The Biggest Changes at Disney in 2019 — and 9 Coming in 2020

Disney Park Changes


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Disney Park Changes
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios. by Jedi94 (CC BY-SA)

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge (2019)

The headline grabber of the year for Disney Parks was its bi-coastal openings of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California. The sprawling attractions opened in May on the West Coast and in August on the East Coast. The immersive worlds were designed to bring Star Wars to life for fans, transporting them to such places as the faraway planet of Batuu and the remote trading port Black Spire Outpost, where visitors can even find a full-size Millennium Falcon. "This had been coming for such a long time and it was really just incredibly anticipated," says Gavin Doyle, creator of MickeyVisit and DisneyDose. "It's a fully immersive land where you get to live your own Star Wars story."

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (2019)

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (2019)

As a follow-up to the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, 2019 also saw the launch of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios. Heralded as one of the most ambitious attractions ever, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance involves multiple ride systems and the opportunity to go head to head with Kylo Ren and the First Order. "The ride is almost 20 minutes long," says Disney enthusiast Gavin Doyle. "It all comes together in an incredible feat of technology that makes you feel like you've stepped into Star Wars." 

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Riviera Skyliner Station
Riviera Skyliner Station by jpellgen (@1179_jp) (CC BY-NC-ND)

Skyliner (2019)

An aerial gondola system offering sweeping views of the Florida park began operating in 2019. The new feature runs between Disney's Hollywood Studios, International Gateway at Epcot, and a handful of Disney Resort hotels including Caribbean Beach Resort, Art of Animation Resort, Pop Century Resort, and Riviera Resort. "The gondolas make these hotels a better place to stay now because it's easier to get in and out of the park," says Gavin Doyle of MickeyVisit.

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Epcot Forever

'Epcot Forever' (2019)

Epcot saw a major change in 2019 with the launch of the show "Epcot Forever," says Guy Novik, managing director of Orlando Villa Holidays. "A typically impressive Disney nighttime show, 'Epcot Forever' features music, lights, and pyrotechnics, with many of the park's key themes shining through during the display." Playing on World Showcase Lagoon, the show was designed to be a celebration of the past, present, and future at the park. Conductor and composer Don Harper created new arrangements of classic Epcot tunes to accompany the dazzling display of fireworks, lights, lasers, and special effects kites.

Rise of the Resistance California

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland (2020)

West Coast fans have been eagerly anticipating their own Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance experience, and 2020 promises to bring an end to that wait. Disney has said the attraction will open January 17 at Disneyland. Like the attraction on the opposite coast, this new offering will be expansive and include multiple ride systems.

Avengers Campus

Avengers Campus (2020)

Beginning next summer at Disney California Adventure Park, Avengers fans will be able to suit up with the larger-than-life superheroes. The upcoming attraction will include a Spiderman feature known as the Worldwide Engineering Brigade, or WEB. There will also be a Pym Test Kitchen restaurant where Pym Technologies, from Ant-Man, will "grow" and "shrink" food. "It's the first domestic, Marvel-themed rides and area," says Gavin Doyle of MickeyVisit. "It's pretty exciting to have that coming to life for the first time."

Space 220

Space 220 (2020)

Calling all space fans who can't afford a Virgin Galactic flight: There's a new space-themed restaurant on the horizon at Epcot that's designed to offer the "celestial panorama of a space station." The experience will include both day and night views of Earth from about 220 miles in space. Getting to the restaurant, which is slated to open this winter, will require riding a special elevator for the journey to the "space station." 

Magic Happens Parade

Magic Happens Parade (2020)

Disneyland is getting a new parade titled "Magic Happens," created to celebrate "awe-inspiring moments of magic — both large and small," according to Disney. The daytime parade will feature floats, Disney characters, and Mickey Mouse at the lead. "It's the first new parade at Disneyland during the daytime since 2011," says MickeyVisit's Gavin Doyle. "The exciting thing about this parade is it will feature characters from newer films such as Moana and characters from the movie Coco." The parade will also feature a new song produced in partnership with singer and songwriter Todrick Hall.

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway (2020)

Mickey and Minnie have long been the superstars at Disney, and in 2020 they'll finally get their own ride. Scheduled to open at Disney's Hollywood Studios in March, Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway promises visitors a train ride filled with twists, turns, gags, and transformations. "The new attraction is inspired by the popular modern Mickey Mouse shorts and will feature incredible new technology that will make the flat world of 2D animation appear three-dimensional," according to Disney.

Remy's Ratatouille Adventure

Remy's Ratatouille Adventure (2020)

While not as grand a launch as the various Star Wars or Avengers offerings, a new attraction is also coming to Epcot's France pavilion in 2020. As part of Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, visitors will be able to "shrink to the size of Chef Remy and race through Gusteau's restaurant on a wild adventure," according to Disney. "I have experienced this ride multiple times in Disneyland Paris and I can tell you that you are in for a real treat," says Victoria Yore, founder of DisneyTrippers. "It is unique, fun, and it's not a thrill ride, so all ages can enjoy it."

Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along

'Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along' (2020)

Remy's Ratatouille Adventure won't be the only new development at the France pavilion next year. The "Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along" film is also scheduled to open. Produced and directed by a producer of both the animated and live-action versions, the film includes a twist on the original tale and will be narrated by Angela Lansbury. Scheduled to start showing January 17, it will be played on 4K projection.


HarmonioUS (2020)

As fabulous as it is, the "Epcot Forever" show that began in 2019 will not last, well, forever. In 2020 it will be replaced by the staging of "HarmonioUS." Described by Disney as the largest nighttime spectacular ever developed, the show will focus on how the music of Disney has long inspired people around the globe. To that end, the production will include well-known Disney songs that have been reinterpreted by various artists. There will also be gigantic, floating set pieces, custom LED panels, and even choreographed moving fountains. "It will be the longest and most detailed fireworks show in any Disney park," says Victoria Yore of DisneyTrippers.

Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360

'Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360' (2020)

Also opening at Epcot in January is the new film "Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360" at the Canada pavilion. The presentation offers an unforgettable look at the Great White North and features a musical score by Canadian composer Andrew Lockington. It's narrated by award-winning Canadian actors Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy.

Awesome Planet

'Awesome Planet' (2020)

One additional new film coming to Epcot in 2020 is "Awesome Planet," a 10-minute feature showcasing the beauty, diversity, and dynamic story of our planet in the park's Land pavilion. Like the other new Epcot films, it will begin showing in January. The film includes an original musical score from Oscar-winning composer Steven Price. 

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