With Universal Studios in the midst of a massive expansion set for 2025, Disney unveiled a slew of upcoming attractions to its theme parks over the weekend, while offering some big hints about some of its longer-term plans.
The company’s Destination D23 event, a gathering of its loyalist fans where it often discloses forthcoming improvements to its theme park, revealed updates to old attractions, opening dates for new ones and hints of an expansion to Orlando’s Magic Kingdom that are the “largest ever for the park.”
Updating legacy attractions
Country Bear Jamboree
When Walt Disney World opened in 1971, one of its first attractions was the Country Bear Jamboree. While the ride has seen some changes over the years, it has only undergone one major reimagining in the 1980s, called the Country Bear Vacation Hoedown. That lasted until 1992, when the original show returned by popular demand.
The new show will feature new takes on Disney songs. The company showed a clip of the recording of “Bare Necessities” from The Jungle Book as one of them. The new show will open in 2024.
Epcot’s Test Track
The thrill ride, which opened in 1999, will be getting a big update from Imagineers and Chevrolet. Details were not disclosed, but Disney said teams would be looking back at historical rides, like the World of Motion, the ride Test Track replaced, for inspiration.
Figment meet and greet
The fan-favorite star of Epcot’s World of Imagination will pop into the real world and pose for meet and greets with fans effective immediately. Queues for pictures with him were up to five hours long Sunday.
Hatbox ghost in the Haunted Mansion
The long-awaited addition to the Haunted Mansion in Orlando will make his debut in “late November.”
In the immediate pipeline
Journey of Water
This Moana-inspired attraction at Epcot will open to the general public on Oct. 16 of this year. A walk-through experience, Journey of Water lets guests give high fives to water, wave hello and have it wave back and make music by running their hands through running water. The attraction is decorated with many familiar faces from the film Moana – and the character of Moana will be there to do meet and greets with parkgoers.
Updates to Disney California Adventure’s Avengers Campus
While much of the focus was on Orlando, Disney also revealed a third attraction coming to its California theme park—a new thrill ride that will take guests hopping through the Marvel multiverse.
Animal Kingdom’s Dinoland revamp
The Dinoland U.S.A. area of Animal Kingdom is officially extinct. After shutting the area down in May, Disney revealed some of its plans for the land (which was first teased in 2022), pointing to experiences inspired by the Encanto and Indiana Jones films. Look for a “tropical Americas” theme with a variety of biodiverse areas, just don’t look for it real soon. Disney didn’t give a time frame for its completion and Walt Disney Imagineering chief creative officer Bruce Vaughn noted “there’s a long way to go and a lot more to discover, but Imagineering teams in Florida are up to the challenge.”
Magic Kingdom expansion
Vaughn also mentioned at D23 that future expansion plans for Disney World’s Magic Kingdom are the “largest ever for the park.” The area beyond Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is being viewed for an expansion even bigger than Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Pandora – The World of Avatar. New attractions, restaurants and shows are all on the table, but it’s still a Blue Sky, undefined project, with no real specifics as Imagineers research and plan what to do.
“There’s still a long way to go. But I just want all of our fans to know that we are about to go into overdrive at the Magic Kingdom,” said Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. “Over the next decade, we’re going to have more projects underway than at any point in our history. Our sole purpose is to give you more and more of what you love about a Disney experience. And then surprise and delight you with things you never dreamed possible.”