Now that we’re done talking ad nauseam about how great 2015 was, it’s time to look forward to all that 2016 holds for the world of Disney. It’s shaping up to be a great, big, beautiful tomorrow so we at LaughingPlace have ranked the top 16 things we’re most excited about. Each one of these items is expected to take place in 2016 — A.K.A. “just a dream away.” Take a look a what you should get pumped for:
16. Tokyo DisneySea’s 15th anniversary
Kyle: This September, the best park that Disney has ever built will turn 15. To celebrate, DisneySea will host The Year of Wishes (in Japan, they don’t limit their wishes or dreams to a certain number like we do here in the States) which will bring new entertainment to the resort starting on April 15th, 2016 — Tokyo Disneyland’s 33rd birthday. This promotion will bring an update to the popular Big Band Beat show as well as the premiere of Crystal Wishes Journey which will be performed on Mediterranean Harbor. Really this item made the list because, if you have never visited the amazing Tokyo Disney Resort before, 2016 is the time.
15. Beginning of Star Wars Land Construction
Doobie: LaughingPlace.com got its start in 1999 while Disney’s California Adventure was under construction. We pretty much made our name putting up pictures of walls and dirt. The time is almost here for Star Wars Land construction to begin at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. How much will we be able to see? How soon will things start to take shape? Is that the big ride? Is that a restaurant? It’ll be so much fun to watch, wonder and speculate. The opening of Star Wars Land is a long way off, but the fun of watching it take shape is almost here.
14. The Jungle Book
Alex: While Disney fans are already suffering from remake fatigue, The Jungle Book looks much better than I imagined. After a dazzling presentation at the D23 Expo with a tease at the film’s version of “The Bare Necessities,” I think this remake is going to be truly special. A magical blend of motion capture, live-action and animation, John Favreau’s version appears to pay homage to both the Kipling tales and the Disney animated classic. Plus, it’s a musical using the original songs, so yeah… this looks awesome!
13. Finding Dory
Alex: Say what you will about Pixar playing it safe with more sequels than original films, I’m still very excited for Finding Dory. The film finds everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang racing across the ocean in search of her family. “Where are those guys?…” It turns out they’ve been living in a marine theme park in California. The film has the potential to not only reunite us with the characters we love from Finding Nemo but also melt our hearts with new ones voiced by Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Ed O’Neill and Ty Burrell. Plus, the opportunity for Pixar to poke jabs at the theme park industry that Disney thrives within and one in which SeaWorld is currently floundering in (pun intended) entices me.
12. Frozen Musical at DCA
Doobie: When it was announced Frozen would be replacing Aladdin at DCA, Kyle and I debated if was a good idea. I came down on the side that it was and I’ll repeat the argument I made there as to why this is really something to look forward to:
Frozen was a phenomenon that went beyond the $400 million box office. For a time in late 2013/early 2014, Frozen may have been the biggest thing in pop culture. It went well beyond kids, just look at all the “Let It Go” versions on YouTube, they’re not all by kids. I loved Frozen and still do and while I can do without 3 hour queues for a meet and greet and slapped together sing-alongs and even the overlaid boat ride, I’m truly excited to see what Disney brings us for Frozen’s first, from the ground up, major attraction. A modern classic like this deserves this kind of treatment and I expect Disney to deliver!
11. Daredevil Season 2 on Netflix
Doobie: I remember when it was announced Disney would be doing a Marvel series on Netflix. Wasn’t Daredevil the guy from that terrible moving starring Ben Affleck? I had zero expectations for this. But then the early reviews came in and they were stellar. A 98% on Rotten Tomatoes — wow! The show was spectacular with incredible action, acting and story. Marvel followed that up with Jessica Jones, another great offering with an ever great villain. But both of those are origin stories and, as we know from the glut of superhero films in existence right now, origin stories can be difficult to follow up. So I’m very excited, but also a little bit nervous about what Daredevil Season 2 will bring. Overall, I can’t wait to find out.
10. Doctor Strange
FanBoy: Remember when we thought that Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man were too weird to succeed? Keep that in mind when thinking about Marvel’s Doctor Strange. The latest character franchise to be added to the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings magic into the fold. Fan-favorite Benedict Cumberbatch has the job of making us believe in a man that traverses the worlds of science and magic. While little is known about the film, expect further details to be released in the near future.
9. Disney Springs Completion
Kyle: In 2015, Downtown Disney finally evolved to officially become Disney Springs — alleviating coastal confusion on Twitter once and for all. However, the Springs project isn’t over yet with work set to continue until sometime in 2016. Personally, I’m most excited for the STK to open having had the pleasure of eating at the Los Angeles location in the past. Yum!
