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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 October 6, 2019.)
Magic Kingdom Changes
The Magic Kingdom may be the flagship park of Walt Disney World, but Disney is not focused on changing much here. Most of the new things at the Magic Kingdom will be celebrations and special events.
- First, Disney is currently updating the entrance plaza 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.
- 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. You can take part in these parties 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.
- The Fountain of Nations, Innoventions East, Club Cool, and Character Spot are now closed. Check here to see where to find the characters now.
- Electric Umbrella is closing Winter 2019.
- Mouse Gear is moving to a temporary location Winter 2019.
- 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
- New: Walt Disney Imagineering Presents the Epcot Experience is now open in the old Odyssey pavilion. 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.
- Additionally, an updated fountain will be added.
- As mentioned above, what was Innoventions East 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.
- Additionally, 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. Expect this to open in either 2020 or 2021.
- Additionally, 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. Disney has not yet announced a date for this.
- Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts and Barbecue is coming to the American Adventure pavilion in late 2019 or early 2020.
- New: Epcot Forever, the temporary replacement nighttime show is now showing each night. This show includes fireworks, lasers, 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, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, is now open at Hollywood Studios. This 14-acre addition lets you be part of the Star Wars franchise. Galaxy’s Edge is the second new land added 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, the other big ride coming to this park, opens in the Chinese Theatre in the Spring 2020.
- Roundup Rodeo BBQ, a table service restaurant, is coming to Toy Story Land.
- You can now meet Darth Vadar in Star Wars Launch Bay.
- NEW: A new theater called Mickey Shorts Theater will open in the Spring 2020 showing Mickey Mouse short cartoons in the park’s theater district. This will be a nice compliment to Mickey’s and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
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.
- Primeval Whirl is undergoing unplanned maintenance. It should reopen soon.
- 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.
- 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.
- Disney is also building another new resort, Reflections, A Disney Lakeside Lodge, 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.
- Enchanted Rose, a Beauty and the Beast inspired lounge, is now open in the Grand Floridian. Stop by for drinks and small plates.
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.
- New: Disney Skyliner, a gondola system, is now a part of the transportation lineup at Disney World. Use it to get to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Pop Century Resort, Art of Animation Resort, Caribbean Beach Resort, and Riviera Resort. It has officially opened.
- 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.
- Additionally, a second location of Ample Hills Creamery is coming to Disney Springs’ West Side. The menu of handmade ice cream will be similar to the original location’ at the Boardwalk.
- A new Target store is also coming to Disney Springs.
- Lastly, 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.