13 new attractions and offerings coming to Disney World in 2022
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest information.
After two years of dizzying pandemic-related delays and operating changes at the Walt Disney World theme parks, 2022 has seen multiple much-anticipated debuts and changes finally arrive. There are now many brand-new ways to stay and play at Disney World, with more to roll out later this year.
The first half of 2022 saw the opening of the “Guardians of the Galaxy”-themed roller coaster (which is Epcot’s first coaster), the launch of the “Star Wars”-themed hotel and new, fancy rooms at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, among other highlights. However, there’s still much more to come.
Here’s a look at what’s new and arriving soon at Disney World in 2022.
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Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind debuts
When the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction opened on May 27, 2022, it marked a lot of “firsts” for Disney.
In addition to being the first roller coaster-based thrill ride to come to Epcot in the park’s 40-year history, it also holds the distinction of being the first reverse launch coaster in any Disney park and the first Marvel attraction at Disney World (we’ll spare you the legalese, but long-standing licensing agreements between Marvel, Universal Studios and Disney are the reason behind most Marvel-related characters and attractions being found at Disneyland).
The experience begins with a “planetarium-like exhibition” that introduces visitors to the people, culture and advanced technologies of Xandar. If you’re familiar with the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, Xandar is home to the intergalactic police force, the Nova Corps.
As often happens in Marvel movies (and on roller coasters), something goes wrong during your tour and an adventure ensues. On board the coaster, the cars rotate 360 degrees to point you toward massive screens where the action will play out as you ride.
We don’t want to spoil it for you, but we can guarantee you’ve never been on a coaster quite like this one. The queue is very much part of the experience, and it was where we experienced one of the biggest “How’d they do that?” surprises.
Once on the coaster, you immediately forget you are in a giant black box with screens and a coaster track because you legitimately feel as if you are racing through space. While thrilling, the humor provided by the “Guardians of the Galaxy” characters and the rockin’ tunes (waiting to see which song you get is part of the fun) keep it lighthearted and fun.
Epcot continues to transform
Walt Disney once said that Epcot will always be in a state of becoming. If you’ve visited Epcot anytime in the past few years, the ever-present construction walls and mounds of dirt are proof that Disney’s words weren’t just a clever turn of phrase.
In addition to the aforementioned Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind coaster, Epcot has recently opened an outer space-themed eatery, completed an expansion of World Showcase’s France pavilion that includes Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and an authentic creperie, debuted a new nighttime show and started welcoming visitors to the new Connections quick-service eatery and coffee shop.
Still in progress are a walk-through attraction called Journey of Water: Inspired by Moana and an area known as Dreamers Point, which will feature a “reimagining [of] the front of the park and the entry experience for guests,” according to the Disney Parks Blog.
The fate of other planned projects at Epcot is still less clear.
During 2019’s D23 Expo, plans were revealed for an interactive Play! Pavilion and a “Mary Poppins” attraction in Epcot’s World Showcase, but Disney hasn’t said much about either of these since the start of the pandemic. There’s certainly active construction currently happening at the park, so we’re crossing our fingers that we’ll receive more information soon.
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser launches
Now that we’ve had a chance to experience it for ourselves, we can say with certainty that the entertainment, activities, food, drinks, characters and everything else about it justify “Star Wars” aficionados paying $6,000 to stay at the property, though there are ways to do a Disney “Star Wars” vacation on the cheap, too, if that’s more your style.
If you need a quick refresher, when you book a Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser stay, you’ll spend two nights eating, sleeping and breathing “Star Wars” while on board the Halcyon luxury starship (which, per the website’s FAQs, doesn’t actually travel to space, in case you were wondering).
Dressing the part is encouraged, and there are opportunities to participate in role-playing scenarios where you can choose to help the good (or bad) characters during secret missions.
You can also relax in your room and watch TV, but given the steep price tag, we recommend playing along to get the most bang for your intergalactic buck.
MagicBand+ is coming
MagicBands of all colors and styles have been at Disney World for nearly a decade, so you are probably already familiar with their basic functionality.
A MagicBand can help you access your hotel room, enter Disney’s theme parks, link PhotoPass photos taken in the parks and pay for food and other items while on Disney property. You can also use it to tap into your attractions booked with the new Genie+ program.
When it launches on July 27, 2022, the new MagicBand+ will have these same capabilities, along with additional features that will make your visit feel even more magical.
MagicBand+ has the ability to light up and vibrate, allowing guests to interact with nighttime spectaculars and the golden “Disney Fab 50 Character Collection” statues placed around the park for the 50th-anniversary celebration.
At Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you’ll be able to use MagicBand+ to locate “virtual bounties” hidden throughout the land and then use the “augmented reality thermal viewer” in the Play Disney Parks app on your mobile device to reveal exactly who you’ve found.
You’ll have to purchase MagicBand+ at a starting price of $34.99 if you want to use it (RIP complimentary MagicBands), so it’s worth pointing out that you don’t need one. You can still rely on the old-fashioned method of using your phone to perform any of the above-mentioned tasks via the My Disney Experience app and the Disney Magic Mobile service (minus the Disney-provided lights and vibrations, of course) — but where’s the fun in that?
New technology to help you locate your car is on the way
We’ve all been there: that moment at the end of a long, hot day in the parks when you repeatedly hit the panic button on your key fob hoping you’ll find your car hidden among the throngs of other vehicles in one of Disney World’s expansive parking lots. Beginning later this summer, that nightmare will be history thanks to Disney rolling out its own technology that will help you locate your car.
The new car locator function will be available in the My Disney Experience mobile app. When you park your car, you’ll have to open the app, tap the “car locator” option and enter your parking information. When you are ready to leave for the day, simply return to the car locator function in the app to see exactly where you parked.
Although the new feature isn’t live quite yet, you can rest easy knowing it’s almost here. Until that time comes, we recommend taking a photo of the lot name and space number or using similar features in Apple or Google Maps to keep tabs on where you’ll find your vehicle.
Disney’s Grand Floridian unveils fresh rooms
These new studios, which can accommodate up to five guests each, feature a refreshed look that maintains the turn-of-the-century Victorian theme of the resort but with a modern approach inspired by “Mary Poppins.”
The other Disney Vacation Club rooms and suites at the Grand Floridian also underwent a refurbishment. As a result, they now offer a similar color palette, though it’s less dramatic than what you’ll find in the all-new studios.
Regardless of which space you choose, one thing is clear: These rooms desperately needed this update.
A ‘Toy Story’-themed restaurant is set to open soon
Despite announcing plans for the “Toy Story”-inspired Roundup Rodeo BBQ restaurant in Disney’s Hollywood Studios back in 2019, the pandemic forced Disney to hold its horses and wait a few years. However, in January 2022, we learned that this sit-down restaurant is still coming to the park’s Toy Story Land.
The laid-back, family-friendly eatery will be the second dining location to come to Toy Story Land, where the only option right now is the outdoor Woody’s Lunch Box venue.
While an exact opening date for Roundup Rodeo BBQ hasn’t been revealed yet, the Jessie’s Trading Post gift shop recently started welcoming parkgoers in July 2022, so we’re hopeful the restaurant is nearing completion.
Our plan will be to hit up Roundup Rodeo BBQ for a meal and then head to Woody’s Lunch Box to grab a homemade Lunch Box Tart pastry.
The Magic Kingdom introduces a brand-new cavalcade
Aside from Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, which runs exclusively during the Magic Kingdom’s after-hours holiday party, true parades have remained mostly absent from a post-pandemic Disney World. The one exception is the Magic Kingdom’s Festival of Fantasy Parade, which returned on March 9, 2022.
Just because parades are technically back doesn’t mean the cavalcades Disney debuted to thwart pandemic-era crowds are on their way out, though. The short mini-parades are here to stay (for now), as evidenced by Disney’s decision to add a new one to the lineup for 2022.
Running at the Magic Kingdom since February 2022, Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade features “the most Disney characters of any cavalcade to date,” according to Disney. Some iconic Disney figures you can expect to make an appearance include favorites from “Moana,” “The Incredibles,” “Coco” and “Encanto.”
Like previous cavalcades, Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade occurs multiple times daily. You’ll find showtimes listed in the My Disney Experience app.
A new stage show begins at the Magic Kingdom
Since 2016, Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire has played almost daily on the Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage. Like much of Disney’s entertainment lineup, the show did not return when Disney World reopened in July 2020 after a monthslong closure due to COVID-19.
Rather than bring back the old show as entertainment returned, Disney launched the all-new Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire in February 2022. The two shows are somewhat similar, though the latter features one notable difference: Mickey and friends in their shimmery “ear”idescent 50th-anniversary duds.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios brings back a reimagined nighttime show
The Magic Kingdom isn’t the only park bolstering its entertainment next year. Disney also recently shared that “Fantasmic!” will come back to Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Hollywood Hills Amphitheater sometime in 2022.
When the show returns, it will do so with a new scene featuring live performers, daring stunts, special effects and more. Disney has yet to share which characters will play prominent roles in the new sequence, but we’re hoping a newer hit like “Coco” or “Moana” joins the classics like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin” that have been a part of the show since the day it opened.
