5 Disney Attractions We Can’t Wait to Experience in 2023
As the year draws to a close, two things are certain. First, come New Year’s Eve, everyone will pretend to know the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne. Second, people around the world will be setting New Year’s Resolutions, those lofty goals they hope to accomplish in 2023. Here at Celebrations most of our resolutions revolve around experiencing the new attractions and experiences that will be coming to Walt Disney World this year (the rest revolve around dole whip, Mickey premium bars, and LeFou’s brew).
And just what are those new offerings? I’m so glad you asked…
They say good things come to those who wait. As though to prove the point, Walt Disney World faithful have been patiently waiting for the opening of the TRON Lightcycle/Run coaster since it was announced at the D23 convention in 2017.
That patience will soon be rewarded, as Disney announced in the 2022 D23 Expo that Guests will finally experience the coaster in the spring of 2023. An exact date is not yet known but rest assured that we will be keeping our ear to the ground for the announcement.
The official Disney Parks page describes the coaster experience as follows, “Climb aboard your very own Lightcycle and take off on a high-speed adventure, racing against the Grid’s most menacing Programs. Surge past your fierce opponents as you attempt to cross through 8 Energy Gates and secure your team’s victory—so you can survive to race another day.”
They aren’t kidding about the highspeed. The Shanghai Disney version of the attraction tops off at just under 60 mph. That will make it the second fastest attraction in the parks, just a few miles per hour slower than Epcot’s Test Track.
Moana: Journey of Water
On December 9 of this year, Disney unveiled a stunning, 16-foot-tall statue of the goddess Te Fiti from the hit animated feature Moana. On Imagineering’s official Instagram page they wrote, “This is a momentous milestone for the project team as we continue to bring this experience to life for EPCOT guests in Late 2023.”
A few weeks prior, Imagineers provided a glimpse of some of the stonework that will be seen along the trail, with detailed shells, a carving of the coconut-clad Kakamora, and even an Easter egg reference to Finding Nemo in the form of a carving of the laid back, slang talking turtle Squirt.
The attraction is a self-guided walkthrough. Curiously, we know very little about what to expect from it. Disney states that Guests will, “learn about the importance of water and discover its playful personality—just as Moana did on her heroic voyage.” But little else has been revealed, leaving us to imagine the wonders that Imagineers are creating. If the statue of Te Fiti is any indication, the entire experience promises to be breathtaking.
Epcot was Walt Disney’s last great dream. Originally envisioned as a “city of the future” (the name itself was originally an acronym meaning Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), Walt did not live to see his vision completed, but the goal remained. Though the final result differed from its initial conception, it remains a celebration of human innovation and the global community, two ideals dear to Walt’s heart.
To celebrate that spirit, Epcot will open Dreamer’s Point in late 2023. According to the official description, Guests will, “Explore lush gardens, listen to stirring musical performances, and delight in festival fun at Dreamers Point.”
The centerpiece of the area is a statue of Walt Disney. The creation, dubbed “Walt the Dreamer” was revealed at the 2022 D23 Expo. A sign beside the statue read, “Walt Disney said that EPCOT should always be in a state of becoming. He wanted to create a space that inspires people to keep dreaming of the future and celebrate possibility. When our new statue finds its home in World Celebration, we hope that it inspires this global community to always keep dreaming of a better tomorrow.”
The statue will be located near the exit of Spaceship Earth and is sure to become a favorite photo spot.
The Hatbox Ghost
For years, the Hatbox Ghost was something of an urban legend to Disney faithful. He featured prominently in the early plans for the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland but vanished completely after the attraction’s opening. The reason? Technical difficulties.
The plan was for, “this ghostly apparition…to appear across from the Bride in the attic scene, holding a hatbox. With every beat of the Bride’s heart, the Hatbox Ghost’s head was supposed to disappear and reappear in the hatbox he was holding.” Sadly, the technology of the day did not allow Imagineers to execute the effect to their satisfaction.
The character was featured in the story record released after the Haunted Mansion’s opening and was even featured on the cover. Press photos of Yale Gracey and the audio-animatronic figure were even published in May of 1969, but as time went on the character slipped into obscurity, forgotten by all but the most diehard of fans.
Decades later, the technology caught up with the vision, and the Hatbox Ghost made his long-awaited return to Disneyland in 2015. Now, he’ll finally be coming to the Magic Kingdom as well. Though we don’t know exactly when this happy haunt will move into the Mansion, Disney has stated that it will occur sometime in late 2023.
The only question left to answer? After his arrival, will the Mansion still have room for one more?
Figment Meet & Greet
Journey Into Imagination debuted 40 years ago with the opening of Epcot, introducing the world to two of the most beloved characters in Disney history: Figment and the Dreamfinder. In those long-ago times, Guests could meet both in the parks, but sadly that has not been the case for many years.
While we’ll have to keep waiting to see the Dreamfinder again, Disney did announce that a meetable Figment will be returning to the parks at some point in 2023. While it’s a safe bet that he’ll be in or around the Imagination pavilion, little else is known at the moment. But just knowing that we’ll soon be able to hug the lovable purple dragon is enough to make us giddy with excitement for the New Year.