Disney held a special presentation today titled “A Celebration of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” at Destination D23. Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, shed some light on what Disney is working on in its theme parks and what’s to come.
Below is a look at some of the biggest parks announcements from the presentation along with some commentary on how we feel about each one.
Avengers Campus E-Ticket Ride Update
Disney provided a quick update on the E-ticket attraction that’s still supposed to be built in Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure. The ride will take guests on a “multi-universe” Avengers adventure. Disney shared new concept art of the ride vehicle guests will use for their adventure.
Commentary: It’s nice Disney is still talking about the long-planned staple attraction at Avengers Campus. But, the update was so brief (one piece of concept art) and so light on details that it’s clear this Avengers attraction isn’t even remotely close to breaking ground.
Country Bear Jamboree Update at Magic Kingdom
An update is coming to the beloved Country Bear Jamboree attraction at Magic Kingdom. The Country Bears will sing new songs and have a new act in the Musical Jamboree. The updated Jamboree will feature Disney songs, such as ‘The Bare Necessities’ from The Jungle Book, sung in a bluegrass style. Different Disney songs will be sung in a variety of musical styles.
Commentary: While we are glad the Country Bears themselves still have a home at Magic Kingdom, we’re going to pour one out for those original songs. Big Al’s ‘Blood on the Saddle’ is a personal fav. We’re not surprised Disney is updating this show to add “more Disney” into its parks (a favorite Bob Chapek quote), and we’re honestly just happy the Country Bears aren’t being removed completely.
EPCOT’s New Fireworks Show – Luminous
EPCOT’s new fireworks show will officially debut December 5, 2023. The show will be called Luminous – The Symphony of Us, and will use fireworks, lasers, lights, and fountains to bring the show to life.
Commentary: It’s interesting Disney chose a name – Luminous – that’s so close to the name of the previous show, Harmonious, that crashed and ended in record time. Luminous will likely be very similar to the old Harmonious show (minus the massive barges) and will be full of familiar Disney music.
Test Track Reimagining at EPCOT
Disney is working with Chevrolet to reimagine Test Track at EPCOT. The updated attraction will call back to the original World of Motion. Disney did not provide any additional details or a date on when the reimagining will begin.
Commentary: This one caught us a bit by surprise. There are so many attractions that need attention at EPCOT before Test Track (give some love to the Imagination Pavilion!), but we welcome an update that refreshes some of Test Track’s more tired elements. The current TRON feel on Test Track might not make much sense with TRON Lightcycle Run now residing in Magic Kingdom.
Zootopia Show Coming to the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Zootopia is coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but not in the way many predicted. A new Zootopia show is coming to the Tree of Life, which is the current home of the It’s Tough to be a Bug! show.
Commentary: It’s highly likely Disney wanted a more child-friendly show inside the Tree of Life. It’s Tough to be a Bug, as fun and thematically-appropriate as it is, often terrified children. While this was amusing for repeat guests, it caused headaches for parents who didn’t look into the show before visiting. The new Zootopia show also checks the box of getting a more modern Disney film into the park.
Tropical Americas Region Replacing Dinoland USA at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Dinoland USA is being replaced at Disney’s Animal Kingdom with a new land that’s being themed to the Tropical Americas. The new land was teased to have a new Encanto attraction and something themed to Indiana Jones (Dinosaur, anyone?). Disney notes that the two concepts are “currently being considered” for this reimagined land, so nothing was concretely announced.
Commentary: The concept of a Tropical Americas section coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom makes much more sense than the previous Blue Sky ideas with Zootopia and Moana. It fits in much better with the current regions of Africa and Asia. This new idea allows Disney to highlight animals from that region, if they desire, while still incorporating the super popular Encanto concept into Walt Disney World.
Retheming Dinosaur into the Indiana Jones attraction seen at Disneyland would also be a pretty easy task as the two attractions share the exact same ride vehicles and identical ride layouts. It’d be a more cost-effective move rather than building something brand new.
It’s important to note Disney noted this “announcement” is still Blue Sky thinking and it can easily change or be cut from their plans.
The announcements and conversations at Destination D23’s parks presentation mostly met our expectations. Disney is in an awkward financial spot right now, and though Universal is building a big new theme park competitor in Orlando, Disney seems content to sit back for the near future.
No major expansions are planned at Disneyland or Walt Disney World in the next few years. Even if Disney announced concrete expansion plans today, those new ideas wouldn’t open for several years. We hope Disney soon recognizes the need for expansion and capacity at their domestic theme parks, and stops replacing and retheming their attractions.