The secret Walt Disney Company Project premiering at D23 is [spoiler]

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Disney unveiled the One Day at Disney book and series ahead of D23. (Photo: Walt Disney Company)

Disney fans spent the day on high alert as the Mouse House teased the unveiling of a “Secret Walt Disney Company Project” that would be part of this weekend’s festivities at the D23 Expo — the company’s grand celebration of all things Walt Disney. Social media was flooded with theories about what the top secret project could possibly be, with guesses ranging from a new Disneyland realm to some grand solution to the Marvel Studios/Sony Spider-Man dispute. Sorry web-heads, but the title that Disney wound up announcing isn’t Spider-Man’s Coming Home. Instead, you can look forward to One Day at Disney, a Disney+ documentary series set to premiere on Dec. 3, along with a companion coffee table book.

As the title implies, the series and book will chronicle one day in the life of the Walt Disney Company — specifically Feb. 21, when cameras fanned out around the world to showcase the breadth of talent working at Disney. Some of the employees profiled include Good Morning America anchor, Robin Roberts; the South African star of the Madrid-based stage production of The Lion King, Zamavus “Zama” Magudulela; and Walt Disney World Resort veterinarian, Dr. Natalie Mylniczenko. One Day at Disney will launch on Disney+ with a feature-length documentary, followed by 52 short episodes. The 224-page coffee book will include additional behind-scenes-pictures and interviews.

One Day at Disney is certainly an ambitious project that will shine a light on Disney heroes who don’t receive the same attention as, say, Captain America or Luke Skywalker. But some fans couldn’t help but feel that the announcement didn’t live up to the hype surrounding it.

Even if this “secret project” didn’t wow everyone, there are sure to be more revelations in store as D23 unfolds this weekend. Here are the five other projects we’re wishing upon a star to hear more about.

An update on Marvel Land

Concept art for the Marvel-themed section of Disneyland, Avengers Campus. (Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

UPDATE: Feast your eyes on Avengers Campus — the new Marvel realm that’ll be located within Disneyland’s California Adventure Park. As anticipated, Disney revealed fresh details about their theme park plans for Marvel’s colorful cast of superheroes. The Spider-Man ride even has a name: the W.E.B. Workshop, which stands for “World Engineering Brigade” and features an adorable Spider-Bot.

Here's how Avengers Campus fits into the global ambitions for Marvel's presence in Disney theme parks. (The Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA)
Teases for what to expect from the Spider-Man ride at Avengers Campus (Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort)

[Original story continues below]

Concept art for a Marvel-centric attraction area at Disneyland Resort. (Photo: Disney Parks Blog)

With Galaxy’s Edge (mostly) up and running — there’s still one major attraction left to open — the Disney Parks team can turn their attention from a far, far away galaxy to heroes who live closer to home. In June, The Los Angeles Times reported that Disney has filed permits to begin construction on a Marvel-themed land at the California Adventure Park branch of Anaheim’s Disneyland Resort.

The approved permits reveal that Phase 1 of this new realm will include a retail store, a character meet-and-greet area and a microbrewery that we’d like to think will be overseen by Hank Pym and include lots of tiny brews. The official Disney Parks Blog has connected this new realm to a larger global initiative to integrate the Avengers into its parks in Hong Kong, Paris and California. To that end, Hong Kong already has an Ant-Man ride, and Spider-Man and Dr. Strange will be featured in both Paris and Anaheim. (Leaked photos have revealed that Disneyland Paris’s Marvel area was at one point going to resemble the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of New York, but that concept has since been abandoned.)

There’s no place like D23 to unveil new images and descriptions of what attractions Marvel Land — or whatever it ends up being called — will house. (A Spider-Man interactive screen ride and an Avengers roller coaster are some of the rides that have been rumored.) Disney could also discuss how they plan to feature MCU characters in their Florida-based Disney World, where the Marvel name is tied up with Universal’s theme parks.

A premiere date for Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan series

UPDATE: While no premiere date was announced, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy did confirm that a Ewan McGregor-led Obi-Wan Kenobi series is definitely coming to Disney+. We’re one step closer to a Jar-Jar show, everyone!

