D23 Updates for Disney Parks and Resorts Including a Mary Poppins Ride, New DVC Treehouses and More!
Over the past few days, we’ve discussed many of the significant Disney stories from the 2019 D23 Expo. However, we still have several that don’t fall into a single category like Star Wars Hotel, Avengers Campus, or the future of Epcot. Let’s take a look at the other D23 updates that we haven’t discussed yet.
Changes at Epcot’s World Showcase
During the D23 Expo, Disney executives emphasized the changes coming to the front half of Epcot. The park will undergo massive renovations to modernize it. Somewhat lost in the shuffle is the fact that the World Showcase will receive numerous updates of its own.
For starters, the Canada Pavilion will introduce a new movie called Canada Far and Wide to replace the current O Canada! presentation. While the previous version was offered in Circle-Vision 360, the new one will provide state-of-the-art graphics, a running theme at the World Showcase.
China will receive a similar update in the near future. Reflections of China will go away, replaced by Wondrous China. It’s also a Circle-Vision 360 film employing the current technology, which Disney promises is revolutionary. The release date of Wondrous China is currently unknown. However, Canada Far and Wide will debut in January of 2020. In fact, that’s a crucial month for Epcot fans.
Bob Chapek, the chairman of the Parks & Resorts division, just confirmed that the France pavilion will open its new Beauty and the Beast singalong in January as well. In combination with the previous announcement that a new movie at The Land pavilion will open then, the start of 2020 is an exciting time at Epcot.
More Epcot News
Disney brought out the big guns to reveal the most surprising announcement about the World Showcase. Screen legend Dick Van Dyke, the star of the original Mary Poppins, appeared on stage. His purpose was to notify Epcot fans that a Mary Poppins ride is coming to the United Kingdom Pavilion!
This new attraction will reside at Cherry Tree Lane, a new part of the pavilion. Park officials were stingy on the details, but we do know that guests will walk past Admiral Boom’s house to reach the attraction. A Disney insider suggested that the Mary Poppins suggestion will be a flat ride akin to Dumbo and Aladdin at Magic Kingdom, but that’s wholly unconfirmed. Rumors of a modest dark ride also persist.
Circling back to the France pavilion, we learned a bit more about two previously revealed projects. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will arrive sooner than you think! It’s currently scheduled for the summer of 2020, giving you good reason to spend your Disney Vacation Club points next year.
Similarly, Creperie de Paris, the new restaurant run by the Bocuse family, will open around the same time. Epcot’s team clearly wants new attractions and amenities available during 2020 to counterbalance some of the ones that are either on hiatus or permanently closed now.
Along those lines, Disney announced the name of the new nighttime presentation at World Showcase Lagoon. HarmonioUS will debut in 2020, replacing Epcot Forever, which will arrive later this year.
That show is the replacement for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, which will close for good in a few weeks. Epcot Forever will start on October 1st and run a little more than a year. That’s three shows in roughly two years at the World Showcase, which is a nifty trick on Disney’s part.
D23 Update News for DVC Members
Many of the D23 updates were directed at all Disney fans. A few will mean more to Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members, though.
Owners at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa should be aware of a couple of major announcements for Disneyland Resort. In addition to Avengers Campus, Disney also just revealed the artwork for the signage and more information about Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
The company had previously confirmed that Disneyland will receive the attraction in 2022. Since that statement was a glorified press release, we really didn’t know anything else about it until now.
What We Learned about Disneyland’s Runaway Railway
At D23, Disney acknowledged that the real will become an E-ticket attraction at Mickey’s Toontown. The first-ever attraction starring Mickey & Minnie Mouse will allow guests to “step through the movie screen” to “become part of the story.”
The images reveal a movie-style marquee, and the theming premise is readily apparent. Since you’re entering the movie, you must first visit a movie theater. Disney has named this building the El Capitoon, a reference to the El Capitan, a classic theater that opened in 1926. The name, El Capitoon, is on the marquee, perpendicular to the ride attraction, which is splashed in bright lights befitting a blockbuster premiere.
