D23 Expo takes place in Anaheim, CA and is known as “the ultimate Disney fan event”. Fans come from around the world to hear the company executives talk about the new projects they are working on and cast talk about the latest projects that have already been released. Generally this event occurs every 2 years, on the odds. Thanks to our good ol’ friend COVID, we did not get to enjoy an expo last year, 2021. Instead, we held off for one more year to better ensure health and safety as well as a fun experience could be had by everyone. For this year’s announcements, I decided to compile the 2022 D23 Walt Disney World announcements that Josh D’amaro, Chairman of the Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products, had for us!

D23 Announcements for Magic Kingdom

Return of Happily Ever After

D’amaro started off the Parks presentation portion of D23 Expo with a BANG! The one, only, and beloved Happily Ever After (presented by Pandora Jewelry) will light up the sky over the Magic Kingdom once again! This nighttime spectacular will return “sometime next year”, but we were not given a specific date, or even season, as we received with most of the later announcements. To foreshadow this announcement before it was made, we had the privilege of seeing Jordan Fisher and Angie Keilhauer perform the title song for the show and it was GLORIOUS. I knew the moment they started that the announcement we’ve all been waiting for was finally about to happen! 

Return of the Hat Box Ghost

We all know and love the Haunted Mansion Hat Box Ghost. If you don’t, it’s probably because you haven’t gotten the chance to see him yourself yet. Well, sometime “next year” (2023), D’amaro tells us that we will see the return of the Hat Box Ghost at Haunted Mansion within the Magic Kingdom. For decades, this special ghost has made his journey back and forth between east and west coast. I’m not sure if this means he will be leaving Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion once again or if Imagineering is working on a second Hat Box Ghost animatronic, but alas, we’ll have him back in MK and that’s what matters. 

Opening TIME FRAME for Tron: Lightcycle Run

For literal YEARS, we have seen Tron: Lightcycle Run take shape behind Space Mountain in the Magic Kingdom. In the last few months, we’ve seen work ramped up to 100 on this project. With no opening date or time frame announced, fans were beginning to speculate for themselves. Some even thought we would be able to hop on board a lightcycle before the end of 2022. While this isn’t the case, we finally have at least a time frame for this new futuristic rollercoaster’s opening date! Tron: Lightcycle Run will open for operation in “spring 2023”. Now does this mean in time for spring break? Maybe. Does it mean as late as May? Maybe. You can never be too sure with these time frames because they tend to be so broad. But nevertheless, I’m excited we finally have a general idea of when we’ll be able to ride this amazing attraction! Check out the sneak peak video that was released during this announcement as well!! 

Take a look at this progress! The photo on the top is a photo I took from the People Mover back in 2019. The bottom photo is courtesy of Bioreconstruct and is from June 2022. You can click on the photo to find more pics of the construction!

Beyond Big Thunder Mountain

With the collaboration of Imagineering and Disney Animation Studios, we MIGHT (?)  be receiving a new mini-land in the Magic Kingdom. This project is very much in its early days so there weren’t a TON of details announced. But what WAS announced, or at least hinted at (?) is that one day (who knows when) we may be able to walk into Casita Madrigal from Encanto, walk the streets of Santa Cecilia from Coco, and even journey with the villains from various Disney stories. This new mini-land would be located behind (beyond) Big Thunder Mountain. I’m guessing on the other side of the railroad? This is a project that I personally feel very skeptical towards, so I’d love to hear your thoughts! Are you super excited for these projects? If you are, let me know why! If you’re not, let me know why not too!

D23 Announcements for Epcot

New Firework Show at Epcot

This one came as quite the surprise to me personally. We just got Harmonious last year, after extensive work was done on World Showcase Lagoon to get those huge barges in for the show. Despite whatever feelings I may be feeling toward such a short run for Harmonious, the new show looks great! According to D’amaro, this new spectacular will commemorate Disney’s 100 years of storytelling. Not many details were given about the show, but it will make its first appearance in Epcot “late next year” (2023). 

Moana: Journey of Water Opening Time Frame

This attraction seems to be one of the few from D23 Expo 2019 that hasn’t been “shelved” as Chapek likes to call it. I was so excited to hear that this interactive, walk through attraction in the Discovery Nature neighborhood will open in “late 2023”. I don’t know about you but I’m starting to see a theme here. 

Figment Character Experiences

This final Epcot announcement had me SCREAMING. Beginning, you guessed it, “late 2023” guests at Epcot will have the chance to MEET Figment! Figment has not been a character that you were able to meet at all so far in my lifetime so this is BIG news!! My guess is that all three of these new experiences will commence either ON or around October 1st, Epcot’s anniversary. I could also see them spacing out these dates as well as having them coincide with Magic Kingdom important dates to disperse the crowds. 


D23 Announcement(s) for Animal Kingdom

Dinoland USA Transformation in Development

I feel like this is an announcement no one expected but we all needed to hear. Dinoland USA has been kinda a mess the past, I don’t know, decade? This area of the park definitely needs some love and it’s finally getting it! While this project is still in VERY early stages, the fact that D’amaro, with the help of Imagineering Portfolio Creative Executive Chris Beatty and Walt Disney Animation Studios Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee, shared a few possible ideas for the new themed land. The two ideas they shared with us are Zootopia and Moana. Zootopia seems like a great idea, the animals fitting in with the theme of Animal Kingdom, and there is already work being done in Shanghai Disneyland to open their own Zootopia themed land. On the flip side, Moana could tie into the conservation aspects of the park as well as living in harmony with Mother Nature. While I feel bittersweet about incorporating so much IP into this park, I understand the why behind the company’s decision to do so. I also appreciate the thought that goes into deciding which IPs fit in with the overarching message of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. 

So there are all of the 2022 D23 Walt Disney World announcements! If you haven’t done so yet, go ahead & subscribe to be notified when I post a new article.

Don’t forget to check out the DCL announcements HERE (there’s some pretty big ones!)

You can check out my latest article HERE and my latest Disney article HERE ! Thanks for reading (: