ORLANDO (CBSMiami/CNN) – From Mary Poppins and Star Lord to an out of this world hotel, the Walt Disney Company has announced big changes are coming to Epcot.
For example, visitors who love the park’s Stars Wars-themed land will in the future be able to stay immersed in a galaxy far, far away by spending two nights in a themed hotel that will be called “Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.”
Details about the project were part of a two-hour presentation on Disney Parks & Experiences at the company’s D23 Expo
In the “Star Wars” hotel concept in Orlando, guests will board the Halcyon, a “legendary ship with an unparalleled level of service,” said Ann Morrow Johnson, creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering.
Resembling the experience of taking a cruise, guests check-in at a terminal at Walt Disney World and enter a launch pod for a simulated trip into space to board the Starcruiser.
Once there, visitors interact with an alien crew, learn about the ship’s navigation and defense systems and train with a lightsaber. They’ll also enjoy a “port day” at Batuu, the fictional planet of Disney’s “Galaxy’s Edge” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando.
Disney has emphasized the interactivity of the new “Star Wars” land, and the hotel extends that idea. The choices made on the Halcyon “affect how your ‘Star Wars’ story unfolds,” Johnson said.
Many details about the hotel have yet to be announced: Disney did not reveal when it would open, how many rooms it will have or its galactic prices. The company did note that every room will have a stellar view — a digital screen that looks out into the cosmos.
Beyond “Star Wars,” Disney outlined major developments to Epcot, which opened in 1982 as a futuristic World’s Fair. To revitalize the aging park, Disney revealed a slew of plans: a Moana attraction called “Journey of Water,” an overhaul of the 37-year-old “Spaceship Earth” ride, housed inside the park’s iconic geodesic centerpiece, and a Mary Poppins attraction in the United Kingdom pavilion. Visitors will enter Number 17, the Bank’s family home, where the adventure will begin.
Epcot will also debut two new nighttime fireworks shows — “Epcot Forever” and “HarmonioUS,” the latter described as “the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park.” The park is also being reorganized into four neighborhoods: World Discover, World Nature, World Celebration and the existing World Showcase.
In Summer 2020, the France pavilion will include the much anticipated Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure as well as the Beauty and the Beast Sing-A-Long.
A Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind roller coaster will be featured in the upgraded “World Discovery” neighborhood.
The adventure starts in the “Galaxarium,” a planetarium-like exhibition that explores the similarities and mysteries of the formation of Earth’s galaxy and Xandar. Guests will be invited to learn more about the treasures Xandar has to share – until the moment when the Guardians of the Galaxy arrive, and adventures across the cosmos ensue. The attraction will feature a new innovation from Walt Disney Imagineering – a storytelling coaster that rotates 360 degrees to focus guests on the action, including the first reverse launch on a Disney coaster.
Epcot, which some fans think has lost its direction in recent years, is undergoing “the biggest transformation of any park we’ve ever accomplished,” according to Bob Chapek, Disney’s chairman of parks, experiences and products. The new Epcot will be “more Disney, more family, more timely and more relevant,” he said.
Other announcements included a Cirque du Soleil show based on the art of Disney animation coming to Walt Disney World, a new port of call for Disney Cruise Line on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera, and the name of Disney’s fifth cruise ship: The Wish.
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