At the most recent D23 Expo Parks Panel, we had hoped to come away with some fresh new insider knowledge surrounding some of the speculated rumors that have been floating around about Walt Disney World Resort. We also anticipated that there would at least be updated status reports or new details released in regards to some of the indefinite suspensions, closures, and halted projects that remain in limbo.
While there were several new revelations as they pertain to Disney Parks and Resorts around the world, as well as those to the Disney Cruise Line, we can’t help but feel more than a little disappointed by the fact that they left so many of our pending questions unanswered. Here are the top 13 lingering questions that we wish they would have answered for us, specifically.
13. What’s the Latest on Mary Poppins?
We were really hoping they’d reveal some practically perfect updates concerning the Mary Poppins-themed mini-land addition that was formerly slated for EPCOT’s United Kingdom Pavilion. The attraction was announced back in 2019 at that year’s D23 Expo, and it was even added to the EPCOT Experience lineup. Following the Park reopenings in 2020, though, all mentions for the attraction disappeared. We were at least hoping they’d address this fact in some capacity. Where does it stand? Is it going to happen at all in the future? Is there an alternate plan in place? But no, nothing.
12. Are Updates Still Coming to Spaceship Earth?
Another hot topic that was previously announced was the re-imaging of the beloved classic EPCOT attraction Spaceship Earth into what was to be Spaceship Earth: Our Shared Story. The plan was to shift the ride’s current focus from the idea of developments in communication to those in storytelling. Understandably, there were many who were largely against such modifications to an iconic Park original.
This is another case where when the Parks reopened following the 2020 closure. All plans appear to have been scrapped from the EPCOT Experience roster. Is this good news for those of us who were dead-set against such changes, to begin with? It would have been nice to at least have had confirmation that we can all now breathe easy and go on loving the attraction we’ve been enjoying all along.
11. Will Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Be Re-themed?
Recently Walt Disney Studios Park in Disneyland Paris revamped their version of the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith into the Marvel-themed Avengers Assemble: Flight Force. Now the question that’s on everyone’s mind is whether or not Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort will also follow suit. No plans to do so were ever officially announced, and all is only speculation at best. Still, we all couldn’t help thinking that this would be brought up during the Parks Panel.
10. Will Ralph Replace Stitch?
The Magic Kingdom officially ditched Stitch for good back in 2018, when the longtime underperforming attraction Stitch’s Great Escape! over in Tomorrowland finally closed to the public. Taking its place, it was stated that there was going to be a new 4D theater attraction themed after Disney’s Wreck-It-Ralph film franchise. Construction on it was set to begin in March 2020, but the pandemic wrecked all Wreck-It-Ralph plans, and the project never moved forward. Even after Disney World reopened, we’ve had no word on its fate. We were hoping they would announce whether or not this project is officially off the table or back on or if a viable replacement is in the works.
9. Any Progress on the Carousel of Progress?
Another question we were hoping to have answered on the Tomorrow Land side of things is whether or not that planned major update to Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress is still happening. It was originally scheduled for 2023, but now any mention of such plans has all but ended or remains vague at best. If updates are still scheduled, what’s the latest on what they will be? What is the new timeline for such implementations?
8. When Will the Walt Disney World Railroad Return?
So, we did get a timeline for when Tron Lightcycle Power Run is slated to open. But still, there was no mention of when the Walt Disney World Railroad will be up and running again at Magic Kingdom Park. Because the railroad closure was in accordance with Tron developments, we can only assume that it will return around the same time as Tron’s spring 2023 premiere. Still, there was no official word at D23, leaving us all wondering about the fate of the beloved Railroad.
7. What’s the Latest on These Restaurant Reopenings?
There have been continuous phased reopenings all throughout Walt Disney World Resort following the 2020 closure. But there are still some beloved mainstays we are sorely missing, particularly in the way of restaurants. Two largely popular all-you-can-eat buffets, for instance, remain shuttered. They are 1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Akershus Royal Banquet Hall over in EPCOT’s Norway Pavilion. The big question is, when will they finally return? They are returning sometime, right? Their unknown status was never addressed at D23.
6. When Will Disney Dining Plans Return?
In keeping on the food side of things, we still have no further knowledge about just when Disney Dining Plans will be returning. While we’ve been told time and time again that it will return, we still don’t have a ball Park for when this may be.
5. Do We Have an Actual Opening Date for Roundup Rodeo BBQ Yet?
We’re not done with our desire to satiate our hunger for Disney dining news. In fact, we were really hoping to get some status updates on the progress being made (or not being made) on the highly anticipated table service restaurant Roundup Rodeo BBQ set to open onsite in Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios. But alas, we received no word, no new news at all about when construction will wrap up and whether or not an opening date has been floated.
4. Any News on Fantasmic!?
At best, all we’ve been told so far is that the well-loved water/pyrotechnics live show Fantasmic! will be returning sometime soon. Significant updates in regards to at least one scene, in particular, were announced prior to D23, and we’ve been privy to the new auditions that were taking place—giving us hope that a return was right around the corner. That’s all we knew going into D23, and that’s still all we know. We were hoping for so much more and can’t help feeling more than a little let down that this wasn’t addressed.
3. What’s the Fate of the Reflections Disney Resort?
Back in 2018, it had been previously announced that Disney would be opening its 16th Vacation Club property on the site of the former River Country water Park. We even had a name, Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge and knew some of the specs. There was even concept art, and it looked like developments were underway. It was originally supposed to open in 2022, after all. Well, obviously that didn’t happen. What we want to know now is, will it ever? If not, what is the future for that stretch of the area? It can’t stay a pile of mud forever, right?
2. Any Plans for Adding a New Country to the World Showcase?
While it was never a certainty that any future plans for such would be divulged at D23, perhaps it was just wishful thinking on our part, as we all got ahead of ourselves in yearning for any word that EPCOT would be adding a new country to the lineup of the World Showcase Pavilion. We may have convinced ourselves that this topic was going to come up, but in the end, it did not.
1. What Are the Specifics for 100 Years of Wonder?
We also expected to hear some very specific details in regard to the massive plans in place for the upcoming 100-year anniversary of the Walt Disney Company. While the topic was not entirely muted out, and there were minimal mentions at best about big celebrations to come, details were all but vague for the most part, and we really know virtually nothing about what’s in store. At least we do know something is, though, so maybe Disney is deliberately discrete in order to deliver on an even bigger surprise? Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that is the case.
We count on the D23 Expo to enlighten us to a wealth of new magical happenings across the board regarding the Walt Disney Company. And while there were plenty of exciting reveals and fun happenings to boot, if we are being honest, the Parks Panel fell a little beneath of hopes and expectations for what we were counting on. We can only hope that these still lingering questions will be revisited eventually in some way or another.