D23 Sets the Road Map for Walt Disney World and International Parks

December 15, 2021

During this past weekend’s Destination D23 event, Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro told us what to expect over the next year.

Yes, Destination D23 sets the road map for Walt Disney World and Disney’s international theme parks over the next two years. Here’s what we learned.

Disney Overseas

D’Amaro actually led with updates about Disney’s four international parks, emphasizing their importance. 

For starters, Disneyland Paris will celebrate its 30th anniversary starting on March 6th. The park will bring back Disney Illuminations and Disney Stars on Parade. 

We learned that Avengers Campus will debut at Disneyland Paris during the summer of 2022. 

The French version of this themed land will anchor Walt Disney Studios Park, the least trafficked of all Disney theme parks. 

Disney executives hope it will cause a similar surge in interest as 2014’s addition, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. 

This section will pair with Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel, which reopened with its new theme earlier in 2021.

As a reminder, Avengers Campus in Paris will feature a unique attraction, a Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster repurposing with an Iron Man theme.

At Hong Kong Disneyland, Disney already brought back Follow Your Dreams. You can watch it at the Castle of Magical Dreams stage.

Disney also showed a construction update for the upcoming Frozen themed land. Here’s the current status:

Sure, this project is still far from complete, but you can see the ride tracks on the right and the mountain on the left.

Meanwhile, Tokyo DisneySea is working on its next and most ambitious port, Fantasy Springs. Here’s a screen capture from an aerial shot of it.

D’Amaro suggested that this project remains two years away from completion. It’ll feature Tangled, Peter Pan, and Frozen attractions.

Finally, Shanghai Disneyland has brought back Illuminate! A Nighttime Celebration and will soon add the world’s first Zootopia themed land.

Disney showed footage of an Audio-Animatronic yak named Yax. 

This was the Mystic Springs Oasis owner in the movie, the one voiced by Tommy Chong. Remember him?

The animatronic looks perfect…although the hands are kinda creepy.

The Walt Disney World Updates

In Orlando, D’Amaro had plenty to announce. Let’s start with the footage of the Wonders of Xandar pavilion. 

Disney showed the first scenes from the upcoming EPCOT expansion. 

Simultaneously, D’Amaro confirmed that Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will open during the summer of 2022. So you can and should plan your next Walt Disney World vacation accordingly. 

Disney added that this attraction will be among the longest enclosed roller coasters in the world. Also, it will have the reverse launch that was previously mentioned. 

The ride is also a “storytelling roller coaster.” Notably, Glenn Close announced that she would reprise her MCU character, Nova Prime. Here’s the clip:

Elsewhere at EPCOT, World Celebration will add a new Quick Service restaurant called Connections Café and Eatery. You’ll find it near Club Cool and Creations Shop.

Also, Disney confirmed that Dreamers Point is still happening, and it’ll feature a statue of Walt Disney. 

There was no mention of the EPCOT Festival Center revealed at a previous D23 event. Rumors suggest that the project has gotten scaled down dramatically, but Disney provided no clarity. 

During Disney’s recent earnings report, the company confirmed that its park capital expenditures in 2021 fell way below projections.

Still, we know Journey of Water will debut at EPCOT’s World Nature. And D’Amaro provided an update on the construction of Tron Lightcycle Power Run.

So, some stuff is coming to the parks. We’re just not sure about anything that wasn’t mentioned at D23. Yes, that includes Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge. 

If that project is still in the plans, it’s definitely not happening anytime soon. 

Returning Soon

Disney spent part of the presentation announcing park features that will return in calendar 2022. 

We’re talking about stuff like Fantasmic! coming back to Disney’s Hollywood Studios over the next year. 

The Festival of Fantasy Parade will also anchor Magic Kingdom again at some point in 2022.

Near Cinderella Castle, Disney will replace Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire with Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire…which sounds like a lateral move.

Also, MagicBand+ should debut at some point next year, as will the “Hey, Disney!” virtual assistant. 

With MagicBand+, Glow with the Show will make a comeback, although it never really went away for some. The wearable will light up in tandem with the nighttime music beats.

As for the virtual assistant “Hey, Disney!” it’ll arrive at all Disney hotels at some point in the coming year. 

I suspect Disney was aware of the fact that Destination D23 lacked a lot of bombshell announcements.

D’Amaro ended his presentation with a list of all the things that have returned at Disney parks recently. The Parks Blog has published the complete list if you’re interested.  

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