Remember that time Disney teased that an entire LAND could be gutted and rethemed in Animal Kingdom? Or when they lured us in with the potential of a true Casa Madrigal from Encanto (tears may or may not have been shed)? Wait…you don’t know what we’re talking about? Well buckle up, we’ve got some news for you!
Back at the D23 Expo in 2022, Disney shared all kinds of updates, but for those looking toward the future of the parks these “Blue Sky” ideas were some of the more exciting ones. We’ve already taken a look at just what a “Blue Sky” idea is and how likely it is that some of these things will actually happen. But today we’re taking a closer look at those teased expansions and identifying some potential rides that could be made. Wonder what the future of the Disney parks might look like? THIS is the post for you.
A “Blue Sky” Disclaimer
First, we’ve got to start with a bit of a disclaimer. A key thing to note about all of the ideas and potential lands/rides we’ll be discussing below is that they are just Blue Sky ideas — that means they are in the early stages of development and have been teased, but not officially confirmed.
There has been some mixed language used about these projects. Disney described the potential Animal Kingdom changes as “early concept explorations for Dinoland U.S.A.,” and said that the Magic Kingdom ideas were “potential expansion opportunities.” They also described these as “creative ‘what if’ ideas.” In other words, nothing is guaranteed.
But that doesn’t mean these are just scribbles that have been placed on a piece of paper that Disney isn’t seriously considering. Josh D’Amaro, the Chairman of the Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products did say, “We are not up here daydreaming. It’s important to me that you know that these things … they are very real.”
So, the big takeaway here is that these are very real ideas being worked on, but they’re in the early stages of development so if they do ever get built in the parks, they could arrive in very different forms.
Another Disclaimer (Yes, Another One)
We’ve got just one more disclaimer for you — we just wanted to note that while we’ve verrrrry carefully looked at the concept art that has been shared of these teased lands/rides, that’s all they are — concept art. It’s just an idea of what things could be, so again things could look very different if these ideas move forward and are finalized.
Also, we’ve inspected all of the dots and blocks, but zooming in on an image can only get you so far. So if you think the block we believe to be a boat is actually a tree, totally tell us in the comments — we’d love to hear from you!
What Lands and Rides?
Okay, by now you’re probably wondering — what lands and rides are you talking about? Allow us to explain. During the D23 Expo, Disney teased some potential new lands at both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.
At Magic Kingdom, the team posed the possibility of exploring what could be on the other side of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad if you made it past all of the rocks.
One possibility? Well, it could be a land themed to Coco. Maybe you’d climb across the rocks and find the little town of Santa Cecilia and they’re celebrating Dia de Los Muertos. Could you climb onto an alebrije and fly into the land of the dead? Maybe!
Could COCO be coming to Magic Kingdom?! #D23Expo pic.twitter.com/3h8FF0OCbk
— Disney Food Blog (@DisneyFoodBlog) September 11, 2022
So it seems like the “major” ride here could be some kind of experience where you’d FLY on an alebrije into the world of Coco. Disney hasn’t really teased what this ride could be but from the sound of it, it could be something like Avatar Flight of Passage (where you climb onto a banshee to fly into Pandora). Perhaps this ride would even utilize the same style of bike-type vehicle and 3-D screens.
Or it could be a dark ride, more along the lines of Peter Pan’s Flight, where you board an alebrije-shaped vehicle and fly past animatronics and scenes positioned below or around you. Or perhaps it’ll channel a TRON Lightcycle / Run vibe, turning this into a roller coaster where you can really feel the wind whipping past you as you zoom past flowers and indoor scenery meant to look like the Land of the Dead.
In the concept art, there also appears to be a graveyard with what could be the tomb of Ernesto de la Cruz, the movie’s famous villain. This spot was central to the movie’s Dia de los Muertos celebration, so it could be central to this ride too. Maybe it would be the ride’s entrance?
This flying alebrije ride is the one we started off with as it’s probably one of the MOST exciting out of all the things teased and it might just be the ONE ride we really hope gets made. Imagine the use of colors here, the spookiness of walking through the graveyard and into Ernesto’s tomb to get on the ride, and the potential for an immersive experience that’ll really make you feel like you’ve gone IN the movie. We think there’s a LOT of potential here! Is it the one you most hope Disney will truly make? Tell us in the comments!
There are also other possibilities in this Coco land if you look closely at the concept art. For example, in one area there is a central square which is reminiscent of the Mariachi Plaza scene near the beginning of the movie.
There could be meet-and-greets here or potentially performances and other experiences. There are no current Coco rides (though Coco is in Mickey’s PhilharMagic) so we think this could be a particularly fun expansion.
#Encanto was also teased to possibly come to Magic Kingdom! ✨ #D23Expo pic.twitter.com/ObiOJXxXVH
— Disney Food Blog (@DisneyFoodBlog) September 11, 2022
Or maybe it will be a moving ride that takes you through scenes of Casa Madrigal and the Encanto film, with a special ending that lets you “pick” the special gift you want to see (sort of like the old Horizons ride at EPCOT which had some guest interaction at the end) or like Spaceship Earth where you can customize your future.
Could this also combine Encancto character meet-and-greets into the experience? It’s possible! Again, Encanto doesn’t yet have a ride or attraction (other than some limited-time meet-and-greets) of its own at any Disney park so this might rank second on our list in terms of ones we hope Disney makes!
Another possibility Disney teased was a land themed to the Disney Villains! Lee said, “We love to hate, and sometimes love to adore, obsessively love to adore…our villains.” That could lead to some unique Villains-themed opportunities in the park!
There really weren’t many details shared on this one, but the concept art seems to show some kind of potential gate at the front of the land and some spires/buildings in the distance. One that stands out seems to look similar to Maleficent’s castle on Forbidden Mountain.
