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It’s time once again for Disney’s biennial announcement extravaganza, otherwise known as the D23 Expo. We haven’t really had a big one since 2019, I think we can all figure out why…
This post takes a look at all of the D23 announcements for Disney World for 2022. It is chock full of details and concept art released by Disney for upcoming attractions and openings.
If you are planning a Disney vacation in the next few years, many of the announcements made today will become a part of your trip.
Disney D23 Announcements 2022
First off, I plan to focus on the Disney World announcements. This panel covers new things for ALL the Disney parks, but since I’m primarily a Disney World blogger, that’s where this post will focus.
The D23 Expo in 2019 gave us some absolutely massive announcements. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic some of those announcements were either delayed, scaled back, or in the case of the Mary Poppins attraction, disappeared into oblivion.
This year, most of the biggest news was geared towards Disneyland. It was a little anticlimactic for Disney World fans, other than the major teaser they gave us…but more on that below.
Magic Kingdom D23 Announcements
As Disney World’s hallmark park, Magic Kingdom of course couldn’t be left out.
The Return of Happily Ever After Nighttime Spectacular
Right off the bat, Josh D’Amaro announced that a reimagined Happily Ever After will return to Magic Kingdom in 2023.
This is going to be a popular announcement with the Disney World die-hards. Listen, people have complained every time that a previous beloved nighttime spectacular was retired and replaced.
However, people were REALLY unhappy with Happily Ever After’s replacement, “Enchantment”.
We weren’t told at what point Happily Ever After will return in 2023, just that it will be at some point in 2023. We also weren’t told if it would be the whole show returning or just the intro song.
Listen, I enjoy pretty much any nighttime spectacular you park me in front of. But Enchantment never quite felt as good as Happily Ever After did to me. Happily Ever After always gave me chills, Enchantment just not as much.
They didn’t specify whether this was a permanent or temporary return, but I think it will be around for a while.
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure
Disney has finally released some more concrete details about this new attraction. They originally made the announcement back in 2020 but made it clear the ride wouldn’t open for years.
Well, we now know that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is slated to open at both Disney World and Disneyland in late 2024.
For those that don’t know, this is the replacement for the beloved Splash Mountain attraction at both parks. The basic structure of the ride will remain the same, but all of the details and story are replaced.
This was a controversial announcement back in 2020 as Splash Mountain is a beloved attraction. But it’s happening, one way or another.
Disney revealed that Imagineers tried to be as authentic as possible to real world New Orleans. They want guests to be able to feel like they are stepping right into the story.
To enhance this, the cast from the movie Tiana, returns to lend their voices to the ride.
Also, music is a huge part of the attraction.
They also revealed some imagery of the attraction at night, stating that it will be truly stunning.
The storyline of the ride picks up immediately after the movie ends. Tiana has fulfilled her dream of opening up her own restaurant.
Tiana is hosting a party for Carnival weekend, and she discovers a key ingredient she needs is missing. This leads Tiana to ask for our help. Along with Tiana and Louis, we journey into the bayou to help with the search.
Here we’ll meet all manner of new friends.
It seriously feels like Tron Lightcycle Run has been a discussion forever. And it truly has. You can blame the pandemic for that one. But the ride is finally nearing completion.
Josh D’Amaro announced that Tron will open at Magic Kingdom in Spring 2023.
Hatbox Ghost at Haunted Mansion
Haunted Mansion is a massive fan favorite at both Disneyland and Disney World. Back in the day, the Hatbox Ghost was an animatronic figure that premiered when Haunted Mansion opened in Disney World.
The technology at the time didn’t allow for the trick that they wanted, so it was removed. Well, in 2015, Hatbox Ghost permanently returned to Haunted Mansion at Disneyland with updated technology.
Now, in 2023, Hatbox Ghost will be added to Disney World’s version of Haunted Mansion as well.
Epcot D23 Announcements
Honestly, there wasn’t a whole lot discussed about Epcot, other than some approximate dates for when things will finally open up.
Journey of Water
One of the big announcements to come out of D23 in 2019 was the addition of a new Moana themed attraction in World Nature called Journey of Water.
Of course, then the pandemic happened and everything was pushed back. But we now finally have some more details about this upcoming attraction.
Construction has been underway on Journey of Water for quite some time now, but is still far from completion.
Journey of Water is a Moana inspired area will be located on the way leading towards The Seas with Nemo and Friends.
It is described as a water maze which will allow guests to interact with “magical, living water” in a fun and beautiful setting. Here, the water will have a life and a mind like it’s own, just like the Ocean in “Moana”.
