D23 Expo Promises Big Changes to Walt Disney World

It is entirely possible that news from the D23 Expo Parks and Resorts panel broke the internet on Saturday. While some were happy with the new additions, there are many people upset with Epcot’s new direction. So let’s break everything down from park to park.

Magic Kingdom:

Tomorrowland will get a huge addition. The popular Tron Lightcycle Power Run roller coaster from Shanghai Disneyland will be making its way over to Florida. Don’t worry Tomorrowland Grand Prix fans; it looks like your attraction is safe (at least according to the artist rendition). The new attraction is expected to open in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021.

There will be a new entertainment venue off Main Street USA. Modeled after the 1920s Willis Wood theater in Kansas City (where Walt lived after leaving Marceline), it looks to bring “world-class” entertainment to WDW. Think along the lines of the Hyperion Theater in Disney California Adventure. Tony’s Town Square restaurant to City Hall are rumored to get the boot. There is also the possibility of a new site behind the main buildings of Main Street. Stay tuned!

Hollywood Studios:

Guests at D23 Expo found themselves treated to a model of the new Star Wars Land – it is massive! We also know a few more facts about the new land such as its name: Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. A remote trading post where the First Order and Resistance are battling for control. There will be two major attractions: a chance to fly the Millenium Falcon and an interactive ride inside a Star Destroyer bay while a major battle breaks out.

A famous resident will return to the scene. Rex (the hapless pilot from Star Tours) will now spin tunes inside the cantina style restaurant. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open in 2019 at Disneyland Park while the Walt Disney World land will open later in the year.


Toy Story Land has an opening date (sort of). Guests will be able to experience the Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers in the summer of 2018.

With the additions, comes some sad news. The last Disney MGM/Hollywood Studios opening day attraction will go away. The Great Movie Ride will close and make away from Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Being touted as the first attraction featuring Mickey Mouse, guests will join him and his friends to step through the movie screen. The new attraction with feature a new theme song and an experience Disney is describing as “2 1/2 D.” They will start construction shortly as GMR will close on August 13, 2017.


Animal Kingdom:

No major announcements since their big project, Pandora just opened to guests.


The primary focus of the panel was on Epcot. Expect some significant changes for the park.

Mission: SPACE will have a new restaurant. Yes, now you have the opportunity to dine with projected images high above Earth. No opening date was revealed.

Mission: SPACE will return to operation soon. This time with a new mission for the green side. It promises to give the whole family a chance to experience the attraction described as “Soarin’ above the Earth.”


Disneyland Paris’ famous attraction Ratatouille: The Adventure will make its way to the France Pavilion.  Guests will shrink to Remy’s size and join the madcap adventures of the working kitchen. The 4-D attraction is expected to open before WDW’s 50th Anniversary in 2021.

The bombshell news of the day goes to the announcement of the arrival of a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction. The Marvel franchise will move into the Energy Pavilion currently occupied by Ellen’s Energy Adventure. Closing date for Ellen is August 13, 2017. Guardians are scheduled to open before 2021 as well. No other details were given about the ride or if the energy theme will go by the wayside. Artist’s concept work does detail the show building remaining for the new experience.


Resorts News:

    • Disney revealed a new DVC property. The Disney Riviera Resort promises views of both Epcot and Hollywood Studios.


    • Star Wars themed hotel will feature a new interactive experience including a cosplay element. Rumor has it that guests will check in together as a group (like Disney Cruise Line) and it is at least a two-day “living adventure.”


    • Disney will debut a new Uber-like car service called Minnie Vans. It will transport guests around the property. (Rumor: $15-20 per ride)


    • The Disney Skyliner (gondolas) is expected to connect Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach resorts along with Hollywood Studios and Epcot’s International Gateway.


  • So much news it is difficult to wrap our heads around it. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

Theresa Carlson

Theresa has been a life-long Disney fan since she first visited the Magic Kingdom in 1985 at the age of 3. According to her mother, she squealed with excitement when she saw Winnie the Pooh and Chip n' Dale for the first time. That love for Disney has not died as she grew up. She continues to be fascinated with the history of EPCOT Center and maintains the radio station, Kungaloosh Radio on TuneIn Radio.

One thought on “D23 Expo Promises Big Changes to Walt Disney World

  • July 24, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Even though I’m sad that GMR is leaving, I’m looking foward to the new attractions! Particularly the star wars hotel and land!!!

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