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What to Expect from the D23 Parks Panel

As we gear up for another D23 in August and with so many announcements already, the rumors are starting to heat up. As much as I love hearing what people think are coming to our Disney Parks, it’s important that I keep my emotions in check and remember that nothing is announced…yet.

What can we expect? Here are five things that I think we’ll hear about and a few things we likely won’t:

Transportation Improvements

First and foremost, I think we’ll hear about many transportation improvements continuing to occur on property. Getting people around property quickly has been on Disney’s radar for a few years now, and along with crowd management in the parks, is likely to be in the plans to be released at this year’s D23. The most hopeful of us are looking to hear details about new monorails and the Virgin train service planned to Walt Disney World from Orlando International Airport.

Park Refurbishments…Especially EPCOT!!!

With the 40th anniversary of EPCOT and the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World coming up, there will be lots of talk on what’s coming to the parks. Expect to hear more announcements about the EPCOT reimagining, especially a new Brazil pavilion in World Showcase, along with updates on Project Gamma and refurbishments of Spaceship Earth and attractions on the west side of the park. My deepest hope is that Figment gets a newly re-imagined Journey into Imagination in time for the 40th anniversary of EPCOT.

There will likely be updates to projects already underway, such as opening dates for Rise of the Resistance in Galaxy’s Edge, Mickey’s Runaway Railway, Tron, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and the Play Pavilion. EPCOT attractions and Rise of the Resistance will be the most important details to encourage vacation planning around these openings.

Resort Properties

There will likely be more information about the Riviera resort, “Star Wars” resort, along with the Reflections resort on Bay Lake which is breaking ground.

Fireworks, Parades and Shows

New details on parades and shows coming to the parks will likely be released at D23, particularly about the new movies coming to EPCOT for France, Canada, and the Land, and whether we’ll be seeing a new night time parade for the Magic Kingdom in time for the 50th. There will likely be more video footage of EPCOT Forever as nears its first date, and perhaps something special to say farewell to Illuminations when it leaves in September.

Fox IPs

With the recent acquisition of 20th Century Fox IPs by Disney, we are likely to hear more information about how they plan to start incorporating newly acquired IPs into Disney Parks.

What are we Likely NOT to Hear

Along with things that I think we’ll hear about, there are a few things that I think will NOT be announced as part of this year’s D23.

First and foremost, I don’t think we’ll hear about a new gate (i.e. a new theme park). With all the projects underway, they won’t have the resources needed to put shovels in the ground. That said, with a new gate already under construction at Universal, I’m sure Imagineering is already dreaming up exciting new park ideas for Walt Disney World to break ground in the years ahead.

Massive new land expansions or large-scale projects. If we go through the list of big projects underway (Project Gamma, Guardians of the Galaxy coaster, Tron, new resorts, Woody’s Round-Up Barbecue, and expected refurbishment of Spaceship Earth among the few), construction crews are at a premium, so most of the changes coming will likely be smaller in scale to make sure that the parks are ready for 2021. In short, efforts will focus on getting already underway or announced in August done in the next few years and therefore embarking on a large-scale project that will not be ready in time for anniversaries are likely not to happen until all the work needing done is finished.

Imminent attraction closures beyond those already announced are likely not to happen. With Galaxy’s Edge opening and the start of Food and Wine in August, capacity is going to be a huge challenge. Immediately following Food and Wine will be Christmas-related festivals across all four parks, which will be busier than normal this year. Until some of the attractions that are already under refurbishment or being built, closing additional attractions that reduce capacity even more seems unlikely. That said, I think it’s safe to assume that the “Go Away Green” refurb walls will be going up (especially around EPCOT) immediately after the Festival of the Holidays decorations come down as they sacrifice Festival of the Arts to be ready in time for Flower and Garden.

So, there you have it. Those a few predictions a few months out from D23. Let’s revisit them after the announcements occur to see how many of them were right.

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