Exciting New Rides and Shows Coming to Walt Disney World

It’s an exciting time at Walt Disney World with so many new rides, new experiences, and more opening for your family to experience! So, let’s dive in and explore all that’s new at Walt Disney World’s theme parks and resorts!

Related: The largest gathering of real Disney princesses is happening in Tampa at 90s Con next weekend! We spoke with two stars ahead of the epic weekend.

Announcements at D23 Convention September 2023

  • Asohka Tano will join the Star Tours attraction starting Spring 2024
  • Asha from the new Disney Animated Film “Wish” will debut at EPCOT soon
  • Test Track will be reimagined with the help of Chevrolet
  • The Hatbox Ghost, a beloved character in the original version of Haunted Mansion will debut at Walt Disney World’s Haunted Mansion in November 2023
  • Country Bear Jamboree at Magic Kingdom will get a whole new act in 2024
  • A first-of-its-kind Pirates of the Caribbean themed lounge is coming to Magic Kingdom
  • A new Zootopia-inspired show will come to the Tree of Life, replacing “It’s Tough to Be a Bug”
  • Walt Disney Imagineering is planning to reimagine Dinoland U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom into a new land – inspired by the “tropical Americas.”
New Tropical Americas Inspired Land Disney’s Animal Kingdom Concept

“Over the next decade, we’re going to have more projects underway than at any point in our history. Our sole purpose is to give you more and more of what you love about a Disney experience. And then surprise and delight you with things you never dreamed possible.”

— Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products

New Ride at Magic Kingdom: TRON Lightcycle / Run

The FASTEST coaster at Walt Disney World officially arrived on April 4, 2023. Our team got to step into The Grid early.

We spoke with Missy Renard, Creative Director at Walt Disney Imagineering during our preview. “I’ve taken my 12 year old on it, she absolutely loves it. People from all age groups love it. We recently had a 74-year-old guest ride it, so it spans all age groups – as long as the height requirement is met” explained Missy. 

Guests aboard TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom
Guests aboard TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom

Besides being super fast it is a multi-sensory experience. So what will your kids think of it? And what do parents need to know about Disney’s new TRON coaster?

For details on how to experience this new ride, check out our Parent’s Guide to TRON Lightcycle / Run.

New Ride at EPCOT: 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.

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.

Plus it was announced at the September 2023 D23 Expo that Test Track will be reimagined with the help of Chevelot to return to World of Motion’s sense of optimism. World of Motion was the previous attraction in this space, and part of the original EPCOT lineup. No date is set for this.

Disney100 Experiences Coming to EPCOT This September

Starting September 22, 2023 everyone can enjoy some special enhancements at EPCOT in honor of the Disney100 Celebration.

You’ll be able to snap a photo with a new platinum Mickey Mouse sculpture in World Celebration with Spaceship Earth in the background. And don’t forget about the dazzling Disney100 Magic Shots and PhotoPass offerings currently available across Walt Disney World.

Disney100 Mickey Mouse Platinum Statue at EPCOT
Disney100 Mickey Mouse Platinum Statue at EPCOT – image from Walt Disney World Media Relations

An all-new mural at the heart of World Celebration is fun to see how many of the 100 Disney characters you can find in the incredible scene. This expansive mural located along the walkway to World Showcase will feature some of your favorite characters hidden throughout the various neighborhoods of EPCOT.

The rest of World Celebration will also be decked out in Disney100 platinum banners and décor.

Snap a photo with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in their platinum best in the Imagination! pavilion. And at night be dazzled by Spaceship Earth with special colors and lights accompanied by the Disney100 anthem, a unique rendition of “When You Wish Upon a Star.”

Mickey and Minnie Mouse in Disney 100 Outfits at EPCOT – image from Walt Disney World Media Relations

Plus, visit limited-time food & beverage locations during both the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival presented by CORKCICLE and the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays presented by AdventHealth!

Journey of Water – Inspired by Moana

Journey of Water – Inspired by Moana opens on October 16, 2023. The World Nature section of the park, formerly known as Future World West, near The Seas with Nemo and Friends is home to this new playful attraction.

Journey of Water will also feature a 16-foot tall statue of Te Fiti, the Mother Island in the movie Moana.

Walt Disney World just shared a FIRST LOOK at the newest experience coming to EPCOT. And we’ve already got our list of things we love about Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana.

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.

JUST ANNOUNCED: The female character Asha from the new Disney Animated Film “Wish” will debut at EPCOT soon.

Related: A Parent’s Guide to EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival 2023

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.

NEW Disney Character Meet and Greets

Hooray – character meet and greet experiences are available across Walt Disney World, including most character dining locations 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.

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. Mirabel is currently in the “Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade” at Magic Kingdom.

Mirabel appears alongside other adventurous Disney characters like Miguel from “Coco,” Nick and Judy from “Zootopia,” Max, Goof, Moana and more. Starting September 15, Bruno from “Encanto” will join these characters and Mirabel will begin her own meet and greets with guests.

Starting September 15, Mirabel will greet guests in Fairytale Garden surrounded by whimsical décor inspired by La Familia Madrigal!

Figment and Moana meets and greets at EPCOT

Fans will be able to meet the beloved character, Figment, at EPCOT starting September 10, 2023. This adorable purple dragon has been a part of EPCOT since 1982!

