The D23 Expos of 2017 and 2019 left us filled with hope. Disney announced so many exciting things. The biggest and best of them all was the reimagining of an aging EPCOT. Spaceship Earth was going to be reworked, the entirety of Future World was to be restructured, two brand new pavilions were going to be built in Future World: Journey of Water and Play Pavilion, a new roller coaster was coming, a new ride in France, a sing-along in France, a Mary Poppins attraction in the UK pavilion and more.
Of those 8 promises, only 3 have been completed by 2022. 1 more will be completed by the end of 2023, A fifth is an ongoing construction project with no end date in sight, but at least progress is being made. As for the rest? Your guess is as good as ours. Are they still happening? Are they canceled? No one knows. That has left us fans… jaded. We were so excited, and Disney gave us so many promises- even concept art and project details! So for those projects to just silently disappear? Yes, we are upset, and yes, our trust has been shaken.
Fast forward to D23 2022: we saw a very different kind of Parks and Experiences panel. One that was light on promise and heavy on what felt like brainstorming. That is not what we go to D23 for. That is not what thousands around the world tune into live streams for. It was disappointing, but I think it’s important not to let that disappointment turn into bitter mistrust.
We hear you, and we don’t disagree with you. Many find it hard to get excited about yesterday’s panel, but I think we should. The Blue Sky announcements at yesterday’s Park Panel were exciting. Will they change? Yes. That is what Blue Sky ideas do. However, at the end of the panel, Josh D’Amaro said two things that I think are important: “but we’re not just dreaming here.” and “there are some things I can’t even tell you about yet!” It stands to reason, that being the case, that he didn’t just stand on stage and spitball ideas that had been merely suggested. I believe that after the EPCOT project, they’ve learned better than that.
I believe that the emphasis on “what-if ” wasn’t truly D’Amaro throwing around ideas as many suggest, but a disclaimer to planned projects in case they fall through. I don’t think they want to set themselves up to lose our trust as they have before, and therefore they worded things very carefully so that nothing sounded like a promise.
Then again, that could just be D’Amaro’s style. This is the first Parks and Experiences Panel we have had with him. To expect him to deliver the panel the way Bob Chapek did would be short-sighted. They are two different people. Chapek has more of a showman style, a go big or go home kind of attitude. That showed in the way he made these announcements. All pizazz, no personalization. D’Amaro is more of an “every man.” His “what-if” sounded conversational to me. It seemed as though it was a tactic to make us feel like “our buddy” let us peek behind some forbidden curtain “but shh don’t tell anybody *wink*.” We expected pizazz because we expected the panel to be run like Chapek did. D’Amaro seems to be the opposite, down to earth but lacking the “show.”
All of that to say, I think it’s ok to get excited. I think we got a lot more than we realized we did yesterday. We have become pessimistic, but I think maybe we ought not to be. Let’s go forward with hope for the future of these parks we love so much rather than being jaded by the past let downs.