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For decades, Walt Disney World was the picture of consistency. You could walk down Main Street USA, go through Cinderella Castle and hop on Snow White’s Scary Adventures. After that, you could stroll past The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh and the Mad Tea Party to Toontown, where you could visit Mickey Mouse’s house.
Fast forward a few years and Snow White’s Scary Adventures has been replaced by Princess Fairytale Hall. As you make that walk past Winnie the Pooh, you’ll see the most popular ride in the Magic Kingdom, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Five years ago, it didn’t exist. Nor did the castle behind it, where you can dine with the beast from “Beauty and the Beast.”
With recent additions, such as Pandora — The World of Avatar, bringing in more and more visitors, Disney World is preparing for even more expansion and more change. Starting in 2019, you’ll see major additions to many of the parks. Here are nine you won’t want to miss.
1. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
This latest addition to Disney’s Hollywood Studios may be wildly popular, likely surpassing the opening of Toy Story Land earlier this year. It’s scheduled to open late fall 2019 (summer 2019 for Disneyland in California), and we already know a bit about a couple of the attractions.
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run will feature appearances from Chewbacca and Hondo Ohnaka.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is a battle between the First Order and the Resistance. Rumors are that Kylo Ren will even make an appearance.
While we know that a Star Wars-themed hotel is in the works (and we suspect it’s going to be obscenely exclusive and expensive), it isn’t going to be ready for its first guests in 2019.
Until Galaxy’s Edge is open for visitors, hardcore Star Wars fans will have to entertain themselves with a few sneak peeks, like this image of the Millennium Falcon.
If you’re a music fan, you can listen to the musical score developed for the new land by John Williams, who composed the music for the original “Star Wars” films:
2. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Staying inside Hollywood Studios, many Disney purists were saddened to learn that the Great Movie Ride would be retired. The ride held a special place for many a Disney fanatic. But, the disappearance of the Great Movie Ride allows Disney to design something that’s never happened at Walt Disney World, the first-ever ride built solely around what started it all: a mouse.
In summer 2019, we’ll get our first glimpse at the replacement: Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Housed in the Chinese Theatre with a new facade, this ride will start with a brand-new “short” cartoon. Rumors are that you pass through the movie screen and become part of the show. Goofy will be the engineer on your journey with Mickey and Minnie. Twists and turns and 3D-ish graphics will make the first ride ever built with Mickey as the centerpiece a treat you won’t want to miss.
3. Wonderful World of Animation Celebrates 30 Years of Hollywood
When Disney World finishes renovating the Chinese Theatre for Runaway Railway, it will have the canvas for the next new attraction at Hollywood Studios. If you’re a fan of shows, Walt Disney World plans a new cinematic experience to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Hollywood Studios. Disney will “take guests on a magical journey through more than 90 years of Disney animation, all beginning with Mickey himself.”
A new animated show isn’t as significant as Galaxy’s Edge. However, the knock on Hollywood Studios for the past few years has been that it’s hard to stay occupied there for an entire day. With the price of park admission, people without Park Hopper tickets will now have more attractions to keep them busy until late in the evening.
4. Meet The Incredibles at Pixar Place
Hollywood Studios is getting quite a bit of love from the Imagineers. Starting in January and running through Sept. 30, 2019, you’ll be able to party with The Incredibles at Pixar Place. Strike a pose to show off your #IncredibleSide, jam out on the dance floor and go on a hunt for Jack-Jack.
5. Poison Apple With a Side of Princess
We mentioned earlier that Snow White and her Scary Adventure had disappeared from its place in the Magic Kingdom. But, you can still find Snow White, and even dine with her, without even needing to pay to enter one of the theme parks.
Artist Point, a table service restaurant at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, is being transformed into a character meal at a surprisingly affordable price. Along with Magic Mirror slow-braised veal shank and Bashful’s butter-poached snapper, you’ll get to meet Snow White and a few of those smaller guys she hangs out with. And, if your little ones are up for it, you can even meet the Evil Queen. Finish your meal with a “poison” apple, of course. This new character meal has the potential to be a rare combination of good food and meet-and-greet opportunities. That sort of combo is a scarcity at Disney World.
