Destination D23 brought some major Disney World news. Earlier today, Disney Parks chairman Josh D’Amaro and Imagineers took the stage to give us Disney fans a glimpse at the future of Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Disney Cruise Line. New lands, big attraction overhauls, and beloved characters are coming to the parks, and some of the new experiences are coming very soon!

So much was announced that it’s hard to keep track. Luckily, Guide2WDW is here for you to break down the big announcements at Disney World’s latest event.

Here’s everything revealed at Destination D23 2023.

All the Disney World news from Destination D23 in under 5 minutes – Video

For more Disney World videos, subscribe to Guide2WDW on YouTube.

Disney’s presentation lasted well over an hour. I’ve broken down all the big announcement in this video that’s under 5 minutes. It’s the fastest way to catch up on the biggest news out of D23 this year.

Magic Kingdom D23 Announcements

Country Bear Jamboree Poster

Country Bear Jamboree gets a musical overhaul (2024)

One pleasant surprise that might prove to be controversial is the announced overhaul of the songs in Country Bear Jamboree. This animatronic show has been running since Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, and this appears to be the biggest update in the Country Bears’ history.

These country critters are going to be singing some popular Disney tunes, like The Bear Necessities in a bluegrass style.

It’s unclear if the show will now be all Disney songs — which I’m sure will upset some Country Bear purists, or if some of the songs from the original attraction will remain. However, it’s great to see this opening day attraction get some love.

Pirates of the Caribbean Tavern Concept Art - Destination D23 Announcement

Pirates of the Caribbean Tavern coming to Adventureland (Date TBD)

Speaking of opening day attractions, the area around Pirates of the Caribbean will be enhanced with a brand new lounge themed to the ride.

Details are scarce, but Disney did announce that the Barker Bird animatronic that originally appeared in front of the ride will be placed in the tavern.

Hatbox Ghost Concept Art - Magic Kingdom

Hatbox Ghost materializing in the Haunted Mansion (November 2023)

Disney also shared new concept art of the Hatbox Ghost in Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion. They provided a clever explanation regarding the controversy over his placement near the Endless Hallway in the ride.

Many observant Haunted Mansion fans noted that a ghost should not materialize until Leota’s seance, which invites the Happy Haunts to appear. Imagineering’s explanation is that the Hatbox Ghost can appear wherever he wants because he is an unhappy haunt.

During the Destination D23 presentation, Disney Imagineer Daniel Joseph explained this to Muppets Gonzo and Uncle Deadly. (Put that as the front runner for sentences I didn’t think I would write in 2023). Not only did I learn a bit of Haunted Mansion lore, but I also learned a neat PR trick. If you have to explain anything controversial, do it with the Muppets!

Encanto Coco and Villains Land Magic Kingdom - Disney World Concept Art

Expansion beyond Big Thunder Mountain – Still happening (Date TBD)

Remember last year when Disney announced that there will be an expansion beyond Big Thunder Mountain including Encanto, Coco, and Villains lands?

Well, it appears that the expansion is still happening. But unlike last year, Disney didn’t share any new concept art or details of any kind. Imagineer Bruce Vaughn did say that the expansion would be on the same scale as Galaxy’s Edge or Pandora the World of Avatar.

However, the plans for this expansion have clearly shifted due to the Animal Kingdom announcements, which I’ll cover below.

EPCOT Destination D23 Announcements

Journey of Water Inspired by Moana - EPCOT

Opening dates for EPCOT construction (Oct-Dec 2023)

The EPCOT overhaul is finally almost complete, and we now know when the remaining attractions and areas will be open.

Journey of Water – Inspired by Moana will be open on October 16.

World Celebration will open to the public this December, including Communicore Plaza and Communicore Hall.

Soarin Over California returns to EPCOT for Disney100 (September 22)

As part of the Disney100 celebration, the Soarin Over California ride film will play starting September 22 for a limited time.

Luminous Symphony of Us - EPCOT Fireworks Show Logo

EPCOT’s new fireworks show gets a name and opening date (December 2023)

EPCOT’s replacement for Harmonious finally has a name! Luminous – The Symphony of Us will open December 5. Disney World President Jeff Vahle said that the show will be filled with “fireworks, fountains, lasers, lighting effects, (and) fabulous Disney music.”

