Now that the Spring Break travel season is in full swing, it's time once again to take a look at some of the big projects Disney has in the works for the next five years.
For our spring 2019 update, we take more than a dozen new experiences coming to Epcot, we get final opening details for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge (well, most of it anyways), plus information on the three new nighttime spectaculars coming to the resort in the next three years.
1. Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy (Disney's Hollywood Studios)
Opening in: March 31, 2019
This week saw the opening of Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy at Disney's Hollywood Studios. This new attraction immerses guests in the world of Cars and brings them face to face with racing legend Lightning McQueen. Taking on the role of rookie racer, guests can cruise into the theater and find themselves face-to-face with this character, who will appear "live" on stage in animatronic form, while giant, wraparound screens that are nearly two stories tall and stretch more than 200 feet from end to end, pull guests into into the action.
In addition, the daily DJ’s Ready! Set! Party Time! dance party in the Sunset Showcase courtyard is also now open. This special entertainment offering features Lightning McQueen’s Pit Crew getting everyone around engaged in entertaining “Cars”-inspired dances and games.
2. Wonderful World of Animation (Disney's Hollywood Studios)
Opening in: May 1, 2019
An all-new projection-based nighttime spectacular, “Wonderful World of Animation,” is coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on May 1, 2019, as part of the park’s 30th anniversary celebration. This show will 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 in just a few weeks.
3. The NBA Experience (Disney Springs)
Disney confirmed this year that the NBA Experience will open this summer on August 12, 2019, just before the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios. When guests enter the NBA Experience, they will feel as if they’re walking through the players’ tunnel at an NBA or WNBA arena and will then be able to check out a variety of experiences themed to the world of basketball.
A ticket to NBA Experience will be all-inclusive, and will allow guests to access every activity inside this entertainment complex. In addition to being able to experience whatever they want, whenever they want, guests will also be able to return to favorite areas and experience them over and over again if they wish. Some of the options will include:
- A slam dunk challenge, where guests can change the height of a standard 10-foot hoop to as low as seven feet to perform their own superstar moves – captured by burst photography.
- An activity that tests shooting skills with spots on a court that light up as guests move from one location to another attempting to sink as many shots as possible in 15 seconds.
- A way for guests to see how they stack up to some of the world’s best basketball players by measuring their vertical leap, wingspan, shooting and dribbling.
- Personalization for various activities with guests’ names and associating the activity with their favorite NBA or WNBA teams.
- Real-time technology to aggregate statistics of NBA and WNBA games and players for continuous updates, while leaderboards will track top NBA Experience performers throughout each day.
4. Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run (Disney's Hollywood Studios)
Opening in: August 29, 2019
The first confirmed ride for the forthcoming Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios is a flight simulator ride that allows guests to “take the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, on a customized secret mission”.
Interestingly, guests who experience this attraction won’t just be tagging along for a ride (like they currently do on Star Tours) but will actually be piloting the Millennium Falcon themselves! Guests will be able to turn, bank and even fire weapons in this simulation-style experience.
When guests enter the attraction they will be able to climb into one of seven pods that seat six riders each. Each pod will be able to rotate 360 degrees, and there will be a LOT of interactive elements all around riders that will affect the experience. According to one of the attraction's creative directors, there will be 200 buttons, knobs and switches on the inside of the cockpit, each with a specific function.
And interestingly, many of these interactive elements will be specific to different "jobs" riders will have on the ride, similar to the format for Mission: Space. So, for instance, gunners in the center will have weapons controls while engineers in the back will have buttons and levers related to keeping the ship flying.
And guests will definitely want to do well with their jobs, as those who bring back their bounty and fly the ship expertly without a lot of damage will be able to earn extra Galactic Credits, which will change the way characters in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge interact with them. Conversely, guests who lose the bounty or damage the ship will end up owing money, which will also produce different interactions with characters.
This all sounds really exciting, but it looks like there will be one big issue with this attraction when it opens: wait times are going to be crazy. With seven pods that seat 6 each, you're looking at an attraction that can only handle 42 guests per ride cycle, which is very low for an attraction that will undoubtedly be extremely popular when it opens next year. And making matters potentially even worse, Millenium Falcon: Smuggler's Run will be the ONLY ride that opens with Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, as Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will open at some, unspecified, later date.
Because of the massive interest that will undoubtedly accompany this attraction, Disney has announced that they will not be offering FastPass+ reservations for this attraction when it opens, and we don't expect this to change very much while this attraction is the only one open in this part of the park.
5. Oga's Cantina (Disney's Hollywood Studios)
Opening in: August 29, 2019
Oga's Cantina will be the local watering hole on Black Spire Outpost, and will have both choices for kids and libations for adults. Interestingly, musical entertainment in this establishment will be provided by RX-24, who Star Tours fans may recall as the former StarSpeeder 3000 pilot droid prior to the "Adventures Continue" reimagining of this attraction.
Inside the Cantina guests can enjoy exotic sounding drinks like the Bespin Fizz, Bloody Rancor, Dagobah Slug Slinger, Fuzzy Tauntaun, Jedi Mind Trick, Jet Juice, The Outer Rim, Spriran Caf, T-16 Skyhopper, and Yub Nub, and non-alcohol drinks Black Spire Brew, Blue Bantha, Carbon Freeze, Cliff Dweller, Hyperdrive Punch It!, Jabba Juice, Moogan Tea, and Tarine Tea.