What was missing from the Disney D23 Expo Boundless Future presentation

12 days ago in "D23 - Official Fan Organization"

D23 Expo 2022
Posted: Monday September 12, 2022 11:17am ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

D23 Expo always brings high expectations of big announcements for the parks, and when Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D'Amaro left the stage yesterday, Walt Disney World fans felt like the flagship of Disney's theme park empire was largely ignored.

There is always the chance of a wildcard announcement that managed to fly under the radar in the lead-up to D23 Expo, but several realistic announcements did not make it into the 2022 event.

PLAY Pavilion!

Announced in August 2019 and originally planned to open for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World, the future of the PLAY! Pavilion remains uncertain.

Disney said in 2019 that guests will discover an interactive city bursting with games, activities and experiences that connect them with friends, family and Disney characters – both real and virtual – like never before.

Recent permits have suggested work is underway on something inside the former Wonders of Life pavilion, and an announcement was expected at D23 Expo.

Strangely, the PLAY! Pavilion was not mentioned at all during the Expo, and was absent during Josh D'Amaro's talk of EPCOT's redesigned center reopening in 2023.

Spaceship Earth "Story-Light" Update

Originally announced in 2020, Spaceship Earth was planned to be updated with a new "story-light" concept, with work beginning May 2020. The pandemic put a hold on the project, and there has been no talk of updating Spaceship Earth since.

The D23 Expo seemed like the obvious place to relaunch this project, but Spaceship Earth was not mentioned.

Back in 2020, Disney said, "the next iteration of Spaceship Earth will focus on the story of humanity, following our long journey from prehistoric humans to today brought to life with magic and depth that only Disney can deliver. Many of the moments you know and love will be updated in amazing ways, blended with brand-new scenes to tell a story about our human experience."

Mary Poppins at EPCOT

As another casualty of the pandemic, the project to add a Mary Poppins area and ride to EPCOT's United Kingdom pavilion was put on hold. Like Spaceship Earth and the PLAY! Pavilion, many expected to hear Disney announce a restart of Mary Poppins in the U.K. No mention was made, leaving the project's future in serious doubt.

Walt Disney World Railroad and Fantasmic! reopening

When no significant additions were announced for Walt Disney World at D23, attention turned to smaller projects. Surprisingly, both the Walt Disney World Railroad and Fantasmic! were not given reopening dates.

With TRON Lightycle Run opening Spring 2023, we can expect a return of the Walt Disney World Railroad before then, with the outside of the attraction scheduled to be completed this year.

Rehearsals are underway at Fantasmic!, and Disney has said the show will return this year. We expect a return of the Disney's Hollywood Studios nighttime show before Thanksgiving, but Disney is remaining tight-lipped for now.

Star Wars Launch Bay - the next area for redevelopment at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Tipped by many as the next new attraction area at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Launch Bay and the surrounding Animation Courtyard were not part of Josh D'Amaro's boundless future presentation. This would have been somewhat of a wildcard announcement, with no concrete speculation on what will eventually come to the area.

A replacement for Primeval Whirl

With Primeval Whirl now demolished and the area blocked off with a fence, fans were hoping for news of a new attraction to take that space. It didn't come, but D'Amaro did show some Blue Sky concepts for the redevelopment of DinoLand U.S.A. It appears Disney has bigger plans than just a replacement for Primeval Whirl, but it isn't happening just yet.

Disney's Animal Kingdom nighttime spectacular

With Rivers of Light long gone, and Disney KiteTails winding down from a show to walk-by viewing, there were hopes that the lagoon may once again be home to a nighttime spectacular. Instead, Disney is concentrating on fixing the poor guest reaction to Walt Disney World's signature nighttime shows at EPCOT and Magic Kingdom.

What were you expecting that did not make this year's D23 Expo parks presentation? Let us know in the comments.

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CaptainAmerica4 days ago

Both. He doesn't have unilateral control, and projects over a certain dollar amount would likely need CFO, CEO, and Board approval, but I would imagine Parks prepares their own capital plan and then presents it to Corporate for approval.

DisneyDodo4 days ago

Does the Parks chairman have control over how much money is invested in the parks? Or is the budget given to him, and he then decides how to invest that money?

Phicinfan4 days ago

Not sure I fully agree with that. Some do have to decide Disney vs. Universal, unless they plan off site stay and going to both, which I have done with my family in the past

CaptainAmerica4 days ago

Again, I'm not saying he's amazing. I'm saying it's too soon to know because COVID.

lazyboy97o4 days ago

But you’re giving him credit for things that were not his decision. Galaxy’s Edge was a directive from Iger but Chapek was involved in cutting the ongoing operating costs. There’s almost no chance that Toy Story Land was able to be pushed through Blue Sky, Concept Design and Feasibility in the few months between Chapek getting the job and the announcement at D23. Even Evolving Epcot had huge sums dedicated to Iger playing architecture patron, which Chapek fully abandoned once Iger was completely out the door.

CaptainAmerica4 days ago

Understood, but sort of beside the point that I'm making. I'm not saying that Bob Chapek is a creative genius, only that his time as Parks chairman showed a willingness to invest. I'm not judging whether that stuff is actually any good, I'm just pointing out that he was willing to pay for it. (And I forgot to mention Runaway Railway.)

V_L_Raptor4 days ago

Philosophically or logistically? I mean, there have been tons of projects they've been "committed" to completing that got stuffed one way or another. Even a notion of committing is kind of useless at this point. It's more like D23 is laying out the board for a huge game of cowpie bingo, and everyone's waiting for the cow to drop a... well, project.

HauntedPirate4 days ago

What are they committed to implementing?

HauntedPirate4 days ago

Not exactly shining examples of Disney’s finest, outside of Rise and the visual depth in GE. Don’t forget he also greenlit DE, KiteTails, and allegedly came up with the base idea for HARModious.

EricsBiscuit5 days ago

Do you have any data to back this up?

erasure fan15 days ago

I don't think you can really count the blue sky stuff as implied. I have a hard time giving them any credit for looking ahead. Not with how absolutely horrible this D23 showing was. Covid can't be an excuse. These useless people in charge had 2 years to figure out how to improve the parks with new attractions. But all they were concerned about was what can we get rid of, and what things that were included can we upcharge for.

mysto5 days ago

The rethemed Dino area in AK and "beyond big thunder" in MK will need attractions. You are right they didn't announce them, but if the new areas are greenlit then several attractions will eventually be announced. So the new attractions are implied? A glint in the eye? I also agree it's a bit disappointing, I'm just saying that there was news, they are looking ahead.

bhg4695 days ago

Simply not true. My friend from NY just left town with the decision made to only go to one park. They chose universal this time and only went to Disney springs.

CaptainAmerica5 days ago

A Harry Potter fan who goes to Universal because they have Harry Potter was never going to go to Disney. People do NOT say "I'm going to go to Central Florida for a theme park vacation, but I need to decide whether to go to Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando Resort." That's not how the decision making flows.