Every other year, Disney Parks fans wait eagerly for the bi-annual D23 Expo, where blockbuster announcements about Disney parks both in the US and abroad are made. This year's Expo was no different, finally giving fans their first look at Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land, and surprising us all with new information about Kilimanjaro Sunset Safaris, Pandora: The World of Avatar and the Season of the Force event. However, in between all these massive announcements, there were a number of other developments that happened during D23 that you probably missed, unless you were paying extremely close attention...
1. Epcot could be on the brink of being reinvented
Though this year’s D23 event was all about the changes coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, during an imagineering panel on Friday, Disney Legend Marty Sklar mentioned briefly that that Tom Fitzgerald (the current creative lead of Epcot) is currently working on "the next development of Epcot".
Though Sklar could have just been speaking in general terms (there are plenty of developments happening every day at Disney parks, after all), some have taken his comments to mean that Epcot could be preparing to make some big changes going forward. While we know that Epcot's Frozen makeover is in full swing and on-track to open next year, and Soarin' Over the Horizon is coming to the park once the third theater is built (also next year), there are no big developments on the horizon for Epcot that stretch beyond 2016. This seems a little curious, as rumors suggest there are a lot of long term projects in the works for this park, including a refurbishment of the Imagination pavilion, a new film for the Magic Eye Theater, a replacement for Illuminations, and more.
While we doubt much is going on in the short term, if there really is a big-time "next development" for Epcot, it probably won't be announced until next year (at the earliest) so we'll just have to keep speculating until then.
2. Star Wars Land is NOT replacing Toontown at Disneyland
For several months it had been strongly rumored that Star Wars Land would be replacing Toontown at Disneyland. However, it looks like these whispers ultimately proved to be untrue, as Disneyland’s official park Twitter account, @DisneylandToday confirmed this new land’s placement when a fan asked them on Twitter:
@PaulYankees It's going to be in the Big Thunder Ranch area, inclusive of some backstage locations.— Disneyland Today (@DisneylandToday) August 16, 2015
Though it seems like an odd choice to confirm this development on Twitter when talking with one specific fan (and not announce it on stage at D23 or via press release) this is definitely a development we didn’t expect and is great for those who were hoping Toontown might be saved. However, those Fronierland goats might need to find a new home…
3. Toy Story Mania is getting a new entrance
When Disney announced Toy Story Land this past weekend, the main topics of discussion were the two new rides that will be exclusive to the Disney's Hollywood Studios version of this land. However, taking a look at the official concept art above, eagle-eyed parks fans may notice that Toy Story Midway Mania looks a little…different. In fact, the entrance is on the far side of the building, facing Toy Story Land instead of Pixar Place. In addition, the signage for this attraction is totally different.
There are two possible explanations for this anomaly. The first (and simplest) is that this is just an alternate entrance that will lead directly to the attraction's currently under-construction third track. However, there's another, more interesting possibility to consider as well. Disney may be planning to flip Toy Story Midway Mania around so that there is only one entrance for this attraction facing Toy Story Land. This development would essentially close the current Pixar Place area (Toy Story Midway Mania is this land's only attraction), which may not actually be a bad thing. It seems a little odd having Toy Story Land right next to Pixar Place, and getting rid of this land would definitely make sense once Toy Story Land has been constructed.
Though confirmation of a new attraction entrance sounds like a small development, in this case it could signal the removal of an entire land, which makes it definitely worth taking notice of!