Announcements from D23 Expo Japan
During Monday’s Parks & Resorts panel during the D23 Expo Japan 2018, Chairman Bob Chapek shared new details about some of the projects already underway at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Tokyo Disney Resort.
While the presentation was light on announcements (we were expecting something Marvelous), there was one semi-interesting announcement for Disneyland Paris, and…that’s about it. I guess some of the new concept art is interesting. It was mostly just repackaged details about things we already knew, with a morsel or two of new info scattered about, plus a lot of puffery.
After a litany of announcements at last year’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, some of which were pretty sparse on detail, it seemed likely that this presentation would fill in some gaps, and also offer follow-up announcements about projects that were discussed in vague terms, including expansion and redesign projects at both Epcot and Disney California Adventure. Neither occurred and, notably, neither did any word about Tokyo DisneySky, a park we are pretty convinced is not going to happen.
In this post, we’ll offer basic, press-release style info about what was announced (cutting out the fluff), and interjecting some of our opinions about each main topic that was covered during the Parks & Resorts panel. Let’s get started…
As we reported last March, Marvel is coming to Disneyland Paris. Vague details were included in the skeleton of a 10-year plan that called for over $2 billion of capex investment, with the main expenditures being Marvel attractions and entertainment in the Walt Disney Studios Park, plus overhauls to two of hotels.
At the time, it seemed like these additions would be staggered, with one slated for the near-term. The obvious choice seemed like Tower of Terror to Mission: Breakout for the quick overhaul. However, that’s not what’s happening, and in a twist that makes far more sense, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster will be totally reimagined as a high-speed, hyper-kinetic adventure where guests will team up with Iron Man and their favorite Avengers.
We’re totally on board with this. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is located in a back corner of Walt Disney Studios Park in an ugly soundstage, with plenty of space around it for further, organic development of a fully-fledged Marvel Land. By contrast, the Hollywood Tower Hotel is positioned near the front of WDSP, and having it be the centerpiece of an eventual large-scale Marvel expansion really would’ve handcuffed Imagineering. While Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is a fun attraction, that’s all because of the coaster, not because it’s some thematic gem. It’ll be just as good–hopefully better–with the Marvel redo.
In the more immediate future, Marvel Summer of Super Heroes will debut at Walt Disney Studios Park and will run from June 10 until September 30, 2018. It will bring guests face-to-face with Captain America, Spider-Man, Star-Lord and Black Widow. We were under the impression that a stunt show would debut for this in the former CineMagique theater, but it doesn’t appear that has been announced (yet?).
Closer to home, StarLord is still planning a return to the theme park he visited as a kid in a totally on-theme experience (BECAUSE HE VISITED AS A KID, GET IT?!) in that one Guardians of the Galaxy attraction coming to Epcot for some reason.
The Guardians of the Galaxy ride in Epcot will be one of the world’s longest enclosed roller coasters, with an innovative new ride system. Per Disney: “the Guardians of the Galaxy-inspired coaster is part of our ongoing work to transform Epcot into a place that’s more family, more relevant, more timeless and more Disney. ‘As we build upon its core mission of optimism and hope to inspire the world, the real will become fantastic and the fantastic will become real–in whole new ways at Epcot,’ Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, said.”
Star Wars Stuff
Last year at the D23 Expo, Bob Chapek announced that a Star Wars-inspired luxury resort will debut as part of the new Disney 360 vacation concept. This new vacation concept will be a living adventure that allows guests to be active participants in an entirely new form of Disney storytelling. To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a single new detail or much mention of this project since then.
Today, Chapek announced that every window at the Star Wars “Starship” Resort (our name for it, not his) would have a view into space, and the resort will be seamlessly connected to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Whether this is marketing-speak or in terms of the physical location is unclear.
We’ve separately heard that play-testing of this concept will begin soon at an existing Walt Disney World resort hotel in order to fine tune the concept before its details are finalized. Based upon what we’ve heard, the opening date for the Star Wars Starship Hotel is still several years away–after Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
No new information was presented about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Twenty Years of Pixar
Chapek is dubbing 2018 as the “Year of Pixar” at Disney parks, due to the opening of Toy Story Land at Shanghai Disneyland in April and at Walt Disney World this summer, Pixar Pier debuting at Disney California Adventure on June 23, the Up bird show opening at Animal Kingdom on April 22, and Pixar Fest launching at Disneyland Resort on April 13.
“Honoring” Pixar with all of this is like that time Terminator: Genisys was released during the 25th Anniversary of the masterpiece that is Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but if Genisys were somehow even more of a trainwreck than it was.
Aside from the opening dates for Pixar Pier (yay?) and the bird show, the only detail of substance here was that the replacement float for the Frozen float being cut from Paint the Night is an Incredibles float, which will join the parade this June. Because 12+ months just wasn’t long enough to repurpose a single float to have ready in time for April!
