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Walt Disney World will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2021. In preparation, there are a lot of new things coming to the resort. To keep you up-to-date on all of it and help you better prepare for your next trip, here is a list of the changes coming to Disney World between now and 2021. This list covers the changes in each of the parks, as well as the hotels, transportation, and Disney Springs. I’ll also include the anticipated effective dates of each change. As a bonus, I’ll throw in a few credible rumors too! Additionally, I will update this article as new things are announced. (Updated September 5, 2019.)
Magic Kingdom Changes
The Magic Kingdom may be the flagship park of Walt Disney World, but it is not the location of the majority of the changes coming to Disney World. Most of the new things at the Magic Kingdom will be celebrations and special events.
- The entrance plaza is currently being updated to improve guest experience.
- Disney is adding a new roller coaster, called TRON Lightcycle Run, next to Space Mountain. Expect an opening date in either Spring or Summer 2021.
- Expect the official 50th anniversary celebration to last from May 2021 through the end of 2022, so you will have lots of time to experience it. The celebration will be at all four of the Disney World parks.
- Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration: Enjoy Mickey’s 90th birthday party with the Move It Shake It Mouskedance It Street Party, special food and merchandise, as well as limited pop up entertainment now through September 30, 2019.
- The annual, special-ticketed Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party features a new fireworks show this year. Disney has also added a couple new floats to the Boo To You parade and a Halloween overlay to a few attractions. The parties occur on select nights from now through November 1, 2019.
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will also debut a new firework show this year, and add some Christmas theming to some attractions, beginning November 8 through December 22, 2019. This is another annual, special-ticketed event.
If you are visiting Epcot between now and 2023, be prepared. You will see lots of construction walls up. The majority of the changes coming to Disney World in the next few years are at Epcot. Disney is currently working on a major update of Epcot. The work here will not be finished until probably 2023 or 2024.
Currently, Epcot is divided into two main areas: Future World and World Showcase. This is about to change. As part of Epcot’s complete overhaul, these two areas will morph into four new neighborhoods. Throughout these new neighborhoods, expect less concrete and more landscaping and winding pathways.
- World Showcase is staying. See changes and additions coming to individual pavilions below.
- Future World is being converted into three new neighborhoods: World Nature, World Discovery, and World Celebration.
- Character Spot closes on September 8, 2019. Check here to see where to find the characters after that date.
- The Fountain of Nations and Innoventions East also both close on September 8, 2019.
- Electric Umbrella is closing Winter 2019.
- Mouse Gear is moving to a temporary location Winter 2019.
- Club Cool also closes later this year.
- Fountain View (Starbucks) will relocate to a temporary location in Fall 2019.
- Art of Disney and Pin Central will move to temporary locations.
- Camera Center will close to make room for Pin Central.
Epcot: World Discovery Additions
- Guardian of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind, a new roller coaster is being built. It features rotating ride vehicles and a reverse launch, which is a first for Disney. It is scheduled to open in the Spring 2021.
- Space 220, a new space-themed restaurant is nearing completion. It is located between Mission Space and Test Track. Look for it to open Winter 2019.
Epcot: World Celebration Additions
- In October 2019, the old Odyssey pavilion opens as Walt Disney Imagineering Presents the Epcot Experience. This is a new preview center, which will give you a sneak peek into new things coming to Epcot.
- Spaceship Earth, the icon of Epcot, is getting a major refurbishment. According to rumors, it will close at the end of 2019 or beginning of 2020 and will be closed for two or three years. When it reopens, it will focus more on storytelling with a new narrator called “Story Light.” It will keep some current scenes, plus get some new ones and a new exit.
- Disney is transforming the old Wonders of Life pavilion into a new Play Pavilion. It will include lots of interactive experiences, characters, and hands on activities. Think of this as one huge indoor playground. It will be open by 2021.
- A new statue of Walt Disney is being added to an area called Dreamer’s Point.
- An updated fountain will be added.
- As mentioned above, Innoventions East closes for extensive remodeling. It will become home to a new quick service restaurant, an expanded Mouse Gear, Starbucks, Club Cool, a beer garden, and more.
- A new multi-level Festival pavilion will feature a rooftop bar and lounge and a viewing area for the fireworks.
Epcot: World Nature Additions
- Awesome Planet, a new film, opens in the Land pavilion in early 2020.
- Disney is adding “Journey of Water”, an interactive fountain/water feature inspired by Moana, near the Seas Pavilion.
Epcot: World Showcase Changes
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, a new Ratatouille themed ride is underway in the back of the France pavilion. The opening date is planned for April-June 2020.
- The Canada pavilion is currently closed for refurbishments. Disney is adding a new film, Canada Far and Wide, and a new projection system to the theater. This new film starts January 2020.
- World Showcase’s China pavilion is also getting a new film, called Wondrous China. This one will debut in January 2020 as well.
- A Beauty and the Beast sing-a-long is coming to the France pavilion, sharing theater space with Impressions de France. The targeted opening is also January 2020.
