I’m still trying to come back down to Earth after traveling to another galaxy last week and riding Disney’s latest and in my opinion, greatest, attraction thus far- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. During my few days at the resort covering various media events, Disney also gave us a more in depth look at everything coming to Walt Disney World in 2020, and even going into early 2021. Although most of the announcements were made at D23 in August, there have been updates as well as specific opening dates being announced.
With all the buzz and excitement around the news, I compiled a list of everything you can expect to say over the next 1-2 years at Walt Disney World.
Disney’s Riviera Resort
Disney’s newest resort is primarily being marketed as another place where Disney Vacation Club members can call “home,” but that doesn’t mean you have to be a DVC member to stay here. It will operate just like any other resort on property. Guests will have a full range of room options to choose from. Whether it’s a cozy Tower Studios to spacious 1-Bedroom Villas, 2-Bedroom Villas, or 1 3-Bedroom Grand Villa, you’re guaranteed a beautiful room to come home to.
The resort is scheduled to open on December 16, 2019 (I know, it’s not exactly 2020- but I’d be remiss not to mention it). Disney’s Riviera Resort will celebrate the grandeur of Europe—which has long inspired some of the greatest Disney stories with its castles and fairy-tale villages. The resort is also one of four resorts with stations built to accommodate the Disney Skyliner. Reservations are now being accepted at The Riviera Resort.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
This is perhaps, what I’m most excited about with all the new things coming to Disney World. I was fortunate to have an exclusive preview of the attraction and interview with lead Imagineer on the attraction, Kevin Rafferty- during my time covering Rise of the Resistance. Kevin’s excitement as he described the concept and every detail of this attraction was contagious and, much to my surprise, Disney announced an opening date for the ride: March 4, 2020.
Where Rise of the Resistance has made history as Disney’s most technologically advanced attraction ever, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is making history of its own. This will be the first attraction in the history of Disney Parks that features Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Never before has a ride been centered around the two characters who have been there from the very beginning. The attraction will also feature an original storyline, tons of special effects, and an original theme song (a theme song so catchy, it’s still playing in my head, and I’m not mad about it).
From a nostalgic standpoint, this ride hit home with me. Kevin Rafferty spoke highly of Disney legend and fellow Imagineer, Marty Sklar. If you’re a lover of Disney history, Marty Sklar is a familiar name to you. Marty began working for Walt Disney a month before Disneyland opened. He quickly rose through the ranks to become Vice President of creative development, Executive Vice President and then President of Imagineering for nine years. Kevin had promised Marty years ago that he would create an attraction dedicated to Mickey Mouse with an original story line and memorable theme song. He spoke about how every time he’d see Marty, Marty would ask him “How’s that attraction coming?” Although Marty won’t get to experience this history making ride, in many ways, it’s Kevin Rafferty’s way of honoring the legendary Imagineer.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
In this particular case, too many chefs in the kitchen is a good thing! Chef Remy, alongside Disney Imagineers, are cooking up something sweet for guests of Walt Disney World.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is planned to open in summer 2020 in the France Pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase. Based on Disney and Pixar’s hit film, “Ratatouille,” this family-friendly attraction will invite you to shrink down to the scale of a rat for a culinary adventure with Chef Remy. You’ll race across Gusteau’s kitchen floor aboard special trackless ride vehicles.
The ride is currently operating at Disneyland Paris and when I asked Michael Hundgen (Executive Producer for Walt Disney Imagineering) if the ride would be an exact replica of the Paris attraction, he smiled and said that although it would be along the same lines- Imagineers have added several unique touches to the attraction for Walt Disney World.
Tron: Lightcycle Run
Tron: Lightcycle Run is a semi-enclosed launched steel motorbike roller coaster attraction at Shanghai Disneyland Park, but is an upcoming attraction at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. Based on the Tron series, the attraction takes guests on a ride through the Grid on their own light cycle.
Recently, a major construction milestone for the much-anticipated attraction coming to was celebrated, the first steel support columns had been installed. The steel columns will serve as the framework that’ll support the coaster’s track in Tomorrowland. And today, we have a special look at the columns and the progress Walt Disney Imagineers, Disney cast members and project teams have made in bringing the attraction to life.
The construction of Tron has stopped the Walt Disney World Rail Road from operating, and guests have been missing one of there favorite attractions. The track is being adjusted to accommodate Tron and will re-open shortly after the attraction opens. Tron Lightcycle Run is set to open at Magic Kingdom Park in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021. At a recent media event, we were given a preview of the bikes that will be used for guests, which certainly upped the excitement!
