Sunday, August 27, 2017

Transcript of Walt Disney's EPCOT Film

As Epcot gets ready to celebrate it's 35th Anniversary, let's look back to when we were first introduced to the city of EPCOT.

In October 1966, Walt Disney Productions prepared a film (with different endings for different audiences) to introduce citizens of Florida and potential business partners to the Disney World resort and the futuristic city it would include. The film features Walt Disney, appearing just two months before his death, sharing plans from a mock-up of the room where he and his Imagineers were planning the "Florida Project."

Below is the transcript from that film.


Welcome to Disneyland U.S.A.

This was all a Disney dream a dozen years ago, a far-off project that was totally unproved. Today, 60 million people have come here, from every state in America and from almost every nation around the world.

In Town Square on Main Street, manu have paused to read the dedication plaque that symbolizes the warm and friendly spirit of Walt Disney’s magic kingdom.

To all who come to this happy place, Welcome.
Disneyland is your land.
Here, age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideal, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.

Disneyland grew out of Walt Disney’s own feeling that an amusement park should offer more to the entire family. Here was no mere amusement park. Here was a whole new concept in entertainment, where parents and children could have fun together.

The touchstone of Disneyland’s success has been its concern for people, a wholehearted dedication to the happiness of the people who visit here.

Today, Disneyland has established standards of performance unsurpassed in all of the world. Yet, in the planning and building there were no standards to follow. Whatever worked became the code. Whatever failed to meet the public need was changed, replaced by a better idea.

People and vehicles are constantly in motion at Disneyland. Here, people travel aboard almost every method of transportation man has ever designed. Provocative, new ideas, like the first monorail system in the western hemisphere, have demonstrated their potential in this practical proving ground. Disneyland vehicles have carried 340 million passengers in comfort and speed, and have traveled more than 19 million miles in unequalled safety.

To plan Disneyland, Walt Disney long ago established a design organization called WED Enterprises. Today, the staff at WED includes designers, architects, and engineers skilled in the Disney way, and also fine craftsmen and technicians skilled in the arts of the space age. What WED does is called Imagineering, a blending of creative imagination with technical know-how. The talents of WED have gone to work outside Disneyland, too.

At the New York World’s Fair, for of the most popular attractions were Disney shows and corporate exhibits that skillfully welcoming and entertained more than 150,000 people every day.

A tribute to the achievements of the Disney design staff has been paid by many highly respected planners and builders. Among them, James W. Rouse, developer of the new town of Columbia. In his keynote speech before the 1963 Urban Design Conference at Harvard University, Mr. Rouse said in part, “I hold a view that may be somewhat shocking to an audience as sophisticated as this, that the greatest piece of urban design in the United States today is Disneyland. If you think about Disneyland and think of its performance in relation to its purpose, its meaning to people, more than that its meaning to the process of development, you will find it the outstanding piece of urban design in the United States. It took an area of activity, the amusement park, and lifted it to a standard so high in its performance, in its respect for people, in its functioning for people that it really has become a brand new thing. It fulfills all the functions it set out to accomplish, unself-consciously, usefully, and profitably to its owners and developers. I find more to learn in the standards that have been set and in the goals that have been achieved in the development of Disneyland than in any other single piece of physical development in the country”

Yesterday, Disneyland, and the New York World’s Fair. Tomorrow, a project so vast it has already been called a whole new Disney world.

And now, here is Walt Disney.



Welcome to a little bit of Florida, here in California. This is where the early planning is taking place for our so-called Disney World project.

Now, the purpose of this film is to bring you up to date about some of the plans for Disney World, but before I go into any of the details I wanna say just a word about the site of our Florida Project.



As you can see on this map, we have a perfect location in Florida, almost in the very center of the state. In fact, we selected this site, because it’s so easy for tourists and Florida residents to get here by automobile. 

Now, in larger scale on this map, our Florida land is located partly in Orange County and Osceola County, between the cities of Orlando and Kissimmee, and the important thing is that the Disney World is located just a few miles from the crossing point of Interstate 4 and Sunshine State Parkway, Florida’s major highways, carrying motorists east and west and north and south to the center of the state.

Disney World


The sketches and plans you will see today are simply a starting point, our first overall thinking about Disney World. Everything in this room may change time and time again as we move ahead, but the basic philosophy of what we’re planning for Disney World is going to remain very much as it is right now.

We know what our goals are. We know what we hope to accomplish, and believe me it’s the most exciting and challenging assignment we’ve ever tackled at Walt Disney Productions.

Today, I want to share with you some of our ideas for Disney World. Now, the prologue to this film told you some of the philosophy that made Disneyland in California what it is today. Of course, there will be another amusement theme park in Florida, similar to the one in California.

We are now developing a master plan that ecompasses the theme park and all the facilities around it that will serve the tourists, hotels, motels, and a variety of recreation activities. In fact, just this little area alone if five times the size of Disneyland in California.

