Disney News This Week: Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Announces New Lands and Enhancements, The Walt Disney Studios Reveals Details About its Upcoming Slate and Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios Unveil New Titles and Updates at D23 EXPO 2015

On Saturday, August 15, at D23 EXPO 2015, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts (WDPR) announced new attractions and entertainment coming to Disney parks around the globe. Saturday morning in the 7,500-seat Hall D23, The Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger revealed plans for two 14-acre lands themed to Star Wars that will be built at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort. Later that afternoon, WDPR Chairman Bob Chapek took the stage to reveal additional expansions and enhancements. Toy Story Land will come to life at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Chapek announced, and he also revealed that the new land coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be named Pandora—The World of AVATAR. Beginning next year, guests at Epcot and Disney California Adventure park will enjoy Soarin’ Around the World, while Hong Kong Disneyland guests will immerse themselves in the world of one of their favorite Super Heroes at Iron Man Experience, opening in 2016. For updates and more details, visit the Disney Parks Blog.

Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter hosted Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Hall D23 presentation on Friday, August 14, at D23 EXPO 2015, where he announced that Disney has begun production on Gigantic, a unique take on “Jack and the Beanstalk” that features music from Oscar®-winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Frozen). The film is slated for release in 2018. Grammy®-winning international superstar Shakira is bringing her voice to Zootopia, which hits theaters March 4, 2016, while Dwayne Johnson will lend his voice to the mighty demi-god Maui in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Moana, which opens on November 23, 2016. Lasster also revealed the title of the upcoming film from director Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3) and producer Darla K. Anderson (Toy Story 3): Coco, a Dia de los Muertos-themed film that is “the celebration of a lifetime, where the discovery of a generations-old mystery leads to a most extraordinary and surprising family reunion.” With the help of cast members Ellen DeGeneres, Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell, and Kaitlin Olson, new details were revealed about Finding Dory (opening June 17, 2016); and Lasseter, co-director Josh Cooley, producer Galyn Susman, and screenwriters Rashida Jones and Will McCormick told Disney fans that Toy Story 4—scheduled to open June 16, 2017—will be a love story between Woody and Bo Peep.

The slates for Disney, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm were presented at D23 EXPO 2015 on Saturday, August 15. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige provided sneak peeks of Marvel’s Doctor Strange (opening November 4, 2016) and Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War (opening May 6, 2016); while Sean Bailey, president, Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, shared updates on The Finest Hours (opening January 29, 2016), The Jungle Book (opening April 15, 2016), Alice Through the Looking Glass (opening May 27, 2016), Pete’s Dragon (August 12, 2016), Queen of Katwe, and the live-action musical Beauty and the Beast (opening March 17, 2017). Bailey also introduced a surprise guest, newly inducted Disney Legend Johnny Depp, who will appear in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (opening July 7, 2017). Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn presented the Lucasfilm slate and timeline: Episode VII, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, opens December 18, 2015; Episode VIII, to be directed by Rian Johnson, is slated for release on May 26, 2017; and Episode IX—which will be directed by Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World)—is scheduled for release in 2019. Additionally, the first standalone story in the new Star Wars stories series, Rogue One, has commenced photography under the director of Gareth Edwards and will be released December 16, 2016, while the Untitled Han Solo film is slated for release on May 25, 2018 and will be directed by Christopher Miller & Phil Lord, with Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon writing the screenplay.