Chapek shared that starting next year, Adventures by Disney will take guests around Japan, including Tokyo and Kyoto (our favorite city in the world). As odd as it might sound odd, this is actually one of the most exciting tidbits for us! Japan is our favorite travel destination on earth, and if this enables more Disney fans to see it, that’s great. We hear from readers all the time who want to go but are apprehensive about cultural barriers. Well, here’s your solution! 🙂
Finally, previously-known details of the largest expansion to Tokyo Disney Resort since the opening of Tokyo DisneySea were covered. In our Beauty and the Beast Land Construction Update, we covered all of this, so we won’t rehash it here. Suffice to say, this gives Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge a run for its money in terms of being the most highly-anticipated Disney project in the world right now.
That’s it. At least the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster bit was interesting…I hope?
Need Disney trip planning tips and comprehensive advice? Make sure to read Disney Parks Vacation Planning Guides, where you can find comprehensive guides to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and beyond! For Disney updates, discount information, a free download of our Money-Saving Tips for Walt Disney World eBook, and much more, sign up for our free monthly newsletter!
What do you think of these “announcements”? Are you underwhelmed, or was this more than you expected? Any questions? We love hearing from readers, so please share any other thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!
I’m not that thrilled by any of the updates, but I agree about RnR in Paris. It is a shell of the original, and that entire area is so ugly! If they’re going to put Marvel in the parks, I can’t imagine a better place. The WDS in Paris is easily the worst Disney park I’ve seen, and it’s hard to imagine anything being of lesser quality. This can only help.
Not really sure why Disney continues to spend so much money over seas? I would like ke to see a NoCal DisneyWorld. Makes perfect since, plenty of land between San Francisco and Sacramento. God knows it doesn’t rain anymore and the weather is always nice.
Ugh not more Star Wars, Pixar, and Marvel!!
Great. :-/ More Marvel. More Star Wars. Nothing Disney. They are making it easier and easier to find somewhere else to go.
C’mon. Marvel and Star Wars ARE Disney. This is not your grandfather’s Disney, and they would be fools not to take advantage of these franchises. If we want these parks to continue to exist, they have to keep up with the times. I don’t have interest in some of this new stuff, but it is the lifeblood of the parks, and the company.
Tom, you could probably qualify as an ABD tour guide of Kyoto (and the rest of Japan as well)! This is great news and hopefully gets more fans excited to experience my favorite country in the world! I love the magic that exists in the Tokyo Disney parks and how the fans there enhance that magic with their zany costumes and love for the characters! It’s just pure Disney fun! Not to mention how courteous the cast members AND guests are. Every Disney fan should experience how truly magical a day at the Tokyo Disney Resort is.
As Sarah will tell you, me being a tour guide would be about the worst idea ever. I’m too impulsive, I walk too quickly, I will go pretty far out of my way to avoid buses, and one of my favorite activities is wandering and getting lost.
I am very curious to see where, exactly, Disney goes on this (these?) itineraries, and how culturally-rich of an experience it is. Even though Sarah and I have no need for such a tour, I’d actually consider doing this one just to see how it contrasts with our own experiences. Maybe a DisneyTouristBlog group tour!
I don’t understand all of the negativity towards Pixar Pier. And why is it not a suitable “honor” for the pixar movies? I thinks it is going to be fantastic to finally get to spend time with some of the other characters from other popular Pixar movies. (But maybe I’m biased because The Incredibles is easily one of my top 5 favorite Disney movies?)
(I know you normally write some jokes and with a bit of sarcasm, but this article was just so negative. As if you wrote it when you had a bad day and wanted others to share in your misery.)
My problem with Pixar Pier is that it’s just a way to retrofit an existing land and cram as many diverse characters into that area as possible. If it were redone as a Toy Story mini-land or something specific to one franchise, I’d take less issue. However, when compared to the brilliant work done in Cars Land, this just feels like a quick, relatively thoughtless way of injecting more characters into DCA–and in a way that undoes some of the great progress made in the last several years since the park relaunched.
On a positive note, I will say that some of the more recent concept art–and the scope of construction on the pier–is at least somewhat reassuring, and shows this won’t be totally cheap. My issue is that it’s still lazy, and lacking in theme.
Maybe I downplayed it in the post, but I’m actually quite upbeat on the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster redo. WDSP needs a lot of help, and they will need to stretch their budget as far as possible to accomplish everything that needs to be done. This is a very solid first step in that regard.
So are they replacing the Rock n Roll coaster at Hollywood Studios WDW?
I would also like to know this answer. Article seems to not clearly point it out
I would like to know also. The way it reads to me is it looks like just DL is changing its Ride which makes more sense as they already changed Tower of Terror to Marvel based.
Rock N Roller Coaster is only changing at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris. Disneyland (California) doesn’t have a Rock N Roller Coaster, and Disney is not allowed to use the characters in Florida.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at the Walt Disney World Resort will remain as it is for now!
Chappie is such a tool. Just a bunch of old news repackaged. Without even any real detail on anything of substance whatsoever, unless you consider the theme of a new float or the fact GoTG will be a coaster to be news. Even the RnRC reskin in Paris has been in the plans for at least 3-4 years now (I know because I first put it out in another MAGICal realm). Originally, the plan was for Spiderman. I guess they are borrowing aspects from other Marvel attractions to make it even cheaper. I suppose it is better than having them destroy another ToT. In the end, all this stuff just moves Disney further and further from being a company that transported you to other places and eras. Instead of theme parks, they are running popular (now) IP parks. And if you want to live Star Wars, Marvel or Pixar, then you are likely happier than a pig in pooh. If you want something a bit deeper, then Disney simply isn’t the place for you.
