The Walt Disney Travel Company made some huge announcements last month in Anaheim at the D23 Expo – announcements that will impact all US-based Disney parks as well as the Disney Cruise Line!  Let’s dig in and see what exciting changes are on the horizon!!

Walt Disney World® Resort

With the Orlando-area Resort’s 50th Anniversary coming up in 2021, and Epcot®’s upcoming 35th Anniversary this October, WDW has an amazing lineup of new and updated experiences coming.  With all of the new openings and updates at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park, it is time to turn some attention to the other theme parks!  Here’s a rundown of just highlights of the new line-up of attractions at Magic Kingdom® Park, Epcot®, Disney’s Hollywood Studios® and new resort experiences.

First up, Disney’s Hollywood Studios® will welcome Toy Story Land next summer.  In this new land, based on the popular movie series, guests will feel like they have been shrunk down to the size of a Toy, and join Woody and Buzz as they explore Andy’s backyard!  This area will feature a new entrance into the ever popular Toy Story Midway Mania!® Attraction, Slinky Dog Dash, a family coaster, and Alien Swirling Saucers.  Your whole family will have a blast exploring this new immersive new area!

Sometime in 2019, the highly anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open!! Based upon the Star Wars saga, this 14-acre land is set on the edge of the galaxy that will make you feel as if you have stepped right into the movies! The land will feature two attractions, one which puts you right in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance, and one that gives you the chance to fly the Millennium Falcon!!  This second attraction allows each member of your flight crew to take part in completing a successful mission.  There will be dining and character experiences as well!  It is yet to be seen if or how Star Tours® – The Adventures Continue Attraction, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, and Star WarsTM Launch Bay will be incorporated.  Stay tune for much more news on this exciting new land!!

The park’s iconic Chinese Theatre will also be getting a new attraction.  The Great Movie Ride® Attraction, which closes August 13, 2017, will make way for the first-ever Mickey-themed ride-through attraction, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Touted as a  “game-changing” adventure, this new attraction will feature an original story that will take you on a journey inside the world of Mickey’s Disney Channel cartoon shorts using new technologies which turn the flat cartoon world into an almost 3-dimensional display. They showed a short snippet of the story at the D23 presentation, and I can tell you it looks amazing!!  The opening for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway has not yet been announced, but is anticipated to be ready in time for the 50th Celebration.

Big changes are coming down the pike for Epcot®!  While staying true to its original vision, the park will continue to evolve beginning with several newly announced updates, and an overhauled entry way!

In Future World, a brand new attraction based on the rockin’ and action-packed world of Guardians of the Galaxy will replace Ellen’s Energy Adventure, which also closes on August 13, 2017.  The new attraction is scheduled to open by the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort® in 2021.  Beginning this summer, the Mission: SPACE® Attraction will showcase an update with a new Green Mission which will take guests on a stunning tour around the Earth, as well as an updated Orange Mission which makes the trip to Mars even more spectacular. Adjacent to the Mission: SPACE® Attraction will be a new restaurant that will invite guests to travel high above the earth for an unforgettable dining experience.  The new space restaurant will be operated by the Patina Restaurant Group, which operates several other restaurants at Walt Disney World including Tutto Italia and Via Napoli at Epcot and Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs.

Back in World Showcase, A Disney•Pixar’s Ratatouille-inspired attraction will also be added in an all-new space in the France pavilion. Similar to the 4-D attraction Ratatouille: The Adventure that opened at the Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris in 2014, Epcot® guests will be able to shrink to Remy’s size and scurry to safety in a dazzling chase across a kitchen with the sights, sounds and smells of Gusteau’s legendary Parisian restaurant.  And an updated film will be added to the China Pavilion using a next-generation digital camera system to create a brand new, seamless Circle-Vision show.

Scheduled to open in time for the 50th Anniversary, Magic Kingdom® Park will see the addition of Shanghai Disneyland®’s highest-rated experience, the TRON Lightcycle Power Run!! This attraction will be added in a new area near the Space Mountain® Attraction in Tomorrowland®, and will take you on a fast-paced journey on a bicycle-style car.  In addition, a new live-entertainment theater is coming to Main Street, U.S.A.  This new venue will be  based on the iconic Willis Theater in 1920s Kansas City, where Walt Disney lived after he left his hometown of Marceline, Missouri.  The theater will feature Broadway-caliber shows, and will be an exciting addition to the park!

