The long-awaited Tron ride will open at Magic Kingdom in the spring of 2023, Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, announced during a D23 Expo session on Sunday.
D’Amaro shared a video of him and Imagineers on a test run of the Tomorrowland thrill ride. Tron Lightcycle / Run is “really close to being ready,” he said.
The announcement was one of several updates involving Disney theme parks in Florida and California during the gathering of D23, Disney’s official fan club. On tap for Walt Disney World: changes with nighttime spectaculars, fresh arrivals of characters and more hints about opening dates.
Near the end of the 220-minute session, which was livestreamed to the public, D’Amaro presented some “blue sky” thoughts about the Dinoland section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Creative executives mentioned “Zootopia” and “Moana” as possibilities, but they fell short of an actual announcement.
“We have real aspirations for this part of the park,” D’Amaro said.
They also teased about what the Magic Kingdom land might be “beyond Big Thunder,” the Frontierland coaster, with ideas based on “Coco,” “Encanto” and on Disney villains.
D’Amaro couched it all by calling this “what could be on the horizon.”
But D’Amaro started Sunday’s session, held in Anaheim, California, with news that “Happily Ever After,” an end-of-night fireworks show at Magic Kingdom, will return to that park “next year,” he said. “Disney Enchantment” has been in place there since Oct. 1, the date of Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary.
He said a new nighttime show is currently in development for Epcot as well. That park added “Harmonious” as its lagoon show on Oct. 1 as well. The new production will debut “later next year,” D’Amaro said.
Elsewhere at Epcot, the Journey of Water attraction will open next year, he said.
“Journey of Water and the rest of the center of that park will be ready to welcome guests in late 2023,” D’Amaro said.
Work is also being done to bring an exclusive meet-and-greet experience with Figment at the park.
Another Magic Kingdom addition will be the installation of the Hatbox Ghost character into Haunted Mansion. The figure had been seen in the original Disneyland version of the attraction and returned after a decades-long absence in 2015.
The session also revealed more details about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, the attraction moving into the Splash Mountain space at Magic Kingdom and at Disneyland. It’s set to open in late 2024.
“As we all know, at the end of the film, Princess Tiana realizes her lifelong dream when she opens Tiana’s Palace. I mean, she’s such an inspirational character,” said Imagineer Ted Robledo.
“And in our brand-new story, she’s become this great entrepreneur, and community leader. So the year is 1927 and to celebrate Carnival season, she’s hosting a party for the people of New Orleans,” he said. “But she discovers her celebration is missing a very special ingredient. And she needs our help to go find it. So we’re going to join Tiana and Louis — we all love Louis, right? We’re all going to take a magical trip to the bayou where we’re going to be brand-new friends to invite to the party, and they have a very special role in these festivities.”
As for the exterior of the structure, Imagineer Charita Carter said the changes would make the attraction gorgeous at night.
“We are taking advantage of that massive structure by using the latest cutting-edge technology to further enhance that sense of grandeur,” she said. “We had the opportunity to take our tried and true techniques, and then combine them with our digital tools for animating and lighting to create a brand-new attraction experience for our guests.”
Actors Anika Noni Rose, Jenifer Lewis, Bruno Campos and Michael-Leon Wooley will again be giving voice to their characters in the Tiana attraction, it was announced.
The session also included musical numbers featuring Rose and one with Brandon Fisher, plus appearances by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, director Jon Favreau and a hulk-sized Hulk character that will be making appearances at Disneyland next week.
The company will be marking its 100th birthday next year, and the celebration will be based out of California. Other West Coast announcements involved the expansion of the Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure, as well as a Big Hero 6 development and the remodeling of the Paradise Pier hotel into Pixar Place Hotel. Mickey’s Toontown is reopening in early 2023, D’Amaro said.
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