But, as you can see on this master plan, the theme park and all the other tourist facilities fill just one small area of our enormous Florida Project. According to this scale, I am six miles tall. Now, that’s twelve miles from here up to here and the whole area emcompasses 27,400 acres, that is 43 square miles, twice the size of the island of Manhattan.

Now, the area we propose to develop is between the Reedy Creek Swamp and the Bonnet Creek Swamp.

So, one thing we don’t need is a fence to protect us from trespassers

Here in Florida, we have something special we never enjoyed at Disneyland, the blessing of size. There’s enough land here to hold all of the ideas and plans we could possibly imagine.

Right now, our plans include an airport of the, future down here in Osceola County, an entrance complex where all visitors will enter Disney World, an industrial park area covering about 1,000 acres, and, of course, the theme park area, way up here. And all these varied activities around the Disney World will be tied together by a high speed rapid transit system running almost the full length of the property.



But, the most exciting and, by far, the most important part of our Florida Project, in fact, the heart of everything we’ll be doing in Disney World, will be our Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow. We call it EPCOT., spelled E-P-C-O-T, Experiment, Prototype, Community, Of, Tomorrow. Here it is, in larger scale.

EPCOT will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing, and testing, and demonstrating new materials and new systems. And, Epcot will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.

I don’t believe that there’s a challenge anywhere in the world that’s more important to people everywhere than finding solutions to the problems of our cities, but where do we begin? How do we start answering this great challenge? Well, we’re convinced we must start with the public need. And, the need is not just for curing the old ills of old cities. We think the need is for starting from scratch on virgin land, and building a special kind of new community. So, that’s what Epcot is, an experimental prototype community that will always be in a state of becoming. It will never cease to be a living blueprint of the future, where people actually live a life they can’t find anywhere else in the world.

Everything in EPCOT will be dedicated to the happiness of the people who will live, work, and play here, and those who come here from all around the world to visit our living showcase. We don’t presume to know all the answers. In fact, we’re counting on the cooperation of American industry to provide their very best thinking during the planning and the creation of our Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. And, most important of all, when EPCOT has become a reality and we find the need for technologies that don’t even exist today, it’s our hope that EPCOT will stimulate American industry to develop new solutions that will meet the needs of people expressed right here in this experimental community.

Well, that’s our basic philosophy for EPCOT.

By now, I’m sure you’re wondering how people will actually live, and work, and move around in our community of tomorrow. So, in the next few minutes we’ll go into detail about some of our preliminary sketches and layouts. Remember, though, as I said earlier, this is just the beginning, and with that thought in mind, let’s have a look.


No city of today will serve as the guide for the city of tomorrow

EPCOT will be a planned environment, demonstrating to the world what American communities can accomplish, through proper control of planning and design.

EPCOT begins with an idea new among cities built since the birth of the automobile. We call it the radial plan

Picture a wheel. Like the spokes of the wheel, the city fans out along a series of radials from a bustling hub at the center of EPCOT.

A network of transportation systems radiate from the central hub, carrying people to and from the heart of the city. These transportation systems circulate to and through four primary spheres of activity surrounding the central core.

First, the area of business and commerce.

Next, the high-density apartment housing.

Then, the broad greenbelt and recreation lands.

And, finally, the low-density, neighborhood residential streets

EPCOT’s dynamic urban center will offer the excitement and variety of activities found only in metropolitan cities - cultural, social, business, and entertainment.

Among its major features will be a cosmopolitan hotel and convention center, towering 30 or more stories, shopping areas, where stores and whole streets recreate the character and adventure of places round the world, theaters for dramatic and musical production, restaurants and a variety of nightlife attractions, and a wide range of office buildings, some containing services required by EPCOT’s residents, but most of them designed especially to suit the local needs of major corporations.

But, most important, this entire 50 acres of city streets and buildings will be completely enclosed. In this climate controlled environment shoppers and theater go-ers and people just out for a stroll will enjoy ideal weather conditions, protected day and night from rain, heat, and cold, and humidity.

Here, the pedestrian will be king, free to walk and browse without fear of motorized vehicles. Only electric powered vehicles will travel above the streets of EPCOT’s central city.

This towering hotel is the visual center of EPCOT, the shining jewel at the center of the city. It will offer tourists and vacationers not only the most modern guestrooms and convention facilities, but also a seven-acre recreation deck, located high above the pedestrian and shopping areas of the city.

But, hidden from view, directly beneath the hotel is another kind of vital center, EPCOT’s Transportation Lobby. Although, out of sight to hotel guests, this transportation terminal will play a key role in the city of tomorrow’s ability to meet the needs of both visitor and resident.

Two separate, but interconnecting transit systems will move people into and out of EPCOT in speed, safety, and comfort through this central terminal. Both are electrically powered - the high speed monorail, for rapid transit over longer distances, and a concept new to the American city for shorter travel distances, the WEDWAY PeopleMover.

