Disney executives unveiled a long list of new attractions and upgrades at the company’s resorts and theme parks Sunday, including a Spider-Man ride at the newest land, dubbed Avengers Campus, at Disney California Adventure Park.
The additions and overhauls signal optimism by Walt Disney Co. in the revenue-generating power of its theme parks and resorts, despite the U.S. parks unit reporting a 3% drop in attendance during the most recent three-month period.
In front of a crowd of cheering Disney fanatics at D23, the biennial celebration of all things Disney, Bob Chapek, chairman of parks, experiences and products, cataloged for nearly two hours the additions, expansions and overhauls planned for Disney parks in Anaheim, Paris, Hong Kong and Orlando, Fla.
Some of the announcements made at the Anaheim Convention Center came with musical presentations, and legendary Disney actor Dick Van Dyke made an appearance to plug a new feature at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.
The newest addition to California Adventure Park, a new land themed after the superheroes of Marvel comics and movies, will include an attraction that will let riders help Spider-Man shoot webs to try to round up malfunctioning “spider bots.” The description of the ride and images shown at D23 suggest an interactive ride, similar to Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, the Disneyland ride that has riders laser-blast targets for points.
The attraction fits into the theme of the Marvel land, which is to recruit new superheroes to protect Earth from evil supervillains. The existing drop-tower ride, Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout, will be included in the new land.
Chapek also noted that the new land will open in phases. The first will open next year and the second at an unannounced later date, with a new attraction that will take park visitors on a spaceship ride to Wakanda, the fictional land that is home to the superhero Black Panther.
Disneyland’s biggest expansion, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, also opened in two phases, welcoming guests in late May with only one attraction, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. A second attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, opens Jan. 17.
Disney fans and others have suggested that Galaxy’s Edge has not drawn crowds comparable to those of previous expansions because it featured only one attraction. Disney officials have rejected such theories, calling Galaxy’s Edge a huge success.
Chapek showed video clips with scenes from the upcoming attraction, Rise of the Resistance. It depicts guests in vehicles that roll through a space vessel while avoiding laser fire from Stormtroopers and blasts from tree-size All-Terrain Walkers, like those used by the evil Empire in previous Star Wars movies.
“So, how thrilling is that?” he asked the crowd.
Chapek announced a new daytime parade, called Magic Happens, for the spring of 2020 at the Anaheim resort, featuring floats with characters from Pixar and Disney movies such as “Coco,” “Moana” and “Sleeping Beauty.” A new ride featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse called Runaway Rail will also open in Mickey’s Toontown in Disneyland in 2022.
Many of the changes announced Sunday will take place at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Chapek said. He described an extensive overhaul of Epcot, the themed land that opened in 1982. He called it the biggest overhaul of any park in Disney history, including new lands and reworked gardens and fountains.
Van Dyke, who starred in the 1964 musical film “Mary Poppins,” came on stage with Chapek to announce a new Epcot attraction based on the movie. Chapek was short on details and offered no timetable except to say it would be part of the United Kingdom Pavilion.
Disney officials announced the name of their latest cruise ship — the Disney Wish — and offered details about a new cruise destination, on the southern point of the Bahamian island of Eleuthera.
Joe Rohde, portfolio creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, described the destination as a “great seaside adventure camp” that would be designed and built with the help and cooperation of locals in the Bahamas. He did not say when Disney cruise ships would eventually land on the island, and he didn’t mention that environmentalists on the island have opposed the Disney port project.
“The end result will be like no other,” he said.