My Disney Top 5 - Walt Disney World Announcements at D23 Expo 2017

by Chris Barry, contributing writer
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The 2017 D23 Expo has come and gone and once again, as in year’s past, this particular D23 member is kicking himself in the behind for not venturing out to Anaheim for the ultimate Disney fan convention. Before you go ahead and ridicule me for not hopping a flight to the left coast, sitting at the MousePlanet booth and soaking in all the Disney goodness I could for the weekend, it must be said that my twin boys turned 15 on July 15th. So, when the dates were announced way back when, I always knew there was no chance of me going. It looks like all of you that did attend had an amazing experience. Those of us watching from home were certainly jealous! Disney really seems to deliver at the D23 Expo and one of these years; I’m going to make it out there!

Back here in New York, I was in the middle of continuing my series counting down what I love most about Epcot’s Future World. When I sat down to keep going in that vein, I started to think about Epcot and what it needs and things that are on the horizon for Future World. I soon realized that given all the news that came out of D23 this past weekend, I really needed to write about it and what better way than to turn it into a Top 5. So, without further ado, here are my Top 5 Walt Disney World Announcements from the D23 Expo 2017 Parks and Resorts Panel.

5 – Ratatouille in France

There has been much discussion throughout cyberspace and beyond about what belongs in Epcot and what doesn’t. The concern has been that once Nemo took over The Seas, it opened the floodgates for The Three Cabelleros in Mexico and Frozen in Norway and now Ratatouille in France and the Guardians of the Galaxy in the Universe of Energy. Many believe that Epcot is no place for the various intellectual properties owned by The Walt Disney Company and I can see that argument’s merits. At the same time, I have no problem with a new major attraction in World Showcase.


Concept art for the expansion of the France pavilion shows the Ratatouille attraction building behind the Eiffell Tower. Photos ©Disney.

This is something brand new, not a rebranding of an attraction ala Maelstrom, but an expansion of the World Showcase footprint. No, it wasn’t the Russian pavilion, or the Greek pavilion or the Luxembourg pavilion, or whatever country you feel should take up the infamous empty pads in World Showcase, but that’s ok. The France pavilion has always been a favorite of mine and I’m looking forward to more interesting architecture and a very cool new ride.

4 – Guardians of the Galaxy in Future World

There are many people out there that don’t seem too excited that Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy will be landing in Epcot’s Future World East. When the official announcement was made that Ellen’s Energy Adventure inside the Universe of Energy will be closing to make way for a new Guardians based attraction, there was a collective sigh amongst the Disney and Epcot faithful. The golden days of Epcot are over for many of them and this new wave of announcements wasn’t exactly what they were looking for. Personally, I’m walking a fine line on this one. I’m a fan of Nemo in the Seas. I happen to think they did a wonderful job with Frozen in Norway. I’m also pretty besides myself excited that the Guardians of the Galaxy will be in Future World.


The Universe of Energy will now be home the Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy.Photos ©Disney

I do question if there will be anything new in the future that’s not related to a Disney IP, but Ellen was getting a little long in the tooth and perhaps it was time for a change. I’m such a huge Guardians fan - the films, the comics, the animated series, it’s all good to me and I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do with the huge space they now have to work with. I’ve rarely visited Ellen’s Energy Adventure in recent years, and judging by the lack of crowds around me when I have, neither have many of you. That said, I’m hoping for a new breath of life into this corner of Future World.

3 – The Space Restaurant

We all know that Disney Dining is huge part of your Walt Disney World adventure. This notion of a space restaurant is an intriguing concept and I’m very enthused to see how they pull this off. Future World East needs a dining option and a cool one at that. This fits the bill perfectly. The concept art depicting the huge windows “overlooking” the Earth from the restaurant look amazing.


The yet unnamed space themed restaurant will be adjacent to Mission: Space. Photos ©Disney

I was recently at a U2 concert gazing in wonder at the clarity of the cutting edge 8K screens used by the band onstage. If Disney can even do something close to that, and let’s be honest, they certainly can and probably will, then this Space restaurant has incredible potential. My only hope is that it’s not just The Rainforest Café or T-Rex but outer space instead of jungles and dinosaurs. I want it to be like I’m actually dining in a restaurant aboard an orbiting space station. That’s what the concept art says to me and that’s what I’m looking forward to in a big way.

2 – TRON !!