Automobiles and trucks will not be barred from EPCOT. In fact, a vast armada of vehicles will continually move through the heart of the community, traveling below the pedestrian level on roadways reserved for specific types of vehicles.

Let’s look at another view of EPCOT’s transportation hub, and see how traffic flows the heart of the city on three separate levels. At the bottom of the stack is the truck route, reserved for supply vehicles. Trucks will have easy access to all loading docks and service elevators, for the delivery of commercial goods. The middle level is the automobile thruway, exclusively for cars. Adjacent to the roadway are parking areas, for the convenience of hotel guests. For the motorist just driving through, no stoplight will ever slow the constant flow of traffic through the center of EPCOT.

But, automobiles and freeways will not be EPCOT’s major way of entering and leaving the city. The transportation heartbeat of EPCOT will be the two electric powered systems, monorail and WEDWAY, that radiate to and from the transportation lobby. And, the key system in this coordinated network will be the WEDWAY PeopleMover.

[VIDEO - PeopleMover in Disneyland]

The first PeopleMover installation is already in daily operation at Disneyland. On peak days it carries nearly 40,000 passengers. The cars you see here are approximately ⅝ scale, considerably smaller than full-sized passenger cars would be for city use. EPCOT’s PeopleMover is a silent all-electric system that never stops running.

These cars continue to move, even while passengers are disembarking or stepping aboard.

Power is supplied from a series of motors embedded in the track, completely independent of the cars. No single car can ever break down and cause a rush hour traffic jam in EPCOT. Because the cars run continuously, there will be no waiting in stations for a WEDWAY PeopleMover. The next car is always ready.

Now, let’s go back to the Transportation Lobby and see how the WEDWAY will travel along one radial between the center of EPCOT and a typical residential area.

Leaving the Transportation Lobby, the WEDWAY trains travel above the downtown streets. Within minutes, the WEDWAY passes through the first station. Many people who work in the offices and stores of EPCOT’s city center board the WEDWAY here for their trip home. Some people leave the WEDWAY here, too. They live in EPCOT’s high-density apartments, surrounding the metropolitan center.

Most passengers who ride the WEDWAY live beyond the apartments and stay aboard the PeopleMover as it crosses EPCOT’s sheltering greenbelt. EPCOT’s greenbelt is more than just a broad expanse of beautiful lawns and walks and trees. Here, too, are the community’s varied recreational facilities, its playgrounds for children, its churches, and its schools.

Beyond the greenbelt are EPCOT’s neighborhood areas, of single-family homes. This is one radial neighborhood. Here, and throughout the community, residents returning from work or shopping will disembark from the WEDWAY at stations located conveniently just a few steps from where they live. The homes are located in a wide green area that provides light recreation activities for adults and play areas for children. Circulating through this area are footpaths, reserved for pedestrians, electric carts, and bicycles. Children, going to and from schools and playgrounds, will use these paths, always completely safe and separated from the automobile.

The resident leaving home in his automobile will drive down a street reserved for motor vehicles. He then enters a one-way road the circles the city center. This road carries the motorist onto the main throughway, connecting EPCOT with other points in Disney World and with Florida’s nearby network of major highways.

But, most EPCOT residents will drive their automobiles only on weekend pleasure trips. From all over the community, residents going to their jobs converge by WEDWAY on the center city. Many work downtown, in offices, stores, and shops, but most employees go beyond the city core to their jobs. From the Transportation Lobby, monorail trains carry employees either to the theme park or to EPCOT’s 1,000 acre industrial park.

At this central station in the industrial complex, passengers disembark from the monorail and again board WEDWAY cars that radiate to each facility. This industrial complex will provide employment for many people, who live in EPCOT, but it will mean much more, not only for this community, but also for American industry.

Here, the Disney staff will work with individual companies to create a showcase of industry at work.

In attractive parklike settings, the six million people who visit Disney World each year will look behind the scenes at experimental prototype plants, research and development laboratories, and computer centers for major corporations.

So, this is EPCOT, the heart of Disney World. In other parts of the country, a community the size of this prototype could become part of an entire city complex, composed of many such communities, planned and built a few miles apart. In Disney World, about 20,000 people will actually live in EPCOT. Their homes will be built in ways that permit ease of change, so that new products may continuously be demonstrated. Their schools will welcome new ideas, so that everyone who grows up in EPCOT will have skills in pace with today’s world.

EPCOT will be a working community, with employment for all, and everyone who lives here will have a responsibility to help keep this community an exciting, living blueprint of the future.

And now, here again, is Walt Disney.



That’s the starting point for our Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. And, now, where do we go from these preliminary plans and sketches? Well, a project like this is so vast in scope that no one company alone can make it a reality, but if we can bring together the technical know-how of American industry and the creative imagination of the Disney organization, I’m confident we can create right here in Disney World a showcase to the world of the American free enterprise system.