Which is why I will always love New Orleans Square, Adventureland and Frontierland in Disneyland. No place for Marvel in these areas…it just won’t fit. You can always feel that spirit of transportation while in these lands…especially in the morning with the Mark Twain coming around the bend with the smokestacks puffing and the whistle blowing!
“Which is why I will always love New Orleans Square, Adventureland and Frontierland in Disneyland. No place for Marvel in these areas…it just won’t fit.”
Don’t give them any ideas or a ‘challenge.’
Replacing Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster with Marvel is brilliant. Why on earth didn’t they do that at WDW with the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster? I never understood Aerosmith’s insertion into a Disney park in the first place, and it would make so much more sense there than shoehorning it into Epcot.
And I’m desperately hoping that Luxo lamp is animatronic. Can you imagine him spotlighting people as they walk in? Adorable.
“Why on earth didn’t they do that at WDW with the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster?”
This is a point I stressed continuously during the rumor stage of the Guardians attraction, and I still don’t get why it didn’t happen. My best guess is because guest surveys showed Epcot was lacking in thrills or characters, and with DHS already getting Star Wars land, it made more sense (at least on paper) to put GotG in Epcot.
Still…you’d think RnRC could be reskinned for a minimal investment, giving DHS a “new” ride, and something else could’ve replaced Universe of Energy.
I’ve only recently started reading your blog (and am now addicted); I must have missed those posts! I definitely felt Guardians would be better placed at DHS, but it didn’t even occur to me that it could replace RnR. Absolutely agreed, this is completely nonsensical. The RnR track would be perfect for Guardians, and surely the reskin would be less expensive! Now that I am aware this could have been a possibility, I can’t fathom why they would have done anything else. I agree Epcot needs a pick-me-up, but cramming in irrelevant IPs seems so disrespectful to both Epcot and Guardians. Even putting Tron in Epcot would have been more relevant! …Heck, Tron is even arguably more relevant to the concepts of Energy and Future World than Ellen DeGeneres talking about fossil fuels in a dino safari, and Magic Kingdom already had a slew of recent updates, it doesn’t need Tron. What are you doing, Disney.
As an apology, I will accept a new Figment ride using the trackless ride system, please and thank you. Somewhere in an alternate universe, maybe that’s what they did with the money they saved by doing the RnR reskin.
Of the two RNRCs, I consider WDS the stronger attraction in terms of the on-ride experience (those lighting effects are incredible), but the far weaker attraction in terms of pre-show, storyline and the building itself. So I too view this as “nothing but good news”.
The only possible downside is that, as a currently underperforming WDS attraction, it will cause sharply increased wait times. But I’ll take that trade for a better experience and improved theme to a currently appalling area.
On a semi-related point, giving WDS Extra Magic Hours is a huge improvement to DLP in my opinion. On my last few visits, it has meant I rope-drop WDS around 8:30, do Crush Coaster, RNRC, RC Racer, ToT and Ratatouille (via Single Rider) in that order, before leaving the park at around 10:30AM for Disneyland and not returning for the rest of the day except if I want to see “Mickey and The Magician”. I view WDS as being more a ‘checklist of attractions’ rather than a park to savour, so this works really well and lets me maximise the day in DLP. It is also a new perk of the Magic Plus Annual Passport that friends may accompany the passholder on Extra Magic Hours via the (discounted) €39/day tickets, meaning that even for one-time visitors, it may make sense for one of the guests to buy a Magic Plus AP.
“On a semi-related point, giving WDS Extra Magic Hours is a huge improvement to DLP in my opinion. On my last few visits, it has meant I rope-drop WDS around 8:30, do Crush Coaster, RNRC, RC Racer, ToT and Ratatouille (via Single Rider) in that order, before leaving the park at around 10:30AM for Disneyland and not returning for the rest of the day except if I want to see “Mickey and The Magician”. I view WDS as being more a ‘checklist of attractions’ rather than a park to savour, so this works really well and lets me maximise the day in DLP.”
You know, I’m actually quite happy they’re replacing the Frozen float of Paint the Night. That was the tallest float in the parade, and using it would have meant they would have removed the overhead cables of the Red Car Trolley. Now I have hope that all the floats will fit under the cables and the trolley’s theming will be kept intact.
Also, the Pixar Pier entrance arch looks period appropriate, and makes me more optimistic about the land maintaining a consistent old-timey feel throughout. (The Luxo lamp is a bit out of place, but you can’t win them all, I guess)
That’s actually why they’re replacing the Frozen float–all the rest (including Mack!) fit under the trolley wires. I’m actually a bit (pleasantly) surprised they didn’t tear the wires down. I’m just poking fun that they’ve been hyping this as a new float, and not acknowledging that it’s a 1:1 replacement.
I agree about the Pixar Pier entrance. Very Toyville Trolley Park-esque. Maybe that project will turn out better than expected?
Minus the ominous Woody!!!