The D23 Expo just wrapped up, and the big event on the last day was the panel dedicated to the Disney Parks around the world. Theme park fans were looking forward to this one, as it’s the place where we usually get big announcements, including major updates to attractions and events we know are coming, as well as announcements of brand-new things that are on the way.
We certainly got a few of those this year. We learned when the long under construction Tron Lightcycle Run roller coaster would finally open. There was also confirmation that the previously announced, and then previously forgotten, E-ticket attraction at Avengers Campus is coming, but with a very different story. However, in the midst of these announcements, what was perhaps more interesting was what was not said. There were a lot of things fans were expecting that we didn’t hear a thing about.
When Does Splash Mountain Close?
One of the hottest topics in the Disney Parks in the last two years has been the fate of Splash Mountain. We know that the ride is getting ready for a major retheming at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World, and we know that the new ride, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, is set to open in just about two years. The D23 Panel did spend some time talking about the new ride and some of its show elements, but it did not reveal how much longer guests will be able to experience the current attraction.
It’s not necessarily that surprising that we didn’t get an official closing date for the current Splash Mountain since Disney rarely tries to draw too much attention to attractions closing, even when that’s a necessary part of a new attraction coming along. Still, that closure is likely happening pretty soon, as the work being done to retheme it will be extensive, so a closure announcement is probably close.
When Is Fantasmic Returning To Disney’s Hollywood Studios?
Walt Disney World has been open for more than two years since its pandemic closure, but even until now, things have not been as they once were. It took a long time for many elements, like parades and fireworks shows, to make their return to the parks, and some popular shows, like Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, are still waiting in the wings.
The theater where Fantasmic takes place has received a recent overhaul and Disney World has said the show would return this year. There's even been talk about new elements that will appear in this version of Fantasmic. A graphic shown during the D23 Expo even included the return of Fantasmic at Disney World as one of the items listed for 2022, but the show was never actually mentioned during the presentation; which, if the show is going to return in less than three months, is odd.
What’s Going On With Tomorrowland At Disneyland?
If there’s one area of the two US “Castle Parks” that could use a little TLC, it’s Tomorrowland. The part of Disneyland and Magic Kingdom has always had a more difficult time that other parts of the parks, because the future always, eventually, gets here, and then Tomorrowland looks out of date. The addition of Tron Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom will likely help in Florida, but the fact is both parks could use a refresh of this popular space.
And there were hints that Disneyland might see an update to Tomorrowland, with Walt Disney Imagineer Scott Trowbridge sending out some tweets that seemed to indicate he was working on some ideas. Some rumors even implied the return of DIsneyland’s Peoplemover. But no mention was made of the land on either coast.
What’s The Future Of Epcot’s Play Pavilion?
A lot of Walt Disney Imagineering’s focus in the last couple years has been on Epcot. The front half of the park has been under construction for years, and we learned at the D23 panel that the current construction, including the Moana: Journey of Water attraction, will take about one more year to complete. But there was another Epcot project that we’ve been told is in the future that we did not get any updates about: the Play Pavilion.
Anytime Walt Disney Imagineering has addressed the Play Pavilion directly, it seems the interactive space is still going to happen, but it didn’t come up on Sunday. Considering how far out some of the projects that were discussed at the panel likely are, that made the lack of Play Pavilion discussion all the more strange.
When Is MagicBand+ Coming To The Disneyland Resort?
When the original MagicBand was first unveiled for Walt Disney World, we were led to believe that the convenient all-in-one devices would make their way west to Disneyland eventually. That never happened. When the MagicBand+ was first announced, we were told it would arrive at Walt Disney World first, but would come to Disneyland as well. We’re still waiting.
The MagicBand+ has made its Disney World debut, but we don’t even have an estimate for when the product will arrive at Disneyland Resort. The lack of announcement certainly implies it’s going to be a while.
What’s Up With The Disneyland Treehouse?
One of the most intriguing updates to Disneyland in the last several months has been one of its smallest attractions. The Tarzan Treehouse, formerly the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, began a refurbishment earlier this year that we later learned was going to actually be a complete retheming. The catch is that it’s never been announced what the retheme will be, never mind when it will be done. Even after D23 Expo, we still don’t know.
Rumors have run the gamut to an Encanto treehouse to even a complete reversion back to the Swiss Family Robinson. The treehouse is a minor Adventureland attraction that wouldn’t normally get this kind of attention, but the fact that Disney is remaining so quiet about it is what is making everybody so curious.
When Will The Walt Disney World Railroad Reopen?
Tron Lightcycle Run is going to be a massive new addition to Magic Kingdom, but people’s interest in the roller coaster’s completion is not limited to the ride itself. The construction of Tron has caused the Walt Disney World Railroad to be completely shutdown since late 2018, and while we got a window of Spring 2023 for the reopening of Tron, there wasn’t a mention made of the train that will run beneath it.
We would certainly expect the railroad to be running by the time that Tron opens, but most fans would hope that the trains will run on time before Tron is actually finished. Will the railroad be open before the end of the year, or will we be waiting until 2023? There are a lot of people who miss the relaxing ride around the Magic Kingdom.
What Is Going On With Dinoland At Disney’s Animal Kingdom?
OK, so this was technically addressed as part of the D23 Expo presentation, but it was done in such a weird way that we now have entirely new questions. We do know that, yes, Disney Parks is planning a major overhaul and retheme of Dinoland, the part of Disney’s Animal Kingdom that is clearly in need of some help. Some sort of update was fully expected, but it seems even Disney doesn’t know what they’re doing with it.
Based on the presentation, it seems that there is no specific plan for what to do with Dinoland yet/ WDI is still working on different ideas that could see Dinoland become a land dedicated to Zootopia or possibly Moana or maybe something else. But this land has been in need of help for a long time, so how are things not further along yet?
Disney Parks D23 presentation answered a number of questions we had, but there are many topics that went unaddressed. Certainly we will get answers to all of these at some point, but it seems like the best possible time for such answers just went by.
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CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis. Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.