I believe we can build a community that more people will talk about and come to look at than any other area in the world. And, with your cooperation I’m sure this Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow can influence the future of city living for generations to come. It’s an exciting challenge. A one in a lifetime opportunity for everyone who participates. Speaking for myself and the entire Disney organization, we’re ready to go right now.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Tony Baxter: First of the Second Generation of Walt Disney Imagineers

By Tim O'Brien
Casa Flamingo Literary Arts (October 30, 2015)

Tony Baxter: First of the Second Generation of Walt Disney Imagineers is mostly a list of Tony Baxter's accomplishments during his long career as a Disney Imagineer. Among his many well-known projects, Baxter was took the creative lead on designing attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Journey into Imagination, and the Indiana Jones Adventure in Disneyland, while also re-designing Disneyland's Fantasyland and developing the look of the entire EuroDisneyland park. The book is an honest, at times insightful look into Baxter's character, at what made him successful, what challenges he faced, and a taste of what it was like for others to work such a powerful creative force. All of this is laid out in a sensible structure, outlining Baxter's career, and then attempting to draw some conclusions.

The book starts right away, wasting no space with title pages or other filler, only a brief foreword and then Chapter One. The publisher describes the Legends & Legacies series, of which this book is a part, as "a quick and easy read," and that is an accurate description of this work. At only 90 pages of text, no topic in Baxter's life is covered in much detail. Events are presented mostly in chronological order, with little thought given to transition between items, which are presented in short segments within each of the three chapters. It would be easy to pick up where you left off if you put the book down, but if you read a chapter straight through there isn't a whole lot of flow from one topic to the next.

One thing that stood out when I first opened the book is the inclusion of color photographs, however, as I read the book I noticed these images appear randomly interspersed throughout the written words, with little or no connection to surrounding text. For example, early in the book we are introduced to Maxine Merlino, a college professor described as a mentor to Baxter, and she appears in photos with Baxter a few times later in the book, but nowhere in the text is any explanation of how she mentored Baxter in first place or how he kept in touch with her. There are a few exceptions where these photographs add to what was written, like Baxter standing outside in front of his property holding a model he used to design and build that house, but for the most part the photos are just images from Baxter's life that would be been better placed together in the center of the book or just left out.

The text also includes some minor errors, including several typos, such as misspelling Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn's name (as Steve Wynne) or sentences with extraneous words added, like this quote attributed to Baxter about the Abraham Lincoln animatronic in Disneyland, "I had hoped, with the all the advancements in technology..." Other items were presented in an (unintentionally, I suspect) misleading manner, including describing Journey into Imagination in EPCOT Center as opening on October 1, 1982, then shortly afterwards, noting the "ride premiered later on March, 5, 1983." While, technically, the Imagination pavilion may have opened (with just a 3D movie) on the same date (October 1) as the rest of EPCOT Center, it is generally accepted that the opening date for the Journey into Imagination attraction, five months after the park opening, is the relevant date. The author also presents some facts out of order, like a reference to the death of Disney President Frank Wells two pages before the author explains, "Frank Wells was killed in a helicopter accident on April 3, 1994." Some of these errors may be nitpicking, but suggest an overall lack of attention to detail.

The book draws primarily on previously published interviews (notably with The Season Pass Podcast), but supplements these with the author's own conversations with Baxter and a few people who worked with him, mostly his one-time bosses Marty Sklar and Mickey Steinberg, and his Imagineering colleague Tim Delaney. The result is very little new information on Baxter's well-documented career.

In addition to outlining Baxter's professional accomplishments, the does book touch on his personal life. From his "early introversion", frustration with cancelled projects, rejuvenation while redeveloping and building Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Disneyland, to confidence following the renovation of Fantasyland in Disneyland that "literally anything was possible," readers get a glimpse into who Baxter is as a person. One of the more striking comments on a topic I had never heard Baxter talk about was his admission, "It’s really hard for me to make space for others in my life. It’s never been an urgent issue with me." Although the author generally doesn't attempt to offer his explanation of what was shared in interviews, readers can gain some insight into how Baxter thinks after reading his thoughts throughout the book.

Despite the narrative being primarily driven by Baxter's own account of his life, the author doesn't shy away from controversy. Among those, include: enthusiasm over the start of Michael Eisner's tenure as leader of Disney to a frank assessment of the former CEO's later years with the company, the reason the company chose not build Westcot in Anaheim, cost-cutting measures in Disneyland, and even Baxter's own reputation for being difficult to work with, accusations that he took too much credit for projects were all discussed, and his status as a "celebrity" Imagineer. With these topics, the author generally generally lets the subjects he interviewed speak for themselves.

