China Pavilion in Epcot to Get to Film that will Feature New Technology

Walt Disney Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald announced at D23 Expo 2017 that they are creating a new film for the China pavilion at Epcot that’ll feature the splendor and majesty of that amazing country – and they will be doing it with some new technology.

Taking a cue from Walt Disney, who pioneered many different storytelling and motion picture innovations, Disney has developed a next-generation digital camera system, much as they did for Soarin’. Disney will be taking this immersive camera system on the road first to film a brand new seamless Circle-Vision show for the China pavilion.

D23 Expo 2017 Summary – Live Action Presentation

Hollywood’s biggest names in acting and directing… Surprises at every turn… Compelling stories and sneak peeks that had us on the edge of our seats. The Hall D23 presentation from The Walt Disney Studios this morning at D23 Expo featured all of these and more!

Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn greeted the 6,800 fans who had just watched a sizzle video that spotlighted some of Disney’s recent hits and upcoming films. “I know those guys. They’re friends from work,” he joked, echoing Thor himself in the trailer for Marvel Studios’ upcoming film Thor: Ragnarok. And, he added to the crowd’s great delight, “We have a lot of them backstage.”

Always one of the most eagerly anticipated presentations at D23 Expo, there were indeed a lot of stars and filmmakers taking the stage in Hall D23—and announcements and unexpected treats galore. Here are just a few of the moments we’ll remember long after D23 Expo concludes:

“Everybody here gets a poster! Everybody here! You get a poster!”
Sure, fans were excited to learn they’d be going home with a teaser poster for The Walt Disney Studios’ upcoming film A Wrinkle in Time, which opens in theaters on March 9, 2018. But to be told that news by brand-new Disney Legend Oprah Winfrey only made the gift that much more exciting.

Winfrey (who plays Mrs. Which) joined director Ava DuVernay and co-stars Reese Witherspoon (Mrs. Whatsit), Mindy Kaling (Mrs. Who), Chris Pine (Mr. Murry), and newcomer Storm Reid (Meg Murry) in Hall D23. The epic adventure is based on Madeleine L’Engle’s classic novel, which takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and ultimately, the triumph of love.

DuVernay described Disney as “the perfect place” for A Wrinkle in Time. Thrilled to attend her first D23 Expo, DuVernay told the audience, “I found my tribe—people who love movies as much as I do.” She also debuted the first trailer for the film:

Wrinkle In Time Trailer

A First Look at The Nutcracker and the Four Realms—with an Exclusive Live Dance Performance
Sean Bailey, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, introduced us to The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, acclaimed director Lasse Hallström’s spin on a story that has been beloved for generations. The film, which will be in theaters on November 2, 2018, stars Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Mackenzie Foy and Richard E. Grant, as well as Morgan Freeman in the iconic role of Drosselmeyer. Music and dance are essential to the film, Bailey stressed, and he revealed that the incredible stylings of Charles Riley, known as Lil Buck (picture below), are being used to create the film’s Mouse King. The character will be made up of thousands of mice, made possible through cutting-edge CG, Bailey said. Expo guests were treated to a special performance by Lil Buck that gave us a glimpse into the hypnotic, fluid dance style we’ll see from the Mouse King when the film opens next year.

A Practically Perfect Glimpse into Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Poppins Returns director Rob Marshall and actress Emily Blunt talked about the upcoming film, which flies into theaters on December 25, 2018. Speaking reverently about the original Mary Poppins film, Marshall said, “I think it was my first film. I think it was many of our first films. There’s something so amazing about it that lived with me my whole life.”

When it came to stepping into Disney Legend Julie Andrews’ shoes, Blunt stressed, “No one is ever going to out-Julie Julie Andrews.” To make the character her own, she explained, “I needed to try to pay homage to Julie but carve out a new space for myself. And we were very loyal to the books.”

The film was shot on location in London—which Marshall characterized as a special experience—and he said that audiences will recognize Cherry Tree Lane immediately. They might also recognize a piece of furniture, Marshall noted, sharing a photo of a table that’s part of the set for Mary Poppins Returns that also appeared in the original film.

