D23 Expo 2022 recap – Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios

We will be seated for The Little Mermaid.

words by: Alee Kwong
Oct 7, 2022

D23 Expo is the ultimate Disney fan event, and gives fans an exclusive look at upcoming projects from their favorite franchises. This year is the 100th anniversary of Disney Animation, and the announcements surrounding their celebratory projects (both animated and live-action) were coupled with some very exciting announcements from Pixar as well.


Live-action adaptations

The Haunted Mansion

haunted mansion copy


Release date: August 11, 2023


The Haunted Mansion remake was a huge surprise to everyone at the D23 Expo this year. There had been rumblings over the years that Guillermo Del Toro has expressed a lot of interest in the retelling of the spooky story based off the wildly popular Disney Parks attraction. The 2003 film starring Eddie Murphy was a gigantic flop and still sits at 14% on Rotten Tomatoes.


The upcoming film will be directed by Justin Simien and it was revealed that horror royalty, Jamie Lee Curtis, would be playing Madame Leota. While she wasn’t in any of the footage, someone familiar did appear — the Hat Box Ghost. Yes, the famed Hat Box Ghost will be making his first on-screen appearance in the newest adaptation since his momentous return to the Disney attraction.


Snow White


Release date: March 22, 2024


Disney live-action adaptations of classic fairytales have historically been a huge disappointment. We have a handful of them now and I still stand firmly in that The Jungle Book is the only good one. However, these failures have not stopped Disney. The next fairytale up on the docket is Snow White, and will star Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen and Rachel Zegler (West Side Story) as Snow White.


Gadot seems excited to take on the role of the OG Disney villain and is looking forward to showing audiences her range (seeing as she is now well-known for being Wonder Woman, an iconic superhero).


The Little Mermaid


Release date: May 26, 2023


Oh boy, this one is a loaded announcement. We’ve known for a while now that Halle Bailey was set to take on the role of Ariel in the live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. We know she has an incredible voice and acting credits to boot, so this casting choice makes a lot of sense. However, a tale as old as time, some people just can’t help but show their racist cards and spread them on the table.


Many Disney fans were outraged with the casting of Bailey because they didn’t think it was right to cast the fictional mermaid this time around as a Black girl. Apart from the racial vitriol, joy prevailed as many young Black girls everywhere cheered with absolute joy and amazement when they saw the teaser trailer.


Pixar Animation Studios




Release date: June 16, 2023


Pixar’s Elemental is a project directed by Peter Sohn and is a reflection of Sohn’s upbringing in the Bronx, NY, outlining the coexistence of people who come from very different backgrounds. In the world he’s created, the elements of fire, earth, water, and air live alongside one another. Although earth, water, and air get along easily, it isn’t exactly easy for fire. More specifically, the film follows Ember and Wade, fire and water respectively, who meet and form a connection — but run into complications as they avoid extinguishing each other.


Win or Lose

win or lose copy


Release date: Fall 2023


One of the most exciting announcements from Pixar was their very first Disney+ series: Win or Lose. The newest animated series follows a co-ed middle school softball team, The Pickles, in the week leading up to the team’s championship game. Each episode will take place over the same week, showing the perspective of a different character, including the parents, and even the umpire. Will Forte will play Coach Dan, perfectly adding to the comedic stylings of Pixar that we know and love.





Release date: March 1, 2024

Pixar’s Pete Docter also announced an upcoming theatrical animated feature for Pixar, Elio, from Coco director Adrian Molina and producer Mary Alice Drumm. It follows the 11-year-old Elio, a creative and artistic young boy who has trouble fitting in. He manages to make the first contact with an alien race and is mistaken as the Ambassador for Earth. It’s now up to Elio to overcome his self-esteem issues and self-doubt to represent the human race while meeting the aliens.


Inside Out 2

inside out


Release date: Summer 2024


To close out Pixar’s announcements, Amy Poehler came out onto the stage and announced that Inside Out 2 is officially in the works! Joy, Sadness, Anger, Envy, and Fear are all coming back, but they will be joined with new emotions now that Riley is growing into a new phase of life. As we all now, more emotions usually mean more mayhem, so it will be fun to see how the gang interacts with what Riley’s growing pains have to offer.


Walt Disney Animation Studios

Again, this is the ultimate milestone for Walt Disney Animations Studios. They are celebrating 100 years of culturally impactful animation, and CEO Jennifer Lee doesn’t take this lightly. She announced to the crowd that she feels immensely grateful to be a steward of the Disney’s vision and how much of a privilege it is to be a part of it all.


“At Walt Disney Animation Studios, the studio that started it all, on the eve of our 100th anniversary, we see today as a moment of privilege and promise. A privilege to be stewards of a studio and a dream that Walt and his brother, Roy, started a century ago. And a promise to continue to take risks in our storytelling—and to explore and expand and turn the possible into the actual, just as Walt did.”





Release date: November 9, 2022


It was announced that Zootopia+ will stream on Disney+. The 2016 animated feature was very popular and made over $1 billion in the box office. This isn’t going to be a sequel or follow-up to the original film, but rather, a limited series following the daily lives of the other Zootopia residents, as the main story from the film — revolving around Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) and Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) — goes on in the background.





Release date: Fall-Winter 2023


Set to release later next year, Iwájú tells the story of Tola, a young heiress from a wealthy island. She forms an unlikely relationship with Kole, a self-taught tech expert and loving son from the more impoverished mainland. Once they meet each other, they are taken on the adventure of a lifetime (isn’t that always how it goes?). Tola also has an android lizard friend, who, while very cute, is armed with weapons and defense systems.


Strange World


Release date: November 23, 2022


Disney Animation’s 61st feature film, Strange World, is directed by Don Hall (Big Hero 6, Moana) and Qui Nguyen — who also wrote the script. The cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Lucy Liu, Jaboukie Young-White, and Dennis Quaid. The story follows Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal), who is recruited by President Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu) to save the world by investigating a new realm and its oddities.


Searcher Clade was always in the shadow of his father, Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid), who was lost on an expedition. Father and son are reunited on this journey, and they must overcome their differences to save the world.





Release date: November 22, 2023


Finally, CEO Jennifer Lee spoke about yet another new animated feature film, Wish. This was left for the very end because this film is the letter of love to celebrate Disney’s gigantic achievement of 100 years in animation. Wish blends the animation style from older Disney films and more modern Disney films. The film follows Princess Asha (Ariana DeBose) and her goat Valentino (Alan Tudyk) from the Kingdom of Rosas, as she meets a literal star and goes through an epic adventure among the stars through the various worlds to help save her people.


Now we finally get to see Pixar release their first series after Turning Red got the backburner treatment. It’s also been cool to see Elemental go from conceptual art to the real thing.


Photos via Disney