Overall, the book is a useful collection of often-repeated stories from the career of Tony Baxter, with some new information coming from the new interviews the author conducted. I learned more about Tony Baxter the man than I had in the past and gained a little insight into some of the challenges he faced. By seldom interjecting his own opinions, the book neither attempts to glorify Baxter's distinguished career, nor does it try to exploit his weaknesses. It is a fair presentation facts, which Baxter has described by saying, "everything in it is accurate." At less than 100 pages, the book doesn't aspire to be the definitive account of Tony Baxter's life and career, but it is a great place to start for someone unfamiliar with Baxter's career, and even avid Disney history fans will likely learn something new. Tony Baxter: First of the Second Generation of Walt Disney Imagineers is a useful biography to read, though you will have to decide if the relatively high retail price makes this a book you wish to own.

If you wish to purchase Tony Baxter: First of the Second Generation of Walt Disney Imagineers, then please use this link to NOTE: Using this link will help support this web site, as amazon will offer (at no additional cost to you) a small portion of the purchase price of the book to our site.

If you wish to learn more about Tony Baxter or hear his words firsthand, the search for his name in the archives of The Season Pass Podcast. There are hours of conversations with Baxter, over the course of several years.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Transcript of Epcot Announcements, from Disney Parks and Resorts Presentation at 2017 D23 Expo

D23 Expo: Disney Parks and Resorts Presentation - Epcot Announcements

There has been a lot of discussion already about the future of Epcot in Walt Disney World, following announcements made during D23 Expo, in Anaheim earlier this month. Let's look at exactly what Bob Chapek and Tom Fitzgerald said about that park during the Parks and Resorts presentation.

Date: Saturday, July 15, 2017
Location: Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California

Now, some of you may have been there when I said, "Teams are thinking big when it comes to Epcot." Today we will give you a peak at some of what we are doing, so you can imagine just how big we're thinking.

Now, our work on the park is centered around a few guiding principles: we want to keep it true to the original vision, while making it more timeless, more relevant, more relevant, and more Disney.

We're also insuring that these plans incorporate what we've been hearing from our guests, especially from our families with young children. They love Epcot, but they wanted to have a little bit more of that Disney, "wow factor."

And, that's why we asked an Imagineer who worked on the original plans for Epcot to now lead the teams at updating it. Many of you may recognize him from his role in Horizons, and he's earned a distinction reserved for very few, meeting his own animatronic.

Please join me in welcoming, Tom Fitzgerald.

Thanks for joining me here, Tom. We've got a great crowd here.

Happy to be here, Bob, although I have to say I still wish I looked like one of those two guys in the picture.

I don't think you've changed a bit. You look just the same.

Thanks, Bob.

All right, so it's been about six months since we first hinted at our big plans for Epcot, and before we share some news about what's coming, Tom, I'd like to ask to ask you a little bit about how we're approaching this work, because Epcot means so much to all of our fans.

Sure. Well, Epcot has always been, from day one, an optimistic celebration of the real world, brought to life through the magic of Disney. It's really kind of a living showcase to the world we have created and the world we continue to create together. It's a place where the real becomes fantastic, and the fantastic becomes real.

And, while Epcot gets ready to celebrate, believe it or not, it's 35th Anniversary, in Florida, in Glendale, our Imagineering team is busy at work planning for Epcot's future.

And, what a future we have in store. I mean, that's especially true when you consider World Showcase.

It's a really special place, where guests of all ages can experience the cultures from around the world in a global community, and guests love it. And, it's no surprise that these beautiful countries, and their histories, have inspired many of Disney's most beloved films.

You all know that Norway serves as the inspiration for Disney's animated hit film, Frozen. And, last year we opened Frozen Ever After at our Norway pavilion. My colleague, Kathy Mangum, who is somewhere in the house, and her team did an incredible job, and it is a huge hit with our guests.

You know, Tom, in fact, they love it so much, they are requesting more FastPasses for that attraction than any other attraction in Epcot.

That's great.

And, we want to build on that success, so that World Showcase celebrates both real countries and the world's they inspire.

So, I'm thrilled to announce we'll be adding a brand new attraction, Ratatouille, to the France pavilion.


We're going to add it to an entirely new area, right past the Eiffel Tower. It's going to be patterned after our popular attraction at Disneyland Paris. Guest are going to shrink down to the size of Remy, and join him on a crazy race throughout the kitchen and Gusteau's restaurant. Ratatouille is already the number one attraction at Disneyland Paris, and we really think it's going to be a great addition to Epcot.

Agreed. And, we're also looking at enhancing some of our existing attractions. For example, we're creating a brand new film for the China pavilion, and we're doing it with some new technology.

We all know that Walt Disney was a master at innovating, and throughout his career he created so many different storytelling and motion picture firsts. One of his favorites was CircleVision 360, which debuted here at Disneyland, and it's been a staple at World Showcase in Epcot since its beginning. Well, now, taking a cue from Walt, and the original CircleVision, we're creating a next generation digital camera system, much as we did for Soarin', and we're gonna be taking this rig on the road to film our very first seamless CircleVision show for the China pavilion.

