Sunday, August 16, 2015

Day 958: Big News

So far in relation to the D23 Expo I've talked about the amazing people and the huge show floor, but what's really the reason we all head to the Expo? The news of course! The giant announcements for every part of the Disney company, including Disney Parks and Resorts, Walt Disney Animation, and the popular panel of the weekend, the Live Action panel!

I personally was only able to attend one of these big panels, and of course it had to be the Parks and Resorts panel! Amazingly, at the last minute, they announced that we were allowed to bring in cameras, meaning I not only got to live tweet the entire panel, but I also have several pictures of the amazing additions yet to come to the Disney parks!

The big announcement of the day, however, didn't come during the Parks and Resorts presentation though. Instead, at the finale of the Live Action presentation, the newest addition to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World was announced. That new addition? Star Wars Land!

To kick off the Parks and Resorts Presentation they showcased a short promo video for Star Wars Land, and then announced that Star Wars will be introduced to the park in more "force" over the next few months as we approach the premiere of Episode 7: The Force Awakens. The new land, however, will feature a planet we've never seen before while also featuring both new and familiar Star Wars characters. In the next few months, we can also expect to see a brand new planet on Star Tours straight out of The Force Awakens and new additions to the Jedi Training Academy. Finally, following the success of Star Wars Weekends, a new seasonal event will be coming to the Disney Parks on both coasts: Season of the Force. This event will include new custom fireworks and an update to Space Mountain at Disneyland called Hyperspace Mountain.

When it comes to Walt Disney World, the biggest news in the presentation was definitely the extra addition of our very own Toy Story Land, which will premiere at Disney's Hollywood Studios and will feature new attractions and a completely new themed land based around Andy's backyard. Growing on the popularity of Toy Story Midway Mania at Hollywood Studios, this new addition will also feature a new Slinky Dog Family Coaster and Green Alien Flying Saucers beyond the secondary TSMM!

In a bit of an awkward spell, there was discussion of the new Frozen Ever After addition coming to Epcot. I definitely know I'll miss Maelstrom, and it seemed that the remainder of the audience was with me, but I'm going to put my trust in Walt Disney Imagineering and I hope you do too. Cars Land and the expansions at Disneyland brought a lot of faith for me in the amazing experiences they can produce, so I'm excited to see where this new attraction will take us as well.

And, as expected, there was lots of talk of Avatar Land, which is now officially called "Pandora: The World of Avatar." Joe Rohde gave an absolutely breathtaking presentation on the new area of Animal Kingdom along with the other advancements throughout the park. First, we learned that it will be the fireflies that host the new nighttime elements throughout the park, and that Kilimanjaro Safaris will be extended into evening hours and include two new species. The Rivers of Light, taking place on the river that flows through the park, is sure to be nothing short of spectacular, as it will incorporate light, water, and fire along with live performers for a full live-celebrating show.

Then the updates on Pandora continued, featuring a preview video and a surprise appearance from James Cameron himself! "The Flight of Passage" was officially announced as the title for the Banshee attraction, and we learned that Pandora won't be about charging in as we usually see in some of the other parks, but rather a full immerseive, detail-oriented experience that forces you to stop and admire the beauty of nature.

From there on, announcements continued for other Disney parks across the world, including a HUGE surprise from Stan Lee! Let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've been in the same room as STAN. LEE.

However, the presentation didn't end there, as we continued to Soar across the world, leading right up to the announcement that both Disneyland and Walt Disney World will soon feature a brand new Soarin' experience, Soarin' over the World. I've been saying for years that Epcot's Soarin' should be updated, and from the looks of it, this new film will be sure to take us on a grand adventure!

And to finish things off in a typical Disney style, a beautiful and touching tribute to Nighttime Disney Shows from around the world concluded the presentation. Part of which you can see in my first vlog from the D23 Expo:

To be completely honest, I wasn't expecting any part of IllumiNations to be in the tribute, so when they began to sing "We Go On" I just completely lost it. I don't think I've ever cried so fast in my life! 

The future of the Disney Parks is certainly exciting, and I can't wait to soar across the world to experience as much of it as I possibly can! What part are you most excited about? I think it's definitely Star Wars Land for me, that or the Rivers of Light presentation at Animal Kingdom!

Have a magical day!

(Note: This blog post was written on September 7 due to the Disney Trip and College Move-In).