Leaving fans with “a little something”—an understatement—composer Marc Shaiman led an orchestra in a performance of a piece of the original score, which played over a series of images from the film. It was a supercalifragilistic-Expo-alidocious moment, if ever there were one.

Dumbo is Coming!
Director Tim Burton sent a greeting to Disney fans from the set of Dumbo, which is currently in production in London. Additionally, Bailey showed fans a maquette that was created to help bring the beloved baby elephant to life via state-of-the-art visual effects. The film stars Golden Globe® winner Colin Farrell (Saving Mr. Banks), Golden Globe winner Michael Keaton (Birdman, Beetlejuice), Emmy® and Golden Globe winner Danny DeVito (Batman Returns, Big Fish), BAFTA Award winner and Golden Globe nominee Eva Green (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Dark Shadows), and introduces Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins in their first film roles. Dumbo is slated for release on March 29, 2019.

The Lion King Looks Amazing!
The Walt Disney Studios presentation at D23 Expo 2015 gave Disney fans a first look at The Jungle Book, directed by Jon Favreau, who was on hand again this year and received a standing ovation after showing footage from the upcoming live-action The Lion King. The photoreal interpretation of the film’s “Circle of Life” sequence featured beloved characters, including Rafiki, Mufasa, and an impossibly adorable baby Simba. Favreau, a lifelong Disney fan himself, told the excited crowd, “We like to check in with you.” His first question upon embarking on the film was, “When’s D23? We wanted to give you the first look.” The film is slated for release in 2019.

News from a Galaxy Far, Far Away
Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson took the stage at his first D23 Expo today, revealing that he began his career at Disney Channel, working in on-air promotions. As much as he loved that job, he says that making Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been the time of his life.

Johnson introduced stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Gwendolyn Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Benicio del Toro, and, of course, new Disney Legend Mark Hamill. Johnson and his cast wouldn’t reveal much about the upcoming film—in fact, they wouldn’t really reveal anything, though Hamill confirmed that we will, indeed, hear Luke Skywalker speak in this film. He referred to the movie as a “game changer,” and noting, “When I read the script, there were so many unexpected elements.”

Johnson and the cast then offered up a behind-the-scenes look at Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which opens in theaters on December 15, 2017.

Avengers—and More—Assemble!
Kevin Feige is Marvel Studios President—and he’s also a massive Disney fan and a card-carrying D23 charter member who has been coming to D23 Expo since the first Expo in 2009. Feige explained that next year will be one of celebration—in honor of the 10th anniversary of Marvel Studios. It’s going to be a big year for the studio, and fans can look forward to what Feige calls “the biggest production in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—Avengers: Infinity War. The film is filming now, Feige said, but a slew of Super Heroes—and a fearsome villain—were able to take time away from the production to surprise Disney fans at Expo. In the most Marvel-ous gathering of stars ever, Feige welcomed Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Mackie, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Josh Brolin, Don Cheadle, Sebastian Stan, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, and Pom Klementieff to the stage, along with one of the film’s directors, Joe Russo.

“Even I find myself geeking out,” Feige joked, as the assemblage continued. The crowd was on their feet long before Robert Downey Jr. demanded, “Let’s see it”—“it” being an exclusive early look at footage from the movie.

Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War, an unprecedented cinematic journey 10 years in the making and spanning the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, opens in theaters on May 4, 2018.

Toy Story Land to Open at Walt Disney World Summer 2018

Many of you know that Toy Story Land is coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  At D23 Expo 2017, Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts announced that the land will open next summer!

In 2018, guests will find themselves shrunk to the size of a toy to explore the world of Andy’s backyard with their favorite Toy Story characters, including Woody and Buzz. And Toy Story Land will feature two new themed attractions.

Slinky Dog Dash will be a family coaster attraction where you’ll zip, dodge and dash around many turns and drops that Andy has created to really make Slinky and his coils stretch to his limits.

