My friend Mike is what I’d call a true Disneyland expert! He’s been there many times and plumbed the park for all kinds of fun experiences. He’s written many posts on this blog over the past year (see my Disney page for all of them), and he’s back at it today with a new post for you! So, Disney fans, here’s Mike:
That time of year has come again. Christmas and New Years is over and and the rest of winter is still in front of us. The time for dreaming of some place a bit warmer and a lot more magical is now. So here are some reasons why 2018 will be an amazing year to do a Disney vacation!
Pixar! Pixar! Pixar!
For a park that already has a dedicated space to both Pixar’s “A Bug’s Life” and “Cars” amazingly, Disney California Adventure will be getting more Pixar represented. At the time of writing, Paradise Pier has closed and will be going under extensive refurbishment. Rides like Calfornia Screamin’ (or Screaming over Calfornia as everyone likes to call it), Mickey’s Fun Wheel and the Midway games will be unavailable. Even the popular restaurant, Ariel’s Grotto and it’s Princess character meal, will be saying farewell.
When it reopens this summer, the land will be divided up into four different neighborhoods. Calfornia Screamin’ and the surrounding area will transform into a district devoted to the movie “The Incredibles” (just in time for the sequel, now that is magic). Anchoring this area will be the newly themed Incredi-coaster (though I hope it gets called Screaming over the Incredibles by locals)!
Some time in the future, an area and new attraction themed to Inside Out will appear, but no details on the type off attraction it will be are available yet.
Toy Story Midway Mania will remain and the area around it will show the love to the Toy Story franchise. The Midway Games will represent a few different Pixar movies. Rumors floating around are Wall-E (love), the short La Luna, and A Bug’s Life (hmm… more on that later).
But before any of that opens, on April 13th will be the start of Pixar Fest! Among some of the smaller offerings of Pixar related events and fun, there are some real reasons to get excited for a trip to Disneyland this spring.
First, Paint the Night Parade is coming back! This is by far, the coolest and most fun parade ever!! Switching over to California Adventure, Paint the Night will have a few new floats dedicated to Pixar films. What films these floats will be based off has yet to be confirmed. But contact me if you’d like to bet against it being “Coco,” I could use the extra money.
And while California Adventure seems to be getting all the love, Disneyland Park will get a new nighttime fireworks show “Together Forever—A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular”. Though the name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, it will be new fireworks at Disneyland, and I’m sure it will feature some of that amazing music from Pixar films. So… yeah, bring some tissues.
Star Wars Prequel
Yes, 2019 will be the big unveiling of Star Wars themed land that is being called Galaxy’s Edge. One of the main reasons you may want to visit either American Disney park in 2018 is get in line for that now.
Until that time, in an effort to keep you from forgetting about Star Wars, there are some not to be missed new experiences for those who are Force sensitive. First, Star Tours in Disneyland Park and yet to be renamed Hollywood Studios (my guess?, “We Own Everything You Love” Park) has new Star Tours experiences. If you’ve checked out Star Wars: The Last Jedi, then you’re sure to remember the salt planet of Crait. Star Tours is now offering daily opportunities to check out this new planet and meet some of your favorite characters from the latest films.
On the west coast in Downtown Disney and the east coast’s Disney Springs a brand new Star Wars VR experience has just opened up to rave reviews. Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire Hyper-Reality Experience by ILMxLAB and The VOID (I’m just calling it Star Wars: SOTEHREILMLAB&TV for short). This is your chance to step into the Star Wars universe like never before. Tickets will run you about $30 per person. You and a team of 3 others will visit Mustafar, lava planet that Darth Vader likes to chill out at, and accomplish a vital mission to recover plans for something… it doesn’t matter. It’s going to be great. You’ll want to check it out with the Star Wars fans in your life.
Disneyland isn’t the only park getting in on the Pixar action. Out East, Hollywood studios plans to open Toy Story Land this summer. Guests are welcomed to join the rest of Andy’s toys in an adventure in his back yard. Andy has made a makeshift roller coaster that you can enjoy, Slinky Dog Dash. This outdoor coaster will probably be aimed for kids of a more modest age to enjoy. But filled with all of your favorite Toy Story characters, it should make a great addition to the park.
The other new addition will be a spinning ride called Alien Swirling Saucers. My hope is that is more akin to Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree in California Adventure (a great fun ride for kids) than Mad Hatter’s Teacups. But with these two new rides and the hugely popular Toy Story Midway Mania, Toy Story Land will make a welcome addition to Hollywood Studios. Rumors continue to swirl that Toy Story Land is just the starting point for a larger Pixar Land in Hollywood Studios. Let’s continue to hold out hope for the long rumored Monsters Inc “Doors” roller coaster based off the big finale in the first film.
Best of the “Fests”
Disney has been perfecting the art of the festival for years. 2018 will see the most and longest festivals being brought to their parks.
In EPCOT, the International Festival of Arts, celebrating music, food and (of course) art will be expanded from last year. After last year’s debut being a huge success, plan on a visit so you enjoy the foods, interactive performance art, more food, Broadway performers, food and drink, and the opportunity to take home original pieces of Disney art. Running from Jan 12 to Feb 19, there’s still time to plan a trip.
