My Disney Top 5 - Walt Disney World Announcements at D23 Expo 2017by Chris Barry, contributing writer
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.