Alien Swirling Saucers will also be a new attraction at Toy Story Land. It’s designed as a toy play set that Andy got from Pizza Planet, inspired by the first “Toy Story” film. Aliens are flying around in their toy flying saucers and trying to capture your rocket toy vehicle with “The Claw.”

D23 Expo 2017 Summary – Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios

“We are going to show you things that no one has seen outside the walls of our studio.”

That was the promise from John Lasseter—Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios Chief Creative Officer, not to mention a onetime Jungle Cruise skipper—at the start of this afternoon’s presentation in Hall D23 at D23 Expo 2017. Wearing a signature Hawaiian shirt featuring characters from all of the films he’s worked on, John took to the stage accompanied by a “spirit squad” brandishing T-shirt shooters, which they used to lob tees to a crowd who couldn’t have been more eager to find out what’s next for Disney’s three animation studios.

In the coming months and years, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, and Disneytoon Studios will roll out a slate of films that feature familiar faces (and voices) and new characters fans are sure to love. “I’m so excited about our upcoming movies; they are all hilarious, emotional, beautiful, and make you think,” Lasseter said. “It’s a great mix of incredibly creative and surprising new worlds and characters and stories we love returning to. Our filmmakers are putting so much heart into these films—I can’t wait for people to see them.”

Today’s presentation included surprise appearances from the filmmakers and voice talent behind the studios’ upcoming films, exclusive clips, and unforgettable moments that only happen at D23 Expo. If you’re a fan of Disney animation—and aren’t we all?—here are the films that are bound to exceed all Expo-tations!

Untitled Disneytoon Studios Film
According to Lasseter, the folks at Disneytoon Studios aim to elevate storytelling to new heights—literally—with their yet-to-be titled film that explores the future of aviation. Lasseter previewed a “speed test” for fans, and revealed that the film—which is directed by Klay Hall and Bobs Gannaway and produced by Ferrell Barron—opens in theaters on April 12, 2019.

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure
We were already shivering in anticipation of this new 21-minute Frozen holiday featurette, opening on the big screen in front of Disney•Pixar’s Coco on November 22, 2017. Kristen Bell returned to the Hall D23 stage for 2017 with an animated clip from the film that audiences would be seeing “for the first time in forever.” The 6,800 fans in Hall D23 let out a collective “Awww” when they saw their frosty friend Olaf once again, followed by a collective gasp when “audio problems” threatened to cut the clip short. Help was close at hand, however, as Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf, was waiting in the wings to surprise the crowd with a live performance of a new song from the featurette, “That Time of Year,” from Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson (who have provided four new songs for the featurette). The full cast is back for Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, including Idina Menzel as the voice of Elsa and Jonathan Groff as the voice of Kristoff. Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton (Prep & Landing) direct, and Oscar® winner Roy Conli (Big Hero 6) produces.

Frozen 2
We have to wait a big longer to learn the final title for the sequel to the 2013 blockbuster Frozen, but the creative team is hard at work on the film, which opens on November 27, 2019. In addition to the returning cast, Frozen directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee and producer Peter Del Vecho are also headed back to Arendelle. Fans were treated to a behind-the-scenes video from a recent research trip the filmmakers took to Norway, Finland, and Iceland.


Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2
Director Rich Moore told D23 fans that the Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 filmmakers knew they had to go “somewhere big” in the follow-up to the film that he described as “a love letter to video game arcades.” That turned out to be the Internet. John C. Reilly is returning to voice Ralph, and Jack McBrayer will again lend his vocal talents to the role of Fix-It Felix. Sarah Silverman—Vanellope von Schweetz—joined Moore and director Phil Johnston on the Hall D23 Stage, and they introduced a new character, Yesss (all those esses are meant to be there). You’ll be hearing Golden Globe winner Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures, Empire) as the character. According to Moore, “If it’s cool, if it’s trendy, if it’s now, Yesss has discovered it and shared it with the world.”