The word Luminous does evoke Illuminations, doesn’t it? It’s as if Illuminations and Harmonious had a baby. Which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

Test Track Overhaul - Destination D23 Announcement

Test Track overhaul is coming (Date TBD)

Bye bye, Tron Track! Test Track will receive a major overhaul, and the concept art appears to ditch the digital design theme in favor of a journey through a lush wooded area.

Still sponsored by Chevrolet, Test Track will be updated with redesigned ride vehicles and a new story that will pay homage World of Motion.

Figment Meet and Greet EPCOT

New characters coming to EPCOT: Figment, Moana, and Asha (2023)

EPCOT will get three new meet and greets, starting very soon!

  • Figment will start greeting guests in the Imagination Pavilion September 10
  • Moana will meet with guests near Journey of Water starting October 16
  • Asha from the upcoming movie Wish will meet with guests in EPCOT. Other details are unknown.

Hollywood Studios D23 Announcements

Star Tours Announcement - Destination D23

Ahsoka will join Star Tours (2024)

The hero from Ahsoka, Star Wars: Rebels, and The Clone Wars will join Star Tours next year. It’s unclear how she’ll be incorporated, but a safe bet is that she will be one of the people you can get a holographic message from during the ride.

Animal Kingdom D23 Announcements

Zootopia and Moana Land - Animal Kingdom
The canceled Moana/Zootopia Land from D23 2022

Moana and Zootopia takeover of DinoLand USA is cancelled

Last year, Disney announced that Moana and Zootopia could replace DinoLand USA at Animal Kingdom. It turns out could was the operative word. Those plans seem to have been scrapped in favor of a concept that fits into the spirit of Animal Kingdom much better, in my opinion.

Zootopia Show D23

Zootopia show coming to Tree of Life (Date TBD)

Bruce Vaughn said that Imagineering still wanted to put Zootopia into Animal Kingdom, but they figured out a better place for the IP. A Zootopia attraction will be coming to the Tree of Life.

The concept art makes it appear to be a 3D movie, and Disney announced that a Clawhauser animatronic will be part of the show. While they didn’t announce it explicitly, all signs point to this replacing It’s Tough to Be a Bug.

Tropical Americas Land - Animal Kingdom Concept Art

Tropical Americas Land featuring Encanto and Indiana Jones to replace DinoLand USA (Date TBD)

As for Dinoland USA, Imagineering is planning to replace it with a land inspired by the Tropical Americas.

What are the Tropical Americas? According to Disney:

“Walt Disney Imagineering is planning to reimagine Dinoland U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park into a new land inspired by a region sometimes referred to as “tropical Americas.” As part of their research, Imagineers are looking at some of the most biodiverse areas on the planet in the regions just north and south of the equator in the Western Hemisphere – the northern part of South America, stretching up into Central America.”

The land will feature two major attractions, one based on the casita from Encanto and a temple from Indiana Jones. No other details were really shared, and this could be another tease that gets shifted in the future.

However, thematically, this land seems like a slam dunk addition to Animal Kingdom, as it presents opportunities to introduce new animals to the park. It will be interesting to see how Disney incorporates these properties into Animal Kingdom’s themes of living with the natural world.

Encanto and Indy don’t exactly scream Animal Kingdom, but the more I think about it the more it makes sense. With Encanto, you could take a journey into Antonio’s room with a menagerie of animals. And Dinosaur has the same ride system and layout as Indiana Jones Adventure in Disneyland, which may be my favorite theme park ride of all time. My only hope would be that Animal Kingdom gets a new story, theming, and updated effects to better fit the park.

But I’m honestly more excited about this concept than the Moana/Zootopia lands that were teased last year.

Avengers Ride Vehicle - Disneyland Concept Art

Other Disney Parks news from Destination D23

  • At Disney California Adventure in Disneyland Resort, we got a glimpse of the ride vehicle coming to the Avengers multiverse ride that will be coming to Avengers Campus. The date is TBD.
  • Disney Cruise Line’s seventh ship will be named Disney Adventure.
  • DCL’s new island location in the Bahamas will be called Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point.

That’s all the news for Disney Parks out of Destination D23. Let me know in the comments: What do you think about these big announcements?