An updated version of a classic returns to Disney’s Animal Kingdom
After Disney reopened, fans soon started wondering when “Finding Nemo: The Musical” would return to the Theater in the Wild at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We got our answer when Disney announced that the show would not be returning but would instead be replaced by a new version of the popular stage show.
Debuting on June 13, 2022, “Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond!” is set in the timeline of “Finding Dory.” It begins in the familiar Marine Life Institute from the film. The same skilled puppeteers and popular singalong songs are part of the show, but a few new earworms have been snuck in as well, making it a must-see performance at the park.
Amazon Alexa technology will appear in Disney rooms soon
In the not-too-distant future (i.e., by the end of 2022), all Disney World hotel rooms will be outfitted with Echo Show devices pre-loaded with the new “Hey Disney!” Amazon Alexa skill. Soon, you’ll be able to ask your very own in-room voice assistant what time the fireworks start, when the next bus will arrive and more. You can even request to have towels and pillows delivered to your room.
In addition to offering useful planning tips and hotel requests, “Hey Disney!” will have fun features like Disney trivia, interactive adventures with favorite Disney characters and stories for kids. The “Hey Disney!” skill will be available to purchase for your at-home devices, too, allowing you to bring the magic of Disney into your home.
Minnie Vans make their long-awaited comeback
Minnie Vans are not exactly new, but until June 2022, they were noticeably absent from Disney World after being pulled from service at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that they’ve made their triumphant return, we can’t help but feel just as excited about these cute rides as we were when they first debuted several years ago.
To summon an adorable red-and-white polka-dotted Suburban to whisk you all around Disney World, all you have to do is order one via the Lyft app. Make the most of the added cost by paying with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which will net you 10 points per dollar spent on your ride.
What about Tron?
Originally scheduled to open in the Magic Kingdom in 2021 as part of the park’s 50th-anniversary celebration, Tron Lightcycle Power Run still hasn’t made its long-anticipated appearance. Disney hasn’t made any official statements about it opening in 2022, either.
So, when will Tron Lightcycle Power Run open? While we can’t guarantee it will open in 2022, we can’t fully rule out the possibility now that the coaster is running test vehicles on the tracks.
That said, there are so many new rides debuting in 2022, and limited big-name rides currently planned for 2023 and 2024, that we wouldn’t be surprised if Disney decides to push this one back beyond this year.
Other new offerings at Disney World
While this story is mostly about what is new at Disney World in 2022, we’ve decided to add in a few more from 2021, too, since most guests don’t get to visit every single year.
In 2021, Disney World brought us the Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure ride, plus two new restaurants: La Crêperie de Paris and Space: 220. All three of these additions sit within Epcot, which is undergoing its own transformation, as previously mentioned.
There were also new nighttime shows added at both Epcot and the Magic Kingdom, fresh looks revealed for several iconic monorail hotels — including Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Contemporary Resort — and the opening of the new Walt Disney World Swan Reserve hotel.
Disney’s replacement for FastPass, known as Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, debuted in 2021 as well. This brand-new paid service introduced an entirely different way of approaching future trips to Disney.
What to expect when visiting Disney World in 2022
We’ve already learned that the details surrounding 2022 Disney World visits will evolve throughout the year, just as the rules and protocols evolved in 2021. However, there are a few things we know for sure.
First, there’s no denying that demand for the Disney parks is up, meaning crowds have returned. While some days are certainly busier than others, long gone are the days of half-empty parks. If you want to experience a large number of attractions in one day, you’ll probably want to stay at a Disney resort so you can take advantage of the 30 minutes of early access you get as a resort guest. Depending on where you stay, you may also enjoy extended evening access on select nights.
To minimize your time in line, you’ll probably want to explore getting Genie+ for at least some of your park days, too. It costs $15 per person, per day, but during our one-day test, we found that it saved about three hours in line.
You’ll still need to make an advance park pass reservation to visit in 2022, and if you want to dine in Disney’s sit-down restaurants, know that you’ll want to make your reservations 60 days before your trip starts.
Most of the “old ways” (think: hugging characters and no mask requirements) are back, so we expect visits to Disney in the latter half of 2022 will continue to inch even closer toward feeling normal. There will be more parades, nighttime shows and live entertainment than were previously available in 2020 and 2021, though many amenities that were once free now cost extra.
You now have to pay for MagicBands, free FastPass selections are no more and the complimentary Magical Express Bus transportation to and from Orlando International Airport (MCO) has been replaced by a fee-based option from Mears Connect.
That said, there’s still a lot to look forward to at Disney World in 2022. If the additions coming later this year prove just as mind-blowing as the ones we’ve enjoyed in the first half of 2022, it’s safe to say that this latest iteration of Disney will be one to remember.
Featured image by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.
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