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D23 Expo Recap: A Boundless Future

Disney’s D23 Expo took place from September 9-11, 2022 in Anaheim, CA at the Anaheim Convention Center, following a 3-year hiatus due to the pandemic. If you have attended past Expo’s, I’m sure you can attest that it’s an awesome, chaotic, inspiring, invigorating, and overwhelming experience! It’s also incredibly fun to be in the same space as so many fellow Disney fans!  

This year’s Expo was attended by nearly 100,000 Disney, Star Wars and Marvel fans all converging together into the Anaheim Convention Center. Considering many of us have spent the last couple of years separated from each other, it was so great to see so many people in one place!

D23 Overview

The D23 Expo is a 3-day experience filled with tons of Disney, Star Wars and Marvel fandom. Each day usually starts with a popular (hard-to-get into) panel followed by smaller sessions throughout the day. You can attend any that interest you, just know the more popular the panel, the longer the wait!  The BIGGEST panels – Disney Legends, Marvel and LucasFilms and the infamous Parks, Experiences and Products panel – are the hardest to get into. These panels require HOURS of waiting (sometimes overnight) if you want to be one of the lucky 7,000 fans in the D23 Hall. If early morning panels aren’t your thing, you can spend time roaming the Expo show floor filled with unique exhibits and merchandise. It’s massive, you can literally spend 3 days perusing the show floor, and probably still not get to see all of it. 

Of all that is offered throughout the 3 days, the most anticipated session is the Parks, Experiences and Products panel held on the last day of the Expo. This is where Josh D’Amaro – Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, stands valiantly on stage and highlights Disney news, information and reveals insight into the parks future plans. Since it’s been 3 years, and so much shared at D23 in 2019 was back-burnered due to the pandemic, Disney fans waited with bated breath to hear what Josh and team has up their sleeve for the future of our beloved Disney parks and beyond.

So without further ado, let’s jump right in and see what was shared with Disney fans during D23!

Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom

  • Happily Ever After returning 2023 after the 50th Anniversary celebration ends on March 31, 2023. BEST. NEWS. EVER!
  • Disneyland’s legendary Hatbox Ghost is coming to the Haunted Mansion sometime in 2023.
  • TRON opening in Spring 2023 – I wish this was happening sooner, I feel like we’ve been waiting forever.
  • Magic Kingdom expansion in an area beyond Big Thunder Mountain potentially happening in the future. Early brainstorming and renderings showcase ideas for attractions and areas such as Coco, Encanto and a long awaited (and anticipated) Villains area. 

EPCOT

  • Figment character meet and greet coming back to EPCOT in late 2023. No details on an update or expansion of the Imagination Pavilion.
  • The World Celebration area in EPCOT will be completed by late 2023. It will include a life-size bronze statue of Walt Disney called “Walt the Dreamer”. Those who attended the Expo got to see this beautiful new statue in person.
  • In World of Nature, where Soarin’ and the Nemo attraction currently reside, Moana’s Journey of Water will join them in late 2023. We got our first look at Tefiti that will be part of this attraction.
  • New nighttime spectacular replacing Harmonious coming to EPCOT next year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company.

Animal Kingdom

  • Dinoland transformation coming to Animal Kingdom. Some of the early ideas and concepts include attractions and areas representing Moana and Zootopia.

Disneyland

Disneyland Park

  • New nighttime spectacular coming to Disneyland to celebrate 100 years of the Walt Disney Company.
  • RunDisney will be returning in 2024 to Disneyland after a 5-year absence.
  • Mandalorian and Grogu, the newest meet and greet, will be added in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. There is no word yet if he is coming to Walt Disney World.
  • Toontown is well underway and scheduled to reopen in 2023. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction will be well integrated with Disneyland Park’s theme.
  • New Retail Store – Eudora’s Chic Boutique Featuring Tiana’s Gourmet Secrets – Opens in Disneyland Park on September 20, 2022.
  • “Magic Happens” parade will return to Disneyland Park next Spring 2023.

California Adventure

  • Pacific Wharf transforming to San Fransokyo from Big Hero 6.
  • New updated World of Color to celebrate 100 years.
  • Hulk is coming to Avengers Campus.
  • King Thanos is coming to a new multiverse inspired attraction in Avenger’s Campus. It will depict a world where Thanos won and we are in the fight to defeat him.
  • “We Belong Together”, a Pixar Musical Review, is planned for 2023.

Downtown Disney

  • Downtown Disney will be getting a lot of new restaurants and shopping locations, including a very popular California bakery called Porto’s.
  • Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel is becoming Pixar Place Hotel.

Walt Disney World and Disneyland

  • Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will open on both coasts in late 2024. It picks up where the movie left off. Tiana is running her restaurant and is in search of an ingredient she’s missing. Attraction goers become part of the story and help her find them.
    • Disney confirmed that many of the original voice actors from the movie, Princess and the Frog, will lend their voices once again to narrate this new attraction.

Cruise Line

  • Disney Treasure will debut in 2024. Disney’s newest “adventure” themed ship will be unlike previous ships, which are mostly princess themed. 
  • New cruise itineraries include Australia and New Zealand for South Pacific adventures, including Fiji and Somoa.
  • Lighthouse Point on the island of Eleuthera is Disney’s newest Island will be up and running in 2024. Ninety percent of its power will be solar.

Disney +

  • Duffy and friends are getting a new show on Disney+. Duffy is extremely popular in the International Parks, but doesn’t get much park exposure in the US. That will change in the future. Disney is listening, and understands the US fans love Duffy and friends just as much.

International Parks

  • Hong Kong is getting a gorgeous new Walt and Mickey statue for the 100th inspired by the moment that Walt thought up Disneyland on that park bench watching his daughters.
  • “World of Frozen” construction is well underway in Disneyland Paris, Tokyo DisneySea and HongKong Disneyland, with an opening date scheduled for sometime next year.
  • Paris is getting a Tangled themed attraction.

D23 Conclusion

It’s an exciting time for Disney and their fans. There is so much to look forward to leading into next year and beyond.  Disney is truly thinking outside the box and brainstorming ideas for a boundless future! Until the next D23… cheers!

Marnie Raimondo
Marnie Raimondo
Hi there! I'm Marnie, Disney blogger and writer. My passion is helping people plan magical Walt Disney World vacations. I love sharing Disney tips and advice based on my personal experiences from many, many magical trips over the years. I hope through my writing I can help you navigate your way through Disney news, the parks, dining, resorts and so much more! Happy planning!
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