Walt Disney World Updates Announced at Destination D23

Destination D23 has just wrapped in Orlando, and the Disney fan event revealed a lot about the future of Walt Disney World Resort. Read below to see what was announced at the “A Celebration of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” panel.

Magic Kingdom

Pirates of the Caribbean Themed Lounge

Yo-ho me mateys! A brand-new pirate themed experience is coming to Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom, and it sounds like a swashbuckling good time! If you’ve ever wanted to party like a pirate, this first-of-its-kind experience is just for you! Coming to Adventureland is an all-new Pirates of the Caribbean themed lounge, where Guests can immerse themselves further into the world of Jack Sparrow and his rowdy friends.

While no official opening date has been announced, Disney has revealed that Peg-Leg Pete will be making a return. This animatronic bird used to sit outside of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. He was called the barker bird. Similar to carnival barkers, he would squawk at passing Guests to entice them to ride the attraction. In 2006 he was removed from Magic Kingdom when the attraction was refurbished to include more elements from the Pirates of the Caribbean films. When the Pirates themed lounge opens, Peg-Leg Pete will be a key part of the story, ready to welcome Guests with his signature peg-leg, eye-patch, and anchor tattoo on his chest. 

Hatbox Ghost Coming to the Haunted Mansion

Another iconic Disney Parks character will be making his grand appearance at the home of 999 happy haunts in late November 2023. The Hatbox Ghost will appear near the endless hallway scene of the attraction, being the first specter to reveal himself to Guests. For those that have seen the Haunted Mansion 2023 film, this character will be familiar as he was the main villain (portrayed by Jared Leto) in the movie.

To read more about the history of the Hatbox Ghost, check out our blog post here.

Country Bears Updated Performance

One of Frontierland’s opening day attractions will also be receiving an update. Country Bear Jamboree, a show filled with animatronic singing bears, will be reworked to include new songs, which will include covers of popular Disney tunes. Disney announced this with sneak peak of a country-inspired rendition of “The Bare Necessities” from The Jungle Book. All songs will be inspired by different genres of country music and showcase the varied musical revues of Nashville.  Additionally, the animatronics will be updated as well. Most of the familiar characters will remain, keeping their names and signature looks, except for Liver Lips McGraw, whose name has been changed to Romeo McGrowl.

No official opening date has been announced outside of a general 2024 timeframe.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Sneak Peak

With Tiana’s Bayou Adventure on track to open late 2024 at Magic Kingdom, Imagineers are hard at work preparing for Guests to travel on down the bayou. To give Guests a sneak peak into their progress, Disney showed footage of an animatronic in progress for the attraction. While he’s little more than a mechanical frame right now, the shape of Louis the alligator is unmistakable. With his tiny eyes and wide jaw, this trumpet-playing reptile is slowly but surely coming along. Soon, you’ll be able to see him in action on the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure attraction when it opens in late 2024. 


Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana Official Opening Date Announced

On October 16th, 2023, Guests will officially be able to enter the world of Moana! Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana will be the first new addition to the World of Nature neighborhood at EPCOT. It will join The Land and The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilions in teaching the importance of balance in the natural world, while also showcasing the beauty of nature. This walk-through experience takes Guests on a journey through the water cycle and showcases the playful qualities of water.

Additionally, Moana will have her own meet-and-greet location inside this attraction beginning on October 16th, 2023 as well. 

EPCOT’s World Celebration Update

Alongside Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana, EPCOT will also be welcoming Guests to its brand-new neighborhood in December of 2023. World Celebration, the area of EPCOT located directly behind Spaceship Earth, will offer new experiences that “connect us to one another and the world around us,” according to Disney. This central area of the park will be home to the all-new “Dreamers Point”, where a statue celebrating the legacy of the original dreamer, Walt Disney, will be showcased. Additionally, CommuniCore Hall and CommuniCore plaza will open it’s doors. This space will be used for the many seasonal festivals of EPCOT. The opening of this area will mark the end of the first wave of construction for EPCOT, as Disney works to revive the spirit of the park while remaining true to its original image.