Ok, look…that word needed to be in all caps and it deserves to be followed by many more exclamation points. I was a huge fan of the original Tron film and it’s groundbreaking use of graphics and I thoroughly enjoyed the modern follow-up.


The Tron coaster will land itself in the back of Tomorrowland, at least partially on the pathway that links Tomorrowland and Storybook Circus. Photos ©Disney

To this day, there’s almost nothing cooler than a light cycle racing across the screen – unless, of course, it’s actually riding one! The Tron coaster in Shanghai looks incredible and I am ecstatic that it’s coming to Tomorowland. Once again, it’s not a retheming or a replacement but a full-blown addition to the park and I need to be there when it opens for the first time.

1 – Star Wars Hotel

The only thing that beat out my excitement for Tron coming to Walt Disney World is Star Wars literally exploding into Walt Disney World! It’s going to be an amazing time to be a Star Wars fanatic! As if the addition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge wasn’t enough for me, are you saying that I’m actually going to be staying in the Star Wars universe when I leave Star Wars land and go back to my hotel?


Concept art of the Star Wars themed hotel places guests into a totally immersive Star Wars environment. Photos ©Disney

I’ll get to wear the clothes, look out the windows into outer space, stay in a Star Wars universe room – not a room with Nemo wallpaper or a pirate ship shaped bed, but a room that looks like what an interstellar traveler would be occupying a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away? This is a mind-blowing proposition for me. The plan seems to be a totally immersive experience and I’m holding Disney to that.

If I walk into this place and one of those little mouse droids that were zipping around the floors of the Death Star goes zipping by me, someone is going to have to catch me as I pass out from happiness. Then they’re going to have to talk me out of selling our home in Long Island and finding out a way to actually live there! There were some pretty major announcements at D23 this year, but this is the one that put me over the edge. Book me…now!

Following up on that excitement, I left off the full-scale model of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge because technically it wasn’t an announcement. But, boy oh boy, was I an excited little padawan when I saw that “fly through” of the model online the other day. I’ve said it before here in previous articles, Universal dropped he gauntlet with The Wizarding World. It’s immersion to the nth degree. But this model looks like Disney has answered that challenge, met it and will potentially surpass it. 2019 can’t come fast enough!

The new theater off of Main Street, new films for Mission: Space and China, the Disney Skyliner, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway – heck, even the Minnie vans seem like a fun addition. It’s going to be a fascinating 4 years leading up to Walt Disney World’s 50th in 2021. I’m sad to see things like The Great Movie Ride go, but all of it looks intriguing and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

Remember Walt himself said it best, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” The same goes for Walt Disney World and I’ll definitely be there to see all of these changes come to fruition. I can promise you a detail packed Top 5 article when it’s all said and done! Until then, click on the link below, let me hear your thoughts and what excited you most about the recent announcements coming out of the recent D23 Expo and I’ll see you next time with another Disney Top 5.

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. By foxtwin

    I think I'm in the same camp as you--this is good stuff and TRON! And after all that, I'm just as excited that the China pavilion will get a new film! I missed that announcement.

  2. By mkelm44

    I had been kind of rooting for more countries coming to world showcase, but I'm excited they're doing ANYTHING with Epcot. I think I'd drop Star Wars Hotel since as an Orlando resident it's rare I stay at the hotels, but I don't know if I want to be fully immersed during my "downtime" from parks even if I wasn't. I would however add the Mickey ride at DHS into my list in it's place. The Great Movie Ride had long since lost any appeal to me, so the change is welcome, although I wonder if DHS is at this point completely unusable with so many rides out of commission.

  3. By DisneyGator

    I never hit Epcot until 2002, so I only got the very edge of what was the "old" Epcot. Horizons had already shut down at that point. But I'm a fan of them introducing new stuff to Epcot. Even though it's not as "adult" anymore, with the execution of a bunch of the great live acts, Epcot was desperate for something. And while I place GotG at the very scum-settled bottom of the Marvel Universe, anything is an improvement at the UoE. It was slow, dull, and Ellen was like fingernails on a chalkboard. I kept rooting for the dinosaurs to eat her!!!

    As for Tron, I mean TRON!!!!, that's awesome! It's been a while since I've been to WDW, but I'll be willing to spend the dough to fly out there with the family just to hit a Tron coaster.

  4. By TulaBelle

    Hi Chris! I was delighted to read about all the upcoming changes to WDW, but you've made me downright giddy with your enthusiasm! 😄 I'll que up right behind you for all these cool experiences. Let's go!

