Disney is taking steps to move forward with the addition of a brand-new, long-awaited themed land inside Magic Kingdom.
For years, Disney World Guests have daydreamed about being part of Ursula’s world, taking on the monsters of the deep and playing silent apprentice to her evil underwater schemes. For some, the prospect of following Gaston around town as he guzzles beer and makes fun of people for reading and thinking has a certain draw to it. Other Parks Guests have wondered what it might be like to sneak into Maleficent’s domain–the Forbidden Mountain–as it “thunders with her wrath and frustration” about Sleeping Beauty having seemingly vanished off the face of the earth.
And just to clarify–no one has dreamed fondly of repelling down Rapunzel’s tower with Mother Gothel in tow, being in the palace when Jafar morphs into a King cobra, or helping the Evil Queen mix up a cocktail that will turn her into a 200-year-old beggar woman. Too evil. Just too much.
But according to at least one member of the Walt Disney Imagineering team, such daydreams and ponderings may soon give way to reality, as fans have made their wishes and wants known, and Disney is reportedly listening intently.
During the 2022 D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, Guests were treated to every imaginable piece of Disney news available at the time. During the three-day event at the Anaheim Convention Center, Guests of the Expo also had the opportunity to learn more about The Walt Disney Company and its upcoming projects, and they were even among the first to have the opportunity to purchase limited-edition merchandise. Walt Disney’s newly-restored plane was even on display for fans to see.
The third and final day of the Expo, Sunday, September 11, 2022, marked the part of the Expo that was the most exciting, the most informative, and the most forward-looking for Disney Parks around the globe. During the Disney Parks panel that day, Chairman Josh D’Amaro welcomed excited fans to get an inside “ear” on plans for the parks–from Disney World and Disneyland to Shanghai Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland.
During D’Amaro’s presentation, members of the Walt Disney Imagineering team took to the stage to unveil some beautiful concept art that served to represent potential future developments in the parks, including a piece that depicted exciting additions at the Walt Disney World Resort to include new themed lands at Magic Kingdom inspired by Disney’s Encanto and Disney’s Moana, both of which received the massive audience’s approval. But the most thunderous applause was heard–and felt–when Imagineers teased the potential for a brand-new themed land, inspired by none other than Disney’s most evil villains.
Imagineer Chris Beatty revealed in an interview this week that the thunderous applause and excited response from the audience were noted by those onstage. Beatty says that the response really piqued the interest of those who were presenting the concept art during the D23 Expo Parks Panel.
“[The Villains Land concept] got pretty good applause,” Beatty said. “We took note of how loud the applause was when we announced that.” Beatty says that the intention of that segment of the Parks Panel was to show fans that creativity is still at the heart of all that’s done at Disney and inside Walt Disney Imagineering.
“We’re dreaming every day about what could be next at Walt Disney World,” Beatty explained. “We just wanted to give you a peek at some of the amazing things that could be coming. It’s changing every day. It’s exciting. I think Josh [D’Amaro] was really trying to get across that [the] spirit of creativity, of what could be next, of innovation, of the possibility of what could be is still alive and well at Disney and Imagineering.”
Beatty says that the presentation at the Expo was a stab at “dreaming about what could be” at Disney Parks, not an attempt to promise concrete plans for the parks–not yet, anyway.
But fans are hopeful that the development of preliminary plans and the creation of concept art for a land inspired by the evil villains in Disney’s most beloved films are signs of such a place becoming a reality in the very near future at Disney World. Why else would they “take note” of the audience’s response? Exactly.