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
This is a sensitive topic for me. Although I understand the reasons for the re-imagining of Epcot, I’ll always miss the Universe of Energy attraction. That being said, I’ve moved on and put my trust in Disney Imagineers that in place of a classic ride, will come an even better one in its place.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be the first “other-world” showcase pavilion at Epcot. The adventure starts in the “Galaxarium,” a planetarium-like exhibition that explores the similarities and mysteries of the formation of Earth’s galaxy and Xandar. You will be invited to learn more about the treasures Xandar has to share – until the moment when the Guardians of the Galaxy arrive, and adventures across the cosmos ensue. The attraction will feature a new innovation from Walt Disney Imagineering – a storytelling coaster that rotates 360 degrees to focus your attention on the action, including the first reverse launch on a Disney coaster.
We don’t have a specific date, but our insider- Groot, has mentioned to us that sometime in 2021 the attraction will open.
Guests will have the opportunity to embark on the ultimate culinary exploration from this new expansion of the Mission: SPACE pavilion, as they step inside Space 220—a celestial panorama of a space station—for a delicious meal! As you dine modern American cuisine, you’ll be able to peer out and enjoy amazing daytime and nighttime views of Earth from 220 miles up.
Your journey into space begins when you board a special space elevator that will ascend to the stars! Along the way, viewports will give you an aerial view of Epcot as you travel high above the planet. Upon your arrival, you will dine from a menu featuring modern American cuisine, more than 1,000 bottles of the world’s finest wines and a wide selection of craft beer. Space 220 will also have a lounge and feature a “wheel” of produce. These items will look like produce here on Earth, but presented in a much more “out of this world” way.
Space 220 opens February 2020.
Roundup Rodeo BBQ
With the opening of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests were treated to Woody’s Lunch Box. An exciting and delicious cook service restaurant nestled next to Midway Mania and directly across the land’s main attraction- Slinky Dog Dash.
Disney announced in that “sometime in 2020” the opening of “Roundup Rodeo BBQ,” will take place. It will be a table service restaurant and upon entering Andy’s back yard, guests are magically transformed to the size of a toy, surrounded by toys and playsets scattered throughout the area.
Once inside, you’ll be surrounded by all of the rodeo festivities in-action as well as western town and train station play sets. And you just might spot some of your favorite Disney Pixar characters scattered throughout the restaurant in the form of toys and game pieces.
This immersive restaurant will surround guests with a kaleidoscope of toys, games, and playsets, providing yet another unique, fun, family-friendly dining experience that could only be had in Toy Story Land.
La Crêperie de Paris
Among all the changes and updates coming to Epcot, I’m really excited about everything that’s happening over at the France Pavilion. The second of three updates is La Crêperie de Paris.
Although there hasn’t been much information released, we do have a few details to share; Summer 2020 will see the opening of a brand new crêperie, La Crêperie de Paris. This new location will offer both table- and quick-service options and will feature a menu from celebrity chef Jérôme Bocuse. To be honest, Disney had me at the single notion of fresh crepes being available and all I need is a specific opening date and I’m there! My only issue is now I’ll have to choose between a crepe or brioche ice cream sandwich. Then again, maybe I can have my crepe and brioche ice cream sandwich, why make life more difficult with having to make choices?
Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue
Once I got over it’s long name, and learned more details about the new restaurant coming to the American Adventure pavilion in World Showcase, I was on board and ready for a change in dining options. I’ve always said America has the greatest food and felt like it wasn’t represented as best as it should be in World Showcase.
The menu for the restaurant currently known as Regal Eagle Smokehouse will include a variety of sandwiches and platters as well as a plant-based option. On the sandwich front, Regal Eagle will offer a sliced Texas beef brisket sandwich with house-made spicy mop sauce on garlic toast and the South Carolina smoked sausage sandwich with tangy mustard sauce and caramelized onions. If there’s one thing I know for sure, the best BBQ comes from Texas and South Carolina, and with Disney bringing the freshest ingredients to the table, this menu restaurant has me pumped!
Disney has not given us a specific date, except that the restaurant will open in Winter 2020. We can only assume it would be around the same time as Space 220.
Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along
During my week at Disney covering media for Rise of the Resistance, I was invited to an exclusive preview of the brand new Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along. The third update coming to the France pavilion. To say I was blown away, would be an understatement.
I had the privilege of being in the second audience ever, to preview the new movie. I had little expectations and wasn’t sure what to expect. But what I found was that I was so moved by the sheer fact of seeing one of my favorite Disney movies on the big screen again (not since it first came out and I was little a girl, has that happened), that I was at times- in tears.
