With New Fantasyland well on its way towards completion, all eyes are on the rest of the Walt Disney World theme park properties that have remained relatively stagnant for far too long. Evidence of the latter can be found everywhere from Epcot’s Future World devoid of much of anything futuristic, Animal Kingdom which hasn’t seen a major new attraction since Expedition Everest opened over seven years ago and then we turn to the site formerly known as Disney-MGM Studios. Even the name change to Disney’s Hollywood Studios delivered little tangible difference between the park that was and the park that is. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is in dire need of transformation because the momentum building punches (Tower of Terror, Fantasmic! and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster) happened over a decade ago. Sure the clone of Toy Story Mania is supremely enjoyable but it isn’t the landmark attraction or series of attractions necessary to bring this Studios without a studio park back to life.
With the gloomy backdrop having been set over the past decade, it was the hope of Disney fans across the globe that the Walt Disney Company would use its biennial D23 Expo to make announcements on the Disney Hollywood Studios front that would move the needle. And with all the rumors swirling about potential new Star Wars attractions after the acquiring of Lucasfilm, there were few who could believe the Walt Disney Company would hold back on major announcements for DHS and beyond. Yet as the event approached, the dampening of expectations began through statements that seemed to change the narrative that had been first presented, leaving the D23 Expo 2013 devoid on any major theme park related announcements, potentially redefining the D23 Expo in a way that makes it far less meaningful going forward. It is perplexing to have the biggest showing of the Walt Disney Company, which occurs with at the very least two years of preparation and not have your proverbial ducks in a row to announce anything major coming to the core of your business (outside of ESPN of course). So instead of Imagineering proudly displaying and discussing their latest offerings at its U.S. parks, they were relegated to cheese-ball stories around cattle-branded crates signifying that Star Wars Land is more than just vaporware and in Avatar’s case, well they huddled around a simulated Imagineering office cubicle, I kid thee not.
The Star Wars crates are littered with potential clues and hints at coming attractions but with nothing confirmed and nothing to say, they are little more than props that make for good photos and fill forum boards on the internet. In fact the Imagineers even have jokes on the crates themselves as the main subtitle to Orange Harvest (that may or may not denote attractions at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World) is “Speculation Beyond Imagination” as is currently occurring on the internet and even throughout the Walt Disney World Resort where cast members talk up their not-so-secret, secret. It is fun to dream of the possibilities with the “blueprints” neatly stowed away within the crates showing the title of “Jedi,” but this might just be a mind trick as well. In the end as enjoyable as the D23 Expo 2013 was for various other reasons, it will always be a disappointment because the “one more thing” for Parks and Resorts never arrived.