Destination D23 Live! - 2021

Every Magical Moment from Destination D23: Presented by Topps

By the D23 Team

After all the excitement from Saturday, you’d think we’d have run out of magical moments—but, never fear! The second day of Destination D23: Presented by Topps was just as filled with fun, surprises, and a lot of festive sweaters. The morning began with a surprise performance from musician Jeremy Passion, who performed an acoustic cover of “There’s a Great, Big, Beautiful Tomorrow” from Magic Kingdom’s Carousel of Progress.

Then, the day kicked off with D23 Members diving right into another day of celebrating the “Vacation Kingdom of the World”:

Destination D23 - 2021

Disney+ Download at Destination D23
After last week’s thrilling Disney+ Day packed with announcements and sneak peeks and posters and… just about everything a fan could dream of, our friends at Disney+ stopped by the Destination D23 stage to showcase some of their can’t-miss upcoming content, including a live interview with Diary of a Wimpy Kid’s author and illustrator Jeff Kinney, a 10-minute preview of Welcome to Earth, and an un-frog-ettable interview with Kermit the Frog himself!

“Speaking as an amphibian who’s spent a lot of times in streams, Disney+ is definitely my favorite,” Kermit told us, before sharing a blooper reel from Muppet Haunted Mansion and revealing that his favorite series on Disney+ is the Imagineering Story, because he gets management tips from Walt Disney Imagineering. “They’re more organized than The Muppets,” he explained.

Destination D23 - 2021

Onboard the Disney Wish: Creativity & Inspiration Sets Sail
Wishing you could get an inside look at how the newest ship to join the Disney Cruise Line fleet was brought to life? Imagineers steered guests through a presentation highlighting the gorgeous new ship, including the new Frozen-themed dining experience, which they announced will be formatted as a dinner in the round. The presenters then gave us a super inside look at “Avengers: Quantum Encounter” at the Worlds of Marvel dining experience, which will feature some of our favorite Super Heroes, including Ant-Man and The Wasp, who will demonstrate their incredible shrinking technology by shrinking Scott Lang’s luggage—and the Disney Wish itself!

Need something that puts you in an animated mood? Guests got a sneak peek at seven out of the nine Mickey Mouse cartoon clips that will be featured in the AquaMouse, Disney’s first-ever attraction at sea!

Just because you’re on the sea doesn’t mean that you can’t visit a galaxy far, far away, as Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge will take Disney Wish guests to seven different locations across the galaxy! Destination D23 guests got a first look at some of the view diners will see from the Star Wars: Hyperspace lounge windows, which include vista like the planet of Mustafar or an asteroid field.

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The Dawn of the Disney World
This presentation was jam-packed with special guests, fascinating facts, and even a special appearance from a Disney Legend! Steven Vagnini, one of the co-authors and historians behind the new Disney Editions coffee table book A Portrait of Walt Disney World: 50 Years of The Most Magical Place on Earth, led an entertaining presentation on the development of the resort. Accompanied by video messages from his co-authors Tim O’Day and Kevin Kern, Vagini shared that they interviewed over 100 people in research for the book—including the next guests featured in the presentation!

Global Ambassador for the Walt Disney World Resort 50th Anniversary Celebration George A. Kalogridis, inaugural Walt Disney World Ambassador Debby Dane Browne, and longtime Imagineering executive Peggie Fariss shared a lively discussion about their experiences being a part of the resort’s unveiling and 1971 opening (and beyond!). All three presenters actually started their Disney careers at the Contemporary Resort—where this very Destination D23 was held!

To close out the session, Walt Disney Archives director Becky Cline hosted a special appearance by Disney Legend Dick Nunis for a look at how Walt Disney’s greatest dream was transformed into the Vacation Kingdom of the World. The conversation included many stories about Nunis’ time working with Walt himself, and the revelation that his iconic Bermuda shorts—which were part of the Walt Disney World Resort “Disney Look” for cast members at the time—were inspired by a trip he took to Bermuda. He claimed he saw the shorts and thought, “That’s a great idea!” With so much insight to share about the early days of Walt Disney World Resort and his time working with Walt, we couldn’t cover it all in the panel. Luckily, Nunis revealed that he has written a book, Walt’s Apprentice, which will be available in 2022!

