The Walt Disney Studios wowed Disney’s biggest fans at Destination D23—a three-day event at Walt Disney World Resort this weekend celebrating all things Disney—with a fun and fantastical showcase that offered moviegoers an insider’s look at the studio’s upcoming slate. Presented by Lug, Destination D23 welcomed fans to Central Florida to celebrate alongside the studios as Disney marks 100 years of sharing beloved movies, series, and shorts filled with hope and innovation. Attendees to the sold-out event heard from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Lucasfilm, Disney Live Action, Pixar Animation Studios, and Marvel Studios.
WALT DISNEY ANIMATION STUDIOS
Clark Spencer, two-time Academy Award®-winning producer and president of Walt Disney Animation Studios, kicked off the presentation reminding the audience that the studio will mark 100 years on Oct. 16, 2023. “For several years now, everyone at the studio has been dreaming about this incredible milestone,” he said. “There were great conversations around what we could create that would both pay tribute to the artists who came before us and to thank everyone who has connected with our films over the past century.” Spencer shared two upcoming projects with the audience that were born of this inspiration.
“ONCE UPON A STUDIO”
Directors Dan Abraham and Trent Correy introduced fans to the new hand-drawn and CG-animated short that features an all-star ensemble of beloved Disney Animation characters who come together for a spectacular group photo in an entertaining and emotional nod to the hundred-year milestone. The Studio Showcase audience became the first in the U.S. to see the short that offers a special look inside the studio where the magic happens.
Directors Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn shared details about Disney Animation’s 62nd feature, an all-new original musical adventure that centers on one core belief: There is no greater power in the universe than someone with a true wish in their heart. Opening in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, “Wish” takes place once upon a time in Rosas—a fantastical, fictional island where wishes can literally and magically come true. When Asha, a sharp-witted idealist, learns a hard truth, she makes a wish so powerful that it is answered by a cosmic force—a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Together, Asha and Star confront a most formidable foe—the ruler of Rosas, King Magnifico—to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen.
Asha, who will soon be coming to EPCOT, Disneyland Resort and Disneyland Paris, joined Buck and Veerasunthorn on stage. The excitement already in the room was amplified when filmmakers surprised fans with 10 minutes of footage from the film that included two of the seven all-new original songs penned by Grammy®-nominated singer/songwriter Julia Michaels and Grammy-winning producer/songwriter/musician Benjamin Rice. “Wish” features the voices of Academy Award winner Ariana DeBose as Asha, Chris Pine as Magnifico and Alan Tudyk as Asha’s pet goat Valentino.
“STAR WARS: AHSOKA”
Lucasfilm invited attendees behind the scenes of their latest original series, “Star Wars: Ahsoka,” which launched on Disney+ on Aug. 22—episode 5 hits the streamer this Tuesday, Sept. 12. Audience members were greeted by two key players for the series—the off-screen prop master, Josh Roth, and the on-screen astromech droid, Chopper. Roth offered a glimpse of his duties—which include handling lightsabers and building droids, among other things. Each fan in attendance was gifted with a pair of Ahsoka ears. Set after the fall of the Empire, “Star Wars: Ahsoka” follows the titular character as she investigates an emerging threat to a vulnerable galaxy. Rosario Dawson reprises her role as the former Jedi Knight and Padawan to one of the greatest Jedi of all time, Anakin Skywalker.
DISNEY LIVE ACTION
Destination D23 audience members were the first to learn the spooktacular feature film will come to Disney+ beginning Oct. 4. It will be available on digital the same date and on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ and DVD on Oct. 17. The film, which opened in U.S. theaters on July 28, is inspired by the classic theme park attraction. In “Haunted Mansion,” a woman and her son enlist a motley crew of so-called spiritual experts to help rid their home of supernatural squatters. The film stars LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Chase W. Dillon, Dan Levy, with Jamie Lee Curtis and Jared Leto as the Hatbox Ghost.
PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS
Disney and Pixar’s “Elemental” director Peter Sohn appeared virtually, reminding the audience of last week’s news that the fiery young woman Ember (voice of Leah Lewis) and go-with-the-flow guy Wade (voice of Mamoudou Athie) from the original feature film are heading to Disney+ beginning Sept. 13 and 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ and DVD on Sept. 26. Having opened in theaters this summer, “Elemental” is among 2023’s top 15 highest-grossing films worldwide, earning more than $480 million in global box office to date.
“GOOD CHEMISTRY: THE STORY OF ELEMENTAL,”
Also hits Disney+ Sept. 13, takes viewers on a humorous personal journey through the inspiration behind the movie. Sohn shared a clip of the documentary, which traces his parents’ voyage from Korea to New York, explores his dad’s former grocery shop in the heart of the Bronx, and delves into his choice of a career in animation, rather than the family business.
“I AM GROOT”
The celebrated studio’s presentation began with a sweet treat from the beloved troublemaking twig, Baby Groot, who returned to Disney+ Sept. 6 with five new episodes aka escapades. The tree of few words explores the universe beyond the Guardians’ spaceships, coming face-to-face—or nose-to-nose (he gets a nose in episode 2)—with new and colorful creatures and environments. Attendees watched episode 4, “Groot’s Sweet Treat,” in which he scours the ship for coins as an intergalactic ice cream truck approaches. Audience members aptly received a dining card redeemable for a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar.
Streaming on Disney+ beginning Oct. 6, season 2 of “Loki” picks up in the aftermath of the shocking season finale when Loki finds himself in a battle for the soul of the Time Variance Authority. “Season 2 is the ultimate time-traveling adventure that will truly put Loki’s glorious purpose to the test,” said executive producer Kevin Wright, who delighted fans with an extended look at the forthcoming season. Along with Mobius, Hunter B-15 and a team of new and returning characters, Loki navigates an ever-expanding and increasingly dangerous multiverse in search of Sylvie, Judge Renslayer, Miss Minutes and the truth of what it means to possess free will and glorious purpose. The series stars Tom Hiddleston, Sophia Di Martino, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wunmi Mosaku, Eugene Cordero, Rafael Casal, Tara Strong, Kate Dickie, Liz Carr and Neil Ellice, with Jonathan Majors, Ke Huy Quan and Owen Wilson.
Wright concluded the Marvel Studios presentation with one more surprise—a featurette previewing the upcoming film “The Marvels,” which hits the big screen on Nov. 10. Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel has reclaimed her identity from the tyrannical Kree and taken revenge on the Supreme Intelligence. But unintended consequences see Carol shouldering the burden of a destabilized universe. When her duties send her to an anomalous wormhole linked to a Kree revolutionary, her powers become entangled with that of Jersey City super-fan, Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel, and Carol’s estranged niece, now S.A.B.E.R. astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau. Marvel Studios’ “The Marvels” stars Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Zawe Ashton, Gary Lewis, Seo-Jun Park, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Saagar Shaikh and Samuel L. Jackson.
ALSO REVEALED THIS WEEKEND…
Disney will bring D23: The Ultimate Disney Fan Event to Anaheim, Calif., in August 2024 with expanded Disney fan experiences and exciting events across multiple locations, including a D23 kickoff celebration at Disneyland on August 8. On August 9, 10 and 11, fan favorites including exhibits, panels, shows and shopping will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center during the day, with the fun extending into evening shows at the Honda Center.