This week at Walt Disney World, three new nighttime spectaculars are announced for Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios, new details are released for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, plus more information is revealed for the new hotel coming to Bay Lake.
Programming note: Though we normally devote some time to Orlando-area parks outside Lake Buena Vista, there has been so much going on at Walt Disney World over the past seven days that we decided to forgo the “beyond” this week. You’ll hear about all the news from Universal Orlando Resort, Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld Orlando in next week’s update!
1. Two new nighttime spectaculars announced for Epcot
Though we already knew IllumiNations was ending next year, Disney announced this weekend that they would be bringing two new nighttime spectaculars to the park in the next two years.
First up, in 2019, Disney will debut a limited-time experience, called “Epcot Forever,” which will feature classic Epcot themes. This new show is meant to showcase the best of Epcot while celebrating its unique history.
Then in 2020, a new permanent nighttime spectacular will debut. Called “A Celebration of Disney Music,” this new nighttime entertainment offering will show how Disney music inspires people around the globe, and will feature large floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, kites with special effects, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, and lasers. Confirmed Disney IPs that will be featured in this new production include Coco, Hercules, and Moana.
2. New projection show coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios
An all-new projection-based nighttime spectacular, “Wonderful World of Animation,” is coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in May 2019, as part of the park’s 30th anniversary celebration. This show take guests on a magical journey through more than 90 years of Disney animation, all beginning with Mickey himself, and featuring beloved Disney and Pixar characters form films like Wreck-It Ralph, Coco, The Incredibles, Frozen, Cars, The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty and more. This projection show will replace the current Disney Movie Magic show when it debuts next year.
3. Beauty and the Beast Singalong coming to Epcot
A new Beauty and the Beast sing-along attraction is coming to Epcot's France pavilion, and will play in the theater that is currently home to “Impressions de France.” This new show will play in addition to the French film, and is being created by Don Hahn, producer of the animated and live-action “Beauty and the Beast” film. No timeline has been provided about when this new show might debut.
4. O Canada being replaced with new, updated film
In even more news from Epcot, it looks like the current O Canada circle-vision attraction's days are numbered as it has been confirmed that a brand new O Canada film will be coming to Epcot's Canada Pavilion sometime in the near future, though like everything else, no timeline has been provided for this upcoming change.
5. New details revealed for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
Disney confirmed some additional details this weekend about the two new attractions coming to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge when it opens next year.
First up is Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run, which will place guests in one of three unique and critical roles aboard this iconic starcraft. You can check out a new teaser video above
Next up, Disney also confirmed the name of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which will put guests in the middle of an epic battle between the First Order and the Resistance – including a face-off with Kylo Ren himself. You can check out a video of this new attraction below:
6. New Magic Kingdom hotel gets an official name and theme
Earlier this year it was confirmed that Disney was finally bulldozing the remains of River Country and building a new hotel around Bay Lake. And this week it was revealed that this new property will be named "Reflections - A Disney Lakeside Lodge."
As you might expect, this will be a deluxe-level resort, and will be themed around the natural world. This hotel will include more than 900 rooms and proposed Disney Vacation Club villas spread across a variety of unique accommodation types.
7. New details revealed about Guardians of the Galaxy Ride
It has been over a year since Disney confirmed during the 2017 D23 Expo in Anaheim that a Guardians of the Galaxy-inspired attraction would be added to Epcot's Future World, and in this time we've only gotten a few little updates here and there about what we can expect from this somehow still-unnamed attraction. However, at the IAPPA trade show on November 14th Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek finally confirmed some new details about this upcoming attraction, including the fact that the building that houses this ride isgoing to be so big that it could fit FOUR Spaceship Earth attractions inside it, a truly staggering statistic. In addition we got our first look at the custom-built ride vehicle being used for this ride, which you can see above.
8. Disney Skyliner confirmed to be openning in late 2019
Back when this project was first confirmed, we hypothesized that Disney's big goal for the Disney Skyliner was to get this new transportation option operational before the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in late 2019, since Disney's Hollywood Studios will need the added transportation support for this new land when it opens next year. And now we know that Disney is officially on track to meet this goal, as Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek has confirmed this week that Disney Skyliner will open in late 2019. Disney also shared an advance look at what the Skyliner cabs will look like in the video below:
9. Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway confirmed for Fall 2019 opening
Though we had already assumed as much, it was confirmed this week that Disney is targetting a fall 2019 opening window for Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, putting this new attraction opening right at the same time as the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.
10. PhotoPass photographers set to be replaced by machines starting this month
News broke this week that beginning later this month Disney will be removing PhotoPass photographers and installing an automated camera system at the Tinker Bell meet and greet at the Town Square Theater area of the Magic Kingdom. This automated camera system will then photograph guests from one single angle as they have their character interaction at specific intervals, giving guests a range of shots of the experience. Once the character interaction is over guests will be able to view their photos on the machine (much like they view on-ride photos at Splash Mountain or Test Track after riding), and can then touch their MagicBand to the machine to tie the photographs to their My Disney Experience account.