This week marks the fourth ever D23 Expo, which is the exposition event for Disney D23 (the official fan club for The Walt Disney Company). Since 2009, and every second year after that, the event has offered fans the chance to come together and celebrate all things Disney while also getting a sneak peek at upcoming projects across the company’s numerous divisions including parks, film and even video games. With rumors swirling about possible announcements for quite some time now, speculation and anticipation are at a fever pitch. One of my favorite parts of any event like this is making predictions because a) it offers me the chance to brag about how right I was or b) laugh at how wrong I was. I can’t lose! With that in mind, here are my ten predictions for the D23 Expo.
10. Hollywood Studios Gets a New Name
Let’s get one of the big ones out of the way. Every Disney fan at this point knows that Hollywood Studios is getting a huge revamp. With the new changes will also come a new name for the park, which was previously revealed by Disney CEO Bob Iger after he got tricked by a young fan at the annual shareholders’ meeting. From everything I’ve read, the most popular new name appears to be Hollywood Adventure but at this point, it’s anybody’s guess.
Chance it happens: 90%
9. Avatar Land Opening Date Announced
I feel like it’s been forever since we’ve had any Avatar news out of Disney even though it’s only been about six months. Disney has stated in the past that it plans to open the new land at Animal Kingdom in early 2017 but I wouldn’t be surprised if they narrowed it down further to keep the hype train going. Then again, this D23 seems like it’s poised to be a Star Wars dominated event so maybe Avatar will get its time to shine next year.
Chance it happens: 10%
8. Kingdom Hearts 3 Will Include Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar Worlds
Kingdom Hearts is a wildly popular role-playing video game series that incorporates Disney characters/worlds with characters from the Final Fantasy role-playing games. Fans have been waiting for the third numbered installment in the game’s main storyline for a decade now. While it’s already been confirmed that Kingdom Hearts 3 will have a presence at the show along with Star Wars: Battlefront and Disney Infinity, what’s interesting is that Kingdom Hearts is the only one of the three that doesn’t feature either Pixar, Star Wars or Marvel characters. Ever since Disney acquired Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars, Kingdom Hearts fans have been clamoring for those worlds to be included in the franchise. If Disney were to hit fans with all three at once, it’d be huge. I think the inclusion of one of the three is almost a sure thing but it’s whether or not all three will be included that’s really intriguing.
Chance it happens: 65%
7. Disney Infinity Integrated into Disney Parks
Continuing the video game predictions, Disney Infinity is Disney’s incredibly lucrative “toys to life” platform where players use physical figures of popular Disney characters to play as them in the game. I have no basis for this prediction but I always thought it was interesting how this use of near field technology (NFC) is somewhat similar to the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game at Disney World where guests use real life cards to cast spells in a game. What I’m envisioning is that Disney combines the two and makes it so that when a guest places a Disney Infinity figure on a specified platform in the park that character would appear in the Sorcerers game. Again, this is more of a pie in sky prediction, but it would be cool to see nonetheless. Then again, Disney does already sell Infinity figures in the parks…
Chance it happens: 5%
6. Streets of America at Hollywood Studios Becomes Monstropolis
As previously mentioned, Hollywood Studios is rumored to undergo massive changes. With the rumored move away from the magic of movie making towards actually being immersed in the world of your favorite movies, it seems like the Streets of America area is on its way out. Rather than completely tearing down the area, I could see them retrofitting it into Monstropolis from the Monsters, Inc. films. Mike and Sully already had a meet and greet area in the Streets of America following Monsters University, so it wouldn’t be unheard of to have those characters present there. Most expect that Star Wars and Pixar will dominate the new Hollywood Studios so that would keep in line with that rumor also. Here’s hoping Mike and Sully find a new home in Disney World.
Chance it happens: 25%
5. A Huge Reveal for a Star Wars Anthology Film
This is sort of cheating as I could see this prediction playing out in a couple of ways. Disney has already announced that we won’t just be getting Episodes 7, 8 and 9 for new Star Wars films. They’re also creating side stories, which they’re calling Anthology films. I think the most likely thing we’ll get is new footage from the first Star Wars Anthology film, Rogue One, which is due out next year. My bolder prediction involves the recently announced Han Solo film. We still don’t know who’s playing young Han Solo. What better place to reveal the casting than at D23? If Disney really wanted to get crazy, they could do a two for one and reveal the new Han Solo along with the new Boba Fett, who is also rumored to be a major part of the second stand-alone film.
Chance it happens: 70%
4. A Major Marvel Attraction is Announced for Disneyland Resort
Frankly, I can’t believe this hasn’t been announced yet. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a massive success for Disney and we’ve yet to see any kind of Disney parks integration in the US outside of character meet and greet locations. Although Disney World is contractually unable to use Marvel characters in attractions at Disney World due to the existing licensing agreement between Marvel and Universal, Anaheim is free territory. Disneyland Shanghai is getting an Iron Man attraction, so I’m curious whether Disneyland would get the same attraction or if it’ll be an entirely different experience. The only reason I don’t think this a sure bet to be announced this year is again because Star Wars appears to be the focus of the event with Episode 7 releasing in December.
Chance it happens: 50%
3. Star Wars Land at Both Disneyland and Disney World
Star Wars Land. You want it. I want it. Disney knows we want it. While Disney has revealed tidbits about new Star Wars attractions at the parks, we’ve yet to see the big reveal similar to how Disney unveiled Avatar Land at D23 in 2013. Star Wars hype is practically at its apex and I can’t think of a better time for Disney to show their cards. I could see Disney going all in though and reveal not one but two unique lands for both Florida and California similar to how Universal has Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Maybe that’s just the wishful Star Wars fan in me but I think Disney realizes what a juggernaut Star Wars is. Plus, outside of Cars Land, they’ve yet to reveal a counter to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s level of immersion. Maybe focus one land on the Empire and the other on the Rebels?
Chance it happens: 80%
2. Illuminations Replacement/Update News
It’s hard to believe that Illuminations is fifteen years old already. I personally think it’s the best fireworks show that Disney has to offer, which is why I was surprised to hear the rumors that it would be replaced at Epcot. There are also reports that it’s merely getting an upgrade similar to how World of Color received new effects. If Disney does decide to go the prior route, they’ve got a monumental task in upping Illuminations and I wish them the best of luck.
Chance it happens: 30%
1. First Footage for The Incredibles 2 Revealed
Anecdotally, I’d say The Incredibles was the Pixar film that fans wanted a sequel to more than any other. After almost a decade since the original, Disney finally answered our wishes and announced that The Incredibles 2 is indeed in the works but we have yet to see anything from the film. Pixar is already set to reveal new footage for The Good Dinosaur and Finding Dory but I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a small tease for The Incredibles 2 as a final “one more thing” moment.
Chance it happens: 40%
I feel like a kid on Christmas waiting for D23 to see whether or not any of these predictions actually come to fruition, I really do expect some huge announcements. Leave some of your likely predictions in the comments below. Or you can leave some of your crazy predictions! You never know. They might come true.