Everything announced during a massive day for Walt Disney World at Destination D23

Sep 09, 2023 in "D23 - Official Fan Organization"

Posted: Saturday September 9, 2023 1:08pm ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

Disney Parks Chairman Josh D'Amaro took to the stage this morning at Destination D23 for what turned out to be a major presentation full of big news for Walt Disney World. 

If you missed it, here is a quick run-down of all the updates and everything announced for Walt Disney World.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney teases 'Encanto' and 'Indiana Jones'-themed experiences for Animal Kingdom's big refresh

New experiences inspired by "Encanto" – the Academy Award winning Walt Disney Animation Studios film – and the fan-favorite adventurer Indiana Jones are being considered for the reimagined land at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

New Zootopia show is coming to Tree of Life theater

A new show based on "Zootopia" is being created for the Tree of Life theater and will replace 'It's Tough to Be a Bug.'

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Ahsoka is heading to Star Tours

Ahsoka will become part of Star Tours at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris beginning next spring.


Test Track to be reimagined with inspiration from the original World of Motion

Imagineers, along with teams from Chevrolet are reaching back into history for inspiration – from the original World of Motion – and bringing that spirit of optimism to the next iteration of the Test Track attraction.

EPCOT's new nighttime spectacular Luminous will debut December 2023

The new show will be titled Luminous the Symphony of Us and will debut on December 5, 2023.

Opening date announced for Journey of Water Inspired by Moana

Disney has announced that EPCOT's Journey of Water Inspired by Moana will officially open on October 16, 2023.

Moana meet and greet will open near Journey of Water

Opening date set for Figment character meet and greet

Figment will begin meeting guests at the Imagination! Pavilion in EPCOT starting September 10, 2023.

World Celebration, the final piece of EPCOT's multi-year transformation, will open in December

Disney has confirmed that the World Celebration neighborhood at EPCOT will begin welcoming guests in December 2023.

Original Soarin' Over California film to return to EPCOT's The Land pavilion September 22

Originally opened in 2005 at EPCOT, Soarin' Over California sends guests on a sweeping flyover above the wondrous Golden State for a birds-eye view of the rich landscape and topography.

Magic Kingdom

Disney shares when the Hatbox Ghost will join the Haunted Mansion

The long-awaited Hatbox Ghost will finally materialize at Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion in late November 2023.

Pirates of the Caribbean story expands with new lounge experience

Disney says this first-of-its-kind experience will extend the story of Pirates of the Caribbean, and Imagineers are in the design process now, with more details coming in the future.

More on "Beyond Big Thunder Mountain"

According to Imagineering head Bruce Vaughn, future expansion plans for Magic Kingdom in Florida are the largest ever for the park.

Country Bear Jamboree to be updated with new songs and acts in 2024

Disney Imagineer Chris Beatty says when the show debuts, the bears will be reinterpreting favorite Disney songs in different genres of country music. Imagineers are envisioning the new experience as a homage to the classic musical revues in Nashville and they're working with Nashville musicians to get the authentic country sound.

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aladdin2007Sep 14, 2023

thank you!! love seeing that.

Henry MysticSep 14, 2023

So cool.

Figments FriendSep 14, 2023

aladdin2007Sep 13, 2023

great pics and coverage, do you by any chance have one of the puffin from maelstrom? I saw it in one of the prior photos kind of off to the side. just wondered if you had one of that display on its own.

TP2000Sep 13, 2023

I agree. But what really needs to happen is to make an updated California version. The skylines of San Diego and Los Angeles and San Francisco have all changed dramatically in the past 25 years, for example. Time to redo this concept for both coasts; an updated California version for DCA and a more genuine World version for Epcot. That is, if they're really as dedicated to it as they say they are. Or is Josh just using more of his cheap words again with his winning smile? 🤔

Figments FriendSep 13, 2023

As much as I would enjoy that as well, I have doubts today’s Disney would want to pay for all of those live performers. -

Figments FriendSep 13, 2023

More photos I snapped from the Animatronics display. Some gems for sure. ‘Bubbles’ from what I am assuming was one of the two figures located at Disneyland’s version of ‘Country Bear Jamboree’. Control rack underneath the above figure of Bubbles… Each cylinder controls one movement, labeled above in a numbered sequence. Having worked with animatronic figures, this was cool to see up close. Pneumatic hand mechs from the late 1980s / early 1990s Would love to know if these were used for specific figures or if these are just working test models. Shedding a tear here…. On the left is what is left of WDW’s Auctioneer Pirate from PoTC. On the right is a more modern head mech prototype built for Shanghai’s Davy Jones in the same Attraction.

aladdin2007Sep 13, 2023

would have been great if that show could have been moved to AK as an attraction, festival of the lion king or no festival of the lion king....this one would have been really nice to still see going.

Figments FriendSep 13, 2023

Here are some more photos I snapped when visiting the 60 Years of Innovation display at the event, which focused on the history of WED / WDI Animatronic technology. Small room with a small selection of exhibits, but what was there I was very glad to have the opportunity to see up close and personal. As a big animatronics fan, this was one of three things I really wanted to experience.

Figments FriendSep 13, 2023

This, 100%. If not a film focused on America, then perhaps another ‘Around The World’ effort but not so CGI enhanced. Just show the beautiful views from around the world…and make it exclusive to Epcot. Would be nice. ‘Soarin’ Over California’ needs to be brought back to DCA and stay there. Fits perfectly, and it’s the better of the two films. I get that ‘Around The World’ fits the Epcot theme better, so I can understand it being placed there. It needs a refresh however…perhaps after they finally finish the central hub behind Spaceship Earth. They need to reshoot that ending anyway since the scene in the film is now somewhat dated. -

Figments FriendSep 13, 2023

Unpacking now from an eventful visit…and realized I forgot to include this when I was sharing photos of all the free swag they gave out to attendees during the event. This special issue of the official D23 magazine…with a sparkly, iridescent cover. I think it was mentioned this was exclusive for the Event…but so much was going on in my head I can’t recall the exact details. Pretty cool giveaway however. Looks even better in person with the color shifting accents!

FigmentFan82Sep 13, 2023

He literally looks like a muppet in that picture. I think you can even see a bit of Iger's hand

KikoKeaSep 13, 2023

Ignoring neglected maintenance needs always comes back to bite them. Bad show, indeed!

TP2000Sep 13, 2023

I doubt Josh even knows that it changed. Or that it may look weird to 2024 paying audiences. Josh is merely a Pepsodent Smile in an empty suit at this point, and he apparently knows very little about the Parks. You are right, Soarin' Over California doesn't really make sense at EPCOT. But then, California is really the only state where you could do this sort of film and get that huge range of geography and topography and climate and icons, from man made to God made, all in one state. With maybe a lesser version available for the other West Coast states of Oregon or Washington. But anywhere east of the Rockies isn't going to be able to offer anything close to that while staying within the same state. And Soarin' Over Florida would just be a short film of pancake-flat views that look far less impressive from the air than they do from the ground. Until Disney/WDI actually does a full Soarin' Over America, the next best thing is Soarin' Over California. And I say that as a long-term Californian who had to abandon that state last year because it's become so unbearable to live in. Disney needs to step up, spend some of the cash they've been wasting on their giant box office flops all year, and film a new Soarin' Over America film for both Epcot and DCA. A Soarin' film of the USA would be accepted wildly and willingly by the paying audiences in both parks, I am sure.