7. The EPCOT Anchors
That’s to say nothing of the projects fans were certain would be part of EPCOT’s Phase II – a Coco reimagining of the Mexico pavilion’s Gran Fiesta Tour boat ride and a so-obvious-how-was-it-not-part-of-Phase-One redesign of Journey into Imagination. Instead, what would’ve been the home-run, fans-crying-happy-tears-in-the-aisle, talk-of-the-town, headline-grabbing project was teased and teased, then announced as… a Figment meet-and-greet. And even that is scheduled for “Late 2023”! Ouch.
Now sure, we can hope that the meet-and-greet will be a sort of “back door pilot” for gauging fans’ interest in Figment in the 2020s, selling merchandise, and being proof positive for the popularity of the character – all necessary steps in Chapek’s Disney to greenlight a ride – but seriously, can be skip it? How about if we debut the Figment meet-and-greet, I don’t know, next month and just get started on this badly-needed ride reimagining. Ugh.
8. Anything Concrete Post 2024
Most years, D23 Expo leaves fans speechless – for better and for worse – about what was announced. This year, it’s kind of the opposite… Despite the two-hour Parks Presentation ostensibly being the anchor of the 2022 D23 Expo, fans left with… well… nothing. Aside from meet-and-greets, confirmation of already-announced projects, and that bizarre Blue Sky finale of non-commital (and largely, non-agreeable) concepts that probably won’t happen, we leave D23 Expo exactly where we entered it: with no concrete plans for Disney Parks after Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens in 2024…
Think about what that means… Given Disney’s infamously long timelines for getting things done, even those projects confirmed today – like an Avengers attraction en route to Disney California Adventure – couldn’t possibly open until at least 2024. For major projects, Disney tends to work in half-decade development cycles, meaning that even if a brand new E-Ticket had been announced this month, the chances of seeing it open before 2027 would be slim.
Instead, it looks like meet-and-greets, character overlays, and swapped out entertainment will be Disney’s go-to methods of attracting guests going forward.
At least based on what we’ve seen here, Disney doesn’t appear at all worried about needing to line its next five to ten years with E-Ticket attractions. In an era of slashed perks and new upcharges, Disney makes no apologies, with Chapek plainly stating that fewer guests who spend more money is the goal. So why even bother to increase capacity? Instead, limit attendance to those who want popcorn buckets, Genie+, and lots and lots of Disney Animation merch, right?
Which perhaps leads to the inevitable next question… what will Walt Disney World have debuting alongside Universal’s Epic Universe in 2025? Right now, the answer is: nothing. There is nothing publicly announced on the calendar for 2025 or beyond. Will Universal’s massive new theme park and its headlining Super Nintendo World continue to shift the gravity in Orlando? Or – as this disappointing D23 lineup has got fans wondering – will people continue to flock to Disney, content to meet-and-greet, buy snacks, and watch rotating nighttime spectaculars that all have the same songs? We’ll see…