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Exciting New Rides and Shows Coming to Walt Disney World

It’s been a rough few years, especially at Orlando’s theme parks. The magical offerings we love at Walt Disney World are coming back! With character interactions returning to normal, lots of live entertainment returning, and new rides and shows, Walt Disney World’s magic is restored. Let’s review the new rides and shows that are coming and some that have recently opened.

Guardians Of The Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

Epcot just keeps getting better. The NEW Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride is receiving lots of early hype. We talked with Kevin Doxey, Show Set Designer at Walt Disney Imagineering, during the ride’s media preview. “The overall experience, especially in the Phase Chamber [the preshow area before the ride], when I was working on it and thinking about it, the kids are going to think they’ve been teleported to space.”

What other rides are similar?

This new Walt Disney World ride is unlike any other. Still, it helps to relate it to other experiences. Kevin Doxey, also helped us understand how Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind compares to other Disney rides. “It’s a little bit more than Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain. But the ride vehicle is very comfortable, you have a lot of room,” replied Kevin.

Guardians of the Galaxy characters in the queue
Guardians of the Galaxy characters in the queue

For details on how to experience this new ride, check out our Parent’s Guide to Guardians of the Galaxy.

Epcot Continues to Evolve

The new rides at Epcot are lots of fun, but they take some planning to be able to check off your Disney bucket list.

Check out tips for riding Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.

Although Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Creations Shop, Connections Eatery, Space 220 Restaurant, and now Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind are all now open, there is more to come.

Journey of Water – Inspired by Moana will flow into Epcot allowing guests to play with water in its many forms. This will be in the World Nature section of the park, formerly known as Future World West, near The Seas with Nemo and Friends.

Journey of Water Concept Rendering
Journey of Water Concept Rendering – provided by Disney

There will also be new Epcot gardens and a festival plaza with a dedicated space for festival events and seminars. This is the heart of the park. Communicore Plaza utilizes a name that pays tribute to Epcot’s early days. Guests will enjoy a modern space, both indoors and outdoors, built to host a variety of events in connection with Epcot’s International Festivals held throughout the year.

Related: A Parent’s Guide to EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival 2022

We spoke with Zach Riddley, Portfolio Executive, New Experience Development with Walt Disney Imagineering about this new space. “We really envision this as a park-like setting with multiple gardens, each has its own character, but the really unique element is that throughout the seasons the space is built to transform and host our international festival program,” Zach Riddley explains.

EPCOT Gardens Rendering
As part of the ongoing EPCOT transformation at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., the gardens at the center of the park will evolve with the seasons. (provided by Disney)

Long-time fans of Epcot will appreciate the touches that pay tribute to the park’s early days. “At the heart of the park, we’ve got a brand new planter location that is inspired by the five-ring logo of Epcot. But what’s really unique and one detail I love is we’re bringing in this illuminated pavement detail so at night you’re actually getting the effect, and this is actually inspired by something that lived at Epcot before,” shares Zach.

Communicore Plaza will also be home to a new Mickey and Friends character greeting area. No date has been announced for these projects.

Disney Character Meet and Greets

Most character meet and greet experiences are back to normal, including hugs and autographs. And Disney character dining is slowly returning to normal too.

We’ve got Tips and Tricks for the Best Disney Character Dining, including what to do if you can’t get a reservation, and other kid-friendly alternatives.

More Live Entertainment Returns

No specific opening date has been announced, but, Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is opening with new modifications and scenes sometime in 2022. Finding Nemo The Musical returned June 13, 2022, over at Animal Kingdom with a splashy new story, and shorter show time.

We spoke with James Silson, Show Director at Walt Disney World Entertainment about what is different about this new version, known as Finding Nemo The Big Blue and Beyond. “Our show takes place in the timeline of the movie Finding Dory. At the end of that film, there’s a moment where we see the fish from Dr. P. Sherman’s office in plastic bags in the bay get rescued and taken to the Marine Institute, well that’s where our story begins. Those fish are now being released back into the ocean, and they’re inspired to share their story as to how they came to be in the Marine Institute,” explains James Silson.

Also at Animal Kingdom, Festival of the Lion King will be back beginning July 16. This means the return of tumble monkeys, aerial acts, and more! “A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King” (the abbreviated version of the show) will come to a close July 4.

And in late June, get your stomach and funny bone ready for the return of Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort.

More Magic at Magic Kingdom

Earlier this year the Festival of Fantasy parade proudly returned to Magic Kingdom, as well as Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire show on the stage at Cinderella Castle.

The parade is performed twice a day, starting in Frontierland at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m., and making its way down Main Street.

Character cavalcades featuring Mickey and friends still take place at scheduled intervals throughout each day. These cavalcades are best seen at the hub around Cinderella Castle so you can get a 360 degree view. And, this is a great alternative to seeing the Disney characters without the longer wait and longer performance time of the full parade.

Festival of Fantasy Parade Mickey Mouse character rides a hot air balloon themed float with Cinderella Castle in the background
Festival of Fantasy Parade credit Disney

Minnie Mouse will join Mickey Mouse starting on July 6 in Town Square Theater at Magic Kingdom Park. Both will be ready for hugs and photos in their EARidescent fashions designed specifically for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration

Mirabel from Encanto Debuts at Magic Kingdom

Fans of the hit movie “Encanto” have been waiting on a miracle in hopes more experiences featuring the new characters they love would begin appearing at Walt Disney World. Starting June 26, 2022 Mirable will join the “Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade” at Magic Kingdom.

