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The major changes coming to Disney parks in 2020 and beyond

When you wish upon a star...

An artistic rendering of the new Marvel land at Disney California Adventures imagines vehicles, superheroes, and high-tech sites converging around the Guardians of the Galaxy tower attraction. Courtesy of Disney Parks

At the 2019 D23 Expo, Disney set the tone for the future. The company, armed with IP and vision, unveiled a boatload of new attractions, lands, and updates coming to Disney parks everywhere. Attractions that were once just specific to the parks are getting makeovers to be more movie-friendly, new lands sprouting up depart from the traditional magic, and nebulous sites are set to be gutted and revamped into immersive experiences for factions of fandom.

Disney has ambitious visions to meld the old and the new into one big melting pot of childhood whimsy. Here’s just a taste of what we know the parks will look like in the next few years.

An actress  playing Moana stands on a boat riding a wave in an innovative new parade float
Moana float concept art for Disney’s new Magic Happens parade
Disney Parks

A new parade is coming to Main Street Disneyland in spring 2020

Disney temporarily brought back the classic Main Street Electrical Parade to Disneyland earlier this year, but the big procession news coming out of D23 was the announcement of “Magic Happens,” a parade that mines from Disney’s history of animation. New movies like Moana and Coco will have their parade floats alongside classics such as Sleeping Beauty.

Magic Happens parade at Disneyland concept art of Sleeping Beauty float Disney Parks

“The parade celebrates awe-inspiring moments of magic of so many Disney stories,” Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney parks, experiences, and products, said on stage.

“Magic Happens” will feature new music by Todrick Hall.

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is coming to Orlando

Hollywood Studios’ The Great Movie Ride closed down in 2017 (press F to pay respects) to make way for this new attraction. The ride follows an original story that takes you through the unpredictable world of Disney Channel’s Mickey and Minnie shorts, and opens at Hollywood Studios in spring 2020.

a rendering of Mickey and Minnie’s runaway railway in the Chinese Theater in Hollywood Studios, where the greatest attraction of all time, The Great Movie Ride, once stood Disney

Disney will also port Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway to Disneyland Anaheim. The attraction will live in the Toon Town area of the park, in the El CapiToon theater, where Mickey and Minnie are premiering their new short. But, as always happens in these cartoons, hilarity and hijinks ensue. Much like how the wait for The Great Movie Ride featured props and costumes from classic movies, the wait for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will feature props and costumes from the Toon World. The Disneyland version of the ride will open in 2022.

Zootopia’s Mammalian Metropolis coming to Disney Shanghai

Zootopia was a smash hit outside the US, bringing in over $682 million worldwide, so it makes sense that its theme park debut will be in Disney Shanghai. Mammalian Metropolis will be Disney Shanghai’s eighth themed land and the first Zootopia attraction in any Disney park. The land will be an immersive experience, with an all-new attraction that blends “storytelling and state-of-the-art technology.”

There is no set opening date for Zootopia.

Concept art of Frozen land ice castle at Shanghai Disneyland
Concept art of Frozen land at Shanghai Disneyland
Disney Parks

Frozen land arriving to Hong Kong Disneyland

The first ever Frozen-themed land will arrive in Hong Kong Disneyland, yet another immersive experience that will bring the sights, sounds, cuisines, and “traditions” of Arendelle to life. Two rides will open: Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs, a brand new roller coaster stationed at a replica of Oaken’s Trading Post, and Frozen Ever After, a version of which is currently situated in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot.

The Frozen land is part of a multi-year expansion coming to Hong Kong Disneyland, which also includes...