6. Celebrating “No Trouble” at Animal Kingdom
On the 25th anniversary of the “Lion King,” you’ll be able to celebrate with the new Hakuna Matata (meaning “no trouble”) Time Dance Party at Animal Kingdom. Guests can head to Discovery Island and party with Timon and Rafiki. You’ll be able to enjoy games, music and dancing with some of your favorite Disney characters.
If you are really into the African and animal theming, we highly recommend a stay at the nearby Animal Kingdom Lodge.
7. Take to the Skies Over Walt Disney World Theme Parks
The Disney Skyliner will debut in late 2019 and that excites us on two fronts. It will be one of the first aerial views you don’t have to pay for over Epcot and Hollywood Studios. That alone should be a wickedly cool experience. The Skyliner will also connect four Disney Resorts desperately in need of more transportation options. Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach and the soon-to-debut Disney Vacation Club property Riviera Resort, currently rely solely on bus connections for complimentary transportation options to the parks.
Skyliner will lift passengers from these four resorts to Epcot and Hollywood Studios at no charge, alleviating the need to wait for a crowded bus on a hot day. Alas, there won’t be any air conditioning on these gondolas. Hopefully, a cool breeze comes your way as you whisk over the treetops on your way to Galaxy’s Edge. It’s sure to be a lot more whimsical than diesel fumes in the bus line.
8. More Hotel Rooms to Support More Guests
With all these new attractions, Disney World is expecting even more visitors. We already know the new “Star Wars” hotel will miss the opening of Galaxy’s Edge (and it’s going to be tiny anyway). So where are all those people going to stay? Construction on the newest Disney Vacation Club property, Riviera Resort, is already well underway. Expected to open in fall 2019, it will include such features as a rooftop restaurant with views of Epcot. Enjoy the Mediterranean theme of this waterfront property and catch a view of the fireworks while you dine in the sky.
Those are not the only new hotel rooms you’ll find at Disney World in 2019. Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort will get a new tower with 545 new rooms. Beyond 2019 we’ll also see a new nature-themed resort and “The Cove,” the rumored name of the new hotel to accompany the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin (where you can use Marriott Rewards points to stay on Disney property).
9. Mickey & Minnie Have Surprises at the Magic Kingdom
Starting Jan. 18, Mickey, Minnie and friends have new treats in store for guests. You’ll find both Mickey and Minnie in Town Square Theater sporting new outfits. Don’t forget to sign the guest book while you’re there. You’ll also find a brand-new song as part of the new “Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party.” And, you’ll find new meet-and-greet opportunities, like Pluto hanging out under the big top at Storybook Circus. Disney even has a countdown clock to make sure you don’t lose track of the launch.
The Bottom Line
At both Disney World and Disneyland, 2019 will be the year of the Jedi (or Sith), but that isn’t all that is unveiling this year. Walt Disney World continues to branch out, and while you can still find Mickey ice cream bars and really expensive buckets of popcorn, you’ll also find new lands, rides, experiences and attractions Walt never imagined.
Will all these new attractions be able to keep up with the ever-growing crowds, or will Disney World need even more real estate to keep up the pace (they did just buy about a thousand acres near Celebration)? Will Disney World hit the 100 million visitors per year mark soon, or is that still a galaxy far, far away? What do you think of the new lineup of attractions at Disney World in 2019? Will you be visiting Mickey and Minnie in the coming year? So many questions and a new set of 365 days to find answers.
Planning a Walt Disney World vacation? Here are some more resources:
- Buy Discounted Disney 4-Park Tickets in 2019
- TPG’s Ultimate Guide to Walt Disney World Resort
- 16 Reasons to Stay at a Walt Disney World Resort Property
- The Top 5 Tips for Disney World First-Timers
- The Best Points Hotels Near Disney World in 2018
- How to Save Money on Disney World Ticket Purchases
- 5 Ways to Save on a Disney World Vacation
- How to Use Points to Buy Disney Tickets
- Best Restaurants at Disney World
Featured image by Todd Anderson/Disney Parks via Getty Images
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