about. I think this is partly why Avatar has come in for a lot of criticism over the last few years, however the little information on Avatar that has come out about Avatar in D23 seems to suggest that they are handling this issue well. Franchises like Cars translate well into theme park attractions and lands because it is obvious that you don't need to know much, if anything, about the films. Splash Mountain addresses this by not even mentioning the original IP.

I really, really hope that they build these as quickly as possible (i.e. in the next couple of years) and that there is more stuff to be revealed. On its own I don't think these are enough to revive DHS; I think it needs more attractions, updates to existing attractions, more placemaking and thematic integration. Until then, it's still going to be a rough couple of years for the Studios whilst so many rides are shuttered.

As for Animal Kingdom, Avatar looks great. Is it me or do they seem to be playing down the boat ride? I suspect this will open later than the other attraction. It should be noted that it is being developed at exactly the same time as the new version of Pirates in Shanghai, which by all accounts will be a massive upgrade to the existing versions using brand new technologies and show elements; I had hoped that these would also be a part of the Avatar boat ride, but since there has been no mention of this perhaps I should adjust my expections downwards.

It's interesting to think about all the rumours that haven't been realised this weekend: Car Land, Monsters Inc Coaster, Marvel Land, DHS name change, Fantasmic replacement, Illuminations replacement, additions to MK (other than the new restaurant). Hopefully some of these are still in the works and they are just saving the information for later!

Anonymous said...

The anonymous commenter above took the words out of my mouth.

Although I've enjoyed Star Wars and Avatar, I don't enjoy them enough to be excited about whole lands devoted to them. And I'm really not ok with a movie franchise getting it's own land at Disneyland. Every other subland like New Orleans Square and Critter Country relates to surroundings-the Rivers of America-the only land Star Wars would make sense to connect to is Tomorrowland and that's not where they're building it apparently.

I was hoping for an announcement about a Figment replacement: I'd love something based on the original storyline/comic series but really I'd accept anything different from what's there.

I know a couple of outlets have reported rumors of a Ghibli attraction in Epcot and Indiana Jones Adventure in Hollywood Studios - hopefully those will happen eventually because right now WDW's lack of Indiana Jones and the classic Fantasyland dark rides makes Disneyland CA my go-to theme park even though I live in New York and it's much farther. But it looks like if those do happen it'll definitely be next decade at this point.