Prepare to be wowed (and immediately book some flights) by all the new magic coming to Disney theme parks, cruise ships, and tours around the world.
“The magic is back,” said Josh D’Amaro, right after displaying a lightsaber and shocking hundreds of fans by igniting a glowing, blue space blade that somehow shot light out of the hilt just like in Star Wars. There was no CGI and no smoke and mirrors; just Disney-patented technology.
D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, spoke at Destination D23, an exclusive event for gold members of D23—Disney’s official fan club. It pays to be a fan as D23 members are often the first to hear about what’s coming to Disney Parks, Disney Cruise Lines, and more in conference panels that feel like a mash-up of Comic-Con and the annual Apple tech summit. A lot of mouse news was shared that will impact your Disney vacation in 2022 and years to come. If you’re planning a Disney trip, you’ll want to bookmark this page as we’ve created a handy roundup below of everything coming to Disney properties and experiences around the world, from where to see Disney’s crown jewels IRL to sketching with a Disney Imagineer in the Arctic to Disney’s first-ever roller coaster with a backward launch. Plus, after pandemic closures, there’s a lot of iconic entertainment and fan-favorite experiences returning to Disney Parks in the new year. The magic is back, and here’s all the new magic on the way.
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In the last decade, the biggest difference between Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World has been technology. But that’s all changing because the OG Disney resort is finally getting MagicBands. These wearable tech bracelets act as room keys, park tickets, credit cards, PhotoPass, and more, making your Disney day seamless and easy-breezy—especially if you’re wrangling little ones. MagicBand+ was recently announced for Disney World, but Disneyland says it’s now coming to the West Coast in 2022. The new iteration of the MagicBand will be compatible between Disney World and Disneyland and will also unlock “unique moments of magic” at both parks. Disneyland also confirmed that in addition to Disney World, the Anaheim mouse house is getting “Hey, Disney!” in all hotel rooms. The new Amazon Alexa-enabled, Mickey-shaped devices will basically feel like having a digital butler in your room. You’ll be able to ask about your vacation details, chat with customer service, and even ask housekeeping to send up more towels.
Disneyland Park is getting some new hardscaping and landscaping, with an expansion coming to Mickey’s Toontown in early 2023. The new area will coincide with the brand-new Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, an attraction already open at Disney World that’s coming to Disneyland, too. The new Toontown will feature CenTOONial Park, a green space for active, tactile play for little ones, as well as a space for “parental relaxation.” We like the sound of that. And another new green space is coming to Downtown Disney, Disneyland’s outdoor shopping and dining center, as a multi-year expansion kicks off in January 2022. The reimagined area will include additional stores, restaurants, and a new lawn for future concerts and events. Although no date was announced, work is still underway for the new Disney Vacation Club tower at Disneyland Hotel. The new tower design is inspired by characters from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ classic films.
Disneyland also announced the return of two iconic nighttime shows. Both “World of Color” and “Fantasmic!” will return in spring 2022. This is on the heels of news that the classic “Main Street Electrical Parade” will return next year, too.
Walt Disney World Resort
After pandemic cancellations, so much entertainment is coming back to Disney World parks. Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade will debut in early 2022 and will feature more characters than any cavalcade to date, with characters from Zootopia, Incredibles, Moana, Coco, Brave, Mulan, and more. Mickey’s Friendship Faire has been upgraded to Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire for the resort’s 50th anniversary. The new show debuts in early 2022 and will have an “EARidescent” overlay, a new opening, and a new finale. And, to much fan relief, “Finding Nemo” is coming back to Animal Kingdom in 2022, but it will be reimagined as “Finding Nemo: The Big Blue and Beyond” and will take place in the timeline of Finding Dory.
The Disney on Broadway Concert Series is coming back as part of the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts from now until February 21st, 2022, and will feature Broadway stars such as Kissy Simmons from “The Lion King” and Ashley Strickland from “Mary Poppins.” The Garden Rocks Concert Series will also return to the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival, which will run from March 2nd through July 4th, 2022. Artists haven’t been announced yet, but it’s always a solid line-up of fun throwbacks, from Wang Chung to Sister Sledge to Taylor Dayne.
Starting February 6th, select behind the scenes tours are coming back, such as the Keys to the Kingdom tour at Magic Kingdom (AKA the one where you get to geek out on architectural design and see those infamous underground tunnels they use for trash cans!) or the Wild Africa Trek adventure at Animal Kingdom.
Over at EPCOT, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will open in summer 2022. The new thrill ride is inspired by the MARVEL film franchise and will feature the first reverse launch in Disney coaster history and will be one of the longest indoor coasters in the world. It was also announced that Glenn Close would reprise her role as Nova Prime for the attraction. EPCOT’s getting a new restaurant, too. Connections Café and Eatery will debut in the new World Celebration area.