Fans were treated to a “break the Internet” moment in Hall D23, with the debut of a scene from the film that pays homage to the Disney Princesses like never before. After revealing that the original voice actresses behind the Princesses were asked to reprise their roles for the sequence, in an historic, only-at-Expo experience, Auli‘i Cravalho (Moana), Kristen Bell (Anna in Frozen), Kelly MacDonald (Merida in Brave), Mandy Moore (Rapunzel in Tangled), Anika Noni Rose (Tiana in The Princess and the Frog), Irene Bedard (Pocahontas), Linda Larkin (Jasmine in Aladdin), Paige O’Hara (Belle in Beauty and the Beast) and Jodi Benson (Ariel in The Little Mermaid) came together for the largest gathering of Disney Princesses ever.

With Oscar® winner Clark Spencer producing, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 opens in theaters on November 21, 2018.

Incredibles 2
Lasseter has been waiting for this film “since before there was a D23,” he said, prior to showing a look at the character people have been talking about since the film’s release: Edna Mode. Featuring fashion luminaries such as Zac Posen, Rachel Zoe, Heidi Klum, Kendall Jenner, the video takes a fun look at what the fashion world thinks of the diminutive designer:

Edna Mode Tribute Video

Director Brad Bird (who voices Edna Mode) joined Lasseter on stage, and presented clips that showed off the new animation technology filmmakers are using to bring the super-family to life in the sequel. Actors Craig T. Nelson (Mr. Incredible), Holly Hunter (Mrs. Incredible), Sarah Vowell (Violet), and Samuel L. Jackson (Frozone) were reunited on the Expo stage, joined by newcomer Huck Milner (the voice of Dash). Incredibles 2 is slated to open on June 15, 2018.

Toy Story 4
Josh Cooley, who joined Pixar in 2003 as an intern in the story department on Cars, joined Lasseter on the stage, who revealed that Cooley (who directed the Riley’s First Date? short) has assumed full director responsibilities for Toy Story 4. D23 Expo attendees were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at a day in Cooley’s life at the Pixar headquarters in Northern California and at the making of Toy Story 4, which is slated to open in theaters on June 21, 2019.

Untitled Dan Scanlon Movie
“D23 has become the place to announce new films—which we’re going to do right now,” Lasseter said. Monsters University director Dan Scanlon revealed a few details about a new, original feature in production at Pixar Animation Studios. The untitled film is based on a personal story for Scanlon, who lost his father when he was very young. The director has always wondered, “Who was my father?” The story is set in a world with no humans—only elves, trolls, and sprites—“anything that would be on the side of a van in the ’70s,” said the director. “In the film, we’re going to tell the story of two teenage elf brothers whose father died when they were too young to remember him. But thanks to the little magic still left in the world, the boys embark on a quest that will allow them a chance to spend one last magical day with their father.” Kori Rae (Monsters University) will produce.

Coco
The last film of today’s presentation, but, happily, the next animated film to be released by Disney, Cocoopens in theaters on November 22, 2017. Director Lee Unkrich, co-director and screenwriter Adrian Molina, and producer Darla K. Anderson gave the audience a first look at a clip from the film, which introduces Miguel, who dreams of becoming a musician like his hero, Ernesto de la Cruz, but whose family long ago banned music. A fateful decision leads Miguel to the Land of the Dead. Molina said, “In the end it’s a story about the importance of family, honoring your ancestors, and following your dreams.”

Music is an important part of Coco, and Unkrich promised that the film will feature both traditional Mexican music and new songs created just for the film, as well as a score from Oscar®-winning composer Michael Giacchino (Up, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). The song “Remember Me” was written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, with additional songs co-written by Germaine Franco (Dope, Shovel Buddies) and Molina. Also part of the team is musical consultant Camilo Lara of the music project Mexican Institute of Sound.

