The Big Picture

  • Disney Parks CEO Josh D’Amaro announces $1 billion investment in theme parks to speed up development of new attractions.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park to undergo expansion with plans for new attractions based on Encanto or Indiana Jones.
  • Other exciting developments include Moana: Journey of Water opening in Epcot, expansion of Frontierland in Magic Kingdom, and new lands in Star Tours and Tokyo DisneySea.

This morning, at Destination D23 in Orlando, Florida, Disney Parks CEO Josh D’Amaro unveiled the Walt Disney Company’s immediate plans for the company’s theme parks at a presentation entitled “A Celebration of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”. The presentation encompassed the global arsenal of theme parks owned by the House of Mouse and brought exciting news for Disney fans at home and overseas. D’Amaro confirmed Disney is spending $1 billion across its theme parks to speed up development of new attractions.

The headline news came for Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, which remains the newest Florida theme park opened by the company, back in 1998. The company had previous announced plans to redesign the DinoLand U.S.A. themed land within the park, and more details were forthcoming as D’Amaro announced there were plans for expansions based on either the world of Encanto, or Indiana Jones.

The latter would be more suited to the park, given Indy’s exploring nature and the globetrotting theme of the park with its Asia, Africa and, of course, Pandora – the World of Avatar. The reimagining will be inspired by a region sometimes referred to as “tropical Americas”, and Disney’s Imagineers are looking at some of the most biodiverse areas on the planet in the regions just north and south of the equator here in the Western Hemisphere – the northern part of South America, stretching up into Central America.

Moana smiling in front of the ocean in Disney's Moana
Image via Disney

Expanding the World of Fantasy

Sticking with Florida, Disney also confirmed that Moana: Journey of Water would open in Epcot on October 16th. The attraction, a themed garden set in the middle of the park, is filled with natural greenery, water features and a stunning replica of Te Fiti, the goddess featured heavily within the film. The timing is ausipicious for Disney, with Moana also set to receive a live-action remake in the near future.

Over at the Magic Kingdom, meanwhile, Disney also confirmed plans to expand Frontierland in what they’re describing as “Beyond Big Thunder Mountain”, with the expansion set to rival that of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or Toy Story Land. The redevelopment of Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom is also continuing at pace, with the Princess and the Frog retheme set to be completed some time in 2024.

Further afield, Ahsoka Tano will feature in Star Tours from next spring in Florida, California and Paris, while the French park will soon see the launch of Frozen Land at the Walt Disney Studios Park. In Japan, a new land entitled Fantasy Springs, featuring Peter Pan, Tangled and Frozen will soon open at Tokyo DisneySea. Watch the full event here.

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By asm3a