Disney Chairman Bob Chapek unveiled more than a dozen new attractions, rides and experiences planned for its Orlando parks to celebrate Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021.
The announcements were made Saturday to nearly 7,000 fans who attended the D23 Expo 2017 in Anaheim, Calif.
Chapek confirmed rumors and speculation about new rides and attractions that will update Walt Disney World and Hollywood Studios, while transforming Epcot, which turns 35 in October. The announcements follow Disney’s wildly successful overhaul of Animal Kingdom with the opening of Pandora: The World of Avatar May 27th.
Chapek told fans that “the best is yet to come.”
“We have ambitious plans for our parks and resorts around the world,” he said. “We’re investing in the guest experience like never before, and we’re doing it all in way that is only possible at Disney.”
Back in November, Disney officials hinted at an upcoming transformation for Epcot but Saturday was the first time details were released. The park will get two new attractions, a restaurant and several updates.
Epcot will add its first roller coaster with “Guardians of the Galaxy” at Future World, while a “Ratatouille”-inspired attraction is planned for the France pavilion in World Showcase. Both are scheduled to open by 2021.
The Guardians ride will replace Ellen’s Energy Adventure, which is closing Aug. 13. It debuted in Epcot in 1996, replacing the Universe of Energy attraction that opened with the theme park in 1982.
The second ride is modeled after Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy, one of the most popular attractions at Disney’s Paris theme park. The 4D attraction uses technology to “shrink” guests down to rat size so they can take part in Remy’s chase across a Parisian kitchen.
A new film shot with digital cameras will be replacing the current movie at Reflections of China and Mission: Space will receive a complete overhaul with two new missions. Plans were also released for a new restaurant next to Mission Space that will offer meals with views of space.
Epcot will also expand its resort offerings with the addition of the 15th Disney Vacation Club, called Disney Riviera Resort.
The 135-acre Hollywood Studios also will receive a host of new additions along with two new attractions.
Toy Story Land will open next summer at Disney’s Hollywood Studios followed a year after by the park’s new Star Wars land.
Chapek revealed the official name of the Star Wars-inspired lands that are currently under construction at Disneyland and Hollywood Studios. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will allow guests to be immersed in the popular “Star Wars” film series.
The attractions will open in 2019, first at Disneyland and later in the year at Hollywood Studios.
Plans were also announced for a new Star Wars luxury hotel at Hollywood Studios. Using mock windows, guests will feel like they are aboard a starship traveling the galaxy, according to the Disney blog.
The park will receive Disney’s first Mickey-themed ride-through attraction, called Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Inspired by Mickey Mouse shorts on the Disney Channel, it will feature state-of-the-art 3D effects without using 3D glasses. It will replace the Great Movie Ride, which will close Aug. 13.
The soon to be 50 Magic Kingdom will be updated with a new attraction, a Main Street theater and two new transportation systems.
Tron, the highest-rated attraction at Shanghai Disneyland, will be built next to Space Mountain at Walt Disney World. TRON Lightcycle Power Run is a coaster-style attraction where riders board a train of two-wheeled Lightcycles. Chapek said the attraction will open during the 50th anniversary celebration.
A new theater is coming to Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom. The entertainment venue will be based on the iconic Willis Wood Theater, a favorite of Walt Disney.
“Across Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, we’ve been upping the game in entertainment with shows like Frozen Live at the Hyperion,” Chapek, said. “It’s been a huge hit at the Disneyland Resort, and I’m sure many of you have seen it. This new theater at Walt Disney Resort continues that streak by bringing a new venue for world-class entertainment to the world’s biggest park.”
The park will also offer two new transportation options, including an aerial gondola and Minnie Mouse themed vehicles. Both are being added to take the stress off Disney’s monorail and bus systems.
The gondola-style Disney Skyliner will connect Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach resorts with Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot.
And finally, Chepak announced that Disney Cruise Lines is adding three new ships by 2023, which will nearly double the size of its fleet to seven ships.