Mirabel will appear alongside other adventurous Disney characters like Miguel from “Coco,” Nick and Judy from “Zootopia,” Max, Goof, Moana and more.

Magic Kingdom’s new ride

More magic is to come with Tron Lightcycle Power Run now in test runs, which means hopefully an opening date will be announced soon. This coaster has been much anticipated and its opening has taken much longer than originally expected thanks to everything the world has faced since early 2020.

The opening of the Tron coaster will hopefully mean the triumphant return of the Walt Disney World Railroad. How many other parents are like us, and can’t believe it’s been over four years since the train circled Magic Kingdom?!

Harmony Barber Shop Reopening

A mainstay of Magic Kingdom Park since opening day, Harmony Barber Shop is opening its doors once again on July 31 for the world’s most magical haircut. Many parents have made it their tradition to have their child’s first haircut right here on Main Street USA. It’s a special spot in the park that maintains a small town charm that this part of Magic Kingdom still holds.

Fireworks Spectaculars

There are new fireworks shows at Magic Kingdom and Epcot, but you can view these spectaculars without a park ticket. This guide to Viewing Fireworks Outside the Parks will help you find a good spot.

Important Reminder! Park Pass Reservations continue to be required to enter any Disney World theme park.

Disney Enchantment debuted Oct. 1 as the new nighttime spectacular at Magic Kingdom. The 15-minute show includes fireworks, light projections and of course familiar Disney tunes. There’s also a catchy, original new song that will be hard to get out of your head. There are so many great spots to watch this show, including anywhere on Main Street where you’ll get a front row seat to the light show on the buildings there.

EPCOT also debuted a new nighttime show in celebration of Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration. World Showcase Lagoon is brought to life in this 20-minute show that combines floating giant screens, fountains, lights, pyrotechnics and lasers in a 360-view. The show is one of the largest nighttime spectaculars ever created for Disney Parks. Classic Disney characters making an appearance include Moana, The Lion King, Coco and many more.

Toy Story at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Since opening in 2018, Toy Story Land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been one of the most popular areas visited in Walt Disney World. The land is visually appealing and transforms guests into the legendary movie franchise.

It also houses one of the best attractions – Slinky Dog Dash. The family-friendly coaster is a blast for all guests at least 38-inches tall. This is one of the attractions you can purchase a Lightning Lane for.

As of now, the only option for food in Toy Story Land is Woody’s Lunch Box, a walk-up counter restaurant. Pro-tip: be sure to mobile order well in advance here. This is one of the busiest dining locations in the park.

The dining scene is set to change when the much-anticipated Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant opens. An opening date has not yet been announced, but this will be a sit-down restaurant. The concept is that Andy taped three cardboard boxes together to create his own personal toy rodeo. The décor will feature some of his much-loved toys that you remember from the movies.

Star Wars at Hollywood Studios

Although geographically it’s right next to Toy Story Land, you may as well be in another galaxy. Star Wars: Galaxy Edge is truly an all immersive experience that contains, in many people’s opinion, the best attraction on property.

Star Wars Galaxy's Edge on Star Wars Day as fans gather around the Millennium Falcon
Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge on Star Wars Day 5/4 | Dani Meyering

Rise of the Resistance is a roughly 20-minutes experience that begins in the queue. Open to guests 40-inches and taller, this is another Lightning Lane option. However, this big-ticket item goes fast. If you don’t snag a Lightning Lane for this one, keep checking availability throughout the day or be prepared to wait in a long stand-by line.

Star Wars Launch Bay returns July 17! A celebration of the legendary space saga, Star Wars Launch Bay is your place for a warm embrace with Chewbacca, a face-to-droid encounter with BB-8 or a run-in with Darth Vader himself for those brave enough.

Unforgettable Voyages Aboard the Galactic Starcruiser

Star Wars fans continue to enjoy an expanded universe at Walt Disney World. The Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser embarks on two-night experiences that are fully immersive, and unlike anything else in the galaxy. Plus, on the second day of the voyage passengers enjoy priority access to Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run inside Galaxy’s Edge.

Standard Cabin on Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser
Standard Cabin inside the Halcyon Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Also, a sign that the magic is back, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is returning to Magic Kingdom this year. The past two years saw a much more scaled-back version of the popular Halloween party. This after-hours, extra-ticketed event will take place on 37 select nights from Aug. 12 through Halloween.

Mickey's Boo-to You Halloween Parade
Mickey’s Boo-to You Halloween Parade (David Roark, photographer)

The festivities begin at 7 p.m., but your ticket will get you into the theme park as early as 4 p.m. In addition to the usual trick-or-treating stations, beloved villains and entertainment, there will be a few extras thrown in to help celebrate Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary. There will be some special photo ops and guests also will get a Halloween-themed 50th anniversary celebration commemorative print.

And, just announced, holiday joy will unfold at Magic Kingdom as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party returns this year! On 24 select nights, Nov. 8 – Dec. 22, 2022, this separately ticketed event will invite guests to Magic Kingdom for an evening of merriment.

If you enjoy learning how to “theme park like a local” you’ll enjoy Our group of Orlando local parents will keep you up to date on Orlando things to do with your family. The same local focus you enjoy from us will be found at Orlando Parenting, launching soon!

Dani Meyering
Born and raised in the land of sunshine and dreams come true, Dani is a proud Orlando native. She loves sharing her hometown with others from the theme parks to Florida's natural beauty. With work experience in Orlando's theme parks, and hotels, she uses this expertise to help Central Florida couples and parents enjoy quality time together throughout Central Florida. Follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram @thisfloridalife.

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