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode II--Attack of the Clones. (Photo: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Millions of voices suddenly cried out in joy when news broke that Disney had entered into discussions with Ewan McGregor for a potential Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ series.

Disney’s new streaming service already has two Star Wars shows on their docket: The Mandalorian, which premieres Nov. 12, and a yet-to-be-titled show centered around Rogue One’s Cassian Andor (Diego Luna). And in the wake of Solo’s disappointing box office, an Obi-Wan series would test the waters for ways to bring back fan favorite characters outside of the now-defunct Star Wars Story big-screen umbrella. Speaking of Solo, McGregor’s Obi-Wan could potentially spend some time with his old foe, Darth Maul, whose return to the live action realm was teased at the end of that film. If they brought McGregor and Ray Park onstage together — to the tune of “Duel of the Fates,” of course — we’d be happier than a Gungan in a bongo submarine.

Another dip in The Black Cauldron

Disney's 1985 animated flop The Black Cauldron could be brewing up a return. (Photo: Buena Vista Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

Released to largely negative reviews and non-existent box office in 1985, The Black Cauldron marks the end of one era of Disney Animation, and the beginning of another. In the ensuing decades, the movie — based on Lloyd Alexander’s five-book Chronicles of Prydain series — has undergone a re-evaluation as latter-day fans have embraced its darker tone and lush hand-drawn imagery. And in a post-Game of Thrones world, every studio with a streaming service needs a multi-part fantasy epic on its slate. To that end, Disney reportedly re-acquired the rights to Alexander’s books three years ago, and Disney+ seems like a natural home for a live action treatment of the material. Our one request: Please cast Hugo Weaving as the Horned King.

A title for Rian Johnson’s Star Wars trilogy

Rian Johnson and Carrie Fisher on the set of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. (Photo: David James/ © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Lucasfilm Ltd. /Courtesy Everett Collection)

Sorry Last Jedi grousers: Rian Johnson’s new Star Wars trilogy remains Disney’s first order of Star Wars business after the Skywalker Saga wraps up in December with Star Wars: The Rise of SkywalkerIn a recent interview with The Observer, the filmmaker described the “fun” he’s having plotting the franchise’s future. “We’re doing something that steps beyond the legacy characters,” he said. “It really makes you think and figure out what the essence of Star Wars is for me and what that will look like moving forward.”

Of course, we’re still years away from seeing Johnson’s next steps inside the Star Wars galaxy. The feature film series is taking a rest until December 26, 2022, when Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss launch their own trilogy. Those two are famously tight-lipped, but Johnson’s gregarious enough to take the D23 stage to offer some hint about what we can look forward to in his post-legacy vision of the franchise. Twitter has already started thinking of titles for him.

A hint for how the X-Men will enter the MCU

The mutant ensemble from X-Men: First Class. (Photo: Murray Close/TM and Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved./courtesy Everett Collection)

At Comic-Con last month, Marvel Studios head, Kevin Feige, made a point of saying that Professor Xavier’s not-so-merry band of mutants were coming to a future phase of the MCU. With the problem-plagued Dark Phoenix already a distant memory, Marvel can use D23 to preview how the X-Men can get their groove back as new citizens of the MCU. One possible avenue could be Josh Boone’s yet-to-be released New Mutants movie, which has reportedly undergone multiple reshoots and editing room changes during its long, long, long production. Originally conceived as more of a standalone horror-tinged movie, New Mutants could be retrofitted to somehow bridge the gap between the old X-verse and the characters’ brave new world when it finally hits theaters in April 2020. It certainly sounds like Disney isn’t happy with the movie as it is; per Variety, the studio sees limited box-office potential for the current version.

In the more likely event that New Mutants’s fate is just flat-out ignored, Feige could direct fans’s gaze to the future rather than the past with some well-chosen nuggets about how the studio plans to use the X-Men — and the Fantastic 4 — now that they’ve been recovered from 20th Century Fox.

Here’s our pitch for the next big Disney+ documentary series: One Day at the X-Mansion.

D23 runs from Aug. 23-25 in Anaheim, Calif.

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