D23 Expo 2022 is in just a few weeks! This year it will be on September 9-11th. Tickets have been sold out for quite sometime, but they will be livestreaming some of the event. Each year during the Parks panel, Disney makes announces what’s coming to the parks in the next few years. There have been a lot of rumors and speculation about what will be announced this year. So let’s take a look at our 2022 D23 Expo Disneyland predictions.
Keep in mind that Disney Parks, Experiences, and Consumer Products is led by Josh D’Amaro. However, Chapek is still the CEO, and used to hold that role. The announcements are sure to include some ideas that started under Chapek, but some may be new things from D’Amaro.
100th Anniversary and Entertainment Offerings
Next year, the Walt Disney Company celebrates its 100th Anniversary. Disney already announced the celebration will start on September 9th during D23. We expect a lot more to be announced about what Disney will actually be doing to celebrate. The parks should be getting plenty of new merchandise, as well as new food offerings. Disneyland has already said the Electrical Parade and Disneyland Forever will be ending their runs on September 1st. We will probably see Halloween Screams and Believe in Holiday Magic for the next few months. But there’s no fireworks show announced to take over after the holidays. It’s likely we’ll get a new firework show celebrating 100 Years of Magic, with an early 2023 debut. I’m betting it’ll lean heavily into projection mapping to limit the cost of fireworks. And for that celebration, it will probably have some narration that talks about Walt, as well as showcasing some of Disney’s biggest IPs.
I am hoping Disney will also bring back Magic Happens, the parade that ran for just a few short months before the COVID shutdown. The character cavalcades are fun, but without the Main Street Electrical Parade, they may want a daytime parade to fill in when A Christmas Fantasy Parade ends its holiday run. It’s a shame that both of the new parades from the last decade – Magic Happens and Paint the Night – both had such limited runs.
If Disney is trying to go big for this hundredth anniversary, we may see an updated World of Color. They are currently running the same show it opened with in 2010. For Disneyland’s 60th Birthday, we had a special version called World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney. It only lasted about 18 months. There have been a few seasonal shows, but I could see Disney doing an updated show, or maybe even just adding a new sequence.
Previously Announced Changes
We got a little more information about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure in July, but expect Disney to announce a closure date and an after hours party with special merchandise for Splash Mountain. Fans love this ride. We’re all familiar with Disney’s current plan to get every nickel they can from guests. Though the ride’s retheme can be controversial, it’s a chance for the company to make cash through a “last chance” promotion, and they’re definitely going to take advantage of it.
Mickey’s ToonTown closed for its overhaul in March 9, 2022. When it opens, it will feature a new headliner attraction Mickey’s Runaway Railway from Hollywood Studios. The towns green spaces and parks will grow, too. But there is still a lot we don’t know. Gadget’s Go Coaster is getting a retheme, but we don’t know what it will be. They have said Roger Rabbit is safe, but it’s sure to have some updates to match the new ToonTown aesthetic. We’re expecting an opening date early 2023, so I’m counting on an announcement for the date and some concept art.
Tarzan’s Treehouse has been closed since the COVID shutdown. Some of the tree is gone and the rest is being rethemed. Surprisingly, Disney has announced that the tree will be getting a new theme and back story, with no word about what that might be. Rumor is the tree will be themed to Antonio’s treehouse from Encanto. That would fit well in Adventureland. But the new theme could also be something from Disney history to go along with the 100th celebration. We’ll probably hear about an opening date for late 2022.
I think the biggest announcement we are all hoping for is a Tomorrowland redo. That land has become a hodge podge of attractions and has a lot of wasted space. It needs an update and some new life. The rumors for a redo have been all over the place, so I’m not quite sure what Disney is going to announce. Just before COVID hit, there were rumors that the entire area would be redone – including Space Mountain. Along those same lines, the release of Lightyear sparked rumors that Space Mountain may take on a Lightyear theme. But since the movie had a less than stellar box office run and the new meet and greet for Buzz is already missing from the park, I expect those plans have changed. The Space Mountain in Tokyo Disneyland will be closing soon for a complete retheme. Many have speculated that will come to California.
