Major Announcements From the D23 Parks Panel

Confirmed Changes Coming to Disney Parks

At the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts panel at the D23 Expo there was a lot of information on changes that will be taking place soon at the Disney Parks across the planet. Much of the news had to do with getting ready for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World in 2021. It was mentioned that “no area of Walt Disney World will remain untouched” before the anniversary. Here are the highlights.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios:

The name of Star Wars Land will officially be Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. Several familiar characters were named in connection with the new land, including BB-8, Chewie, and Kylo Ren. A former character will also be coming back. Rex, who was the inept pilot of the original Star Tours attraction will be the DJ at the cantina. There will be plenty of locations to explore and relax, and but watch out because the New Order is looking for recruits. It was announced that Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is on schedule to open on 2019. The Disneyland version will open before the one in Florida.

There are no attractions in any Disney park that are based on the mouse who started it all. A new ride will change that. Called Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, you will ride into a cartoon where you will be the star. Climb aboard a train with Minnie and Mickey, Goofy is the engineer. The ride will use what was called 2 1/2D, no glasses will be required. The ride is inspired by the Mickey Mouse shorts and will be a “mouseterpiece”. It will also have more Hidden Mickeys than any other attraction.

An opening time frame has been given for Toy Story Land. It is expected to open Summer, 2018.


There are some major changes planned for Epcot. The original feel and theme will remain the same, but it will also feel “more Disney”.

In France there will be a new ride based on Ratatouille. It will be located past the Eiffel Tower. Guests will shrink down to the size of Remy for the ride. It will be similar to the attraction that is currently found at Disneyland Paris.
A new show is being filmed for China. It will continue to be use Circle Vision 360, but will use updated technology for a seamless experience.

A new E-Ticket attraction is also planned for Epcot in time for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary. The ride will be based on Guardians of the Galaxy. Not much information was provided except that it will be something special.

Next month, Mission: SPACE will reopen with a few changes. There will be a new mission for the Orange Team. The Green Team will now go on a different adventure, they will soar around the planet. This will mean that the height requirement for the Green Team will most likely be lowered.

Finally at Epcot, a new restaurant is planned. It will be above Mission: SPACE and you will dine above the Earth. It was also mentioned that these changes are just “the tip of the iceberg” for Epcot.

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Magic Kingdom:

A strong rumor has been confirmed, there will be a new attraction based on Tron coming to Tomorrowland. It will be located in “new space behind Space Mountain”, and it will be open in time for the 50th Anniversary. The ride will be similar to the Tron ride at Shanghai Disney Resort, which takes guests on a high speed thrill ride on their own light cycle.

A new theater will open on Main Street, U.S.A. It was not announced what type of entertainment will take place within the theater.


A new Disney Vacation Club property is being planned. Not much was said about Disney Riviera Resort, except that it promises to have great views of the fireworks from both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The addition of a Star Wars themed resort was also confirmed. It will be an immersive experience, meaning that you will feel like you are in the Star Wars galaxy from the moment you board your starship. Every window will have a view into space. The resort will be built at Walt Disney World, but the exact location was not given.

It was also announce that Disneyland Paris will be getting a new resort hotel. It will be called Hotel New York The Art of Marvel.

A new service to help guests get around the parks will literally be rolled out soon. Called Minnie Van, passengers will ride in cars that are designed to make you think of Mickey’s main squeeze.

The long rumored gondola system was also confirmed. It will be called Disney Skyliner, and will feature some of your favorite Disney characters.

Disneyland Resort:

More Pixar is coming to Disneyland Resort in California. In 2018 both parks will celebrate Pixar Fest, which will include more characters. Paradise Pier is going to be changed to Pixar Pier. There will be a Halloween overlay for Cars Land as well.

It has been confirmed that Paint the Night will be returning to Disney California Adventure. Also confirmed, Spiderman and the Avengers are on their way to the park. It’s in the early planning stages, so few details were released.

Disney Cruise Line:

A new show is coming to Disney Dream in November. It’s based on the live action version of Beauty and the Beast. It was also announced that three, not two, more cruise ships are on the way and should be sailing by 2023.  (Photos courtesy of D23)

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.