So, I promise you, this is just a glimpse of what we have planned for World Showcase. So, stay tuned, because there's much more to come.

And, as you all know, there's a whole other part of this park, too. This evolution is designed to stay true to the DNA of Epcot, particularly those ideals of optimism, and hope, and awe and wonder of our world. And, as this blue sky artist concept drawing shows, we also have big plans for the front of Epcot. Now, it's going to continue to build on Epcot's celebration of creativity and ingenuity.

That's right. Epcot is a reassurance that we are part of something great. If we can dream it, we can do it. And, Epcot has always been a place where the real becomes fantastic, where you can train to be an astronaut or you can travel beneath the seas, but it's always become a place where the fantastic becomes real. For example, talking to a Sea Turtle, named Crush or Soarin Around the World, in four and a half minutes, but now that fantastic is about to become real, in a whole new way.

That's because we're thrilled to announce today that Epcot will soon have a brand new, e-ticket attraction, based on the rockin', action-packed world of Guardians of the Galaxy. We think this epitomizes our goals for Epcot in a way that stays true to the original ideals. It's also more timeless, more relevant, more family, more Disney. And, it will really give fans that sense of "wow" that they've come to expect from Disney.

So, the Guardians are going to take our guests on an out of this world adventure, but it will still be very rooted in an Epcot story. In fact, the reason that the Guardians have come to Epcot in the first place is that a young Peter Quill, actually visited Epcot as a kid. . . . . proof.

Who knew? So, Tom, how in the world did you get that photo?

Rocket stole it from the Guardian.

That collector. Of course he did.

So, guests at Disney California Adventure already love stepping into the worlds of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and we're excited to give guests in Florida a chance to experience this world in a new way. Now, the teams that are working on all of this and more, in time for the opening of Walt Disney World's 50th Anniversary. Now, work of this magnitude, obviously is going to take some time, but in the meantime, Tom, tell them what's in store for guests starting this summer.

Okay. Next month we'll be re-opening Mission: Space, and when we do, we're adding a brand new mission to join the already popular Orange mission. Our partners at ILM have worked their magic on making the Mars mission look even more incredible, but wait 'till you see what we've created with them for the all-new Green mission.

Guests are going to blast-off for an orbital adventure around our planet, and as you can see in some of these clips, it's kinda like soarin' around earth. And, with this Green mission, what's really great is that younger kids can join the adventure for the very first time.

And, this is just one more example of how we're looking to enhance what we already love about Epcot, and following one of our guiding principles to give families even more opportunities to enjoy the park together.

Tom, we've got some other extraordinary plans. What else would you like to share with our fans?

Oh, there's a lot I'd love to share with you today, but I'll save that for the next time. I'll tell you one more thing.

We all know that guests love dining at Epcot. It's one of the real keys of Epcot, and the restaurants there really are out of this world, but now we're about to create one that takes that literally. Adjacent to Mission: Space, will be a brand-new table-service restaurant that will invite you to travel high about the earth, where you'll enjoy great meals, and an even greater view.

That's fantastic, Tom. I know all of us are wondering where we might see your next animatronic head.

Well, I don't know where . . . gonna be, but from the looks of this and everything else we have on board I think I'll be spending a lot of time in Epcot.

Thanks, Tom. Tom Fitzgerald.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

D23 Expo 2017: Parks and Resorts Announcements

Disney announced quite a few changes, some that you won't see for years into the future and some changes that you will see very soon. Let's take a look at what Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman, Bob Chapek, announced in Anaheim at D23 Expo today.


  • The Great Movie Ride will close at the end of the day on Sunday, August 13, 2017
  • Ellen's Energy Adventure will close at the end of the day on Sunday, August 13, 2017

Not Addressed at D23 Expo

While rumors persist about even more changes to Disney World in the years to come, not every rumor was address at the Expo. Some potential changes park fans have talked about in recent months and years that were not address include the following:
  • No new World Showcase pavilions
  • No replacement for Illuminations announced
  • No changes to the Imagination pavilion
  • No nighttime parade for Magic Kingdom
  • No details about any other changes to Tomorrowland besides the Tron attraction
  • No new name for Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • No new children's play area in Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • No changes to Animal Kingdom announced

Coming to Disney World

Disney's Hollywood Studios: Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

Quite a bit has already filtered through electronic media in recent months about the new Star Wars addition to Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland. Today, enough was officially announced that I wrote a separate post detailing the Star Wars announcements.

Star Wars Resort

Not much that wasn't already known was revealed about this resort, but I have included what was shared in a separate post detailing the Star Wars announcements from the Disney Parks presentation.