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Delicious Walt Disney World
Hungry for some Disney history? Authors Pam Brandon and Marcy Smothers and host Morgan Gaines took guests on a tasty tour of a half century of food at Walt Disney World! We were treated to the reveal that three iconic aspects of Disney dining originated at Walt Disney World: The Mickey ice cream bar originated at The Land pavilion at EPCOT, while Dole Whip debuted at Walt Disney World in 1984. Finally, while character dining can be found at Disney Parks all over the world in modern day, the first ever character dining experience was at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

The book, which includes recipes for classic fan favorites like the “Handwhich,” and soon-to-be classics like Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser’s upcoming “Blue Shrimp” dish, was heavily inspired by the spirit of Walt himself. Smothers quoted him saying, “Welcome to the kingdom of good eating, where the food is as fabulous as the fun.”

Destination D23 - 2021

From the Vault: Merchandise Memories
We all have a beloved souvenir or two from a Walt Disney World trip—and there’s 50 years’ worth of merchandise out there to commemorate countless happy vacations. Actress and fashion icon Ashley Eckstein and the Walt Disney Archives’ own Kelsey Williams joined the creative minds behind the latest must-have Walt Disney World “From the Vault” Collection for a look at the past, present and future of the merchandise you love to collect!

Not only that, but the panel took us behind the creation process of the “From the Vault” collection, revealing that the creative team visited the Walt Disney Archives for inspiration and made their own versions of iconic items. They even created a style guide based off their research! The panelists all wore clothing from the line that is soon-to-be released, including a spirit jersey with a vintage park map and Crocs with the same pattern (a reveal so exciting that a member of the audience shouted “WHAT?!” in shock). New updates to the line will continue to be released throughout the 50th anniversary celebration, including into 2022!

Williams took us behind the creation of the Walt Disney Archives’ featured exhibit at Destination D23, “50 Years of Bringing Home the Magic.” She explained that they wanted to use the new, bigger space for the exhibit to show off the decades of merch in their collection—since the Archives was started in the ’70s, they were lucky enough to be collecting merchandise since the start of Walt Disney World! She also revealed that displays for each decade featured a backdrop of the shopping bags from that era.

Stories of the Walt Disney World Galleries
Ever wondered who was responsible for curating and caring for the incredible artifacts within the galleries and exhibits found throughout Walt Disney World? The Walt Disney Imagineering Collections team took to the stage to share how they brought the galleries to life—and shared the behind-the-scenes stories of creating these unique, authentic, and surprising hidden-gem experiences. They showcased art from everywhere at Walt Disney World—from the galleries of EPCOT’s world showcase to Anakin Skywalker’s Podracer at the Star Wars Launch Bay!

Walt ’90s World
Booyah! The next stop in a pop culture-fueled ride through the Disney decades that defined Walt Disney World is the ’90s, and the Walt Disney Archives’ Francesca Scrimgeour and Williams made sure that not just ’90s kids remembered the wacky and wonderful moments from the era, including The Magical World of Barbie, *NSYNC’s iconic concert at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the talking robot trashcan PUSH who would make Walt Disney World guests dance… to “The Macarena,” of course!

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Musical Attractions of Walt Disney World
From “One Little Spark” to “Magic Journeys” galore, the music of Walt Disney World resort is unforgettable! Imagineers Tom Fitzgerald and John Dennis took us on a journey through 50 years of Walt Disney World music, highlighting songs and scores from some fan-favorite attractions—including The Country Bear Jamboree, If You Had Wings, and Horizons. They shared fascinating facts behind the creation of iconic Walt Disney World music, like the fact that It’s Tough to Be a Bug’s insect-inspired instrumental of “Beauty and the Beast” (or should we say, “Beauty and the Bees”?) required the brass section to play their instruments like kazoos! The toe-tapping talk concluded with a magnificent musical moment, where DCappella debuted their music of EPCOT medley.

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The World’s Most Magical Finale
After two days’ worth of epic presentations, performances, and special surprises, we had to close Destination D23 with an unforgettable closing moment! After their EPCOT medley, DCappella performed a mash-up of songs from The Lion King, before Syndee Winters took to the stage to sing “Shadowlands” and “Almost There.” Bardo then performed his own iconic take on “There’s a Great, Big, Beautiful, Tomorrow,” before Kayla Alvarez closed out the night with an enchanting performance of the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary anthem, “The Magic is Calling,” joined on the stage by Mickey and friends in their EARidescent best!