Disney brought back the original producer, Don Hahn, and most of the original animators to add a few new twists to the tale- making it not as a old as time, but more updated to fit today’s time. The movie is narrated by Disney Legend herself, Angela Lansbury- who played Mrs. Potts in the original film.
The new sing-along will run in rotation with “Impressions de France,” which will receive an upgrade to 4K projection. It premieres on opening day of Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts, which is January 17th, 2020.
Canada Far and Wide
Beginning on January 17th, 2020, guests can explore Canada like never before. Located in the Canada pavilion, “Canada Far and Wide” will be presented in Circle-Vision 360.
What appealed to me most about the new film, isn’t it’s breathtaking images or captivating stories, by who people narrating the film. Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara contributed their voices as narrators of the new film. Sure, they’re famous actors who most might know as the dad from American Pie or mother from Home Alone who famously screams- “Kevin!” But there’s a little show out there, with a huge cult following, called- Schitt’s Creek. For fans of the show, who are having to say goodbye after the final season drops in a few weeks, this is our way of visiting Moira and Johnny Rose. Honestly, I think this was a great move on Disney’s part to have these legendary actors narrate the film. I suspect the theater in the Canada Pavilion will be packed.
Ducktales World Showcase Adventure
If you haven’t picked up on it yet, let me fill you in- Epcot is under going some serious changes. Which in my opinion, is justified and long over due. After all, it was Walt who said that Epcot would always be in a state of becoming. With the many changes, will come Ducktales World Showcase Adventure.
Guests will be invited to join Scrooge McDuck, Donald, nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie, Launchpad and Webby in search of priceless treasure. Using the Play Disney Parks mobile app, guests take a trip around World Showcase discovering exotic destinations, exciting mysteries, and maybe even a few thieves, villains and supernatural guardians of ancient artifacts.
Mickey Shorts Theater
A Mickey Shorts Theater on its way to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which we’re told will open in March 2020.
Thee interior of the theater will evoke the same wacky fun of the Disney Channel cartoon series. You’ll see an original short in this same style, plus have the chance to take your picture in special photo locations. I don’t know about you, but between the Mickey Shorts and Runaway Railway, my heart is happy that Mickey Mouse (along with Minnie and other beloved characters) are finding at new home at Hollywood Studios. I truly believe, it’s the perfect place for them and where they belong.
Journey of Water
Inspired by recent Disney blockbuster, Moana, “Journey of Water” will let guests interact with magical, living water in a beautiful and inspiring setting. It’s the first-ever experience in any of the parks based on water.
Original concept art showcases the lush landscape and flowing water feature centerpiece. We’ve been shown images of jumping water that will come alive in front of guests magically.
Journey of Water – Inspired by Moana, will be located in the World Nature neighborhood when the Epcot overhaul is completed.
The PLAY! pavilion will open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World (2021). In this digital metropolis, you’ll discover an interactive city bursting with games, activities and experiences that connect you with friends, family and beloved Disney characters – both real and virtual – like never before. As part of this new pavilion, you’ll have the chance to help legendary fashion icon Edna Mode on her quest to rid the world of uninspired style, or make a splash competing in a water-balloon fight hosted by Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby.
I speak for millions of Disney Park goers when I say, Epcot’s Illuminations is greatly missed. However, with Disney Epcot undergoing it’s massive transformation, it seemed fitting to update Epcot’s nighttime spectacular.
HarmonioUS will debut as the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park. It will celebrate how the music of Disney that inspires people the world over, carrying you away harmoniously on a stream of familiar Disney tunes reinterpreted by a diverse group of artists from around the globe.
HarmonioUS will feature massive floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, lasers and more. The show premieres in May 2020, just in time for the Summer!
Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser
Coming to Walt Disney World in 2021, Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser will give guests the opportunity to live their very own epic Star Wars story.
This isn’t your typical Disney hotel. Rather, Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser is a 2-night all inclusive experience. It’s actually being marketed more along the lines as a Disney Cruise (only for 2 nights and everything Star Wars).
According to an official press release, after being welcomed to the experience through a special launch pod, guests will traverse the galaxy aboard “The Halcyon,” a Starcruiser on which they will dine (and drink in the all-ages Silver C Lounge), sleep in cabins with deep space views, participate in activities like lightsaber training, travel to the Black Spire Outpost and more.
At the heart of The Halcyon is The Atrium, where guests will come face-to-face with some of their favorite characters.
There’s so much coming to Walt Disney World in 2020, and even into 2021, that’s there’s truly never been a better time to plan your Disney vacation. Over the next few years, Walt Disney World will become in a league of its own when it comes to the types of experiences and services it offers its guests. What are you most excited for, comment below and let us know!