With news of tickets for this year’s D23 expo going on sale, we began thinking of past events, and the D23 announcements that came out of them, particularly at the last expo prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2019 gave us a lot of important Disney announcements across all areas of the company, promising that these coming attractions would be available to fans within months or years of the news breaking. Among the biggest announcements for 2019, were some components that we have already seen come to fruition, including new details on the upcoming : experience at which launches this March, films like Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) and Soul (2020), and an array of new content for Disney+, the , new projects from , and so much more.
The 2019 event was arguably the last time many Disney fans felt they had truly received such a high level of excitement over new announcements from the Walt Disney Company. Thinking about this even had us wondering…What happened to some of those projects that we haven’t heard about since 2019?
Lizzie McGuire Reboot
At the 2019 D23 Expo, Hilary Duff made an appearance greeting thousands of fans to announce that Disney would be reprising her classic Disney Channel Original Series with Lizzie all grown up in a reboot for Disney+. The series was to feature lots of original cast member from the earlier Lizzie McGuire series, and, like the original, it would have been created by Terri Minsky.
As far as the TV and movie announcements from the 2019 D23 event, the Lizzie McGuire reboot was one of the top announcements that lots of fans were looking forward to. Unfortunately as nearly every industry became affected by the events of 2020, Hilary Duff broke the news on her Instagram that the show had been cancelled. Initially the actress stated that she hoped Disney would move the show to Hulu so that the story would not be limited to the rating system of Disney+ and a couple of months later Duff announced that the reboot was cancelled altogether:
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Production had already started on the new series, and fans were understandably disappointed to learn that the show had been cancelled. It seems disagreements over the level of adult content that would be acceptable in the show, along with a falling out b between Disney and Minsky were the final straws moving the show toward cancellation.
The Disney Wish & Lighthouse Point
The Disney Wish, the newest ship to launch by Disney Cruise Line was first announced at D23 2019. The ship is of course still coming, however, its launch date has been pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally planned to set sail this month, the ship will now launch during summer 2022.
Lighthouse Point, the second private island in the Bahamas purchased by Disney, was not given an opening timeline at D23 however it seemed implied that it would open to Guests sometime close to the launch of the Disney Wish. For some time, fans questioned whether or not this project was still happening as Disney was silent about it throughout 2020, however, last year CEO Bob Chapek confirmed that Lighthouse Point is still coming soon, and it is projected to open to Guests by 2024. There is even a website dedicated to the island now!
Mary Poppins Attraction
Another memorable moment from the 2019 D23 Expo came when Dick Van Dyke himself appeared on stage to announce a new Mary Poppins (1964) attraction coming to the United Kingdom pavilion in EPCOT’s World Showcase. Little specifics were given about the attraction at this Disney park, however, the audience was inspired (for obvious reasons) by Dick Van Dyke’s excitement, and the attraction quickly gained popularity.
Without details known about the attraction, we can only look to the above concept art portraying the Cherry Tree Lane-inspired redesign of the UK Pavilion. A Disney spokesperson commented during a 2021 press conference that the project had been postponed, however no future dates or any additional information has been given since then, so we are leaning toward the (disappointing) assumption that this project has been cancelled.
Work is still moving forward with the overall redesign of EPCOT, including the new , and neighborhoods. Part of this plan also at one point included a renovation to , but we have not heard about this update recently, too.
Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge
This new Walt Disney World Resort hotel was announced at the 2018 Destination D event, where fans learned that the space of the former River Country Water Park would finally be reconstructed into something entirely new.
Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge was planned as a Disney Vacation Club resort that would have been themed to woodsy films from Walt Disney Animation Studios including Brother Bear (2003), Pocahontas (1995), The Fox and the Hound (1981), and more. The resort was also announced as the home of a new restaurant themed to The Princess and the Frog (2009).
Reactions among fans at the time of the announcement were mixed, with some fans not entirely on board with the theming concept but others thrilled at a restaurant inspired by The Princess and the Frog. When the project was announced in 2018, it was given an opening date of 2022.
Of course, we now know this is not the case, and following the onset of the pandemic in 2020 Disney removed all mention that the resort was coming soon from its website. Despite the fact that construction appeared to be beginning on the project by the end of 2019, we have not received an update on the resort in years, so we may have to assume this one is cancelled as well.
The Walt Disney Company made an enormous amount of progress in a number of areas despite the challenges that have been a part of life since 2020. Still, we can’t help but think back on this set of past D23 announcements and wonder, “what if?” We will continue to keep an eye on these forgotten projects, and share updates here on Disney Fanatic if anything changes.