  5. By stan4d_steph

    Tron is not a new ride. It's a clone of a ride at another Disney park. Ratatouille will not be a new ride either. It's a clone of a ride at another Disney park. You can ride either of them right now by visiting those parks.

  6. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtwin View Post
    I think I'm in the same camp as you--this is good stuff and TRON! And after all that, I'm just as excited that the China pavilion will get a new film! I missed that announcement.

    Hey Todd,

    Good stuff coming down the pike for sure. And yes, the update to the Canada movie was good to see so China is due.

  7. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by mkelm44 View Post
    I had been kind of rooting for more countries coming to world showcase, but I'm excited they're doing ANYTHING with Epcot. I think I'd drop Star Wars Hotel since as an Orlando resident it's rare I stay at the hotels, but I don't know if I want to be fully immersed during my "downtime" from parks even if I wasn't. I would however add the Mickey ride at DHS into my list in it's place. The Great Movie Ride had long since lost any appeal to me, so the change is welcome, although I wonder if DHS is at this point completely unusable with so many rides out of commission.

    The announcement referred to the Mickey ride as a game changer, so that indeed does look promising.

    I'm happy going to the Studios right now for Star Tours, Muppets, Toy Story, Tower of Terror, Little Mermaid, the Star Wars fireworks and Launch Bay, and Fantasmic! That's plenty for me. I'm not such a huge fan of the park to begin with. My favorites are open. I go, enjoy them and then I leave. That will all change in 2019 though. I'm going to have to like it there !!

  8. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by DisneyGator View Post
    I never hit Epcot until 2002, so I only got the very edge of what was the "old" Epcot. Horizons had already shut down at that point. But I'm a fan of them introducing new stuff to Epcot. Even though it's not as "adult" anymore, with the execution of a bunch of the great live acts, Epcot was desperate for something. And while I place GotG at the very scum-settled bottom of the Marvel Universe, anything is an improvement at the UoE. It was slow, dull, and Ellen was like fingernails on a chalkboard. I kept rooting for the dinosaurs to eat her!!!

    As for Tron, I mean TRON!!!!, that's awesome! It's been a while since I've been to WDW, but I'll be willing to spend the dough to fly out there with the family just to hit a Tron coaster.


    Wow Gator! The Guardians are one of my favorite things that Marvel has come out with recently! Didn't know them at all when the movie came out. Went to see it and LOVED it right away. Bought the comics. Watched the animated series. LOVED the 2nd film. To each his own I suppose.

    I agree that Ellen was past it's prime.

  9. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by TulaBelle View Post
    Hi Chris! I was delighted to read about all the upcoming changes to WDW, but you've made me downright giddy with your enthusiasm! �� I'll que up right behind you for all these cool experiences. Let's go!

    Hey TulaBelle,

    I'm glad that my enthusiasm is infectious!!

  10. By cbarry

    Quote Originally Posted by stan4d_steph View Post
    Tron is not a new ride. It's a clone of a ride at another Disney park. Ratatouille will not be a new ride either. It's a clone of a ride at another Disney park. You can ride either of them right now by visiting those parks.


    Very true, but rather unfortunately, I don't see myself headed to France or China anytime soon, but Orlando is always there for me! I was more referring to them as new structures and builds as opposed to them closing something and replacing as they are with The Great Movie Ride and Ellen, or like they did with Frozen. I'm excited that we're not losing anything for Tron and Ratatouille. I was all ready to see the Speedway go for Tron, as the rumors stated. I'm glad the rumors were incorrect and they're adding something instead of replacing something.

  11. By Mickey021

    I'm with you Chris. Great article as always, and I'm really excited about all of the above. For some reason, Ratatouille tops my list, but it all looks amazing. As far as Epcot and Disney IP, I too see the objection, but that said, I think they've woven what they've done so far into the park beautifully (Frozen, Nemo) and I'm sure they'll do the same with Guardians. The bottom line is when people want Disney, they want Disney. Any attempt at creating a Disney experience without Mickey and Co. hasn't gone over well with the general public, so they have to give their fans what they want. As long as this keeps giving them the excuse to create great new experiences, I'm in.

  12. By bobaloo000

    My hope is that Guardians, the updates to Mission Space and the new restaurant drive so much foot traffic to that side of EPCOT that the old Wonders of Life pavilion gets some life breathed into it in the near future besides being the HQ for the various festivals. Overall I'm excited for all the changes headed to WDW.

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