Several major announcements made during Disney's D23 expo
'Star Wars'-inspired resort among plans for Walt Disney World
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Disney revealed some major plans for new rides, attractions and other projects during a presentation Saturday evening at its D23 convention in Anaheim, California.
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News 6 updated this story with the latest announcements as they were made during the Disney Parks & Resort presentation, which began at 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
After a quick opening performance, Disney Parks and Resort chairman Bob Chapek quickly took the stage, promising fans "really big plans."
Chapek reflected on some of the company's recent openings, including the "Iron Man" attraction in Hong Kong and Pandora.
The chairman then spoke about plans for the upcoming "Star Wars" parks, which will open first at Disneyland and then at Walt Disney World. Company officials announced that the parks will be named "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge."
The "Star Wars" experience won't be limited to just the parks. Chapek confirmed the company's plans for a "Star Wars"-inspired resort. The chairman said the resort will be be "unlike anything that exists today," according to Disney Parks Blog, adding that guests will become a part of the "Star Wars" story -- from what they wear, to who they see -- as soon as they arrive.
Company officials soon made another major announcement: a new ride featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse is set to replace the Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway will allow park visitors to step inside the world of a modern Mickey Mouse Cartoon short, as seen on the Disney Channel.
Disney officials called the Mickey-themed ride "groundbreaking," announcing that it would be a "2 and a half-dimension" ride. The company said it is inventing new technologies and that 3-D glasses would not be needed for the ride. Company officials also said the ride is set to be a "mousterpiece," with the most hidden Mickeys ever.
In order to prepare for the new ride-through attraction, the Great Movie Ride's final day of operation will be August 13, Disney officials said.
The next big announcement entailed big plans for Epcot. Disney revealed plans for "Guardians of the Galaxy"-inspired and "Ratatouille"-inspired attractions to make their way to the park in time for Walt Disney World Resort's 50th anniversary in 2021.
Company officials also announced plans for a new space restaurant at Epcot. Across from the park's Mission: SPACE attraction, the restaurant will allow guests to travel into space for an "out of this world" dining experience in the stars, Disney imagineers said.
Also in 2021, a "Tron" attraction will make its debut at Walt Disney World Resort. The attraction will be in an all new area next to Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom, Chapek announced during the presentation.
A new transportation system, called the Disney Skyliner, is also set to make its way to the Walt Disney World Resort, company officials said.
Chapek said the new system will offer a bird's-eye view of the resort and will connect a few of Disney's other resorts and locations with Disney's Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot.
Toy Story Land, which is already under construction at Hollywood Studios, is set to open next summer, Chapek announced. Company officials provided details for two new attractions that will open at the movie-themed land. Slinky Dog Dash will be a rollercoaster that allows guests to zip and turn through Slinky's coils, according to Disney. The Alien Swirling Saucers attraction, based on the first "Toy Story" movie, will allow guests to ride in a rocket as they try to avoid being captured by "The Claw."
Plans for a new theater at Magic Kingdom were also announced during the presentation. Modeled after the famous Willis Wood theater in Kansas City, where Walt Disney once lived, company officials said the theater will fit well off Main Street, U.S.A.
Toward the end of the presentation, convention-goers were surprised with unexpected plans. Company officials announced that Disney Cruise Line plans to expand by three ships. The company announced last year that it planned to build two additional ships, but Chapek said Saturday that two "wouldn’t be enough to hold all of the exciting new experiences" Disney has planned, according to Disney Parks Blog. Ship names, itineraries and design plans are still in the works.
News 6 reporter Amanda Castro talked to Disney fans visiting Orlando parks Sunday who said they can't wait to return after hearing Saturday's announcements.
One tourist said he was visiting Walt Disney World for the third time. He said the company's new offerings are what led him to return, and if it weren't for those additions, he would not continue coming back.
"I like the new stuff. I don't want to keep seeing the same park that we have already," Pablo Lledo, who was visiting from Argentina, said. "It's the way of innovation. If you want to keep having the same tourists, you have to show something new all the time."
Other tourists agreed and said it's fun to explore new things when they do return to the parks.
Iris Acevedo, a tourist who was visiting with her son for the first time Sunday, said Saturday's announcements made her confident that it won't be their last.
Read more about what fans expected prior from the presentation here.
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