Outside the parks, Star Wars fans are finally getting the hotel/interactive theatre of their dreams that no one in the hospitality industry is sure how to categorize. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser sets sail March 1st, 2022, and D’Amaro gave a sneak peek of the lightsaber training aboard the new immersive Halcyon spaceship.
Chuck E. Cheese might be where a kid can be a kid, but Galactic Starcruiser is where everyone can be a kid—or rather a padawan or youngling—with Resistance (or First Order!) missions, Jedi training, and the coolest, most bizarre-looking multi-colored cuisine from different planets in the Star Wars universe. There will even be edible rocks from Mustafar. This will be on every Star Wars fans’ travel wish list, and in that vein, Disney also revealed that some of the first guests aboard the ship would be Make-A-Wish kids and their families.
Not to be outdone by Disney World’s 50th blowout, Disneyland Paris will celebrate its 30th anniversary beginning March 6th, 2022, with new entertainment, adorable themed eats, décor along Main Street, U.S.A., and even new fancy outfits for Mickey, Minnie, and the gang. It’s an oil slick rainbow-chic vibe that you’ll definitely want photos with. In addition to a new, limited-time show at the Castle Hub, two classic spectaculars are coming back: “Disney Stars on Parade” and “Disney Illuminations.”
And as part of the 30th campaign, a second Avengers Campus will open in summer 2022. The first MCU-themed land debuted at Disneyland Park in 2021, but Disney says this isn’t a carbon copy. It’s the “next chapter of the Global Avengers initiative,” and the land will “offer incredible new experiences for Super Hero fans.”
Asia Disney Parks
No opening timeframe was announced, but D’Amaro shared that Shanghai Disneyland continues to build the first-ever, Zootopia-themed land. New footage was shown to Destination D23 attendees of the audio-animatronics to come, including an incredibly realistic-looking Yax the yak. Likewise, no date was announced, but Hong Kong Disneyland’s Frozen-themed land is coming, and it looks gorgeous. In addition to an Arendale-inspired castle, the new land will include two “special” thrill rides.
Over at Tokyo Disneyland, Fantasy Springs will open “in about two years” at Tokyo DisneySea. Aerial footage was shown at Destination D23 of the park’s eighth and largest themed port town. Fantasy Springs is inspired by magical waters and will include characters from Frozen, Tangled, and Peter Pan, in addition to a hotel inside the park overlooking the land. As we’ve said before, the concept art alone is like an enchanting ASMR video.
Disney Cruise Line
More details were revealed about the Disney Wish, Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship scheduled to set sail on June 9th, 2022. The ship will feature two new stage shows exclusive to the Wish. “Disney The Little Mermaid” will be a fresh, Broadway-style take on the classic animated film with advanced puppetry to bring characters such as Sebastian and Flounder to life. The new, tweaked story will focus on Ariel learning the power of her own voice. Destination D23 attendees got to see a preview performance of Ursula’s infamous “Poor Unfortunate Souls” reimagined as a sultry jazz number. And “Disney Seas the Adventure” will star Goofy as well as Captain Minnie Mouse (She finally shattered that glass mouse ceiling!) and other Disney and Pixar characters for a special embarkation day show.
D23 + The Walt Disney Archives
Beyond theme parks and cruise ships, there are several exhibits, expos, and experiences happening in 2022 that Disney fans should have on their calendars (and book hotel rooms ASAP as they sell out). Most important: D23 Expo. The bi-annual event is the big one for ultimate Disney fans. It’s a chance to connect with fellow “Disnerds,” meet creators and celebrities from popular Disney shows and films, shop the most exclusive merchandise you can’t get in the parks, check out brand-new exhibits curated by The Walt Disney Archives, and for the 2022 expo fans will get the first look at plans for the 100th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company and how Disney Parks will celebrate the anniversary all 2023 long. D23 Expo is September 9th through the 11th at the Anaheim Convention Center, right outside Disneyland. Tickets are now on sale.
In addition to new exhibits in the works for D23, The Walt Disney Archives will debut other collections next year at popular museums across the country. “All That Glitters: The Crown Jewels of the Walt Disney Archives” opens December 12th and will run through June 19th, 2022, at the Bowers Museum. The regal collection features princess tiaras and other iconic jewelry from famous Disney movies and shows.
“Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts” is now open at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and will run through March 6th, 2022. The collection explores ties from early Disney animation to the distinct aesthetic of the Rococo movement in Paris. And “Heroes and Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume” will move from Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture to The Henry Ford Museum. The exhibit will be on display from June 25th, 2022, to January 1st, 2023.
Adventures By Disney
While not announced at D23, Adventures By Disney recently shared some very big updates, too. The Disney-run travel guide company will begin expedition-style travel to the Arctic in 2023 with a 10-day Nordic Midsummer itinerary featuring Norway’s Svalbard archipelago and a lesson in sketching nature and wildlife from beloved former Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde. As if cruising for polar bears wasn’t cool enough, you’ll be doing it with one of the most iconic Disney creatives of all time.