Home / News / NEWS: Disney Announces New Moana Attraction, Epcot Updates & Star Wars Hotel Details in First Round of D23 News
Credit: Disney

NEWS: Disney Announces New Moana Attraction, Epcot Updates & Star Wars Hotel Details in First Round of D23 News

The D23 Expo 2019 in Anaheim, California is underway and we’ve already been treated to some new announcements from Disney! Read details about the Star Wars hotel experience, a new Moana attraction, and more on the transformation of Epcot below.


Here are all the details from Disney Cast Member Thomas Smith:

As many of you know, this weekend’s D23 Expo 2019 will showcase dozens of exclusive reveals and announcements for Disney parks and resorts across the globe.  And to kick things off, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Bob Chapek shared exciting news from Anaheim tonight as a preview of what’s to come this weekend!

Credit: Disney

An all-new Star Wars vacation experience is coming to Walt Disney World Resort!

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will be a new, first-of-its-kind vacation experience where guests will check in for a two-night adventure aboard a glamorous starship.  Once onboard, guests will interact with characters and become active participants in stories that unfold around them on their galactic journey.

Inside the Disney Parks “Imagining Tomorrow, Today” pavilion at D23 Expo, visitors will be able to see a new model and incredible visuals of the starcruiser – called the Halcyon.

Credit: Disney

Also at Walt Disney World Resort, we’ve got big plans for our multi-year transformation of Epcot, with new experiences that will make the park more Disney, more family, more timeless and more relevant to the millions of guests who visit each year.

Credit: Disney

The reinvention of Epcot will include Journey of Water, Inspired by “Moana.” This first-ever attraction based on the Walt Disney Animation Studios hit film, “Moana,” will let guests interact with magical, living water in a beautiful and inspiring setting.

Credit: Disney

And this October, guests will be able to visualize all of the exciting plans for Epcot at a new experience center in the Odyssey Events Pavilion, called Walt Disney Imagineering presents the Epcot Experience. Inside this first-of-its-kind offering within a Disney park, guests will discover engaging and interactive exhibits that allow you to step inside the relentless innovation, energy and excitement and see some never-before-revealed details driving the future of Epcot all throughout this unprecedented period of transformation.

Inside our pavilion at D23 Expo, guests will be able to see an in-story experience where they’ll learn why the Avengers are building these campuses. And on Sunday, we’ll share more details about what our guests will be able to experience when they open.

The pavilion will also feature many of the attractions and lands coming to our sites around the world including TRON Lightcycle Run coming to Magic Kingdom Park, as well as additional expansions in Tokyo and Hong Kong. Here’s a quick look inside:


If you’re excited about today’s announcements, the best is still to come! 

RELATED ARTICLE: Epcot’s 11 Newest Happenings: What We Know So Far

by Mike and Jamie Sylvester

The “tomorrow” part of Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (aka Epcot), has never been more thrilling than now! In fact, today all we can think about is the tomorrow’s that await at Epcot. If you haven’t heard, all the excitement surrounds new happenings promised by Disney on the horizon. So, let’s chat about what we know so far for Epcot’s exciting tomorrows!


1 – “Epcot Forever” On Its Way In… For Now

(October 1, 2019 with a New Show in 2020)

If you want to catch one more IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth nighttime spectacular at Epcot, now is the time as its days are limited. September 30, IlluminNations is out and on October 1, Epcot Forever will arrive. The limited-time show will be a celebration of the past, present, and future of Epcot, built around the magical soundtrack guests have come to know and love at the park. Epcot Forever will feature fireworks, lighting, lasers and choreographed, special effects kites, accompanied by a stirring collection of songs that paints a colorful picture of Epcot. Disney Parks Live Entertainment is collaborating on the show with noted conductor and composer Don Harper, who is producing all-new arrangements of classic Epcot tunes to weave into the soundtrack of “Epcot Forever.”

“‘Epcot Forever’ is a celebration of what Epcot has been and what Epcot is going to become,” said Alan Bruun, show director for Disney Parks Live Entertainment. “Music is the star of the show, and we use songs going back to the very beginnings of Epcot to music in the park today – from attractions, spectaculars and other shows – and put them into a fireworks spectacular on the lagoon every night. Guests are going to hear music they know and love but in a whole new way.”

After it launches October 1, “Epcot Forever” will continue into 2020, when it will then make way for the debut of the next epic Epcot nighttime spectacular as part of the park’s multi-year transformation.

Check out the preview below:

2 – Space-Themed Restaurant

(Expected Opening December 2019)

Get ready for an out-of-this-world experience! We’re talking space… and now we get to eat there! Adjacent to the Mission: SPACE attraction, Disney has released news that we can expect to dine in a restaurant with space views. This high-tech table service restaurant has an art rendering that gets us extremely excited about dining here! It looks like the “views” of space are going to be as real as possible with massive “windows” that look upon the stars. An astronaut may even float by! The seating looks “space” like in it’s simple yet modern way. The restaurant is expected to be two levels, offer 376 seats, and have a “shuttle” that will take people to the dining floors. The restaurant will be operated by the Patina Restaurant Group which we can thank for restaurants like Morimoto Asia and Maria & Enzo’s. The structure is already visible as Imagineers are hard at work. We have a feeling this one will be an extremely difficult one to get reservations for soon!