8. The Force Awakens on Blu-Ray
Kyle: Although The Force Awakens opened in 2015, it promises to continue its monumental run well into this year. 2016 will also mark the year that the film arrives on Blu-Ray. While this may seem obvious and somewhat trivial, I’d estimate that some people are more excited to own the movie and watch it in the comfort of their own living rooms than they were to enter a packed cinema houses back in December. Plus, I foresee many more fan theories and Easter eggs to come out once we are given frame-by-frame capabilities to really dissect the latest addition to the saga.
Alex: Picture this: A Disney animated musical set in the South Pacific based on ancient indigenous mythology. That is what Moana promises to be on paper, but the experience presented at the D23 Expo made it seem like more than we can imagine. With culturally authentic music and skin tones, Disney is taking a bold leap towards righting wrongs in a whitewashed Hollywood landscape. Of the voice cast announced so far, the only big name is Dwayne Johnson who is a fitting choice based on his Samoan heritage. Oh yeah, and did I mention that it’s being directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, the team behind The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Princess and the Frog?
6. Frozen Ever After
Kyle: I’ll admit I was one of those people who was sad if not concerned about the closing of the Maelstrom and it being replaced by this attraction when it was announced back in 2014. However, now that we’re getting closer to its opening date, I’m kind of excited. At this point, what’s done is done and it’s better to have something rather than nothing (even with Gran Fiesta Tour getting a nice little addition, it’s still lonely as World Showcase’s only ride). Plus, as odd of a name as it is, if the “Escape from Arendelle” subtitle that seemed to be announced during the Christmas Day Parade sticks, I think I’ll feel a little bit better about the whole “fictional country in World Showcase” thing.
Alex: Did you see the latest trailer? If not, educate yourself. Zootopia is without a doubt going to be one of the funniest animated films of all time, but, on top of that, it also has a powerful message about not letting the world define who you’re meant to be. On top of a creative world and lovable characters, the film promises to be a different type of movie than Disney is famous for. Plus, if that Shakira song (written by Sia Fuller) isn’t stuck in your head now, it surely will be by March when the film comes out. “It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen… be-fur.”
4. Rivers of Light
FanBoy: Premiering this spring, Rivers of Light is the first nighttime spectacular in the history of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. With a waterway as its stage, this new show will feature entertainers, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery. The show is just one part of the park’s initiatives to transform from a “half-day park” to a full-day destination. Also featuring nighttime expeditions on Kilimanjaro Safaris and new dining, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is trying to shed the stigma that has plagued it since its opening days. These efforts hinge on the success of the nighttime spectacular which had to be thought of outside the box due to the park’s restriction on fireworks. Can spectacular legend Steve Davison pull it off? We will find out.
3. Rogue One
FanBoy: Obviously Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues to break box office records and build anticipation for Episode VIII. But before we get to see what happens to Rey, Finn, Poe, and Luke, we will get the first of the spin-off films that take place in the same universe. Billed as a way to explore different stories and genres outside of the saga of the Skywalker family, this first “Star Wars Story” will tell how the Rebels got the plans for the Death Star that set up the events of the original Star Wars film. How will fans react to a film that takes place outside the main storyline? It will probably depend on director Gareth Edwards’ execution. This film will determine if fans want more from the Star Wars universe.
2. Captain America: Civil War
Kyle: If I was being completely honest with myself, I might have to say that I’m more excited for this film than I was for The Force Awakens. The movie will kick off Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which is notable because usually entries like this that pull out all the big guns are conclusions and not beginnings. Not only will nearly all of the heroes we’ve met in past MCU films (save Hulk and the Guardians) make appearances but we’ll also meet Black Panther and the new Disney-
owned leased Spider-Man. This movie will surely have dire consequences that will send shock waves through the rest of the film’s in this phase. In other words, the bravest and most successful movie franchise model is about to go for broke all over again and I can’t wait.
1. Shanghai Disneyland
FanBoy: Bob Iger has repeatedly said that the opening of the Shanghai Disneyland will be the biggest moment of his tenure. While this authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese project has faced setbacks that have caused delays, Disney is obviously excited about the project having already approved accelerated expansion plans. We expected to have an opening date by now, but we still expect this resort to open in the spring. The largest “castle park” on its opening day will feature classics, new takes on old favorites, and brand new experiences that will make this a destination for the 330 million “income qualified” guests that are within a three-hour drive of the resort. Of course, us Disney fans wouldn’t mind a visit as well.