What Was Learned at the D23 Parks Panel

Yesterday at D23, the Parks Panel presentation took place and A LOT of new information was dropped.  So much information that I have to break in down park by park and then what is going on outside the theme parks on the resort side.   Let’s dive in head first.


The first change will take place on August 13 of this year when Ellen’s Energy Pavilion closed down.  This attraction will undergo a transformation into a new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction.  Like most of the attraction announcements, yesterday, it was given a “broad stroke” opening by 2021.

More changes will be taking place on the Mission:Space side of Future World.  The green experience on Mission:Space will be becoming more kid-friendly.  Outside the attraction, a new outer space restaurant will be going in.  No further details were announced.

The France pavilion will be undergoing some changes as well.  No, Impressions de France will not be getting a new movie.  Ratatouille fans will be excited as a Ratatouille themed attraction will open by 2021.  No other details were announced so I don’t know how similar this attraction will be to the Ratatouille attraction at Disneyland Paris.

A new movie will be going into the China pavilion as well.

Hollywood Studios

The biggest change taking place (outside of Star Wars Land – more on that in a second) will be a completely rebranding of the Great Movie Ride.  Gone will be TCM sponsorship and the entire attraction experience.  In its place will be the very first attraction starring Mickey and Minnie in Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.  The animation will be in the style of the new Mickey shorts airing on Disney Channel.

The Great Movie Ride will close on August 13, 2017.  The Chinese Theater facade will stay in place.  No other details or opening date was announced.

Star Wars Land will officially be named Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Toy Story Land will open in the summer of 2018.

Magic Kingdom

Two big changes are coming to Magic Kingdom.  The first change will be coming to Tomorrowland which will be expanding to accommodate the popular TRON attraction from Shanghai Disneyland.  This attraction will be going in the area behind Space Mountain and Tomorrowland Speedway.  As with the EPCOT attractions, the opening date was given the broad stroke “by 2021.”

The second change is coming to the area near Main Street U.S.A.  A brand new theater in the model of Kansas City’s Willis Wood Theater will be built.  Strictly hypothesizing here, this theater will either replace the current location where guests can meet Mickey and Tinker Bell or in the “cut through” area that is sometimes open during parades behind Main Street U.S.A.  No details other than the theater is coming has been announced.


Disney will be making two additions to its transportation network.  The Disney Skyliner will be coming to Walt Disney World.  This gondola in the sky service will connect the Art of Animation, Pop Century, and Caribbean Beach resorts to both Hollywood Studios and EPCOT’s International Gateway entrance.  No word on how many gondolas will be in service or how many people each gondola will hold.

Minnie Vans, a Disney only Uber-type service, will be coming to Walt Disney World.  This service will provide guests with point-to-point transportation.  No further details like cost or how the service can be arranged has been announced.


A new DVC resort and a new deluxe resort have been announced.

The 15th Disney Vacation Club resort will be the Disney Riviera Resort and will be located near EPCOT and be tied into The Disney Skyliner transportation network.   The resort will  have 300 units of various sizes.  The resort also includes a rooftop restaurant which will offer nighttime views of both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios (no word if the nighttime spectaculars could be seen from the restaurant).

I’ve saved the best for last.  A completely immersive Star Wars resort will be coming to Walt Disney World.  Quoting Bob Chapek from the announcement,

It’s unlike anything that exists today.  From the second you arrive, you will become part of a Star Wars story!  You’ll immediately become a citizen of the galaxy  and experience all that entails, including dressing up in the proper attire.  Once you leave Earth, you will discover a starship alive with characters, stories, and adventures that unfold all around you.  It is 100% immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits

No other details like an opening dates, number of rooms, or location were announced.  For the experience to unfold like Chapek suggests, this resort could be a cruise ship where all the guests depart on the same day and have “port excursions” into Walt Disney World during the day and then return to the resort at night.  This resort has a lot of possibilities.

That is all of the major announcements for the Walt Disney World parks.  Thanks for reading!




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