As if all those developments weren’t enough, Disney World has more magic in the making as it gears up for its 50th anniversary on October 1, 2021, with a projected 18-month-long celebration spanning up to and after that date. New attractions throughout the resort will roll out in phases in 2020 and 2021. While the folks at Disney do a good job at keeping many details under wraps, they have revealed several big-picture projects.
Hollywood Studios will also expand Toy Story Land with the addition of a casual table-service restaurant: the Roundup Rodeo BBQ. Construction is progressing in the Magic Kingdom on TRON Lightcycle Power Run, a coaster-style ride featuring a train of two-wheeled Lightcycles that takes you for a thrilling ride through a digital realm; TRON is slated to open for Disney’s big 5-0.
But the most remarkable reimagineering is happening at Epcot, where the largest multiyear transformation of any Disney park in history is underway. Epcot will soon be reconfigured into four distinct neighborhoods:
World Discovery, World Celebration, World Nature and (the current) World Showcase. (Yes, that means the elimination of Future World to accommodate the three new neighborhoods.) Although significant, the transformation isn’t too hard to imagine thanks to the sneak-peek exhibits in Walt Disney Imagineering presents the Epcot Experience in the Odyssey Events Pavilion, which opened October 1.
Starring in World Discovery in 2021 is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, described as a “storytelling coaster” that rotates 360 degrees and boasts the first reverse launch on a Disney coaster. Also in the neighborhood and just in time for Disney’s golden anniversary, the PLAY! pavilion will offer a digital world of interactive games and activities; think water balloon fights with Huey, Louie and Dewey and fashion missions with The Incredibles’ Edna Mode.
In the new World Celebration neighborhood, Spaceship Earth (aka the golf ball) will remain but with new narration and a new musical score. A star’s throw from Spaceship Earth, a new stand-alone three-level pavilion, comprising a plaza, expo space and an elevated park, will serve as a prime venue for festivals and live events.
Moana is making her mark on the World Nature neighborhood with Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana, an exploration trail with playful “living” water. And starting this January, World Nature’s Land pavilion will show a new film on the fascinating story of planet Earth.
In the World Showcase, the France pavilion will get a big facelift and expansion. Debuting this January is a Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along, and this summer, expect Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, a family-friendly trackless dark ride in which you’ll shrink to the size of the beloved rat Remy and race through Gusteau’s restaurant. The restaurant La Crêperie de Paris, featuring both table- and quick-service dining and a menu from celebrity chef Jérôme Bocuse, is also set to open this summer.
The World Showcase’s United Kingdom pavilion will tout a Mary Poppins-themed attraction that will take you strolling down Cherry Tree Lane, past Admiral Boom’s house, and into the home of the Banks family for some old-fashioned fun. New immersive films with spectacular scenery and engaging storylines will also be presented in the Canada pavilion and the China pavilion. In Disney Springs®
, Cirque du Soleil will entertain crowds with a new jaw-dropping show that celebrates Walt Disney Animation Studios; previews begin March 20, building up to the world premiere on April 17.
And while you’ll likely have to wait until 2021 or even later for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, this revolutionary vacation experience is sure to be well worth the wait. This other-worldly hotel — designed as the Halcyon spaceship decked with window views of the galaxy — offers a two-night itinerary that, much like a cruise ship, begins when passengers are greeted in a terminal and then board the “ship” together to share in special activities (think operating the ship’s systems and testing your lightsaber skills), onboard dining, character interactions and a “spaceport” day in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Back on Earth, another on-property hotel is on the drawing board: Reflections, A Disney Lakeside Lodge, a 900-room deluxe resort on Bay Lake (between Disney’s Wilderness Resort and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground) that takes its inspiration from nature; look for a 2022 grand opening.
Helping you pull together all your plans, the Disney Genie app will go live later this year. This planning tool helps you customize your itineraries according to a range of categories — princesses, thrill seekers, foodies, family and more — with tailored recommendations for your ideal Disney day.