D23 Highlights: Toy Story, Animal Kingdom, Star Wars…whoosh!

With D23 wrapping up this past weekend, Disney fans were given some hella-big news to get their blood pumping. I was in Maine and NH this weekend and connections were spotty so I was seeing things here and there. Wait, I mean as a valued member of the Disney blogosphere, I was invited as a VIP and I met Han Solo. Yeah.

Fine, I wasn’t. But through the power of the Internet, it felt like I was there. Much like when I read my Harry Potter fanfiction, I become a wizard.

OK, so yeah…there were a lot of announcements coming out and here are the ones I am kind of super excited about…

Soarin’ around the world – The brood and I LOVE Soarin’ as it is. Even with the old fim and the whole “wait, why are we going to California” vibe,  it remains a must-do. So, when we started hearing rumors about the new Soarin’ Around the World attraction that will go beyond California to other global locales, we were all like “We are Soar-IN.” Get it? In? OK, I was the only one that said that. Just now.

But with this now coming out next year? Yeah buddy. I don’t know if it will be around for our April trip but man…I sure hope so.

Toy Story 4 and Incredibles 2 – We already knew and were excited about the Finding Dory and the Good Dinosaur offerings coming from Pixar and of course have heard murmurings about both Toy Story 4 and Incredibles 2 but now we have official confirmation and a release date in June, 2017 for Toy Story 4. Also, I really like the idea of Toy Story 4 being a search for Bo Peep. Unfortunately, we also got confirmation for a Cars 3. Bah, you’re the worst, Cars.

This poster obviously tells me everything I need to know. In that it is part 4 of Toy Story.
This poster obviously tells me everything I need to know. In that it is part 4 of Toy Story.

Animal Kingdom changes – I am weirdly excited about all the Avatar stuff coming to Animal Kingdom. I enjoyed Avatar but since the first announcement of Pandora coming to AK, I just thought it seemed an odd choice. But with each glimpse I have seen since the announcement, I have been getting more and more excited. I love the whole “immersion” movement we have been seeing in places like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal and Cars Land over in Disney’s California Adventure. Yeah yeah…I know. I don’t like Cars but still looks pretty fun. I mean, food in cones. And Pandora looks to be highly immersive, with attractions, shops, eateries, etc.

What is this? A theme park for ANTS?
What is this? A theme park for ANTS?

But beyond Pandora – World of AVATAR (opening 2017), there are some other pieces worthy of note for Animal Kingdom. It seems Disney is definitely trying to give people a reason to visit this park at night. Some of the awesome stuff coming to Animal Kingdom:

  • AVATAR Flight of Passage – this will be THE attraction in Pandora. I guess this will simulate riding a banshee over Pandora. So I think you will board a banshee-shaped vehicle and the ride will use a large screen, much like Soarin’ Remember when I talked about Soarin’ a few paragraphs ago? Good times.
  • Floating mountains – As part of Pandora, there will be floating mountains. That’s pretty much all I know, but its enough for me to say, “cool, floating mountains.”
  • Some type of boat-based attraction – a canoe-type ride that will float through the world of Pandora. I love boat-based attractions. They used to call me Ol’ Boat-based attraction back in my younger days.
  • Rivers of Light – Again looking to expand into nighttime visitation, Animal Kingdom will also have a nighttime show, with lanterns, animal imagery and performers according to reports. I love me some animal imagery. They used to call me Ol’ Animal Imagery. In my younger but older-than-when-they-called-me-Ol’-Boat-based-attraction days. This is also doubly exciting because this may actually be happening when we go next April as reports do say early 2016 for opening.
  • Sunset Kilimanjaro Safari – It’s like Kilimanjaro Safaris. At night. Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

Toy Story Land – Disney announced this year at D23 they will be building an 11-acre addition to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (or whatever it will be called by then) dedicated to the Toy Story movies. Guests will feel as though they have shrunk to the size of a toy and are in Andy’s backyard. Now, I am excited at the thought of being immersed in Toy Story no doubt. But the announcement also left me a little wanting. Within it, they said they would be introducing two new attractions. One is a Slinky-Dog themed family roller coaster and the other is an Aliens flying saucer type ride. The announcement also said they would be adding an additional track to Toy Story Mania.

I dunno…I am VERY excited at the overall idea but hopefully these new attractions exceed my expectations. Because they don’t sound like…amazepantz or anything.

So this is what the
So this is what the “buzz” is all about? See what I did there?

STAR WARS EVERYTHING – OMG. Now, while the Toy Story news had me feeling a mix of excitement and hesitancy, Disney’s “all in”-ness on Star Wars? Yeah.  Buddy.  The biggest announcement definitely centered on Star Wars Land at both Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you are at all into the Disney theme parks, you probably already knew about this, but more specifics were discussed. The lands will each be 14 acres and will have TWO signature attractions. In one, you are put in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance. In the other…

In the other…



Control. The. Millennium. Falcon.

She's the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.
She’s the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.

Yeah. Drooool.

Plus, talk about immersion…this place will have immersion up the Wampa. Shops, characters, eateries. Yes, please. You can eat in the Cantina. IN THE CANTINA. Um, one blue milk please.

But this is a ways off. Like, a long ways off. In the meantime, there are quite a few Star Warsy things happening:

  • New Star Tours mission – by the end of this year, Star Tours: The Adventure Continues will add another mission based on elements from Star Wars: the Force Awakens. This will be out of this world. Giggle.
  • Season of the Force – Starting in early 2016, Season of the Force will bring more Star Wars to the parks. While over in Disneyland, they will be rebranding Space Mountain as Hyperspace Mountain (why not in Florida, Disney??) a new Star Wars-based fireworks show will debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is stellar news. Snicker.
  • Star Wars Launch Bay – Housed in the Animation Courtyard, this attraction will house props, artwork and tons of photo opportunities based on not only The Force Awakens but all other Star Wars films. Galactic! Chortle.

In summary..

I AM EXCITED!!!111one one


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