The biggest news out of the Disney Parks, Experiences and Products panel at D23 Expo (outside of the Avengers Campus Multiverse ride) revealed a “Blue Sky” presentation (likely code for, just pitched at the audience) to let us know Disney Animation and Disney Imagineering have been in talks to bring recent hit films like Encanto, Coco and Zootopia to areas of the Walt Disney World Resort. You know, those certain spots that could use some updates or could make way for some vacant land we didn’t even think to consider. These are some bold pie in the sky dreams that we hope they make good on.
Imagineering’s Chris Beatty and Walt Disney Animation’s Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee joined Parks chairman Josh D’Amaro on stage to give us a tease of what they’re thinking as far as the possibilities go.
In Animal Kingdom, DinoLand U.S.A. may be going the way of their prehistoric counterparts to make way for a full Zootopia area highlighting the various boroughs seen in the film. It would make sense that this one’s in the works, as some parks of DinoLand have already been cleared out and demolished just as Shanghai Disneyland is set to debut the first iteration of a Zootopia area at their resort. The work’s been done and planned out, so we think this one is very likely on the way. Also announced was another Moana area at Animal Kingdom—maybe a dark water ride from the looks of the art.
Let’s hold Disney to making their Magic Kingdom expansion come to life, because it’s bonkers and absolutely the route theme park enthusiasts have wanted them to go with recent Disney features that felt primed for attractions. The Mexican village of Santa Cecilia from Pixar’s Coco was featured as a walkable area celebrating El Dia de Los Muertos, and could have a dark ride that will take park guests to the land of the dead on fantastical Alebrijes like Pepita. Nearby, you can also venture to Encanto’s Casa Madrigal to explore the family home. Honestly, that would be such an epic build to capture the environments of each family member’s realm of powers. What’s really exciting is that they teased you could even find a door of your own.
And in the beyond beyond is the promise of a land of evil where Disney villains are just roaming around wreaking havoc. This one is maybe a little far-fetched, but interesting if they do lean into more of a scary area. Sadly, that seems unlikely, as they stripped Disneyland’s Snow White ride of some of its more terrifying “for the kiddo” elements. It would make more sense to maybe make that area into Halloweentown with A Nightmare Before Christmas ride, since the east coast doesn’t do a Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay.
While all these ideas seem amazing, and we definitely think some of these films will inevitably make their way into the parks, this felt more like a presentation to gauge interest. Right now, there are a few areas in dire need of updates, like Tomorrowland (on both coasts) and the Treehouse at Disneyland (which was my bet for an Encanto walk-through). We’ll see what ends up happening in the next 5-10 years with these concepts.
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