With the opening of two heavily hyped Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge lands, the Force continues to be strong at Mickey’s theme parks on both coasts. The Dec. 5 debut of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, part of Walt Disney World in Florida, rounded out the initial phase of the revolutionary land in grand style. It just may be the most sophisticated – and arguably, the best – attraction that Disney’s merry band of Imagineers has yet developed. Rise is scheduled to open on Jan. 17 at the Disneyland version of Galaxy’s Edge in California.
But it’s not going to be all lightsabers and droids all the time. There are a ton of other new attractions, shows, updates, dining experiences, and more coming to Disneyland and, especially, Walt Disney World in 2020.
“We are creating an idealistic Disney bubble so that guests can feel like they are in a magical place,” says Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney parks, experiences, and products, about everything that is on the way.
Disney World: Rise of the Resistance puts riders in the middle of an epic ‘Star Wars’ battle
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
“Who wouldn’t want to be in a Mickey short cartoon?” asks Kevin Rafferty, show writer and creative director for Walt Disney Imagineering. That’s his pitch for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which is scheduled to open March 4 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Based on the wacky and highly stylized look and feel of the new Mickey Mouse series, the attraction – the first ride-through experience to feature the beloved icon – will incorporate the shorts’ offbeat humor and cadence while adhering to cartoon logic and physics, according to Rafferty.
With Goofy serving as the engineer of a train ride that (in typical theme park fashion) will go horribly wrong, passengers will be transported into Mickey’s cartoon realm.
“We have a winner,” Chapek enthuses and predicts that Runaway Railway will be the “sleeper hit of the year.” A veteran Imagineer who has worked on many of the parks’ most popular attractions, Rafferty says that the Mickey ride is his favorite.
You’ll also be able to catch an original cartoon in the style of the Disney Channel series at the new Mickey Shorts Theater. It will open in March at the Studios park as well.
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
Epcot is undergoing a major transformation that will introduce new lands, welcome new additions, and update components of Disney World’s second theme park. Trackless vehicles will be featured in Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, which is scheduled to open at the France pavilion in the summer. Like a similar attraction at the Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, it will be based on Pixar’s “Ratatouille” and will take passengers through Gusteau’s restaurant where they will experience culinary calamities from the perspective of Remy, a rat who aspires to be a gourmet chef.
The longstanding nighttime presentation, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, closed in 2019 and ceded the World Showcase Lagoon spotlight to Epcot Forever, a temporary show now playing that pays homage to the park’s history. It will be replaced in 2020 by HarmonioUS, which Chapek touts as the largest-scale evening show that Disney has ever developed. Floating fountains and set pieces, a barrage of lights and lasers, and, of course, booming and blazing pyrotechnics will be choreographed to classic Disney songs as performed by a global array of musicians.
New Epcot films
Curtains will rise on a trio of new Epcot films, all scheduled to debut on Jan. 17. You could put your warbling to the test and be the guest of Mrs. Potts herself, Angela Lansbury, as she coaches would-be chanteuses in “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along,” coming to the France pavilion.
Comic actors and frequent collaborators (as well as Canucks) Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara will co-host “Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360,” the new in-the-round movie opening at the Canada pavilion. In-theater effects will punctuate “Awesome Planet,” a film to be shown at The Land pavilion that will celebrate the awesome place we call home.
Since most of us can’t resist the lure of our mobile phones, we may as well use them in pursuit of fun during our Disney World visits. Epcot will introduce the latest version of its high-tech scavenger hunt, Disney’s Duck Tales World Showcase Adventure. Using the Play Disney Parks mobile app, you and your buddies could join Donald and the gang for an interactive mission throughout the park.
Space 220 and other new eateries
An out-of-this-world dining experience awaits at Space 220, coming to Epcot this winter. Visitors will board a “space elevator” that will whisk them 220 miles above the Earth to a space station where they will enjoy a meal while gazing at the cosmos through expansive windows. Here’s hoping Tang-infused martinis will be on the menu.
Back on terra firma, the France pavilion will welcome the new restaurant, La Crêperie de Paris, featuring both sweet and savory versions of the yummy pancakes. Regal Eagle Smokehouse, opening this winter at Epcot’s American Adventure, will be serving barbeque and craft beers with the Muppets’ Sam the Eagle as host. Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, more smoked delicacies will be available at the new Roundup Rodeo BBQ table-service restaurant coming to the park’s Toy Story Land.
New Cirque du Soleil show at Disney Springs
Cirque du Soleil’s tent-like theater at Disney Springs, the shopping, dining, and entertainment district at Disney World, has been dark since the long-running show, “La Nouba,” closed at the end of 2017. But it will spring to life on April 17 when the avant-garde troupe opens “Drawn to Life.” Created in collaboration with Disney, the production will feature the studio’s animated movies and characters.
Disney parks love a parade, and beginning Feb. 28, the Magic Happens procession will step off at Disneyland. Mickey Mouse and his buddies will be at the helm, and other floats will feature characters from Disney and Pixar films such as “Frozen,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Moana,” and “Coco.”
“This parade celebrates the way magic affects both the characters in the stories and the guests who are watching,” says Jordan Peterson, show director. “Magic Happens is like a love letter to those special transformative moments.”
Marvel, a key branch of the Disney empire, will establish more of a presence at the U.S. parks with the opening of the Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure Park, part of California’s Disneyland Resort, in 2020.
The highlight of the new land will be an interactive attraction featuring Spider-Man. Recruits aboard “Web-Slinger” vehicles will help Spidey collect Spider-Bots, pesky surveillance devices developed by the nefarious Otto Octavius, otherwise known as Doctor “Doc Ock” Octopus.
“The Web-Slinger technology is extraordinary,” Chapek says, “because it enables guests to act like Spider-Man. I think it is going to blow everyone away.”
You’ll also be able to order oversized and miniaturized food items at Pym Test Kitchen, courtesy of the Pym Particles developed by Ant-Man and The Wasp. Other over-muscled comic book heroes from Black Panther, Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange will take up residence at the Avengers Campus.
Snow White’s Scary Adventures gets an update
Walt Disney once said, “Disneyland will never be completed … as long as there is imagination left in the world.” With everything that is planned for 2020, his ethos would seem to pervade all of the Disney parks. But Walt’s clarion call for expansion and renewal even applies to his park’s original attractions.
Sixty-five years after it debuted, Snow White’s Scary Adventures is getting a makeover. When it reopens this year, the classic dark ride will be spiffed up inside and out and feature new technology such as laser projections and LED black lighting as well as new scenes such as the princess waking from her deep slumber.