From a sneak peek at its new Star Wars-themed land to an all-new Star Wars hotel, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts announced a number of travel updates at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA, over the weekend.
Inside the New Star Wars-Themed Lands
At a special preview event, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek offered a first look at a model of the new Star Wars-themed lands, called Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, under development at Disneyland park in Anaheim and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, FL.
Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger first announced plans for the new areas at D23 Expo in 2015. The new lands, which are set to open in 2019, will be anchored by two attractions: one that gives guests the chance to pilot the Millennium Falcon, and one about a battle between the First Order and the Resistance. At 14 acres each, the new lands will represent the largest single-themed land expansion ever, Disney said.
New Star Wars Hotel
At the event Chapek also confirmed plans for a new, Star Wars-themed hotel to debut at Walt Disney World. Chapek said that the new concept would aim to allow guests to immerse themselves in Disney storytelling, including giving guests the chance to dress up in proper Star Wars attire.
“One you leave Earth, you will discover a starship alive with characters, stories and adventures that unfold all around you,” Chapek said on the official Disney Parks Blog. “It is 100% immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits.”
Disney Vacation Club’s New Disney Riviera Resort
Also at D23 Disney Vacation Club announced plans for its next property: Disney Riviera Resort.
Disney Riviera Resort will be situated near Epcot in Walt Disney World, and it will include a new skyway transportation system, called the Disney Skyliner, that will connect it to other areas of Disney World. Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot will also be connected to the skyway.
Scheduled to open in fall 2019, the new resort will be the 15th Disney Vacation Club property, with approximately 300 units across a variety of accommodation types. Disney Vacation Club is also opening its 14th resort, Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, July 17, 2017.
Big Transformation Plan for Epcot
Epcot itself is set to undergo a big renovation project as part of a park-wide redevelopment effort at Disney World timed to coincide with its 50th Anniversary, which started with the debut of New Fantasyland in 2014.
The Epcot update will add a new Ratatouille attraction in an all-new space in the France pavilion at the World Showcase, as well as a new e-ticket attraction based on Guardians of the Galaxy. In Future World, a new Green Mission at Mission: SPACE will take guests on a tour around the Earth, and an updated Orange Mission will add new elements to a trip to Mars. The park will also open a new restaurant adjacent to Mission: SPACE.
Updates at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom
Elsewhere in Disney World, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has plans to add its first-ever Mickey-themed ride-through attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. With a new original story and theme song, the new ride aims to take guests on a journey through Disney Channel’s “Mickey Mouse” cartoon shorts.
Additionally, a new Tron-themed attraction will debut in a new area near Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom. A similar attraction at Shanghai Disneyland is the most popular in that park, Chapek said. On Main Street, U.S.A., a new live entertainment theater will open, based on the Willis Theater in 1920s Kansas City.
Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure
Disney is also getting ready to roll out a number of new Pixar-themed attractions. In summer 2018 Toy Story Land will open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and, newly announced at this year’s D23, Disney is also adding more characters from The Incredibles, Inside Out and Toy Story to Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure. In 2018, the new Pixar Fest fireworks spectacular will run at Disneyland Resort for a limited time.
The Pixar Play Parade will also return to Disneyland Resort, at Disneyland Park, and the Paint the Night Parade will move to Disney California Adventure.
Seventh Ship for Disney Cruise Line
Finally, in cruise news, Disney Cruise Line announced plans for a seventh new cruise ship. In all, the line plans to nearly double the size of its fleet by 2023.