Everything we learned at Disney's parks panel at the 2022 D23 Expo


A masked family walks past Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

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Disney‘s theme parks are on the rebound after the coronavirus pandemic shutdown its domestic and international locations in 2020.

Revenue is growing for Disney’s parks, experiences and products division and the company is seeing steady increases in attendance, occupied room nights and cruise ship sailings.

During its most recent earnings Disney touted that its new Genie+ and Lightning Lane products helped boost average per capita ticket revenue during the quarter. These new digital features were introduced to curate guest experience and allow parkgoers to bypass lines for major attractions.

The company said it has been able to bring back in-park experiences such as character meet-and-greets, theatrical performances and nighttime events at Disneyland, which has allowed it to increase capacity at its parks, CEO Bob Chapek said at the time. Disney has placed caps on attendance since it reopened after the initial round of pandemic closures in early 2020 and instituted a new online reservation system to control crowds.

The company continues to add new features and attractions to its theme parks and cruise lines, which Josh D’Amaro, head of Disney’s parks, experiences and product division, outlined Sunday at its┬áD23 Expo.

Disneyland Resort

(L-R): Jonathan Becker (Research and Development Imagineer), Josh D’Amaro (Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products), Richard-Alexandre Peloquin (Research Engineer Imagineer).

Christian Thompson

Pacific Wharf at Disney California Adventure will be transformed into San Fransokyo from “Big Hero Six,” and including the chance to meet Baymax, the helpful healthcare robot. Additionally, Paradise Pier Hotel is becoming Pixar Place Hotel.

Downtown Disney will add several new restaurants including Porto’s Bakery and Cafe and Din Tai Fung.

Disneyland’s Toon Town land will get a version of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction from Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida, as well as a number of cosmetic updates and new play yard for kids. These updates are expected in 2023.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, which is replacing Splash Mountain, takes place directly after the events of “The Princes and the Frog” and follows Princess Tiana as she searches for a missing ingredient for a party celebrating Carnival. The ride is slated to reopen in late 2024.

A model of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, which will reimagine Disneyland’s Splash Mountain, is displayed during the Walt Disney D23 Expo in Anaheim, California on September 9, 2022.

Patrick T. Fallon | Afp | Getty Images

D’Amaro said that music will be a huge part of the ride and cast from the movie will return to lend their voices to the attraction. Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Tiana, arrived on stage to sing “I’m Almost There” and “Dig a Little Deeper” from the 2009 animated film.

Walt Disney World

D’Amaro announced that Disney is in the midst of creating a new night-time spectacular for Epcot to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary. Additionally, Journey of Water, inspired by “Moana,” which was announced back in 2019 will open in late 2023.

Also coming to Epcot is Figment, the fan-favorite purple dragon, will be returning to the park for meet-and-greets in the future.

Additionally, next year the Hat Box Ghost will appear at the Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World.

D’Amaro showed footage of a his test ride of Tron Light Cycle Run, noting that the ride is slated to open spring 2023 at Magic Kingdom.

Disney Cruises

Disney’s sixth cruise ship is called “Treasure” and celebrates Walt Disney’s love of adventure. The grand hall is inspired by “Aladdin” and features a statue of Jasmine and Aladdin riding on the magic carpet.

D’Amaro said the Disney “Wonder” will now travel to Australia and New Zealand starting Oct. 2023.

The company is also opening a new island vacation spot located in the Bahamas called Lighthouse Point. D’Amaro said 90% of the power used at this location will be provided by solar power.

International Resorts

Duffy and Friends, cute cuddly characters from Shanghai Disney Resort, will be getting their own stop-motion series on Disney+.

D’Amaro also showed new images from the Zootopia land, which will feature a large animatronic of Officer Clawhauser. No date has been set for the land’s official opening.

Hong Kong Disneyland is getting a new Walt Disney statue, which is inspired by Walt watching his childen ride on a merry-go-round and inspiring the launch of Disney’s theme parks. The park’s Frozen-themed land will open in the second-half of 2023.

In Paris, a new promenade will be added to attach its new Frozen-inspired land to the rest of the park and a “Tangled” themed attraction will be added to the new garden area.

Tokyo Disney Resort is also in the midst of adding a new land to its park based on “Frozen,” “Tangled” and “Peter Pan” called Fantasy Springs.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.


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