Disney's Hollywood Studios: Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Imagineer Kevin Rafferty spoke about the first ride through attraction dedicated to Mickey Mouse. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will replace the Great Movie Ride in Chinese Theatre at Disney's Hollywood Studios, taking you into a "two and a half D" world of a cartoon. Mickey and Minnie will appear in the style of recent cartoon shorts, a throwback of sorts to Mickey's origins in his earliest appearance on screen. Goofy will also appear as the engineer of the locomotive, which probably accounts for why this railway will be the "runaway" variety. The Great Movie Ride will close at the end of the day on Sunday, August 13, 2017.

Despite Mickey's diminutive stature, Rafferty described the forthcoming attraction by saying, "this is not going to be a small attraction, it’s going to be game-changing." Given the size of the show building, the importance of Mickey Mouse to the company, and the location of the Chinese Theatre at the focal point of this park, it sounds like it will, indeed, be something special, though it's not clear what the ride experience will be. Rafferty did promise "more hidden Mickeys than any attraction anywhere in the universe."

See Disney's official announcement.

Disney's Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Land to Open Summer, 2018

Toy Story Land was announced some time ago and there's been concept art posted on the construction walls around its future home in Disney's Hollywood Studios for quite a while. The news today was that it will open "next summer." The land will feature Slinky Dog Dash, what Disney describes as "a family coaster attraction," and Alien Swirling Saucers, which appears to be a better-themed version of a Scrambler-type attraction. Neither of these additions to the park appear to be headliner attractions, but both appear to appeal to all-ages, which should increase the appeal of the Studios to children.

D23 Expo guests viewed a short video showing "reconnaissance" of the new area by Sarge from Toy Story. There was no mention in the presentation or subsequent press release of any dining or merchandise locations within the new land.

See Disney's official announcement.

Epcot: Ratatouille

An attraction similar to Disneyland Paris' Ratatouille: The Adventure will be added in what Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald described as "a new space" adjacent to the France pavilion in Epcot. Guest will be shrunk to the size of Remy in what appears to be a 4D experience. The Ratatouille attraction in Paris uses a trackless ride vehicle, which should bring a fun, unpredictable family-friendly experience to World Showcase. The official release from Disney Parks says, "The attraction will expand the pavilion," so it appears that nothing will close as a result of this change. The attraction is set to open "by the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort in 2021."

See Disney's official announcement.

Epcot: New Circle-Vision film in China

Tom Fitzgerald briefly mentioned that a new film will come to the China pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase. Disney has created a new digital Circle-Vision camera system that will allow a seamless presentation that past Circle-Vision movies were not able to offer. While it was not directly stated during the presentation, it seems likely this new film will eventually replace the current Wonders of China film.

A few days after the Expo. Disney Parks shared a story repeating Fitzgerald's comments.

Epcot: Guardians of the Galaxy

Fitzgerald announced a "new E-Ticket attraction based on Guardians of the Galaxy" will be coming to Epcot in the space currently occupied by Ellen's Energy Adventure. This attraction will be different from the Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout attraction that recently opened in Disney's California Adventure. The current Universe of Energy pavilion will close at the end of the day on Sunday, August 13, 2017. The new attraction is set to open "by the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort in 2021."

Without revealing details of what this new ride experience will include, Fitzgerald described the new Guardians attraction only in general terms, as "more timeless, more relevant, and more Disney." Imagineers created a tenuous connection to Epcot's past by announcing Peter Quill, one of the Guardians of the Galaxy, visited Epcot as a child before his adventures across the galaxy.

See Disney's official announcement.

Epcot: New Mission: SPACE Mission

When Mission Space re-opens in Future World next month it will include a second separate ride experience. The "Green" Mission will now "be an [earth] orbital experience" that "younger kids can join." It is unclear whether we will see any changes to the existing "Orange" Mission, but adding a distinct and presumably less-turbulent experience was an expected and likely-welcome change to this attraction.

Epcot: Mission: SPACE Restaurant

In another effort to bring life back to a floundering pavilion, a new table service restaurant will be added next to Mission: SPACE. The setting for your meal will be somewhere "above the earth" and it appears that large windows (somewhat like the Coral Reef restaurant) will offer diners a look out into space. No details were offered about when the restaurant will open, but Disney's press release did say it will be operated by the Patina Restaurant Group, who also run Tutto Italia, Via Napoli, and Morimoto Asia.

See Disney's official announcement.

Magic Kingdom: Tron

The TRON Lightcycle Power Run from Shanghai Disneyland is coming to the Magic Kingdom "in a new space next to Space Mountain." Disney's official announcement describes this as "a coaster-style attraction where riders board a train of two-wheeled Lightcycles" and adds, "it offers access into the energy, lights and excitement of TRON’s high-tech universe." The light cycles are somewhat similar in shape to what visitors to Pandora's Flight of Passage may be familiar with, though the ride experience is very different. This is a fast-paced coaster style attraction that has drawn rave reviews from many guests in Shanghai and an exciting addition to the Magic Kingdom.

