This year was a busy year for Orlando theme parks and 2020 is looking to be just as busy if not more so. New hotels, restaurants, rides and attractions will take over the parks next year. Let’s take a look back at what was new in 2019 and what’s coming in 2020 at Walt Disney World and beyond:
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
This past summer Walt Disney World opened the most-anticipated attraction in its history - Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. With it came the adventures Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run where guests actually get to fly the Millennium Falcon, meet-and-greets with Star Wars characters, bars like Oga’s Cantina that serve up out of this world cocktails, and much more. The land also offers a plethora of places to refuel in between adventures like Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo, Ronto Roasters, Kat Saka’s Kettle and more. You can even get more hands-on at the Droid Depot where you can build your very own droid. Savi’s Workshop allows you to construct your own custom lightsaber.
On December 5, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’s 2nd attraction - Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens and thrusts guests into the battle between the First Order and the Resistance.
If you’d like to spend the night amongst the land the Star Wars Galactic Star Cruiser will be offer galactic fun. On board guests can experience dining, Star Wars themed cabins, lightsaber training, planet-side excursions and much more.
Continuing with Star Wars, Star Tours- The Adventure Continues is getting an exciting new update on December 20th which will include brand new destinations that your pilot C-3PO and Navigator R2-D2 will take you to including the ocean moon of Kef Bir. Also releasing on December 20th is Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Also new for Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2019 is the new Wonderful World of Animation Show that takes you through 90 years of Disney animation. Meanwhile, you can rev up your engine and learn the rules of the road with Lightning McQueen in the newest show Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy.
When you’re ready to travel to Epcot or back to your hotel hop on the new Disney Skyliner. The new transportation system connects Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Epcot and four Disney resorts - Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort and the soon-to open Disney’s Riviera Resort scheduled to open in December 2019. The skyliners are adorned with popular Disney characters.
Coming soon to Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the new Roundup Rodeo Barbeque restaurant at Toy Story Land as well as Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction opening inside the iconic Chinese theater. The attraction will feature the Mickey Mouse short “Perfect Picnic.” It will open spring 2020.
Epcot is currently undergoing a multi-year transformation that will include updates to the entrance including new pathways with a sweeping green feature and a reimagined fountain. The Leave a Legacy photos will be moved to a different setting just outside the park’s gateway.
Epcot will be unified under four neighborhoods - World Showcase, World Nature, World Celebration and World Discovery. World Celebration will be home to an updated Spaceship Earth and a new three-story pavilion. World Nature will have Journey of Water inspired by Moana. The new interactive area allows guests to play with living water. World Discovery will be the home of the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy attraction. The ride will be one of the longest roller coasters in the world with a brand-new ride system. It is scheduled to open in time for the park’s 50th anniversary on October 21, 2021.The pavilion previously known as Wonders of Life will feature a new play pavilion that will have innovative games and hands-on activities. The new nighttime fireworks display, Epcot Forever has opened at World Showcase. The display showcases Epcot’s past, present and future in a dynamic fireworks display. Epcot Forever is only around for a limited time as it makes way for the new permanent fireworks display, Harmonious opening in 2020.
Meanwhile, The France pavilion will welcome Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. The France pavilion will also welcome a new Beauty and the Beast Sing-A-Long. The first attraction inspired by Mary Poppins is coming to the United Kingdom pavilion. The China and Canada pavilions will update their 360-degree shows Wondrous China and Canada Far and Wide as well as Awesome Planet a Film at The Land pavilion.
As far as dining goes, a new table service restaurant Takumi Tei opened in the Japan pavilion at Epcot this year. Regal Eagle Smokehouse Crafts, Drafts and Barbeque will open later this year at the American pavilion. A new crepe eatery, Creperie will be a part of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure attraction. And Space 220 will open adjacent to Mission Space. These new additions are expected to open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World in 2021.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Rivers of Light was revamped this year to include classic moments from such Disney hits as The Lion King, Jungle Book and more. Guests can also meet the exotic bird Kevin from Up. She has been spotted roaming Discovery Island. The park has also welcomed some new babies this year - Jabari a Masai giraffe was born in January 2019 and Grace, a baby Western Lowland Gorilla was born May 1, 2019.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom will welcome the new Tron-themed attraction near Space Mountain. The attraction will be based on the Tron Lightcycle Power Run at Shanghai Disney. It will be one of the most anticipated attractions at Tomorrowland and is expected to be open by the 50th anniversary in 2021.
NBA Experience opened this past August at Disney Springs and features challenges to test your basketball skills and see how you stack up against professional players. Jaleo, by chef Jose Andreas also opened at Disney Springs this year. The restaurant features contemporary Spanish cuisine. A new Cirque du Soleil show that will pay homage to Disney’s rich animation, will begin previews March 20, 2020 until the world premiere on April 17, 2020.
The new Gran Destino Tower opened at Disney’s Coronado Springs and Disney’s Riviera Resort will open in December 2019.
One of the largest expansions in SeaWorld Orlando’s history took place this year - Sesame Street Land. The area includes kid-friendly Sesame Street-fun like Cookie Drop, Elmo’s Choo Choo Train, Super Grover’s Box Car Derby, Sesame Street’s Party Time Parade, Story Time with Big Bird and plenty of meet-and-greet opportunities.
In the Wild Arctic a new 150-pound baby walrus calf was born July 3, 2019. With the arctic in mind, a new coaster is set to take flight in 2020 called Ice Breaker. It will have the steepest beyond vertical drop in Florida with a 93-feet-tall spike and 100-degree angle.
Aquatica’s new Kare Kare Curl began plummeting guests this year. The ride takes 2 people down a vertical wave wall for some splashy thrills.
Busch Gardens Tampa
2019 was a thrill year for Busch Gardens Tampa as the park introduced Tigris. Launch forwards and backwards of a 150-foot inverted roll at 60 miles per hour on the new coaster.
Opening in 2020 a new hybrid coaster called Iron Gwazi will be North America’s tallest and the world’s fastest and steepest of its kind.
The Tampa Bay water park will open Solar Vortex in spring 2020.
LEGOLAND Florida opened LEGO Movie World, which features three attractions - Masters of Flight, Unikitty’s Disco Drop and Battle for Bricksburg. There is also new meet-and-greets, a play area and the restaurant Taco Everyday.
On April 17, 2020 Pirate Island Hotel will open. The hotel will be connected to the existing LEGOLAND Hotel and include a free family-style breakfast for guests.