Hong Kong Disney’s castle will expand into The Castle of Magical Dreams

Unlike Disneyland, the new castle in Hong Kong won’t summon the magic of just one animated classic, but cull from princess iconography from across 13 different movies, including Belle’s rose and Snow White’s apple. It’s also expected to be a setting (or canvas, if the castle follows the recent image-mapping park trend) for a daytime show and a nighttime spectacular. Finally, it’ll be the home of a brand new Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

Concept art of the Disney Springs exterior
Concept art of the Destiny exterior in Disney Springs
Disney Parks

Destiny is a new show spearheaded by Cirque du Soleil arriving in Disney Springs

“We wanted to understand the process of animation and feel it,” says Michel Laprise, the writer and director for Destiny said at D23.

The show will feature brand new animated sequences featuring the classic Disney characters, and according to animator Eric Goldberg, “the animated characters will interact with the live performers.”

To find inspiration for Destiny’s wraparound story, Cirque du Soleil writers looked at how animators are like performers in “the way they perform, the way they create,” Laprise said. The Disney characters in the performance are central to the life of a young girl and her father was a disney animator who raised her with those characters. According to Laprise, “they find a way to send her on a magical journey of self discovery with those characters.”

Previews of Destiny begin in March 2020, with a formal premiere on April 17.

An artistic rendering of the new Marvel land at Disney California Adventures imagines vehicles, superheroes, and high-tech sites converging around the Guardians of the Galaxy tower attraction. Courtesy of Disney Parks

Marvel Land at California Adventure will arrive next year with one attraction

Following the Galaxy’s Edge model, the upcoming Marvel-themed area Avengers Campus will roll out with just one attraction. The Worldwide Engineering Brigade (WEB), a Spiderman-themed attraction that takes place in an organization where young genius inventors gather to create technologies to give people superpowers, will be the premiere attraction of the Anaheim location. The second experience will debut you down the road, and center on a big battle in Wakanda. Here are all the details, including Marvel and Disney’s plans for the worldwide locations.

Disney cable car system coming to Walt Disney World in 2019

The Disney Skyliner is the opening fanfare of the many overhauls coming to parks across the globe. Beginning on Sept. 29, 2019, the Skyliner will connect the parks and resorts in Walt Disney World, taking guests from four of the hotel properties — the Art of Animation resort, the Caribbean Beach resort, the Pop Century resort, and the soon to open Riviera resort — to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

At World Celebration in Epcot, concept art of Spaceship Earth Disney Parks

Epcot is getting a massive, modern revamp

Beloved Epcot is getting a makeover for the 21st century, just in time for Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th anniversary. The biggest change involves splitting the park from two lands to four, separating Future World into World Celebration, World Discovery, and World Nature.

In addition to spruced up gardens and fountains, World Celebration will boast a new centralized pavilion for Epcot’s iconic festivals (and a great place for fireworks viewing), along with a revamped Spaceship Earth ride, which will shift its focus from technology to the power of storytelling.

From a Moana-themed attraction to new shows, here’s a full rundown on everything happening to Epcot, a park that will barely resemble its former self when it’s all said and done.

Reflections, a Disney Lakeside Lodge, boasts a Princess and the Frog restaurant

Along with nature-themed cabins and treehouse suites, the rustic resort will also be the site of a lakeside Princess and the Frog-themed restaurant. The resort is set to open in Orlando in 2022. Despite being a movie centered around a restaurant, the only current Princess and the Frog dining experience is on a Disney cruise ship. Get ready for some gumbo.

star wars hotel in orlando concept art featuring guests and a wookiee Disney Parks

An immersive, cruise-like Star Wars hotel on its way

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser — or the Halcyon as it will be known within the vast Galaxy’s Edge storyline — doesn’t have a set opening date, but it looks like one big live action roleplay experience. Guests “board” the cruiser for two-day, two-night journeys... into space! Or at least, it’s gonna seem a whole lot like space.

What you do on board determines how your Starcruiser experience plays out. Not all the activities have been revealed, but it looks like there will be some form of lightsaber training for both children and adults.

Reports indicate a cabin for five will start at $3,300. Executives didn’t announce an opening date for Galactic Starcruiser at D23, but based on every other Expo announcement, there’ll be something for every type of Disney fan rolling out at the parks until it’s open.