A month before its 100th anniversary, the Walt Disney Company hosted the biennial Destination D23, a fan gathering featuring presentations and panels celebrating Disney’s past, present, and future. The event takes place in opposite years from the D23 Expo, the flagship fan event, but both serve as an opportunity for Disney to make some of its most significant announcements regarding what’s in the works for its theme parks, films, and other areas.
This year’s Destination D23 presentation yielded some big reveals regarding the future of Disney World, Disneyland Resort, and beyond. Disney wasted no time with breaking the latest news, spending the week leading up to the presentation revealing its upcoming cruise ship, the Disney Treasure, and the announcements only continued as Parks, Experiences, and Products chairman Josh D’Amaro took to the stage. Here’s a recap of what we learned about the future of Disney.
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Disney’s flagship Orlando theme park has some exciting additions planned for 2023 and beyond. In late November, the Hatbox Ghost animatronic will finally materialize at The Haunted Mansion. In 2024, the Country Bear Jamboree will perform a new act with new songs (Country Bear Musical Jamboree). Also arriving in 2024 will be the previously announced Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. While no major update was shared at the presentation, attendees got a glimpse at some of the work happening on the ride’s many audio-animatronic figures.
Over in Adventureland, a new pirate-themed tavern will open to expand the world of the classic Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. No exact timeline was shared for when guests can expect this Disney dining location to open, but it was also revealed that the fan-favorite Barker Bird will make his return to Adventureland when it opens.
There was also a brief update given on last year’s Blue Sky discussion on what could be added to Magic Kingdom in the coming years. Whatever’s in the works sure sounds epic, with the hint that this could potentially be bigger than the New Fantasyland addition that opened in 2012. These possibilities would take guests “beyond Adventureland” to what could be new rides and shows.
D’Amaro promised, “We’re about to go into overdrive at the Magic Kingdom.” Keep in mind, of course, that Blue Sky is exactly what it sounds like: imagining, dreaming, and planning, with no concrete announcement made at this presentation.
Major developments are also in the works at EPCOT, with some brand-new guest offerings arriving in the coming days and weeks. The first change guests will see has already gone into effect: Everyone’s favorite purple dragon, Figment, began greeting guests on September 10! Over in World Nature, Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana, will officially open on October 16. Also on October 16, Moana herself will greet guests in her own designated meet-and-greet location in World Nature.
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Later this year, EPCOT’s new nighttime show will debut in World Showcase. The show, Luminous: The Symphony of Us, will debut on December 5. Finally, EPCOT’s high-speed thrill ride Test Track will once again be reimagined in partnership with Chevrolet. This time, Disney will look to the ride’s history, including World of Motion, as its inspiration. No timeline was given as to when guests can expect this new version to open or begin work.
The Disney World park that held the lion’s share of updates (pardon the pun) is Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Only two projects were shared, but each was significant. First up is a new show that will debut at the theater inside the Tree of Life, currently home to “It’s Tough to Be a Bug.” The new show will be based on the world of the animated film Zootopia. No timeline was given on when the show will debut.
But arguably the biggest announcement (and definitely the most mysterious) came at the end of the presentation when Josh D’Amaro and Bruce Vaughn, Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Imagineering, unveiled concept art for a new land in Animal Kingdom. Per Disney, “Walt Disney Imagineering is planning to reimagine Dinoland U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom into a new land inspired by a region sometimes referred to as the ‘Tropical Americas.'” While the land is still in the early stages of development, it was hinted that the worlds of Encanto and Indiana Jones could be a part of it.
Hollywood Studios, California Adventure, and Beyond
There were a few more additional announcements sprinkled throughout the presentation that touched upon exciting updates at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort, and Disney Cruise Line.
It was previously announced that Star Tours: The Adventures Continue would bring guests to new destinations that featured new characters starting in 2024. While the destinations have yet to be revealed, D’Amaro shared that Ahsoka Tano would be one of the new characters featured in Disney World, Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris attractions, fresh off the character’s new Star Wars show in Disney+. Also coming to all three resorts will be a new character meet-and-greet experience featuring Asha, the main protagonist in Disney’s upcoming animated feature Wish.
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At Disney California Adventure, work continues on the new E-ticket Multiverse attraction coming to Avengers Campus. An exact timeline is still under wraps, but Disney did provide a look at new concept art that features a first look at the ride vehicle.
Finally, Disney Cruise Line announced the official name of its new private island destination, located on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, set to welcome its first guests in June 2024: Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point. Cruisers can also look forward to the seventh ship to join the fleet, which was previously acquired this year mid-construction. The ship, which will sail to Southeast Asia, will be called the Disney Adventure.