EPCOT Nighttime Spectacular, Beyond Big Thunder, King Thanos Ride, and More Destination D23 Disney Parks Predictions

Shannen Ace

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EPCOT Nighttime Spectacular, Beyond Big Thunder, King Thanos Ride, and More Destination D23 Disney Parks Predictions

Destination D23 takes place at Walt Disney World Resort this weekend, and though its Disney Parks panel is not as long and usually not as jam-packed with announcements at its D23 Expo counterpart, we still expect to hear a few big things from Chairman Josh D’Amaro tomorrow.

Josh D'Amaro with Cinderella Castle

Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro will present “A Celebration of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” offering a glimpse at upcoming Disney Parks experiences, including a “few special surprises!” The presentation will be streamed live on Saturday, September 9 at 9:15 a.m. ET / 6:15 a.m. PT.

In January of this year, we shared everything new coming to Disney Parks in 2023. While many of these things have since opened, some are still in the works, and more details may be shared during D’Amaro’s presentation. We can also expect a look ahead at more “blue sky” projects. Here’s everything we might hear about.

Magic Kingdom

Hatbox Ghost

The Hatbox Ghost is expected to arrive at the Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom basically any day now. Work began in early August, before the ride closed for a brief refurbishment. It reopened with a few updates, but no new ghost. D’Amaro may share an exact arrival date for the Hatbox Ghost — but he might also keep this a surprise for guests to discover on their own.

Tiana's Bayou Adventure concept art

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is under construction at both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland. We know it’s scheduled to open in late 2024, and we have quite a few details about the ride’s story, but D’Amaro might share more updates, including a more specific opening timeline.

Magic Kingdom expansion concept art

One of the blue sky projects mentioned during D23 Expo last year was the “Beyond Big Thunder Mountain Railroad” expansion. This potential expansion could include “Coco,” “Encanto,” and Disney Villains lands. The Destination D23 presentation could include an update on this project, if it’s still in development.

Main Street Electrical Parade MSEP Elliott Dragon with Tomorrowland Astro Orbiter stock

It has been years since Magic Kingdom had a nighttime parade and many fans are hoping for the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade. Rumors have suggested the parade could return next year, or D’Amaro could even announce a different nighttime parade or cavalcade coming to the park. Main Street Electrical Parade was last seen at Disneyland for a limited-time 50th anniversary run in 2022.

EPCOT

Journey of Water Inspired by Moana 09012023 44

By the end of this month, Cast Members, Disney Vacation Club members, and Annual Passholders will all have had the chance to experience Journey of Water, Inspired by “Moana” at EPCOT — but a grand opening date has still not been announced. D’Amaro could finally share an opening date, possibly in November in time for the holidays.

Mickey and Minnie in platinum outfits in front of Spaceship Earth

Disney announced that 100th anniversary celebrations will begin at EPCOT on September 22, but one major experience is still lacking an opening date — the park’s new permanent nighttime spectacular. “Harmonious” closed in April 2023 and the temporary “EPCOT Forever” has been performed ever since. A 100th anniversary fireworks show was promised, but we have no details, and the company’s actual 100th birthday (October 16) is rapidly approaching.

Also lacking from the 100th anniversary announcements were opening timeframes for Dreamers Point, CommuniCore Hall, and CommuniCore Plaza, which are all under construction in World Celebration. Hopefully, D’Amaro will share news about these EPCOT projects.

Figment meet and greet curtains 5

We’re also anxiously awaiting the opening of the Figment meet and greet, which is set to begin “this summer.” Curtains are up around the former Vanellope meet and greet in the Imagination! Pavilion, presumably for construction of the Figment meet and greet. D’Amaro may share an arrival date for Figment and maybe even a look at the dragon.

spaceship earth reimagining concept art

Of course, there are plenty of other long-delayed or potentially canceled projects from the EPCOT reimagining. We don’t expect news about these things, but D’Amaro could surprise us with announcements about the Spaceship Earth overhaul, Mary Poppins attraction, Play! Pavilion, or the new China Pavilion film.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

star tours 2024

Unlike EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is not currently a major construction site, and we don’t expect announcements about new attractions — although that could happen. One thing we have been waiting on is more information about the new Star Tours locations. This update was announced at Star Wars Celebration 2022 and confirmed at this year’s convention. The new locations — some of which have never been seen in the “Star Wars” universe before — are set to debut in 2024 at Disneyland Park in California, Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, and Disneyland Paris in France.

Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser featured

Speaking of Star Wars, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will be closing permanently this month. It seems unlikely that we’ll hear about a replacement experience so soon, but it’s possible. Something will need to be done with that hotel space, after all.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

DAK Moana Zootopia Concept Art

Another blue sky project teased last year was a “Moana” and “Zootopia” land to replace DinoLand U.S.A. An update to the area has been long overdue, especially considering the permanent closure of Primeval Whirl. More details about the potential “Moana” and “Zootopia” land could be announced.

rivers of light we are one debut may 2019 33 1

Something else long overdue for Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a use for the Discovery River Amphitheater. The original “Rivers of Light” nighttime show opened in February 2017. “Rivers of Light: We Are One” debuted in May 2020 but didn’t even get two months of performances before Walt Disney World Resort closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No version of “Rivers of Light” has ever returned, and the giant amphitheater sits unused. A new nighttime show, or even a daytime show, could be announced for the space.

Other Walt Disney World News

grand floridian lobby sep 2023 1904 2

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has been undergoing a years-long refurbishment, which will include an update to the resort’s lobby. Reportedly, the lobby remodel was scheduled to begin this spring, but they were unable to meet that schedule. Rather than start construction and interfere with the giant gingerbread house the resort builds annually, the remodel was delayed to 2024. D’Amaro could share concept art or a timeframe for the update.

Disneyland

Wondrous Journeys Behind-the-Scenes - Disney Live Entertainment - Disneyland

“Wondrous Journeys” has paused performances for the rest of the year as “Halloween Screams” and later “Believe… in Holiday Magic” take its place. “Wondrous Journeys” is expected to return to Disneyland in 2024, but D’Amaro could confirm when during Destination D23.

adventureland treehouse concept art 1200x776 1

Disney just announced on Thursday that Adventureland Treehouse will be opening this fall. The attraction takes over what was previously Tarzan’s Treehouse, with a new story inspired by the treehouse’s original “Swiss Family Robinson” iteration. D’Amaro could announce an exact opening date or reveal more about the Adventureland Treehouse.

Tiana's Bayou Adventure concept art featuring Louis, Tiana, and animal band

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is under construction at both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland. We know it’s scheduled to open in late 2024, and we have quite a few details about the ride’s story, but D’Amaro might share more updates, including a more specific opening timeline.

Disney California Adventure

Avengers Multiverse Attraction Concept Art

A Quinjet e-ticket attraction was originally planned for Avengers Campus but never came to fruition. At D23 Expo, Disney announced a new multiverse attraction featuring King Thanos, a version of the villain that won. News has been scant since then, so we could hear more during Destination D23.

Other Disneyland Resort

In early 2023, Disney announced an “Avatar” experience “as amazing as” Pandora – The World of Avatar coming to Disneyland Resort. We still don’t know the exact where, when, or what of this experience.

We could also hear more about the ongoing Downtown Disney District reimagining or, less likely, the DisneylandForward initiative, which hopes to expand Disneyland Resort with possible projects based on “Frozen,” “Tangled,” “Peter Pan,” “Zootopia,” “Toy Story,” and “Tron.”

Tokyo Disneyland

New Fantasy Springs pics 3

The eighth Tokyo DisneySea port, Fantasy Springs — including Frozen Kingdom, Rapunzel’s Forest, and Peter Pan’s Never Land — was announced in 2018. Work commenced in 2019, initially with a 2022 opening planned. It was delayed to 2023 and now to spring 2024. D’Amaro could announce more about the land.

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris is adding several new themed lands as part of its planned expansion.
Image source: Disney

Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris is also receiving a major expansion including its own World of “Frozen,” which is about to open at Hong Kong Disneyland. D’Amaro recently visited Disneyland Paris to check on construction of the “Frozen” land, Lake Promenade, and refurbished Disneyland Hotel. The Parisian version of Downtown Disney, Disney Village, is also being transformed. D’Amaro could share updates on all these projects.

Shanghai Disneyland

Zootopia Hot Pursuit Animatronics Video Featured Photo

Shanghai Disney Resort just shared photos and video from the City of Zootopia, a new land inspired by the 2016 film. It’s set to open this year, so an exact opening date could be announced. But such recent announcements could also mean the City of Zootopia may be omitted from the presentation.

Disney Cruise Line

Hittchiking Ghosts Disney Treasure Disney Cruise Line Haunted Mansion Bar Lounge 1200x670 1

This week, we also got major updates regarding the Disney Treasure, Disney Cruise Line’s next ship, which will set out on its maiden voyage in December 2024. Again, such recent announcements could mean the Disney Treasure won’t come up at Destination D23, but D’Amaro could announce the ship’s rumored Haunted Mansion bar or the new Broadway-style stage show.

What are you hoping to hear from Josh D’Amaro at Destination D23? Let us know in the comments.

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Author

  • Shannen Ace

    Shannen has been a Disney Parks fan and lover of dogs since childhood, despite Pluto's attempt to eat Shannen's Minnie Mouse doll the first time they met. They've made up now. You can email Shannen at shannen@wdwnt.com.