Disney+ Season’s Streamings Ugly Sweater Party
…okay, so it’s not really over until there’s a dance party! Our pals at Disney+ threw Destination D23 guests a festive shindig to end the weekend and kick off the holiday season with crafts, photo locations, and special character meet and greets!

The biggest Disney fan event of the year is here, and we kicked it off in the most magical way! This morning, the fun began with a special welcome moment, featuring Mickey and friends—plus performers from Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom all came together to honor the golden anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort. After that spectacular beginning, Head of D23 Michael Vargo welcomed D23 Members to this special event honoring Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary—and dazzling future.

From there, D23 Members enjoyed a day of exciting announcements, fascinating presentations, and a special surprise or two:

Destination D23 - 2021

Connections: A Look at the Future of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products
We know you’ve been waiting for this moment! DPEP Chairman Josh D’Amaro shared a first look at some of the newest projects around the world, including Zootopia-themed land coming to Shanghai Disneyland, new musicals coming to the Disney Wish, and lightsaber training at Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. That’s not all—check out our full round up of everything that was announced this morning here… and mark your calendar for all the Disney Parks magic adding pixie dust to our futures.

Weird Disney World
With all the thrilling announcements still buzzing in our heads, it was time to get weird! The fan-favorite “Weird Disney” presentation made its grand return, hosted by Director of the Walt Disney Archives Becky Cline and D23’s own Justin Arthur. The panel took a closer look at the fun costumes, parades, entertainment, and more from Walt Disney World’s past. (And so, so many kites!) Get a taste of some of the weird for yourself with a closer look at Goofy waterskiing (yes, you read that right) on Bay Lake!

Planes, Trains, and Monorails: Walt Disney World on the Move Presented by Enterprise®
Host, voice of Mickey Mouse, and train enthusiast Bret Iwan joined an array of Imagineers to take us on a journey of Walt Disney World transportation, from Walt Disney’s Airplane to the Disney Skyliner. Highlights from the panel included a look at how the Skyliner paths were developed and the news that Walter E. Disney Engine 1 of the Walt Disney World Railroad was recently fully refurbished.

Walt ’70s World
With five decades of Walt Disney World behind us, there’s more history than can be contained in just one presentation! For our first pop culture-fueled ride through the Disney decades, we explored the resort’s groovy early years in the ’70s with former Walt Disney World Ambassadors Ken Facey and Stephen Lim. Guest enjoyed totally nostalgic footage from the resort’s early years, including Disney Legend Julie Andrews performing at Magic Kingdom during a television special about the park, along with a classic commercial featuring Carousel of Progress.

Drawn to Life: Inside Disney’s First Collaboration with Cirque Du Soliel
The first ever Disney-inspired Cirque du Soleil show, Drawn to Life, just debuted this past Thursday! Destination D23 attendees got an inside look at how this spectacular, animation-inspired show (pardon the pun) came to life. Cirque du Soleil’s Michel Laprise and Fabrice Becker sat down with Natalie Woodward of Disney Live Entertainment and legendary Disney Animator Eric Goldberg to look back over the years long process of creating Drawn to Life. Guests got a special look at an animation test for Baloo and Olaf, and also heard from the creative team about how the storyline of the show was developed.

World Building for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
Ever wanted to vacation in a galaxy far, far away? Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will be debuting at Walt Disney World Resort March 1, 2022, and Destination D23 guests got an exclusive look at how this all-new two-night immersive experience is coming to life—and how it connects to the broader Star Wars galaxy. Host Ashley Eckstein and an array of the creative minds behind the project shared details on some of the new characters you’ll meet when you’re aboard the Halcyon starcruiser—and how the decisions you make will affect how the story unfolds during your cruise. New apparel and jewelry were also revealed, including a replica Padmé Amidala cape that Eckstein modeled herself. We learned a galaxy’s worth of details, but we couldn’t help but want more—while Eckstein tried to use Jedi mind tricks on the panelists, we’ll have to wait until Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser opens next year at Walt Disney World!

