This really was a very big D23 for fans of Walt Disney World, with WDW announcements taking up about 75% of the time spent at the Disney Parks panel. Galaxy's Edge, the Star Wars resort, and the slow trickle of changes to Epcot occupied a considerable amount of time, but there were still a few more exciting (and a few kind of mundane but interesting nonetheless) announcements made, so let's wrap up my late thoughts on this year's D23 in this post!
We'll start things off by looking at the positive side of this new Mickey Mouse Runaway Railway attraction: Mickey is finally getting his own attraction! That's right, Mickey Mouse has never had his own ride at any Disney park. He's been letting his friends have the spotlight, because that's just the kind of guy he is. The downside? The Great Movie Ride is going away to accommodate Mickey and his pals.
The Great Movie Ride has long been one of my favorites, though possibly for the wrong reasons. Riding through the movies is fun (the Alien scene will always be my favorite), and I truly loved the cheesy acting from the cast members, but the fact is the ride is really, really outdated, plus Disney has to pay licensing fees for all of the films featured on the ride. I think you can see why they might want to switch. I will mourn the closing of both Great Movie RIde and Ellen's Energy Adventure more thoroughly in a post soon, because I think they deserve it, but for now... the future!
The Mickey Mouse Runaway Railway is based on the new Mickey Mouse cartoons, which I realize are a bit divisive, but I love them quite a lot. They bring back the slightly irreverent, cheeky quality of the very first Disney cartoons while still maintaining the integrity of the characters. The attraction will take us into a "2.5-D" world in which we will feel like a part of the cartoon - nothing fully three dimensional, which should be interesting. I'm pretty excited for this ride, as I am excited to see Disney's Hollywood Studios finish its transformation into its new form. Speaking of new...
The Magic Kingdom is getting a new e-ticket thrill ride! Say hello to the Tron Light Cycle Power Run that you've heard so much about from Shanghai Disneyland. When I first hear the announcement that this was being constructed, I had some hopes that it would be taking the place of Tomorrowland Speedway. I know, it is a popular attraction for some, but to me it's an eyesore, an earsore, and a nosesore, not to mention generally only "popular" because of poor flow of traffic, generating artificially long lines.
I'm excited for the Power Run overall - it has a great look and I've heard nothing but good things about the ride itself. That said, I really missed Tomorrowland '94. A lot of people talk about how IPs have spoiled Epcot, but for me it's Tomorrowland that suffered the most with the introduction. If you are not aware, in 1994, pretty much every single attraction in Tomorrowland changed from a vision of the future (which was redundant with Future World at Epcot) to a vision of a fantastic space port filled with completely original attractions like Timekeeper and ExtraTerrorestrial Alien Encounter. With those gone, replaced by Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and Stitch's Great Escape, respectively, the old Tomorrowland '94 is pretty much completely dead, with only the TTA continuing to give the feel of a futuristic spaceport all tied together by a central theme.
Also coming to the Magic Kingdom is a theatre, based on the Willis Wood Theatre in Walt's childhood home of Kansas City, Missouri. The design and the fact that it is located on Main Street USA are the only details we know for certain at this point, apart from the fact that it will house live entertainment of some sort. I love Main Street USA and am glad to see a little piece of it being utilized for something other than shopping and dining, so I'm all for this! Can't wait to hear more details.
Up next is a highly unusual announcement that, when rumored, made me doubt the veracity of other rumors...
That's right, gondolas are coming as transportation to Walt Disney World. They will connect Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and "other locations" with Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot. This has been a long standing rumor and just seemed very odd to me, but it's happening! It will be a very whimsical thing to see, I'm sure, with colorful gondolas floating along their cables, each car decked out with Disney characters. I will have to give one a ride so I can report back, despite not being particularly fond of heights. For those who prefer terrestrial travel with puns...
Lyft and Disney are partnering to bring... guess what these are called. Go on, I'll give you a second. If you said anything other than "Minnie Vans," you are a silly person. Then again, if you said "Minnie Vans" you're also a silly person. These will provide point-to-point transportation for Walt Disney World guests and include car seats for children. They will charge a flat rate of $20 going from point-to-point, including any quick stops to drop things off along the way you may need to take. That price point is slightly more than Lyft Pluses usually cost, but you're on a Disney vacation... wouldn't you rather spend three or four more bucks to be driven in a Disney-branded vehicle rather than someone's old Caravan? Of course, your mileage may vary, but I think this is a fun way to get around if you need to go from one place to the other quickly, especially if you have reservations at a different resort than the one you are staying at and don't wish to drive yourself.
And that's it! Apart from the announcement of a new DVC resort (Disney's Riviera Resort), those are all of the big things that came out at D23. While there are some things leaving that I wish I didn't have to see go, we're moving on to new, exciting things, and to me, that's what Disney is all about: blending the classic and the shiny and new. So here's looking forward to talking about each of these things and my own experiences with them as they roll out! Until next time, everyone, stay magical!