This morning, Walt Disney World held a presentation highlighting their “Blockbuster Summer” at the Theatre of the Stars inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Following a warm up from a Green Army Man from Toy Story, the orchestra took the stage and performed “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
President of the Walt Disney World Resort George Kalogridis welcomed everyone and began his remarks by talking about Pandora – The World of Avatar. He mentioned that the expansion of Disney’s Animal Kingdom created 1,500 jobs with 800 in construction and 700 in operations. As part of their outreach to the Central Florida community, Disney invited 1,500 members of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida to experience Pandora, one day before it is officially open.
George then moved on to the Disney Conservation Fund which has provided more than $65 million in grants to support 330 organizations that support the environment. The fund has a new initiative called “Reverse the Decline, Increase the Time,” which is assisting 10 different animals that are facing challenges in the wild. Disney Parks announced that in conjunction with the opening of Pandora’s Connect to Protect program, they will donate $1 million for those 10 species.
Kalogridis then went on to mention what an honor it was to have the creative team and cast of Avatar at Walt Disney World for the opening of Pandora. He singled out Zoe Saldana who is was on her way to Disney California Adventure to be a part of the grand opening of Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout. He shared a video message from Saldana who discussed being a part of both franchises. They then went on to preview the upcoming attraction at Disney California Adventure.
Turning the focus back to Walt Disney World, George gave a brief overview of the upcoming Toy Story and Star Wars lands. More details about Toy Story Land will be announced at the D23 Expo in July. The total amount of new lands under development is 25 acres.
After a recap of Magic Kingdom’s Happily Ever After, George announced that Cruz Ramirez from the upcoming Cars 3 will be meeting guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Regarding Epcot festivals, George reminded everyone that the Food and Wine Festival is expanding to 75 days and that the Festival of the Arts will return for a second year in 2018. He also discussed the expansion of Disney’s Coroando Springs Resort and the reimagining of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.
Regarding Disney Springs, George mentioned the new restaurant concept that is replacing Portobello and the upcoming opening of The Edison. He shared a new image of Wine Bar George (no relation) and announced that the United World Soccer store at Disney Springs Westside will be rebranded with famed soccer player Pele.
George wrapped up his presentation by discussing the The Music of Pixar Live! – A Symphony of Characters. To discuss the show George welcomed the director of Up and Inside Out Pete Docter. Docter had worked on the creation of Pixar concerts that have been presented across the globe and Disney decided to bring it to their park with their own special twists. Docter discussed how music has always played an important role in animation. He hoped that the show will help bring the music into the spotlight and help everyone appreciate what it brings to the storytelling.
Following his introduction, Buzz, Woody, and Jessie introduced the orchestra and gave a sneak peek of the show. The Music of Pixar Live! – A Symphony of Characters will be performed three times each night starting May 26 through August 27, 2017.
While it is expected that much more information about the future of Disney Parks will be announced at the D23 Expo, the message that there is always something new at all four Disney World theme parks was loud and clear.