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The 24 New Rides, Shows and Restaurants Coming to Walt Disney World by 2021 (Summer 2019 Edition)

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. Rivers of Light: We Are One

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed

Opening in: May 27, 2019

Since its introduction back in 2017, Rivers of Light has been that rare Disney show that captures the magic and theme of the park it represents, without relying on familiar characters and IPs. By using lantern floats, theatrical imagery, actors (before budget cuts), and a beautiful musical score, this show was certainly unique among its peers. However, it looks like Disney will be making some major changes to this show beginning next month to make it more like what you can experience at other parks. 
 
Beginning on Memorial Day Weekend this year, Disney will be debuting Rivers of Light: We Are One, which introduces additional, stunning imagery and familiar animal characters from Disneynature films, along with a colorful tapestry of classic moments from Disney animation like the Lion King to help guests feel their connection with animals and the emotions and milestones that everyone shares in the journey through the great circle of life.

2. The NBA Experience (Disney Springs)

Status: Confirmed

Opening in: August 12, 2019

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.

“Developed with the NBA and inspired by the league’s 29 arenas around the country, NBA Experience will highlight the heart-pounding action and excitement of the NBA world,” said Stan Dodd, an executive producer with Imagineering.
 

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.
You can learn more about this upcoming experience here

3. Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run (Disney's Hollywood Studios)

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed 

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.

Image: Disney

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. 

Image: Disney

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. 

4. Oga's Cantina (Disney's Hollywood Studios)

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed 

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. You can read more about the menu in this out-of-this-world eatery here

5. Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed 

Opening in: August 29, 2019

The main restaurant in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge will be Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, which is a counter service restaurant run by Chef Strono "Cookie" Tuggs, a chef who used to work for Maz Kanata. This restaurant occupies space that was previously used as storage, and features a highly-themed indoor dining room as well as a shaded outside eating area as well. Here's the menu for this new restaurant: 

  • Braised Shaak Roast, featuring beef pot roast with cavatelli pasta, kale, and mushrooms
  • Fried Endorian Tip-Yip, a fried chicken dish with roasted vegetable mash and herb gravy
  • Oven-roasted Tip Yip, featuring roasted chicken with mixed greens, roasted vegetables, quinoa, and pumpkin seeds with a green curry ranch dressing
  • Smoked Kaadu Ribs, featuring smoked country pork ribs with blueberry corn muffin and cabbage slaw
  • Oven-roasted Burra Fish, featuring Dijon-crusted fish with mixed greens, roasted vegetables, quinoa, and pumpkin seeds with a creamy green curry ranch dressing
  • Yobshrimp Noodle Salad, a marinated noodle salad with chilled shrimp
  • Felucian Garden Spread, a kefta "meatball" dish with herb hummus and tomato-cucumber relish with pita bread
  • Ithorian Garden Loaf, a plant-based "meatloaf" dish served with roasted vegetable mash, seasonal vegetables, and mushroom sauce
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