Disney fans, brace yourself: There are so many new projects in the works for Walt Disney World Resort. While recent Disney World announcements have mostly been focused on trip-planning changes like dining plans and theme park reservations (with the exception of some pre-pandemic projects like TRON Lightcycle / Run and Journey of Life, Inspired by Moana), we're now all at once learning about brand-new attractions that are currently being developed.
All of these surprises were revealed at Destination D23, a fan event celebrating the 100th anniversary of Disney. Good Housekeeping attended and got a firsthand glimpse of these announcements. Although there are still plenty of details to come for all of the projects, we're sharing everything we know so far.
Here are (in no particular order) the top 10 new experiences coming to Walt Disney World resort:
1. Figment meet and greet at EPCOT
This iconic purple dragon made his debut in the late 1980s and is currently having a big comeback. Known for sparking creativity and encouraging imagination, Figment has a dedicated following of fans, and his merchandise often flies off the shelves at Walt Disney World. Fans can now meet this beloved character at the Imagination! pavilion, right by his signature ride, Journey Into Imagination with Figment. Just be prepared for long lines; he's currently in high demand!
2. Encanto and Indiana Jones experiences at Animal Kingdom
Ever since Encanto first hit the big screen, fans have been begging for it to be brought to life at Walt Disney World. Now, it's looking like that'll be a reality. Imagineers are going to "reimagine" the area currently known as Dinoland U.S.A in Disney's Animal Kingdom. There are currently Africa and Asia sections of the park, so this new area will be inspired by "tropical Americas," which was described as the biodiverse areas near the equator.
While there aren't many details provided just yet, an illustration was shared that shows both Casita (i.e., the magical house) from Encanto and a temple to represent the Indiana Jones franchise. Our guess is that the existing Dinosaur ride will be converted to one that's similar to Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland.
3. A Pirates of the Caribbean lounge at Magic Kingdom
This announcement was pretty vague, but what we do know is that there will be a lounge coming to Adventureland (where the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is located), and it's currently in the design process. Disney described it as a "first-of-its-kind experience" that will "will extend the story of Pirates of the Caribbean."
4. More character interactions, like Moana and Asha from Wish
Disney announced that the opening date of Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana will be October 16, then revealed a new Moana meet and greet would open right by the attraction in EPCOT. Disney also shared that Asha, the main character of its upcoming animated movie, Wish, will be coming to parks. Wish will be in theaters on November 22, so we expect fans will be rushing in to the parks to meet her.
5. Updates to classic Magic Kingdom attractions
Two park favorites — the Haunted Mansion ride and the Country Bear Jamboree musical — will be getting enhancements. The Haunted Mansion will have the addition of the Hatbox Ghost, a well-loved (albeit creepy) character from the Haunted Mansion franchise. The Country Bear Jamboree, which features animatronics singing western songs, will be adding new music. Disney shared that they're working with Nashville musicians to get the "authentic country sound."
6. A new fireworks show at EPCOT
If you love the nighttime spectaculars at Walt Disney World, this one's for you. Luminous: The Symphony of Us will open on December 5. According to Disney, it's set to include "fireworks, fountains, lasers, lighting effects and music." Judging from the image, we expect there to be a space theme to it. This will be replacing EPCOT's current nighttime show, EPCOT Forever, which focuses on the past, present and future of EPCOT.
7. The expansion of Magic Kingdom
New attractions at Walt Disney World often replace older attractions, especially when there's limited space for parks to expand. Walt Disney Imagineering said Magic Kingdom was "about to go into overdrive," announcing that they are planning to add — not replace — a monumental area in Magic Kingdom. Though no specific details were given, they shared it would be similar in scale to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and Pandora — The World of Avatar. They also confirmed there will be new attractions, restaurants, shows and more.
8. A Zootopia show in Animal Kingdom
Located inside the iconic Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom, the show currently has a concept of visiting the different biomes seen in the film. You'll also get to see favorite characters, like Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde. The current show at this location, It's Tough to be a Bug, uses 3D effects to make guests feel like they're insects.
9. Test Track will be reimagined
The thrill ride that lets you design and test out a car through high speeds and an obstacle course is being "reimagined" in partnership with the ride's sponsor, Chevrolet. Disney shared that it would be inspired by World of Motion (the original ride in this spot), and that they are "reaching back into history for inspiration" and "bringing that spirit of optimism to the next iteration of the Test Track attraction."
10. The Opening of World Celebration in EPCOT
Last but not least, a new area of EPCOT — which has been undergoing major transformations in recent years — is set to open this December. World Celebration will add to the current areas of World Showcase (which represents countries from around the world), World Discovery (which focuses on innovation and technology) and World Nature (which highlights the land and sea). Disney has shared that this area will connect guests with each other and with the world around them, and has teased that much of its annual festivals will be incorporated into this space.
Other highlights include the announcement that Soarin' Around the World (the EPCOT ride that simulates a hang glider) will switch back to Soarin' Over California. We also learned that Disney Cruise Line will add more ships to its fleet and a new private island, and that new lands are almost ready to go in Disney parks around the world. You can learn more about the surprise announcements at the Disney Parks Blog.
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