Also, Moana herself will arrive in World Nature on October 16, 2023, and start greeting guests in her own dedicated space near Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana in EPCOT.

Live action Ariel at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

NEW! At Disney’s Hollywood Studios a new character meet-and-greet with Ariel in celebration of the live-action version of “The Little Mermaid.” Her location is inside Walt Disney Presents – a great museum-like attraction that is a must-do for any Disney fan.

Ariel From “The Little Mermaid” Live-Action Story Arrives at Disney
Photo by Abigail Nilsson

New Rides, Show, and Land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Walt Disney Imagineering is planning to reimagine Dinoland U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom into a new land – inspired by a region sometimes referred to as “tropical Americas.”

Also at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a new Zootopia-inspired show will come to the Tree of Life. This new show is replacing “It’s Tough to Be a Bug.”

Magic Kingdom’s new ride

Splash Mountain is now closed to make way for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure in 2024. Look for a new water tower as part of the new ride’s story to show up on the former Splash Mountain attraction some time this summer 2023.

Walt Disney Imagineering is creating an original, next chapter story for Tiana. Within the attraction queue, guests will discover that she continues to grow her business with Tiana’s Foods – an employee-owned cooperative. Combining her talents with those of the local community, Tiana has transformed an aging salt mine and built a beloved brand. (DISNEY)

Announced at the D23 Expo – The Hatbox Ghost, a beloved character in the original version of Haunted Mansion at Disneyland in California will debut at Walt Disney World’s Haunted Mansion in November 2023.

The fan-favorite happy haunt from the Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland park, the Hatbox Ghost, is coming to the Haunted Mansion attraction in Magic Kingdom park in 2023.

Also announced at the September 2023 D23 Expo – Country Bear Jamboree at Magic Kingdom will get a whole new act next year, 2024. It seems like the old fashioned show will get reworked to be more suited for modern audiences with a new title “Country Bear Musical Jamboree.”

New Tavern at Magic Kingdom

A first-of-its-kind Pirates of the Caribbean themed lounge is coming to Magic Kingdom! At the D23 Expo it was hinted that the beloved barker bird that used to reside at the ride’s entrance will be part of the experience.

More details will be added as they become available.

Big Thunder / Magic Kingdom Expansion

And a HUGE announcement from the D23 Expo – Characters and experiences from the movies “Coco” and “Encanto” are potentially coming to Frontierland in Magic Kingdom. And a concept that was first rumored among Disney fans decades ago, a Villian mountain-type experience may also come to life. The Disney Villians will have their own area as part of this expansion of Frontierland and Big Thunder Mountain area.

No dates or confirmed construction for these potential projects have been announced. Disney executives shared concept art with D23 Expo attendees in September 2022. Then in September 2023 Bruce Vaughn of Disney Imagineering stated it could be the “biggest thing we’ve done in Magic Kingdom.”

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.

The beloved fireworks show “Happily Ever After” returned April 3, 2023.

“Luminous: The Symphony of Us” will debut at EPCOT on December 5, 2023. For now, EPCOT Forever is a temporary fireworks show.

Important Reminder! Park Pass Reservations continue to be required to enter any Disney World theme park. Except for Annual Passholders after 2pm (with exceptions for Magic Kingdom). Beginning January 9, 2024 park pass reservations will NOT be required for certain tickets such as those that are purchased for a specific date.

Halloween and Holiday Events

At Magic Kingdom two favorite events are in there full glory. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party runs select nights Friday, August 11 – November 1, 2023. Tickets are going fast!

And the holiday season is even brighter this year with not only Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party making magic, but now a new party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is coming, Disney Jollywood Nights.

Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular
See the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus during the Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular.

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.

Roundup Rodeo BBQ

Rustle up some tasty BBQ fare at this all-new western themed restaurant while you experience the world through the eyes of Andy’s toys. You’ll be surrounded by Andy’s rodeo at play with everything from western towns to train station playsets.

REVIEW: Read our review and see our 5 reasons we LOVE Roundup Rodeo BBQ.

Rodeo Roundup BBQ. Image Credit: Walt Disney World Resort

Lunch and dinner include pre-fixe menus ($25 per child ages 3-9/$45 per adult).

Entrees come served with The Prospector’s Homemade Cheddar Biscuits with Sweet Pepper Jelly, salad, sides, and main dishes include a choice between a platter of house-smoked meats or plant-based items.

Star Wars at Hollywood Studios

JUST ANNOUNCED at D23 September 2023! The beloved character and star of her own Disney+ series, Asohka Tano will join the Star Tours attraction starting Spring 2024.

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 now reopened! 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. 

Final Voyages Aboard the Galactic Starcruiser

Star Wars fans have expressed many opinion on the news that the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser will have its final voyage on September 28, 2023. 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.

Disney has stated that they will work to reimagine this experience and perhaps offer something that is accessible to a larger group of guests.

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

Blizzard Beach features a new “Frozen” theme

Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park reopened in November 2022 with new additions from the Walt Disney Animation Studios film ‘Frozen’.

The new Frozen features are part of the kid-sized thrills of Tike’s Peak that’s popular among young guests who will delight in the statuettes of Olaf and his Snowgie pals in the warm wading pool, as well as Anna and Elsa’s igloo castle.

Disney’s Blizzard Beach closed for the season on March 19, 2023 as Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon reopens.

Frozen at Disney's Blizzard Beach

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