New EPCOT Nighttime Show

With Harmonious closing in April 2023, EPCOT has been running a limited-time fireworks show called EPCOT Forever while they prepare for their next spectacle. At Destination D23, it was announced that this new show would be called Luminous: The Symphony of Us and it will be debuting on December 5th, 2023. This nighttime spectacular will feature fireworks, fountains, lasers, lighting effects and original music alongside classics from the Disney songbook. It will be a celebration of human similarities and differences, a reminder that we are more alike than different.

Figment Meet-and-Greet Debuts

One little spark was all it took to bring Guests to EPCOT in droves on September 10th. After the announcement at Destination D23 that Figment would be available to meet beginning September 10th at the Imagination Pavilion, Guests rushed to greet the purple dragon. The line quickly reached a wait time of five hours, with Guests winding through the building and around outside of it. Figment has a long history with EPCOT, beginning all the way back in 1983 when the first rendition of his ride, Journey Into Imagination, opened. Since then, Figment has remained a classic Disney Parks character, one that houses that original spirit of EPCOT in his tiny little body. You can meet Figment now at his permanent location at the Imagination Pavilion!

Test Track Re-Imagining

As Disney works toward updating EPCOT, they also work to return to the roots of the park, which was built in the spirit of ingenuity and progress. Perhaps one of the best showcases of this, is the announcement that Test Track will be receiving a retheme that draws from the original World of Motion attraction, which was housed in the building that is now Test Track. Few details were released, other than a piece of conceptual art, but it appears that this auto-focused attraction will be shifting their attention to the EV-future, with an emphasis placed on clean energy.

No opening date has been announced for this retheme at this time, and Test Track remains operational.

Animal Kingdom

Zootopia Show Coming to Animal Kingdom

It’s certainly tough to be a bug because the Bugs Life themed show, It’s Tough to Be a Bug, will be closing to make room for an all-new Zootopia show at the Tree of Life. Outside of the conceptual art provided at Destination D23, little is known what this show will consist of. Imagineers are working to finalize the concept and more details will be released in the future.

A closure date has not been announced for It’s Tough to Be a Bug and it is currently still operational.

Speculated Re-theme Coming to Dinoland USA

Dinoland U.S.A., an area of Animal Kingdom approaching extinction, has been on the chopping block for the park since it was first announced at D23 Expo in 2022. In 2022, it was suggested that the area could be re-themed to Moana and Zootopia, this theoretical concept is something called a Blue Sky idea, because it is not finalized or confirmed, but simply a possibility. It seems the Moana and Zootopia concept is out, but at Destination D23, Disney proposed another Blue Sky idea – this one seemingly a better fit to the theme of Animal Kingdom. Now, they have gone with the angle of re-theming the area to the “tropical Americas.” Concept art suggests that Encanto and Indiana Jones themed sections could takeover the current Dinosaur themed land. This concept seems to fit better than the previous plan, and it wouldn’t be hard for Disney to incorporate either. As the Dinosaur attraction at Animal Kingdom shares the exact ride track and design with the Indiana Jones Adventure attraction at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, it wouldn’t take much to overhaul and redesign the attraction.

This concept is still in the blue sky phase and nothing has officially been decided. If you’re a Dinoland USA fan, you still have plenty of time to enjoy some of your favorite attractions, but the countdown to extinction for the land is present.

Hollywood Studios

Fan Favorite Character Added to Star Tours

With a brand-new live action tv show running on Disney+ and a meet-and-greet appearance at Disneyland Resort, Ahsoka Tano has come a long way since first being introduced in the animated show Star Wars: the Clone Wars in 2008. Now, she will be coming to Disney World Resort as one of the possible characters in Star Tours - The Adventures Continue. Beginning Spring 2024, Guests will have the chance to meet Ahsoka as one of the variations in the Star Tours story.

Ahsoka’s addition to this attraction is Disney’s next step in expanding the Star Wars universe within the Disney Parks. For Guests looking meet other popular character, The Mandalorian and Grogu have been added as character experiences on the My Disney Experience app, and are available for meet-and-greets now.

With so many new attractions and experiences coming, the time to visit the Walt Disney World Resort is now! Whether you’re looking to experience Test Track before it’s refurbishment, or planning to visit the Country Bears’ when they’re new show debuts, you can save money on your Walt Disney World Resort tickets when you buy from Tickets2You!

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