Galaxy’s Edge, the Disney Skyliner, Immersive Star Wars hotel and more

Bob Chapek and Mickey Mouse at D23

More details revealed about the impressive list of new experiences coming to Walt Disney World Resort

There is so much great development going on at Walt Disney World these days that it’s a very exciting time for Disney travel fans.

Recently, Bob Chapek, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products, shared a wealth of exciting new details on several highly-anticipated experiences coming soon to Disney Parks on both coasts.

Walt Disney World Highlights for 2019 and Beyond

Among the highlights covered at a D23 gathering was a big reveal about the the names (and a first-ever look inside) of the two signature attractions set for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, when it opens at Disneyland Resort in the summer of 2019 and at Walt Disney World Resort in fall 2019. We now know that Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance are two exciting new attractions coming to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Plus, it was announced that Academy Award-winning composer John Williams is creating original new Star Wars theme music exclusively for these lands. John Williams created the original legendary Star Wars music that we now know and love as the defining Star Wars theme. Finally, even more details were shared about what may be the most anticipated development of all: the fully-immersive Star Wars resort hotel experience coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort.

“We are currently in the midst of one of the most extraordinary periods of expansion in our history,” said Mr. Chapek. “We are always pushing the boundaries of what’s possible as we deliver world-class experiences and attractions, new hotels and entertainment, itineraries and destinations for our guests.”

We also now know more about the Disney Skyliner gondolas, which will transport guests to several destinations in and around Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios when the transportation system goes online in the fall of 2019. I am reserving judgement on this one to some degree until I see it in action. While I like the nod to the original SkyWay in Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park, only time will tell whether the Skyliner can move people quickly enough and whether it will operate consistently throughout the frequent summer storms in Central Florida, which often bring other attractions (much closer to the ground) to a complete halt.

Disney World Star Wars Hotel

Artist’s concept of the forthcoming Star Wars hotel at Walt Disney World.

Exploring Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Ever since Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was first announced at the D23 Expo in 2015, there has been a never-ending thirst for new information. We now know that when you visit Galaxy’s Edge, you’ll be able to take the controls in one of three unique and critical roles aboard the Millennium Falcon in Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. On Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, you’ll be able to take part in an epic battle between the First Order and the Resistance – including a face-off with Kylo Ren himself. Both of these new attractions are part of the fully immersive environment that will be Galaxy’s Edge and it’s all sounding quite spectacular to say the least.

In terms of the new Star Wars resort hotel, we still don’t know a lot of the fine details, but we do now know more than we did before. The experience will be a multi-day, fully immersive adventure that will take you aboard a luxury starship with all the features you’d expect to find in a first-class hotel, including dining, recreation and accommodations. Of course, the ambiance will be authentic to the Star Wars universe.

Mickey Mouse is Getting an Even Higher Profile

Fans of the magical mouse himself will be glad to hear about the full slate of new Mickey experiences coming to Walt Disney World.

Ever since The Great Movie Ride shut its doors for good, Disney Imagineers have been hard at work creating Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, using breakthrough technology to transform a two-dimensional cartoon into an amazing real-world experience. It’s hard to believe that this is the first-ever ride-through attraction themed to Mickey Mouse, but it’s set to open in the fall 2019.  The ride will feature a new original story and theme song as it takes guests on a journey inside the fun and unpredictable world of Disney Channel’s Emmy Award-winning Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts.

Over at Disneyland Resort, “Mickey’s Mix Magic” will light up the night at Disneyland Park starting in January 2019 with and all-new show. Watch for music, projections and lasers that set the scene for an epic dance party set to take over almost the entire park. The party will get even bigger when the fan-favorite Mickey’s Soundsational Parade returns to the resort January 25, featuring an all-new float with Mickey himself, who will lead the celebration down Main Street, U.S.A.

Over at Walt Disney World in the Magic Kingdom, Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration will feature new food, merchandise and entertainment — including a new dance party with Mickey, Minnie and their friends. You’ll even have a chance to meet Mickey and Minnie together in their new birthday outfits. This new celebration will run from January 18 to September 30, 2019.

Not to be left out, Disney Cruise Line will also welcome the mouse couple as part of the Mickey & Minnie Surprise Party at Sea, an all-new high-energy deck party set to roll out on the Disney Fantasy next summer.

Even More Experiences to Light Up the Night Skies

Mr. Chapek also announced an all-new cinematic nighttime experience, Wonderful World of Animation, coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on May 1, 2019 as part of the 30th Anniversary of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The show will use state-of-the-art technology to take guests on a magical journey through more than 90 years of Disney animation, all beginning with Mickey.

Epcot Forever

Artist’s rendering of the new Epcot Forever show.

Epcot is Transforming, with a Nod to Walt’s Original Vision

The multi-year transformation of Epcot is now well under way but what you may not have known is that the overall vision for change is designed to honor the park’s original vision as an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (aka EPCOT). The idea is to make Epcot more timeless, more relevant, more family oriented and, well, more Disney (for those who thought it wasn’t “Disney” enough).

The Ratatouille experience coming to the France pavilion in World Showcase will be called Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. I’ll be curious to see how this compares to Ratatouille: The Adventure, at Disneyland Paris. Also in World Showcase there will be a brand new Beauty and the Beast sing-along and an update to the O Canada! 360-degree show at the Canada Pavilion.

The end of the IllumiNations show was met with sadness by some fans, but Mr. Chapek announced an all-new, transformative spectacular show that is set to debut in 2020. The new nighttime show will celebrate how Disney music can inspire people from around the world, featuring floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics and lasers. In a move that is similar to how Rivers of Light rolled out at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, before the new Epcot show fully comes online, there will be a limited-time experience called Epcot Forever. This show will debut in the fall 2019 and will be set to classic Epcot tunes. Epcot Forever will begin with a spark of imagination that quickly grows into an epic spectacle of fireworks, music, lighting, lasers, and choreographed, special effects kites.

Walt Disney World's new Riviera Resort Hotel.

Walt Disney World’s new Riviera Resort Hotel.

Walt Disney World Resort Hotel Update

Finally, we also learned more about the new resort hotel that will be opening its door on the River Country site between Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. The new Deluxe Disney resort property is called Reflections and is a nature-inspired property featuring more than 900 hotel rooms (and there are proposed Disney Vacation Club villas potentially as well).

Finally, more was revealed about Disney’s Riviera Resort, which is well into construction next to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Disney’s Riviera Resort is inspired by the European grandeur that Walt Disney experienced on his travels along the Mediterranean coastline. This Disney Vacation Club Deluxe Villas property is projected to open in the fall 2019 and will be the 15th Disney Vacation Club property.

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Mike Belobradic, The Finer Side of Travel™
A Luxury Disney Travel Blog