And one shot makes it almost look like there’s a figure in the fog that looks a bit like Chernabog.
Could that castle become home to a Villains-themed ride? Maybe we’ll be taken on a dark ride through the castle that will put us face-to-face with the most powerful Disney villains? Or maybe it’ll be a coaster that’ll give you that dropping feeling in your stomach as you come inches away from Chernabog’s wrath? Could it be similar to the Club Villain that once existed in Disney’s Hollywood Studios — perhaps Disney will bring back the dinner show concept with character meet-and-greets within Maleficent’s own castle?
To read our DEEP dive into the concept art, click here
Next, let’s hop to Animal Kingdom. Here, Disney teased that DinoLand U.S.A. could potentially be rethemed to Zootopia or Moana.
When it comes to Zootopia, Disney shared that guests could be immersed in the various districts from the film (as well as some we’ve never seen). The concept art for this doesn’t really give much away since it’s SO far in the distance.
From what we can see though, it looks like there is a path connecting to this land with a big building in the center (possibly the main train station we see in the film?) and the downtown skyline in the background.
It also looks like there are some massive trees to the sides of the downtown, potentially representing the rainforest district? Could we possibly get a ride where we zoom past the various districts of Zootopia as if we were on the train making our way to/from the downtown? We’d love to be shrunk down and travel through Little Rodentia or maybe feel the cold of Tundratown, all while watching Judy Hopps make her mark on the town. Okay, maybe this takes the #1 spot over the Coco ride, or at least ties for first!
The districts in that movie are so rich in detail, theming, color, and characters, exploring each one could be a ride all of its own and a ride that combines them all could be incredible. Maybe it could be like Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway where special effects transform the rooms around you to be themed to the different districts, but are coupled with hilarious antics thanks to the likes of Nick Wilde and Officer Clawhauser. Also, we’ll take an entire room that is just a Gazelle performance, please and thank you.
Or maybe we’ll get a physical adventure that would allow us to traverse through the rainforest treetops? With a Zootopia sequel confirmed to be on the way, we could even see new districts or characters pop up here. Plus, Disney is already working on a Zootopia land at Shanghai Disneyland, so the Imagineering team technically wouldn’t have to start from scratch.
That land will feature a ride with state-of-the-art technology and some of the most complex audio-animatronics ever constructed.
Could Disney essentially bring a copy of this to Disney World if it is particularly successful in Shanghai? We saw it done with TRON Lightcycle / Run, so that’s also a possibility.
Finally, Disney also teased that a Moana-themed land could come to the reimagined DinoLand U.S.A. Jennifer Lee teased that she could just imagine getting to journey with Moana, fight off the Kakamora, and even meet unique creatures and animals of the deep. She said it could be extremely “thrilling.”
Or maybe…MOANA?! 👀🌳 #D23Expo pic.twitter.com/AjmgVWHgqJ
— Disney Food Blog (@DisneyFoodBlog) September 11, 2022
What’s even more exciting is it looks like this is a boat ride with a DROP! Behind the drop, you see a hilly/mountainous landscape that likely covers whatever buildings are used for the indoor portion of this ride. This could be similar to a Splash Mountain-type attraction but, of course, with a unique Moana spin.
At another part of the concept art, there’s a big attraction again themed to Moana based on the circular Moana symbols on the sails. This looks like it could be a Dumbo-type spinner ride. There appear to be vehicles, some at varying heights, going around a central building area, with water flowing over them (and potentially splashing the riders!).
Given the structure of the building, it looks like this could be themed to the Kakamora (and Jennifer Lee did mention potentially fighting off the Kakamora with Moana as a thrilling experience she could “imagine” for this space).
Moana will soon have her own themed walk-through attraction at EPCOT, but we have a feeling that fans wouldn’t be mad at the possibility of getting more moving-style RIDES themed to this popular princess.
And there you have it — a look at the potential rides that could be coming to Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom if these expansions/rethemes ever get done. We think at the top of our list would likely be a flying Coco ride tied with a Zootopia ride that would let us see some of the beauty of the movie’s many districts. An interactive Encanto casita might rank next, but with so many possibilities, it’s tough to make those calls.
What ride or rides do YOU hope Disney makes based on these expansion ideas? Tell us in the comments! And stay tuned for more Disney news.
Click here for a FULL breakdown of these lands and potential rides!
Join the DFB Newsletter to get all the breaking news right in your inbox! Click here to Subscribe!
WE KNOW DISNEY.
YOU CAN, TOO.
Oh boy, planning a Disney trip can be quite the adventure, and we totally get it! But fear not, dear friends, we compiled EVERYTHING you need (and the things to avoid!) to plan the ULTIMATE Disney vacation.
Whether you're a rookie or a seasoned pro, our insider tips and tricks will have you exploring the parks like never before. So come along with us, and get planning your most magical vacation ever!
Save 25% on the 2023 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining with code WDW2023.
Which of these rides and lands would you want Disney to build? Tell us in the comments!
I can’t imagine doing a Coco land. The afterlife has done so well with the Haunted Mansion , why mess with something that’s already a favorite?
Randi Briggs says
They can’t find anything more exciting than Coco or Moana? Not lands I am ever likely to visit.
I would LOVE a villain land with a thrill ride of some sort in it. Think Incredicoaster (ish) with the villains instead of the Incredibles, or even something like the Rockin’ Rollercoaster.
Richard Mercer says
Crazy idea — they should at some point display the artwork for some/all the ideas that never happened. Hollywood Studios would be a natural place to do this.
I would like a villain land or a zootopia land. I think the imagineers could do a great deal with either one of them.