The short that park guests will watch is Perfect Picnic, which is presumably ironically named. Bob Chapek showcased part of the line queue, the highlight of which is a special exhibit featuring outfits and props the cartoon world.
This exhibit is presented by the Toontown Hysterical Society, and pictures show a poster for Canine Caddy along with a life-sized beanstalk breaking through the ceiling. Chapek also promises a shocking twist at the end of the ride but refused to spoil anything about it.
A New Parade at Disneyland
The other huge news at the Happiest Place on Earth involves a new parade. Disneyland recently brought back a crowd favorite, the Main Street Electrical Parade, for a limited time. When the Parks Blog discussed the return, it indicated that a replacement was already in the planning stage. During D23, we learned about that project.
Magic Happens is the name of the parade, and the poster shows Mickey Mouse in a dazzling Sorcerer Mickey outfit. During the presentation, Chapek unveiled several images of the floats in production for the parade. Suffice to say that they’re breathtaking to behold.
An image of a Moana float shows the heroine of her people standing on the far end of a “boat” that’s sort of in the shape of a reverse-C. The sail of the ship displays the familiar Moana symbol, which is also the symbol for water. Fittingly, the far-right side of the boat appears to be the living water from the film, and the top of the vessel has some sort of fish attached.
If anything, the Coco float is even more impressive. It shows Coco playing a colorful guitar under a gazebo. Meanwhile, his spirit animal chases his…other spirit animal across a grassy field. On the other side of the massive float, Coco’s parents perform a song while they stand on a Dia de Muertos stage.
Finally, the grand finale float is a moving castle! The scene involves Sleeping Beauty dancing on stage with her prince while the faeries that magically altered the color of her dress look on approvingly. The castle towers are the most impressive architectural feat. I count seven of them that reach into the sky. Presuming that the illustration is to scale, these towers are taller than some of the buildings on Main Street, U.S.A.
This parade will debut in the spring of 2020 and is poised to become the next great park presentation. Disney even added a cherry on top by announcing that YouTube sensation Todrick Hall has written the theme song for Magic Happens. During D23, Jordan Fisher sang it. You can find the video on YouTube if you’re interested. It’s catchy…Wishes catchy.
Other DVC Updates
Many of you are hoarding your DVC points in anticipation of 2021. You know that it’s the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World, and you expect big things from Disney. Chapek acknowledged as much, stating in no uncertain terms that October 1st, 2021, is a massive date for The Walt Disney Company.
During the 50th anniversary celebration at Walt Disney World, Chapek states that all four theme parks will participate. Guests who visit during this year will discover limited-time “food, beverages, merchandise, entertainment, and more.” Nothing specific was announced, but it’s clear that Disney plans to big things for the Florida Project’s half-century anniversary.
The other major announcement for DVC fans involves an upcoming resort. We just learned more about Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge. The plan is to re-imagine a classic country lodge with some modern sensibilities. As part of this construction, Imagineers will build some unique rooms akin to the Cabins at Copper Creek and the Bungalows at the Polynesian.
Reflections will include A-frame houses as well as treehouse villas like the ones at Saratoga Springs. Disney’s promised that all of the furnishings and designs can trace their roots in your favorite animated movies. Specifically, the ones with outdoor settings and characters will provide the backdrop for these DVC rooms.
Another Disney animated movie will also have a meaningful presence here. A Table Service restaurant will sit right beside Bay Lake. Fittingly, it’ll be based on The Princess and the Frog, as the heroine from that film, Tiana, is an aspiring chef.
Expect to eat delicious beignets here, as that’s her specialty. Also, since the ending of the movie sees Tiana and her handsome prince, Naveen, open a restaurant together, you’re presumably eating there! We’re still a few years away from the 2022 opening of Reflections, and so we’ll undoubtedly learn more about the project in coming months.
Okay, you’re now all caught up on the D23 happenings. As you can see, it’s an exciting time to be a frequent guest to Disney theme parks. Lots of massive additions are coming to Disneyland and Walt Disney World over the next two and a half years!