The presentation ended with a grand finale, the first-ever public performance of “Remember Me,” performed by Anthony Gonzalez, (who voices Miguel in the film) and Benjamin Bratt, who lends his voice to Ernesto de la Cruz. They were joined by more than 160 performers, including Grammy®-winning Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea and Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles under the direction of Kareli Montoya, and the Grammy-winning Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band. Orange confetti that filled the air suggested the film’s stunning bridge of marigold petals, making a magical, memorable finish to an unforgettable afternoon.

New Theater Inspired By Kansas City’s Willis Wood Theater To Debut at Walt Disney World

A new venue for world-class entertainment is coming to Main Street, U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom Park in Florida. And a first look at the new theater was just unveiled minutes ago at D23 Expo 2017.

If the image of the theater looks familiar, that’s because the new entertainment venue will be based on the iconic Willis Wood theater in 1920s Kansas City, where Walt lived after he left Marceline. And as you can see from the design, it’ll fit well right off Main Street, U.S.A.

“Across Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, we’ve been upping the game in Entertainment with shows like Frozen Live at the Hyperion,” Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts said. “It’s been a huge hit at the Disneyland Resort, and I’m sure many of you have seen it. This new theater at Walt Disney World continues that streak by bringing a new venue for world-class entertainment to the world’s biggest park.”

Ratatouille Attraction Coming to Epcot’s France Pavilion

A new attraction inspired by Disney•Pixar’s “Ratatouille” attraction is coming to the France Pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase.

The new attraction will expand the France pavilion and will be similar to the 4Ratatouille: The Adventure which opened at the Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris in 2014.

Guests will be to shrink to Remy’s size and scurry to safety in a dazzling chase across a kitchen with the sights, sounds and smells of Gusteau’s legendary Parisian restaurant.

According to Disney leaders, both attractions will open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort in 2021.

New Transportation Options Coming to Walt Disney World

A brand new transportation system is coming to the Walt Disney World Resort to add even more magic to your future vacation experiences.

Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts announced at D23 Expo 2017 that the Disney Skyliner will soon give guests a bird’s-eye view of Walt Disney World Resort.

The transportation system will connect Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach resorts and other locations with Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot. And many of the gondolas with Disney Skyliner will feature favorite Disney characters.

Another new transportation service featuring vehicles themed to the one-and-only Minnie Mouse was also announced during the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts presentation at D23 Expo 2017.

“Since we’re all about exceeding guest expectations and making every aspect of your vacation uniquely Disney, we’re creating a new point-to-point transportation service in a way that only Disney can do,” Bob said.

The Minnie vehicles will take you everywhere you want to go at the Walt Disney World Resort, and you’ll ride in Minnie’s classic style.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Attraction Officially Opening in Epcot’s Future World

Disney announced at D23 Expo 2017 that a “Guardians of the Galaxy”-inspired attraction will be coming to Future World, replacing the Universe of Energy.

Epcot’s brand new E-ticket attraction will be based on the rockin’ and action-packed world of “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

No further details were announced other than that it would open by 2021, in time for the 50th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort.

The Universe of Energy will have its last day of operation on August 13 2017.

New Adventures Begin at Mission: SPACE in August

Mission: SPACE at Epcot has been a must-do for guests since it opened in 2003, allowing space adventurers to become navigators, pilots, commanders or engineers on a thrilling trip to Mars.

And as it was announced at the D23 Expo, in just a few weeks, guests will be able to enjoy new adventures at Mission: SPACE – an updated Orange Mission and a brand-new Green Mission. (Orange is the more intense training experience, while Green is less intense).

The updated Orange Mission will make an even more visually stunning trip to Mars, while the all-new Green adventure will allow guests to blast off for an orbital adventure around planet Earth.

Chef Mickey’s Relocation to Convention Center Cancelled

Three weeks ago we had reported that Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort would be moving to the resort’s convention center due to the restaurant needing some unplanned maintenance.  Walt Disney World has now announced that Chef Mickey’s will no longer be temporarily relocating to the convention center in late July.

The maintenance that was scheduled expected to begin on July 28th and last through August 13th has now been cancelled, and the restaurant will be operating as normal.