Photo Credit: Disney

3 – Expanded France Pavilion: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure & New Restaurant

(Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure – Expected Opening, May 2020; Crêperie Restaurant – Expected Opening – 2021)

Bonjour! One of our favorite Disney mice (behind Mickey and Minnie of course!), Remy, has inspired a new attraction to open in Epcot’s France Pavilion. This attraction is said to be very similar to the 4D Ratatouille: The Adventure which opened in Disneyland Paris in 2014. It has been a family-favorite in Disneyland Paris, so the expectation is high here at Walt Disney World! Shrink down to the size of a rat and get ready to scurry from one place to the next (in a seemingly trackless vehicle system) with large props surrounding you and high-tech visual designs that help to submerge guests into the storyline.

Credit: Disney

Also coming to France is a brand new restaurant! It will be built in an all-new location near the Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure attraction. The new crêperie will feature the cuisine of celebrity chef Jérôme Bocuse, the mastermind behind the pavilion’s Chefs de France brasserie and its celebration of gourmet cuisine, Monsieur Paul. With a menu inspired by the Brittany region of France, the new location will offer table service dining as well as a quick-service stop for guests craving savory crepes called galettes and sweet crepes.

4 – Hello New Entrance!

(Expected Opening, 2021 – Walt Disney World Resort’s 50thAnniversary)

First impressions are everything, right? Well, Disney has decided to make a shift right from the start with a new entrance to Epcot. Currently, guests are welcomed by a large display of cement blocks that include the “Leave a Legacy” program. This program, that previously allowed guests to leave their legacy by including a photo and/or names on metal plaques, closed in 2007. While it’s neat to look through these photos and see other Disney fans at their finest, we find this area to be more like rows of obstacles as we rush off to our first attraction. The “Leave a Legacy” plaques have been promised to remain on display until 2027, so Disney is keeping their word. They are however moving the plaques to a location just outside of the park – allowing for the first impression into Epcot to be something totally new. The new entrance will be a refreshing sight as art renderings feature lush greenery, natural shade, and an updated fountain. We believe the new entrance will be a much warmer and welcoming “hello” as guests step foot into Epcot.


5 – “Play Pavilion” Moving In

(Expected Opening, 2021 – Walt Disney World Resort’s 50thAnniversary)

Have you ever noticed the large golden-dome in Future World, located near Mission: SPACE? It was formerly known as the Wonders of Life Pavilion and home to attractions including Body Wars and Cranium Command between 1989 and 2006. After it closed on January 1, 2007, this pavilion has been used as the Festival Center for Epcot’s seasonal festivals. Disney has decided to breathe new life into the golden-dome by making it a “Play Pavilion”. So, what exactly is a Play Pavilion? Disney calls this Play Pavilion the first of its kind in the form of an innovative and interactive city. “Play” is the key word we keep seeing, with promises such as “games and hands-on activities”. In the art rendering, we see a family in what looks like a high-tech mall with fun lighting and multiple experiences. Keywords on what looks like entrances to different areas include “Cinema”, “Let’s Play” and “Hotel”. Disney characters are said to play a role here as well which is evident in the rendering with Mickey Mouse, Tinker Bell and even Nick Wilde (the fox in Zootopia). An Innoventions experience upgraded maybe? Curiosity at its best!

Credit: Disney

6 – Guardians of the Galaxy Coaster

(Expected Opening, 2021 – Walt Disney World Resort’s 50thAnniversary)

This one is what we are most excited about! Ellen’s Energy Adventure moved out in 2017 (sorry Ellen!), and Epcot revealed a massive Guardians of the Galaxy Coaster in its place. By massive – we mean four Spaceship Earth attractions could fit inside of this one building! Construction started quickly, and the structure is noticeable the moment you come near the park entrance. Apparently, this isn’t just any roller coaster, but one of the longest indoor roller coasters in the world. It’s said to be a unique coaster experience too, as it tells a story in which your ride vehicle shifts to follow the storyline. Mind-blown! We’ll be the first in line for this one!

Credit: Disney

7 – Updated Films Coming to China, Canada, and The Land

(Expected Opening Unknown)

Keeping up with technology, Disney has announced they are working on updated films for both the China Pavilion and the Canada Pavilion. Currently, both attractions (“Reflections of China” and “O Canada”) feature roughly 14-minute films in Circle-Vision 360. Both of these upgrades are said to include new, seamless 360-degree Circle-Vision along with new scenery images.

A new film, “Awesome Planet,” is coming to the Land in Future World and will showcase the spectacular beauty, diversity and dynamic story of our earth. Industrial Light & Magic (which provided the cinematic foundation for the Star Wars franchise) is creating “spectacular nature photography, immersive in-theater effects, and space sequences.”  “Awesome Planet” will deliver an environmental message.

