Those who belong to Disney’s most fervent fanbase have probably had their sights set on the weekend of September 8, 2024, for months. This date marks the biennial Destination D23, a three-day-long gathering touted as “the Biggest Disney Fan Event of the year.”
Destination D23, held at Walt Disney World’s Contemporary Resort, allows fans to attend panel discussions and full-blown presentations celebrating the company’s past, present, and future. D23, Disney’s official fan club, saves some of the most significant company-wide announcements for its events. And with 2023 marking the 100th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company, some major headlines could be coming out from these fan-attended presentations.
Disney Fans Prepare For Destination D23
Executives and representatives from Disney use the biennial D23 Expo and smaller-scale Destination D23 events as opportunities to share the latest movie and theme park news. Thousands of fans attend these events every other year, with countless more tuning in online to be among the first to hear these announcements. In years past, news coming out of these expos has included unveiling new lands like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and other large-scale projects like the multi-year transformation of EPCOT.
MickeyVisit.com founder Gavin Doyle highlights recent remarks made by Disney CEO Bob Iger regarding the potential for major investments in the coming years at Walt Disney World. “With Disney CEO Bob Iger’s comments that Disney plans to spend $17 billion in Florida on expansions in Walt Disney World over the next 10 years, Destination D23 is the first venue that the head of Disney Parks has to provide more detail on what these new additions could include.” Destination D23 marks the first opportunity fans will have to hear directly from Disney representatives regarding where that $17 billion could go, specifically with theme parks.
Disney is poised to build off the momentum of its most recent park expansions, particularly in Walt Disney World. In the last few years alone, Disney World has added several new headliner attractions, including TRON Lightcycle/Run ride in Magic Kingdom and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT. On deck next is the opening of Journey of Water Inspired by Moana at EPCOT. This walkthrough interactive attraction educates guests about the water cycle.
Major Announcements Are Expected
Given that D23 is a fan-centric event, any announcements Disney representatives share are going to be with the intent of generating buzz and excitement around the company’s most passionate followers. And with $17 billion to spend, the parks could be preparing for some significant expansions.
At the top of many Disney fans’ minds are a series of vague pitches made in 2022 by Parks, Experiences, and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro. At the close of the D23 Expo last year, D’Amaro hinted at several potential projects – though none were actual confirmations or definitive announcements – that could come to fruition at Walt Disney World. Suggested projects included “Moana” and “Zootopia” lands in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and “Coco,” “Encanto,” and Disney villain-themed lands in Magic Kingdom.
Doyle notes that an update on these potential new lands is among the most closely watched since the 2022 convention. He says, “Previously at the D23 Expo fan convention in 2022, the Chairman of Disney Parks teased a look at potential new Walt Disney World areas themed to Zootopia, Moana, Coco, and Encanto. We have heard no further updates on what they were, at the time, calling blue sky ideas. If these ideas are still in development, we could get an update at Destination D23.”
Doyle adds that a recent change in leadership could shift the direction of these potential projects. D’Amaro’s blue sky hypotheticals came about in September of 2022; two months later, then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek left the company, with Bob Iger assuming his former role. “A big factor here is that the CEO of The Walt Disney Company that was in place when the head of the parks made those announcements is now gone, so the shift in priorities caused by the return of Bob Iger could lead to changes to the expansion plans for the parks.”
Additional Project Updates at Destination D23
One of the biggest openings in Disney’s pipeline is Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. This highly-anticipated reimagined ride will replace Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park. Disneyland is slated to receive a new Princess & The Frog-themed restaurant. Still, nothing has yet been announced for Walt Disney World. The ride will open in late 2024 at both locations. Still, fans could learn of a more accurate time frame and whether a new Disney World restaurant will be added during Destination D23.
There may also be an update on its way to Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure. The Marvel-themed land that opened in 2021 has one attraction, WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure. A second ride also existed as a part of Avenger Campus’ original plans, but that has yet to come to fruition. At the 2022 D23 Expo, D’Amaro hinted that Avenger Campus’ second ride could be imminent. The world of this ride would exist in the multiverse, featuring a large cast of Marvel characters, including King Thanos.
Fans of fireworks should keep a close watch on any news coming out of EPCOT. D’Amaro announced last year that the park would receive a brand-new nighttime spectacular in 2023. However, additional details have yet to emerge. With EPCOT serving as the hub for the 100th-anniversary celebration in Florida in the fall, fans anticipate the show will debut during that time.