The Theme Parks are not the only thing getting an update!  With Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort already under refurbishment, a 15th Disney Vacation Club property called Disney Riviera Resort was announced.  The hotel will be built near Epcot® and feature a rooftop restaurant views of nighttime spectaculars at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Opening will be announced at a later date.

Perhaps one of the most exciting hotel-related announcements was the news of the immersive Star Wars-themed resort!!  Located near Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, this will be the most experiential concept ever.  The resort will be dedicated entirely to the galaxy of Star Wars, and guests will have a fully-immersive one-of-a-kind experience where a luxury resort meets a multi-day adventure all taking place in a galaxy far, far away.  Stay tuned for more information and opening date for this exciting resort!

Finally, there were some transportation-related announcements. The all-new Minnie Van service (now operational) was announced. This new transportation service is now available for guests staying at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.  Through a collaboration with Lyft, guests at these resorts can arrange their own private Disney vehicle right from the Lyft app on their smartphone, and a car will take them to wherever you want to be at Walt Disney World Resort. This service accommodates up to six guests and provides two versatile car seats  Minnie Van service is available between 6:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. (subject to change). Guests staying at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts can learn more by visiting their Bell Services desk.

Additionally, a whole new transportation system called Disney Skyliner will give guests a birds-eye view of Walt Disney World® Resort. This brand new system will connect Disney’s Art of Animation, Disney’s Pop Century, and Disney’s Caribbean Beach resorts, as well as the proposed new Disney Riviera Resort, with Disney’s Hollywood Studios® and the International Gateway at Epcot.

Disneyland® Resort

Not to be outdone by it’s Florida sibling, the Disneyland® Resort is also getting some new and exciting attraction and updates!!

Sometime in 2019, the highly anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open, most likely before the Florida location!!  The land will feature the same two attractions as Orlando as well as the same immersive experience featuring characters and dining.  As with Orlando, it is not clear if or how they will incorporate Star Tours—The Adventures Continue or Star WarsTM Launch Bay in the new land.

In 2018, more of your favorite Pixar stories will come to Disney California Adventure park with the new Pixar Pier.

Pixar will be making a huge splash in 2018!  More of your favorite Pixar stories will come to Disney California Adventure park with the new Pixar Pier.  Paradise Pier will be getting a total overhaul, and some of your favorite characters will be coming to life on the seaside waterfront. There will be neighborhoods filled with your friends from “The Incredibles,” “Inside Out” and even more of your pals from “Toy Story.”  This area will fit in very well with the adjacent Cars Land and “a bug’s land”.  This will be a permanent addition to the park, and to celebrate, they are throwing a Pixar Fest party throughout the Resort!  At Disneyland there will be a new fireworks spectacular, and the popular Pixar Play Parade will be the feature parade!!   Speaking of parades, the amazing “Paint the Night” parade returns — this time, to Disney California Adventure park!  Woohoo!!!

Are superheros more your style?  Then you are in luck!!  Soon, the Guardians of the Galaxy will be joined by Spider-Man and the Avengers in what will become a completely immersive Super Hero universe at the park.  More to details on these changes will be coming soon!

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line had already announced that they would be adding two additional ships to their fleet, but at the D23 Expo they announced that they didn’t think that would be enough!  Now, by 2023 the Disney Cruise Line will have a fleet of 7 ships!!!  The ships are being built by Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany with scheduled completion dates of 2021, 2022, and 2023.  All ship names, design plans and itineraries are still in development, with each of the ships expected to have their own unique experiences.  It was announced that the three new ships will be powered by clean-burning liquefied natural gas and be the same size – approximately 135,000 gross tons with about 1,250 guest staterooms planned – which is slightly larger than the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.



Cheryl Tennant Koren

Cheryl Tennant Koren


Cheryl is a Co-Owner of Key to the World Travel. Contact her today to book your next vacation!