If you ventured out to Walt Disney World over the holidays you would have noticed the new 2018 Official Walt Disney World merchandise noting that 2018 is The Year To Be Here! Frankly, we were a little confused. Really? How, why? Walt Disney World is in the midst of some heavy duty construction and refurbishment in preparation revealing 50 new things before Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary in 2021. And since everyone knows that Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is opening in 2019, why would anyone be visiting ahead of time? We decided to investigate.
If you’re saving your hard earned cash for a once in a lifetime (or once every couple years) Disney vacation what would drag you out in 2018?
For all those Star Wars fans who are waiting for Galaxy’s Edge to open in 2019, we highly recommend you continue to do so. However, if you haven’t been to Disney in the last couple years, there may be more “new” than you realize.
Star Wars Launch Bay in Hollywood Studios has just received loads of new stuff from The Last Jedi, so be sure to stop by. If you haven’t seen the march of the storm troopers ( at various times of day in front of the Chinese Theater), we’re very interested to see how this show will change with the release of the last film. So more changes will be coming.
Star Tours has included the new planet Crait in the lineup of experiences possible now on the ride, making it more in line with the current films story arc.
Star Wars, Secrets of the Empire Hyper-Reality Experience is now open in Disney Springs. This is a virtual environment but definitely hints at some of the things we’ll see in the attraction opening 2019.
Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios
Expect a late spring to early summer opening, with potential soft launches throughout May 2018. Toy Story Land is set up as Andy’s backyard play area, complete with a limited quick service counter called Woody’s Lunchbox, serving items from a typical lunchbox and soda floats. The Slinky Dog Dash rollercoster and the Alien Swirling Saucers will be the main attractions here, so be on the lookout for fast passes to pop up in the My Disney Experience app.
D23 Destination D in Orlando Florida
November 16-18, 2018, consider this weekend, which may have been the calm before the storm of the holidays the new “busiest weekend ever”. While D23 usually takes place in Anaheim, you can bet that the location of WDW will bring every Florida resident and Annual Pass Holder out to this event, not to mention your die-hard D23 folks. It’s Mickey’s 90th Birthday this year and we’re expecting to get updates or see the new ride at the Chinese Theater, Mickey’s Runaway Railway ( formerly the Great Movie Ride) to add to the Mickey magic. Panels, presentations, an exhibit from the Disney Archives and the sharing of all new Disney News around the world will be happening this weekend.
As expected, Epcot will be hosting it’s highly attended festivals throughout this year. We love these. Read the full lineup of festivals and what we love at Epcot here. These are the big ones and while always amazing, aren’t really “new.” Again, if you haven’t visited Walt Disney World in the last few years, both the International Festival of the Arts and the International Festival of Holidays are newer festivals to the World Showcase and both worth the trip.
International Festival of the Arts Jan 12-Feb 19 2018.
Flower and Garden Festival Feb 28- May 28
Food and Wine Festival Late August to Mid November
International Festival of Holidays Late November to End of December
Disney Springs Restaurants and Experiences
Eight new restaurants are on their way to Disney Springs to keep the hoards at bay. If you haven’t been over to the shopping mecca of Orlando, this could be the time to go. Every time we visit there is something new. With the exit of Cirque de Soleil La Nouba show at the end of 2017, we hear there is a more Disney inspired new show on the way. Add in the new Star Wars hyper-reality experience and shopping options for everyone in your travel party, and Disney Springs may be just what you need to get close enough to the park experience without paying the park ticket prices.
Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary
With Animal Kingdom slowly coming into its own with the opening of Pandora, World of Avatar this past year, if you haven’t gotten a chance to see this amazing new land yet, 2018 could be the time. While we were still seeing a three hour wait for Flight of Passage ( get a fastpass folks). Pandora and Rivers of Light are both keeping guests out later than usual. the crowds will start dissipating to the other new attraction coming to Animal Kingdom…
…An Up-Inspired show featuring Dug and Russell will take over in place of Flights of Wonder in the Spring of 2018. The show will feature our favorite wilderness explorer discovering all sorts of exotic birds on the stage at Caravan Theater.
While Animal Kingdom will probably have some sort of Earth Day celebration this year, we’re not expecting too much hoopla as it’s still very much learning to handle the crowds and volume brought on by Pandora.
Disney Holiday Events
Both at Magic Kingdom, the holiday parties are always fun but as hard-ticket events, not always great for your budget. If you want our honest opinion about these two, we’ve written extensively about Halloween at Walt Disney World and can’t get enough. We love that time of year, the events, and the decorations. The Christmas season is still settling, as we just went for the first time last month. If we had to choose in this moment, we’d say stick with Autumn. Again, neither of these things would be new in 2018, but if you haven’t gone in a couple years, you can see Hocus Pocus, and Elsa light the castle at Christmas.
Resorts at Walt Disney World in 2018
Staying on-site at Walt Disney World in 2018? Know that Coronado Springs will be home of a new 15 floor tower and construction will be underway. And if you haven’t already heard about Caribbean Beach Resort please read this post before booking a room. Please check out this list for all the refurbishments, and construction projects across Walt Disney World grounds.
Also know that in order to increase the level of security for it’s guests, that Walt Disney World has changed it’s “do not disturb” procedures and said guests can expect that a staff member will enter their room at least once a day. Obviously the civil knocking before entering and a card to hang on your door for privacy through the night and early morning hours are still in place. Monorail resorts will be transitioned over first.
Tips for Planning A Walt Disney World Vacation 2021
If you’ve been preoccupied planning your own vacation and not keeping up with the Disney World news, here’s a quick overview of some of the things that are happening between now and 2021.
2018: Toy Story Land Opens
2019: Star Wars Land Opens
2020: 50th Anniversary Celebration Begins
2021: Tron at Magic Kingdom Opens. Walt Disney Worlds 50th Anniversary October 1, 2021.
In addition to the big dated items above there are a slew of other projects in the works, without particular dates attached quite yet.
Three Caballeros Ride will be turned into something Coco themed. Expected to close late 2018.
Ratatouille ride in Epcot France
Guardians of the Galaxy Rollercoaster Epcot Future World
Mickey’s Runaway Railway Ride
Epcot Refurbishment and Update
Star Wars immersion Resort Experience
Mission Space Restaurant Epcot
Club 33 in all four parks
DVC Disney Riviera Resort in 2019
Gondola System installation
And oh so many more.
If you and your family have plans to venture to Walt Disney World, the long list of happenings above should be your fair warning of potential crowds. Many people are already waiting for resort dates to open up for both 2019 and 2021. As Disney usually opens up dates/packages around June for the following year, if you have hopes of snagging a room around important dates be ready and have a backup plan. Some experts have already recommended waiting till 2022 to even try and get in.
For what its worth, 2018 may be a great year to visit simply because you’ll miss the 2019 crowd. Additionally, 2020 may be another great time to venture out because you’ll be a little early and still have a chance to see some of the newer rides, restaurants and resorts. Whatever you decide, don’t sweat it, at the end of the day it’s still Walt Disney World, which is always magical:) Enjoy!