- La Creperie de Paris, a new crepe restaurant is also coming to the France pavilion.
- Mary Poppins is coming to the United Kingdom pavilion! You will be able to walk down Cherry Tree Lane and into the Banks house where you will begin your adventure in this new attraction. It is expected to open in either 2020 or 2021.
- Winnie the Pooh is returning to Christopher Robin’s bedroom for a meet-and-greet. The location is in the back of the Toy Soldier shop in the United Kingdom pavilion. No date has been announced yet.
- NEW: Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts and Barbecue is coming to the American Adventure pavilion in late 2019 or early 2020.
- Illuminations, Epcot’s nightly fireworks show ends September 30, 2019. Epcot Forever, the temporary replacement show, begins October 1, 2019. This show includes fireworks, lasers, special effects, and kites.
- HarmonioUS, the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park, is scheduled to begin in the Fall of 2020.
- RUMOR: According to rumor, Disney is adding a Brazil pavilion to World Showcase with ground breaking sometime Winter 2019.
Hollywood Studios Changes
The most anticipated addition in the history of Disney World is happening at Hollywood Studios. And that is Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. This 14-acre addition lets you be part of the Star Wars franchise. Galaxy’s Edge is the second new land to open here, following Toy Story Land, which opened in 2018.
- Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, including Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, one of the land’s two new rides, Oga’s Cantina and Savi’s Workshop (a build-your-own specialty lightsaber experience), is now open.
- Rise of the Resistance, the other new ride in Galaxy’s Edge, opens December 5, 2019.
- Mickey’s and Minnie’s Runaway Railway opens in the Chinese Theatre in the Spring 2020.
- Disney is also expanding the Hollywood Studio’s entrance. Expect completion by the end of August, 2019.
- Roundup Rodeo BBQ, a table service restaurant, is coming to Toy Story Land.
- You can now meet Darth Vadar in Star Wars Launch Bay.
Animal Kingdom Changes
Of all the changes coming to Disney World, there are very few happening in Animal Kingdom. This park has gotten the most love over the last few years, though, so this is somewhat understandable. Here are the few things happening in Animal Kingdom.
- Expect Up! A Great Bird Adventure to close September 8 through 14, 2019. When it reopens on September 15, there will be changes to the show.
- Primeval Whirl is undergoing unplanned maintenance. It should reopen in late September, 2019.
- Lastly, Animal Kingdom will be getting some extensive new Christmas decorations and entertainment for the 2019 holiday season.
Disney World has 25+ resorts and hotels scattered throughout the property. And there’s more in the works. So, here’s the current news on changes coming to Disney World as it relates to the resorts.
- Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, a Star Wars hotel, is currently under construction adjacent to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios. It will be a small, boutique hotel with 2 days and 2 nights of highly immersive, interactive elements. This will open sometime after Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
- Disney Riviera Resort, a new Disney Vacation Club resort, opens in December 2019. It is located next to Caribbean Beach Resort.
- NEW: Storybook Breakfast Dining Experience is coming to the Riviera Resort’s rooftop restaurant, Topolino’s Terrace, Flavors of the Riviera. It opens December 16, 2019. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy will make appearances.
- Another new resort, Reflections, A Disney Lakeside Lodge, is underway in Bay Lake between Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge. It should open in 2022. It will have 900 rooms and DVC villas.
- The Reflections resort will include a Princess and the Frog inspired restaurant.
In addition to everything above, there are a few changes coming to the Disney World resort as a whole. Here’s the information on those changes.
- Disney Skyliner, a gondola system, is coming to the transportation lineup at Disney World. It connects Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Pop Century Resort, Art of Animation Resort, Caribbean Beach Resort, and Riviera Resort. It officially opens on September 29, 2019.
- A new Cirque du Soleil show about Disney animation is in the works for Disney Springs. It opens on April 17, 2020.
- Beatrix, a neighborhood restaurant, is also coming to Disney Springs. It features a bakery, grab-and-go market, bar, coffeehouse, and healthy options.
- Cookie Dough and Everything Sweet, a dessert food truck, opens in August 2019 in Disney Springs’ West Side with the other food trucks.
- Also new to Disney Springs’ West Side is Ample Hills Creamery second location. The menu of handmade ice cream will be similar to the original location’ at the Boardwalk.
- Disney Springs is also getting a new Target store.
- Disney Genie, a digital assistant, will help you plan your future trips with customized itineraries, dining and fastpasses. It will begin late 2020.
Walt Disney once said the parks are “something that will never be finished.” As you can tell from the above list, there are many changes coming to Disney World over the next few years. It is an exciting time to be visiting this unique vacation destination. Be sure to check back here periodically for updates. For help planning your Disney World vacation, see my step-by-step guide, best resources, and quick tips. Happy travels!
P.S. Want more help planning your Disney trip? Get our FREE Disney Trip Planning Worksheet which will walk you through every step of the process. See the box below for details.