And of course as we all know, Spring begins in EPCOT on Feb 28th with the opening of the Flower and Garden Festival! With outdoor exhibits, delectable food booths, and the incredible topiaries, Flower and Garden has been consistently an amazing time to plan a Walt Disney World vacation. One big draw, the “Garden Rocks” series of concerts. Bringing in classic act for a free (with paid admission) concert for those in attendance. Bands like Lonestar, Foghat and Don Felder of the Eagles play some of their famous hits.
While EPCOT takes time for gardens and growing during the Spring, out on the west coast in California Adventure, they just focus on what is really important. Food! Food and Wine Disneyland edition runs March 2nd to April 12th. Sourcing inspiration from local flavors, look for 13 unique food booths celebrating California’s culinary culture and it’s amazing selection of local wine and craft brews.
And while details haven’t been announced officially yet, there of course is the grand daddy of them all, EPCOT’s International Food & Wine Festival. Expect it to run sometime in August until early November. Which of course is followed by International Festival of Holidays in EPCOT and its counterpart in California Adventure of the same name (sans international). With all that in mind, I highly recommend a Disney trip that includes one of the awesome festivals.
With the multitude of projects already underway, and many more to be started and others yet to be announced, Disney parks are changing. As fans, new and exciting attractions are what brings us back to the parks, even if it is always sad to see some favorites go. Last year we lost the iconic Great Movie Ride in Hollywood Studios and fan favorite Ellen’s Energy Adventure in EPCOT. Both were shuttered to make away for attractions that should debut in 2019. As previously mentioned, California Screaming and Ariel’s Grotto are now both gone in their current forms as well.
As rumors swirl and announcements are made, there will be other closings that have yet to be confirmed. With that in mind, as pure speculation, you might want to plan a visit in 2018 to re-visit family favorite attractions before they become a part of Disney’s Yesterland.
In California Adventure, if you love Bug’s Land, might be time to visit before it gets squashed. With Guardians of the Galaxy being a massive hit, expect Marvel to continue to expand out its presence over the next few years. As dear as Bug’s Land is too many guests, rumors persist that it is on the chopping block due to location and low ride capacity.
Another safe bet is Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. When Star Wars opens up in 2019, the Star Wars related elements currently residing in Tomorrowland (Launch Bay, Path of the Jedi and Star Tours) will now be in the wrong place at the wrong time. If they close, as rumors say they will, Tomorrowland will be primed for a massive makeover which is long overdue.
Lastly, EPCOT has many big projects already announced. Guardians of the Galaxy taking over Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Ratatouille being welcomed to the France Pavilion and a new outer space themed eatery over in Future World. But many say this is just the tip of the iceberg. Coco was widely praised and could be a natural replacement for the Three Caballeros at the Grand Fiesta Tour. Journey into Imagination is beyond its expiration date for many even hardcore fans, and with Inside Out being another huge Disney hit, that EPCOT attraction might be not long for this world as well. The big farewell might be to my favorite Walt Disney World nighttime spectacular, Illuminations. Rumor has it that it will be replaced as Walt Disney World gears up for the big 50th anniversary in 2021.
Bits and Bites
Among the many new and exciting changes coming in 2018 are the brand new restaurants coming to many Disney vacation spots. Disney is making sure you have plenty of options when it comes to taking food photos. Even better, after you get the pic for social media, the food is going to taste awesome too!
Starting at sea, the Disney Magic is getting a new Tangled themed restaurant. Last year, the Wonder got a Princess and the Frog restaurant, complete with characters and live music, and was a massive hit. With Tangled, I hope we get some great mix of Royal foods and a few visits from our favorite Snuggly Duckling ruffians.
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beers will soon be opening in Disneyland’s Downtown Disney. Adding to the other big opening, Splitsville Luxury Lanes. If the west coast version is anything like the Disney Springs version, expect a fun way to enjoy bowling with the family, as well as some really excellent food. This will be a great activity to experience on a travel day to the Disneyland Resort.
Speaking of Disney Springs, the final openings for this grand revitalization should be completed with a variety of new restaurants in 2018. First, the long awaited Edison just opened to guests this month. With American food, steampunk styling, and live entertainment from cabaret and contortionists alike. This is going to be a great late night location for adults after a day in the parks.
Next to open is a trio of eateries Maria & Enzo’s, Enzo’s Hideaway and Pizza Ponte. Maria & Enzo’s will be southern Italian food, specializing in baked pasta (so melted cheese? yes please!). Pizza Ponte will be a quick pizza by the slice location. But the jewel will be Enzo’s Hideaway. A speakeasy hold out from the prohibition era, guests will enter from a rum runner’s tunnel from the adjacent Maria & Enzo’s. Once there, you’ll being treated to vintage cocktails and Roman inspired fare. All three of these are beginning to roll out now.
Terralina Crafted Italian, Wine Bar George and Jaleo. Terralina will feature a menu from James Beard Award-winning Chef, Tony Mantuano. Wine Bar George will be truly unique by having over 100 wines by the glass and bottle to sample from a true Master Sommelier. Expect local sourced small plates to compliment the vast wine list. And Jaleo will be the first location that focuses on Spanish Tapas, which is exciting.
What are you most excited to see in 2018? What plans do you have for your family?
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Mike Rinehart is an independent travel agent affiliated with MEI & Mouse Fan Travel. Follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MikesTravelThoughts/ Or request your free no obligation quote on your next Disneyland, Disney World, Aulani, Disney Cruise (and any other cruise line) vacation by emailing him at Mike.Rinehart@mei-travel.com. Mention “The Coupon Project” and receive a free gift with your completed booking.