What's New at Disneyland in 2019
To say that the Magic Kingdom’s first new land since 1993’s Toontown is going to be a big, big deal is like saying that Alaska is kind of a large state or that China has a decent amount of people—a major understatement. It’s hard to describe the fervor that transposing George Lucas's intergalactic scenery into Walt’s original Happiest Place at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will stir up. At press time, an official opening date hadn’t been announced, though there was confirmation that it will be in summer 2019, and that it’ll have two main attractions. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run will let riders pilot the Millennium Falcon on a customized secret mission, while Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance pits them in a battle that includes a tense Kylo Ren encounter. As you make your way through the 14-acre land (Disneyland’s largest ever single-themed expansion), you’ll encounter interactive, choose-your-own-adventure-style elements, while meeting characters like Chewbacca, BB8, and plenty of stormtroopers. Oga’s Cantina will offer libations (!) while an exalting new musical score by John Williams will trumpet throughout the land.
Before the Star Wars land debut, however, the spotlight will shine on a couple of familiar mice: Mickey and Minnie are both turning 90, and they’ve never looked better. That’s cause for Get Your Ears On—A Mickey and Minnie Celebration, Disneyland’s early 2019 initiative to introduce new mouse-themed entertainment, decorations, merchandise, and food. Mickey’s Mix Magic nightly light-and-laser (and sometimes fireworks) show kicks off a park-wide dance party led by DJ Mickey, who spins upbeat new Disney music. On top of that, January brings back Mickey’s Soundsational Parade with a new opening float starring the birthday mouse himself.
Over at California Adventure, Pixar Pier is set to debut two additional reimagined rides: Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind and Jessie’s Critter Carousel, both great for families with little ones. While strolling the waterfront pier, enjoy thoroughly Pixar-themed food, and keep an eye out for photo ops with Woody or Edna Mode.
The every-other-year D23 Expo—the equivalent of Comic-Con for those who prefer Disney and Pixar to DC and Marvel—will celebrate its tenth anniversary August 23, 24, and 25. Held at the massive Anaheim Convention Center, D23 bills itself as the “ultimate Disney fan event”—and it is. The huge gathering features celebrity presentations and performances, highly anticipated announcements from Disney executives, nostalgic exhibits, and a heavily cosplayed crowd.
Meanwhile, an astounding number of new lodging properties have recently broken ground nearby. Coming to Anaheim over the next year or two are a new Westin resort, Orange County’s first JW Marriott, a Hampton Inn & Suites, a Cambria Hotel & Suites, a Radisson Blu, a Kimpton, and a Le Meridien. In the meantime, the beautiful Hilton Anaheim, known for its warm hospitality, is planning a major update in the near future, and the Anaheim Marriott will debut newly renovated rooms in early 2019.
New Ride and Attraction at Universal Studios
Over at Universal Studios Hollywood, the Jurassic Park ride closed in 2018 after a 22-year run, but its fans need not worry: It's relaunching in 2019 as Jurassic World, based on the hit movie series. The shriek-inducing drop and gargantuan, rage-filled T. rex will likely remain, but the high-tech reboot intends to make the water-raft thrill ride feel new again, with new animatronic dinos and an enhanced plotline.
Also new at Universal Studios: The former Panasonic Theater is being transformed into DreamWorks Theatre, a multisensory storytelling venue that presents immersive DreamWorks character-driven storylines, starting with Kung Fu Panda. A panoply of tricks bring his water-themed adventure to life, including projection mapping, LED light effects, motion simulators, 360-degree surround sound, and actual water and wind. Rumored follow-ups include Trolls, Madagascar, and Shrek.