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Magical Entertainment for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration
With “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” kicking off last month, more surprises and delights unfold as the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Walt Disney World continues. Part of that celebration is live entertainment, dazzling guests with music, dancing, and characters we love. Disney Live Entertainment Creative Director Tom Vazzana shared a look at new experiences created for “The World’s Most Magical Celebration,” starting with a surprise performance from the Dapper Dans!

Vazzana shared details on Harmonius, Disney Kite Tails, Disney Enchantment, and Beacons of Magic—plus, the Walt Disney World Resort classic, The Electrical Water Pageant, which begins and ends with a special 50th anniversary sequence. If you’re hoping for some epic entertainment news, Vazzana shared that the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular will be returning this December to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. That’s not all! Jason Robinson took to the stage to share that Finding Nemo—The Musical is being reimagined as Finding Nemo: The Big, The Blue… and Beyond, which will debut at Animal Kingdom in in 2022. Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, a new segment was teased for Fantasmic! that will feature characters that have never appeared in the show before. “This segment will bring hope and joy to your heart,” Vazzana promised.

Don’t worry, Magic Kingdom didn’t get left out of this wave of exciting entertainment news—Vazzana revealed that the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade will debut in early 2022 and feature… well, just about everyone! Expect to see Nick Wilde, Judy Hopps, Baloo, King Louie, Miguel, Merida, Moana, Mulan, Stitch, Clarabelle… and so many more! Get more details on all these announcements over on the Disney Parks Blog, and mark your calendars for lots of entertaining moments in your future!

Destination D23 - 2021

The Art and Imagery of Walt Disney World
Retired Imagineering executive Peggie Fariss, and Imagineers Gary Landrum, Mike Pucher, and Stacy Shoff shared stories of 50 years of the most gorgeous, stunning, and fascinating artwork and images behind The Most Magical Place on Earth, including concept art for Hall of Presidents, Disney Legend Mary Blair’s iconic mural at the Contemporary Resort, and the Polynesian Village Resort.

Walt ’80s World
Our next totally tubular deep-dive into the Disney decades was hosted by Eckstein and Iwan, who celebrated the pop-culture moments from Walt Disney World in the ’80s. Eckstein skated onto stage to share her love for Pleasure Island’s roller-skating bar, while Iwan showcased some of Mickey Mouse’s ’80s fashion. Plus, guests got to see some footage from the “Totally Minnie” show, Walt Disney World’s 15th anniversary celebration, and more blasts from the past!

The Park Stars of Walt Disney World
From Figment to the Orange Bird, we all have a favorite original character from Walt Disney World—so, naturally, we put together a presentation to celebrate the whole cast of original characters fans know and love from the resort’s history! Imagineers Diana Brost and Jason Grandt as took guests on a journey around Walt Disney World to meet many of the fun personalities that have appeared attractions and shows from 1971 to today—starting with the two characters they dressed up as for the presentation! Grandt donned an orange coat and brought his own fishing pole to be the fishing dad from Magic Kingdom’s If You Had Wings, while Brost dressed as Mary Oceaneer from Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon’s Miss Adventure Falls. Grandt and Brost then shared with guests what they think are important aspects for creating Walt Disney World characters before discussing the stories of characters like the sleeping monk from Spaceship Earth, Dreamfinder from Journey Into Imagination, and the sea serpent from The Electrical Water Pageant.

The Magical Musical World of Encanto
The first night of Destination D23 had an enchanting ending— guests were invited to the world of Encanto, Walt Disney Animation Studio’s 60th feature film. Composer Germaine Franco, voice actress Jessica Darrow (voice of Luisa), and Senior Vice President, Music, Walt Disney Animation Studios Matt Walker treated guests to a melodic Saturday evening celebration of the upcoming musical. Want to enjoy the music of Encanto for yourself? You can listen to the film’s soundtrack now, right here.

Day one may be over, but the fun has just begun! Join us tomorrow for the second day of Destination D23: Present by Topps, where we will kick off the morning with a special Disney+ Download—and, of course, even more presentations celebrating the Golden Anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort! Find out how you can watch select presentations LIVE right here on so that you don’t miss a minute of the magic. Check out our livestream schedule!