Today Disney announced that Journey of Water will open in late 2023.
Figment Character Op
Figment is a beloved character you can find only at Epcot. Typically, he’s found on merchandise and on the ride Journey into the Imagination.
However, by the end of the 2023, you’ll be able to meet Figment at Epcot.
Much to everyone’s relief, the construction in World Celebration at Epcot now has an end date! World Celebration will be unveiled in late 2023.
Are you sensing a theme here? Everything at Epcot is slated for late 2023.
World Celebration had to be scaled down significantly due to lockdown and the pandemic. However, there’s still a lot to be excited about. Of course, just being able to walk through Epcot’s central spine instead of taking a maze of detours is a reason to celebrate.
This space will be geared towards festivals and gathering in Communicore Hall and Communicore Plaza.
World Celebration will also be the home of Dreamer’s Point, including a new statue of Walt Disney himself called “Walt the Dreamer”.
New Nighttime Spectacular
In yet another late 2023 addition, a new nighttime spectacular will debut at Epcot in honor of the 100th anniversary of Disney.
Disney World D23 Announcements – Teasers
Ok, so this next part is full of suggestions, but nothing actually confirmed. It’s enough to make us Disney nerds excited, but not enough to fully know what we’re excited about.
Animal Kingdom Dinoland USA Replacement
If you happened to see my Facebook post before the D23 livestream, then you already know that my #1 hope was an announcement for a DinoLand USA replacement.
Well, I got my wish! Sort of…
Josh D’Amaro confirmed that a replacement for Dinoland is being discussed. He referred to the discussion by Imagineers by the name of “Blue Sky”.
Basically, they are throwing out ideas, and the sky is the limit.
A couple ideas that were tossed out are to create a Zootopia themed land. This was the odds on favorite in the Disney nerd community as the obvious option.
Not only is Zootopia already perfectly themed for Animal Kingdom, but there’s already a Zootopia land going in at Shanghai Disneyland. This makes it cheaper to do since they don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Then they threw a curve ball, and suggested a Moana themed section as well.
So, it seems that Dinoland will be replaced with a Zootopia and Moana themed section. There’s no timeline and no other details related to it.
They made it clear that it’s in the early planning stages so I wouldn’t count on this happening for years.
Magic Kingdom Beyond Thunder Mountain
In this part, Josh D’Amaro posed the question, have you ever wondered what was beyond the peaks of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?
They then went on to discuss possibilities of what could be found back there. And oh the possibilities are going to make people VERY excited.
All of these ideas put together in one land suggests an enormous expansion to Disney World’s most popular park.
However, keep in mind that none of these plans are set in stone. They are teasers in the purest sense. Ideas can change or be adapted.
But I have to think they are pretty set on at least the basics of the following plan or else they never would have said anything. So here it is:
One of the sections of this new land will be Coco themed, allowing us all to travel to Mexico with our favorite Coco characters to celebrate Dia de los Muertos in Miguel’s hometown.
Specifically, he teased being able to ride on the back of an Alebrije!
We DO Talk about Bruno
Alongside the Coco themed section is one dedicated to Encanto. Who hasn’t wanted to explore Casita for themselves?
Guests would theoretically be able to see Bruno’s tower and also find their own special gift in front of one of Casita’s doors.
Villains Themed Land
This ones fulfills a long held wish by many Disney World fans. Overlooking the Coco and Encanto sections, a villains themed area looms.
It is not an understatement to say that the crowd went bananas when this announcement was “suggested”.
Final Thoughts on the D23 Announcements
On the whole, I was a little disappointed with the announcements. Not that this wasn’t exciting, but it was more that compared to all the Disneyland announcements of exciting things, the Disney World announcements were a little ho-hum.
Most of them were expected: simply giving us time frames of when projects already in the works will be complete.
The most exciting part was of course all the talk of Dinoland’s replacement as well as the Magic Kingdom expansion. And trust me, I’m very excited about both prospects. It’s just that right now they are still pipe dreams.
We are talking about things that are going to happen years from now. And I do mean years. And years. Besides that, who knows what the reality of both of these expansions will look like by the time they are finished.
This “announcement” is something Disney strategically planned to counteract the excitement that will be generated by Universal Studios new park that’s slated to open in 2025. It’s there way of whetting everyone’s appetite to keep more guests staying with them.
I do think these expansions will definitely happen. They wouldn’t have told us about these ideas if they weren’t. I just think we’ll be waiting quite a while for them to happen.
But either way, I’ll be majorly excited when they do.
What are your thoughts on the D23 announcements? Are you excited for the future of Disney World or disappointed with the coming changes?