Chapek seems to like building the same thing in multiple places to save money, so there is a good chance that could happen. The only part that makes this unlikely is the project is being funded by the Oriental Land Company which owns all of Tokyo Disneyland. In the past, they have wanted to keep the projects they paid for exclusive to their parks for at least a few years. So we’ll see if Chapek has convinced them to share.
For several years, we’ve heard rumors that when Tomorrowland was redone, the Submarines, Autopia, Carousel Theater, and the current monorail track would all be removed for a new attraction, like Tron. I don’t think that’s on the table at this point. Disney just spent a lot of time and money refurbishing the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, so that lagoon is here to stay for at least five years. If we get a Tomorrowland retheme announcement, it will definitely include the Carousel Theater. There isn’t a lot of land there, so it likely wouldn’t be an E-ticket attraction by itself. But it’s underutilized real estate.
One of my favorite rumors about the retheme is Disney bringing People Mover back to California. While that would be awesome and a huge fan service, it isn’t likely to happen. The People Mover track was changed for Rocket Rods when it opened in 1998. Aside from changing the track, the heavy forces of the new ride damaged the structure. So the track can stand just fine, but it is not safe to put an attraction on. With how strict Chapek is on the budget, I can’t see him spending the money to tear out the existing beams and replace them for a fan service ride.
I have wondered if they will end up moving Astro Orbiter again. The ride was moved to its current location in 1997 from atop the People Mover platform. It creates a lot of motion for Main Street and pulls people into the land. It is a huge pinch point when crowds get bad. Disney has spent a lot of money over the last several years to widen pathways and improve crowd flow. I wouldn’t be surprised if they moved it back into the land farther to widen that pathway even more.
Budget and Staffing Considerations
These 2022 D23 Expo Disneyland predictions are some of the things we think might be announced if the Disney company was running like it had in years past. This years announcements are going to be a little different and likely smaller than past D23 Expos. The company lost a lot of money and laid off a lot of Imagineers during the COVID pandemic. Then, they announced they would be relocating most of the Imagineers to Florida and they lost a whole bunch more. Even if the higher ups wanted to do a huge 100th Anniversary celebration and a bunch of attraction updates and new things, they just don’t have the manpower to do it. Plus, anything new coming to the parks takes years and years of planning, and COVID delayed a lot of what Disney wanted (Tron, Ratatouille, and Cosmic Rewind were all delayed by the pandemic). So any big plans they do announce are going to focus on old ideas or long term plans.
Chapek also is very budget conscious and is not going to want to spend anymore than he has to. In a normal year, I think we would see new fireworks, a new World of Color, a complete Tomorrowland overhaul, and more… But I don’t think Chapek is going to want to spend the money on all of that. Disney does have a habit of announcing things that never get built, like the Mary Poppins attraction (which started as a ride, then shrunk to a meet and greet before being cancelled) for EPCOT, Epcot’s festival center, the Quin Jet ride at California Adventure, or the theater off of Main Street at the Magic Kingdom, that were announced at the 2019 D23 Expo. While some of those cancellations were related to COVID, not all were. Mary Poppins and the theater were cancelled just a few months after the expo. Chapek wants to make the company look good, so he may lean in to announcing some big things coming that may never actually get built.
And don’t forget that in 2019, one of the big points Chapek made was that Disney consumer products would be partnering with Target. He spun this as something exciting for fans, while he left out that it meant all the Disney were closing, and relatively few of the Targets would get displays. Following that pattern, we’re sure to see some minor announcements, made out to be game changers (like the retheme at Tarzan’s Treehouse.
What are your 2022 D23 Expo Disneyland predictions? Are you hoping Tomorrowland will finally get a refresh? Or is it a classic and you don’t want it changed? Let us know what you think in the comments!