8 – Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along

(Expected Opening Unknown)

France is already transforming to add the new Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure attraction, but Disney isn’t stopping there! How about they throw in a Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along! Don’t worry Impressions de France fans… this film is said to be staying put. The Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along will be in addition to Impressions de France. Both films will be in the same theater but offered at different times. The most exciting part is it’s being created by the producer of both the live action and animated Beauty and the Beast, Don Hahn.

9 – Spaceship Earth Rumors

Let’s chat about a few rumors, shall we? These are not officially confirmed at the moment, so nobody panic! Our beloved Spaceship Earth (the big Epcot ball) is at the center of rumors regarding a lengthy closing and/or refurbishment of this attraction. Spaceship Earth itself won’t be going anywhere as Epcot’s icon. We do, however, expect the attraction inside to get a major facelift with an entirely new story and possibly a new theme. It’s due for an overhaul and with the complete reimagining of Future World, it would make sense. There are many unknowns, but we are hoping that if Spaceship Earth is planned for some refurbishment, it will always remain the hub/icon Epcot is known for.

10 – Changes to the Center of Future World

As part of the major redevelopment of the entrance and Fountains of Nations area of Future World, Disney has announced closings of several locations in that area. Some locations will be moved to temporary locations.

Here is a list of closings below:

  • On September 8, The Fountains of Nations, Colortopia, Innoventions East, and Nanooze Break will close.
  • Fountain View, the park’s Starbucks location, will be moved to a temporary location later this fall.
  • This winter the Electric Umbrella is scheduled to close.
  • Also this winter, Mouse Gear will move to a temporary location while the current space will be reimagined.
  • Art of Disney will be moved temporarily to a new location while that location is being refurbished.
  • The Camera Center will close this fall to become the new home for Pin Central.
  • Club Cool will be closing and will be relocated.

As the redevelopment is in the works many character greetings are being relocated. Character Spot will close on September 8. The characters will relocate as follow:

  • Minnie Mouse will move to the World Showcase Gazebo.
  • Daisy Duck will move to the American Adventure.
  • Mickey and Goofy in a temporary Innoventions West area, but with an all-new location to be in the Imagination! pavilion.
  • The location for Joy is still to be determined.
  • A location for Baymax has not been announced.
  • Winnie the Pooh will be returning to the United Kingdom pavilion.

Speculation is rampant about the Fountain of Nations. Disney has confirmed the fountain will close for construction around the area but did not specifically address its future. Many are assuming the fountain is being demolished for something new, but all Disney said was that while the section of the park underwent renovations, the fountain would be closed. Most of the other things that are closing are being temporarily relocated (such as the pin trading station, Mousegear, etc.). The fountain can’t be temporarily relocated, so it would make sense it wasn’t included in the list of temporary relocations. It’s possible the fountain is being demolished, but we find that hard to believe given its history and central part in the story and purpose of Epcot. Hopefully, Disney will but these rumors and speculations to rest with an announcement of plans at D23 next month.

Disney has already confirmed that they will be making announcements about Epcot’s redevelopment at D23 August 23-25, 2019. We’ll be covering D23 and sharing all of the announcements. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to get all the Disney news!

11 – Now Open – Signature Dining Restaurant in Japan

The Space-themed restaurant listed above isn’t the only new restaurant coming to Epcot. The Japan Pavilion now has another signature dining restaurant as well! Disney Cast Member Alex Dunlap shares more:

Takumi-Tei is officially open at Epcot! Located in World Showcase, the new signature table-service restaurant is the latest addition to the Japan pavilion. Here you will enjoy an upscale dining experience with exceptional and specialized service tailored to the unique atmosphere this restaurant provides.

The entire Takumi-Tei experience is focused on giving you a better understanding of Japanese culture, as explained to you by the Japanese cultural representatives. From the moment you walk into the moment you put down your chopsticks for the last time, you will feel as if you’ve been transported to the island nation and will learn about Japanese traditions and their connection to the natural world.

In addition to an incredible prix fixe multi-course tasting menu and a chef’s table experience, the dinner menu highlights wagyu beef in a sublime setting along with sushi, sashimi, unique desserts, signature cocktails, premium sake and much more.

For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.


About Chad & Cindy Nykamp

After years of multiple Walt Disney World vacations, Cindy and Chad's dream of living in Orlando came true in 2010. After friends and family made them their go-to-people for Walt Disney World advice, Cindy and Chad launched in August 2015 to share their knowledge and love of Disney. Chad and Cindy have been Disney World Annual Passholders for years, DVC members, together have raced more than 70 runDisney races, and particularly love cruising on the Disney Cruise Line. Chad and Cindy also regularly represent at Walt Disney World media events. While attending these events, they get an insiders view of all the new things that have come to Walt Disney World. These experiences have helped them gain knowledge and expertise they happily pass on to their followers. They still can't believe how lucky they are to have such an amazing opportunity and will continue to share Disney with anyone who will listen!