In recent weeks, some blogs fueled rumors that this attraction would replace the Tomorrowland Speedway, but given the way Chapek worded his announcement and the description of the location as "an entirely new area right next to the Space Mountain," it appears that nothing will close to build this attraction. It appears that it will sit mostly in on the opposite side of the Walt Disney World Railroad track, in an area currently occupied only by trees. Chapek announced the attraction will "open in time for the 50th [anniversary of Walt Disney World]," which means no later than October 1, 2021.

See Disney's official announcement.

Magic Kingdom: New Theater on Main Street USA

While many of today's announcements were confirmation of stories that had leaked in recent months, this one came completely out of the blue. A new theater will be built on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom. The outside of the theater will be built to resemble the Willis Wood Theater in 1920s Kansas City, Missouri, intended to evoke a place where Walt Disney began his career in animation. What guests can expect to find inside the theater was not announced, though Chapek likened it to the Hyperion Theater in Disney's California Adventure, which is currently running a show based on the animated film Frozen. It does not appear that this theater will replace any existing buildings on Main Street.

See Disney's official announcement.

Disney's Riviera Resort

Chapek said very little about this new Disney Vacation Club resort, except that it will include a top floor restaurant with views of nighttime spectaculars in Epcot and Hollywood Studios. This appears to be the official announcement of a long-rumored DVC addition to Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, though with a different name and it appears it will operate as a distinct resort. The folks at have a pretty thorough summary of exactly where the resort will be located and everything else we know at this point.

A Disney press release adds some detail, noting the resort will include "300 units spread across a variety of accommodation types." The release also adds the expected opening date of Disney's Riviera Resort to be during fall 2019.

Minnie Vans

Chapek announced what is officially described as a "new transportation service featuring vehicles themed to the one-and-only Minnie Mouse." Chapek added that this would be "a new point-to-point transportation service." How exactly this will work in unclear at this time, but a Disney press release says that guests will request this transportation from their smartphone "and a Disney Cast Member will drive them wherever they want to go around Walt Disney World." In recent years, speculation has indicated Disney wanted to offer service similar to what guests experience with ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft (or, more specifically, they wanted to cash in on offering a service of their own).

While no other details were announced during the Expo, the red and white polka-dotted vehicles have been spotted on Disney World property in the days following the announcement. Thus far, Disney has stated that service will begin "later this month" for guests of the Boardwalk, Yacht, and Beach Club resorts. Rumors persist that cars will be reserved using the Lyft smartphone app and the cost of the service will be a flat rate of $20, but Disney has yet to confirm the price or partnership with Lyft.

See Disney's official announcement. and a post-Expo post from Disney Parks Blog.

Disney Skyliner

Plans for a gondola system connecting Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios to some nearby hotels have been floating around for the past couple months, but Disney finally made that news official today. The gondola system will be known as Disney Skyliner and in addition to two theme parks, it will also serve Disney's Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and new DVC Riviera Resort. The opening date for the Skyliner was not announced

The Skyliner will stop near Epcot's International Gateway entrance. There was no word where this will connect with Disney's Hollywood Studios, but that will likely soon be apparent when construction in that area begins. The concept art suggests these will be enclosed vehicles, which presumably means they will also be climate controlled. Chapek announced that some gondolas will include Disney characters, but it was not clear what that meant.

See Disney's official announcement.

Outside of Disney World

Bob Chapek announced quite a few changes outside of Disney World. Since our focus here is on the Florida parks, I will not cover those in much detail, but since those items may be of interest to some readers, I will mention them. Other new things coming from Disney Parks and Resorts in the years to come include the following:

  • Disney’s Hotel New York: The Art of Marvel - the existing Hotel New York in Disneyland Paris will be re-themed to feature Iron Man, The Avengers, Spider-Man, and others in a way "that would make Tony Stark proud"
  • Pixar Pier - the existing Paradise Pier section of DCA will be re-themed to feature popular Pixar movies and will open in 2018 with Pixar Fest
  • Disneyland will offer a New Fireworks Show during Pixar Fest
  • The Pixar Play Parade Will Run in Disneyland 
  • Paint the Night Returns - the nighttime parade will run in DCA, instead of Disneyland, possibly including a new float
  • Radiator Springs in DCA Will Celebrate Halloween - You may say cars in costumes
  • Marvel in DCA - Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout is "only the beginning of greater super hero presence at Disneyland Resort", with Spider-Man and the Avengers coming to DCA in the future
  • Fantasmic Returns Saturday, 7/15 - The show was set to return to Disneyland on Monday, but the opening was moved up to Saturday, with D23 Expo guests (who had already had park admission) offered special viewing locations
  • Disney Cruise Line Will Add a Third New Ship - Two new ships had already been announced, but a third will now also be built, with one new ship launching each year between 2021-2023 + each ship will be the same size, but offer "its own unique experiences"
  • A Beauty and the Beast Stage Musical Will Debut on Disney Cruises - No word when this will happen, but it will include two new songs and will use puppetry to portray the enchanted objects