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There’s a lot of exciting things happening in California Adventure and Disneyland Park in 2019. Most renovations are happening in Disneyland as we gear up for the most exciting addition to the park since it’s opening, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. This land will be a completely immersive experience featuring a life-size replica of the Millenium Falcon and a cantina that serves real blue milk! But, more on all that later. If you haven’t been to the parks lately, the major update last year was Paradise Pier’s transformation into Pixar Pier. Be sure to brush up on all the major updates that happened at Disneyland in 2018, so you don’t miss a thing! I’ll also cover returning events and things to look forward to this coming year at Disneyland.
So let’s get this New Years party started!
When To Visit Disneyland in 2019: First off, let me answer the most commonly asked Disneyland question. When should I visit Disneyland in 2019? Next year is going to be very different in comparison to past years. You can either visit before the summer and experience fewer crowds and cheaper tickets, or you can visit once Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens on May 31st. The crowds will be much heavier once this land opens, but if you’re a huge Star Wars fan, I’m sure you’ll have a good time. If you do plan on visiting Star Wars land this year, you’re gonna have to do some preparation to make the most out of your vacation. Check out this post to get you started: How to Prepare for Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
If you’d like to visit before Star Wars opens, as I mentioned above, Get Away Today is selling deeply discounted tickets on select dates between January-May. Disneyland seems to be encouraging these discounts so they can thin the crowds before Galaxy’s Edge opens.
Given this, the typical rules apply when choosing vacation dates. The busiest time of year will now and forever be the summer months between the beginning of June and the third week of August. Following that, any holiday weekend where kids and adults have a day off are usually busy (think, Thanksgiving weekend). It’s probably best not to go during Christmas week right through to New Year’s Day either, or in mid-April, right around Spring Break.
January through May, the first three weeks of November, and the first week of December are typically less crowded.
Everything New Coming to California Adventure
Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind: Two attractions are coming late to the opening of Pixar Pier. Both will hopefully be open sometime in the next couple of months. The first is based on Inside Out and the ride is made of the repurposed ride vehicles from Flik’s Flyers previously in A Bug’s Land. If you’ve been around California Adventure long enough, you’ll remember the Maliboomer used to be in its current location. Although I’m sad that a perfectly good thrill ride is replaced by a kiddie attraction, I can’t complain too much. I love Pixar no matter what package it comes in.
Jessie’s Critter Carousel (Now Open!): Overlays aren’t incredibly exciting since their main reason is to give an attraction a facelift and fit a certain theme. Sometimes they can be incredibly cute and add to the atmosphere, however. Before the overlay, guests rode sea creatures inspired by The Little Mermaid. Now, guests ride snakes, bunnies, and raccoons from Woody’s Roundup in Toy Story 2. I think this change was completely necessary to fit in with the rest of Pixar Pier. Jessie’s critters are pretty cute and the carousel adds adorable touch to this area.
Everything New Coming to Disneyland
Mickey’s Mix Magic (Now Playing!): This is a new projection and laser light show that will take over the park every night at Disneyland. Combining the lights with upbeat music and pyrotechnics, the park becomes a giant dance party. This new evening show is basically a family-friendly rave.
Mickey’s Soundsational Parade (Now Playing!): In celebration of Mickey’s 90th birthday, Disneyland welcomes back this dance party in the streets! It’s Disneyland’s revamped daytime parade and it’s an awesome compliment to the nighttime firework party. The parade features new floats like Princess and the Frog. And yes, Mickey actually plays the drums.
Tropical Hideaway (Now open!): Welcome to my tropical hideaway, you lucky people you! This Adventureland extension is nestled behind The Enchanted Tiki Room and bordering the shore of Jungle Cruise. This new marketplace features flavored Dole Whips like orange, raspberry, and swirled options. The cuisine is island-inspired with bao dumplings, lumpia, and the unique “Chilled Ramen Shaker.” The best element is Rosita, the animatronic tiki bird who matches the parrots from the Tiki Room. Much like the parrots, she tells jokes and reveals to nearby guests that she’s waiting for a Skipper from Jungle Cruise to whisk her away for her new solo career. The bird is inspired by a line in the Tiki Room when Jose asks “Whatever happened to Rosita?” Now we know! The in-depth storyline and attention to detail makes this area decidedly “Disneyland.”
Valentine’s Day Scavenger Hunt: The parks tend to ignore holidays like Valentine’s, but this year they added a low-key activity in honor of this day. The scavenger hunt will be similar to the Easter Egg Hunt that happens every year. For a small fee, you can purchase a map that will guide you to the valentine’s hidden by Minnie Mouse throughout the park. If you find all the valentines, you’ll receive a small prize.
Disneyland After Dark – Sweethearts’ Nite (February 7th Only): Disneyland After Dark is a special after-hours event series. Last year, the events were inspired by Star Wars and the dapper 1950’s. This year, they have two events planned during the non-peak season. For Sweethearts’ Nite, you can meet with famous Disney couples like Flynn & Rapunzel, Aladdin & Jasmine, or Mickey & Minnie. You can also enjoy romantic dance parties and special food & beverages. Chocolate-dipped strawberries, anyone?
Disneyland After Dark – 90’s Nite (March 7th Only): Don’t tell anyone, but I’m more excited
Star Wars – Galaxy Edge (May 31st): Now for the main attraction! This land will be based on the planet Batuu complete with a street market and meet n’ greets with Chewie, BB-8, and members of the First Order. I’ve got some highlights on attractions and dining for the land below. BUT you’re gonna need a lot more info on how to get into the land and prepare for your trip to the end of the galaxy. In order to have a great time visiting this land head to my aforementioned article: How to Prepare for Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run – This beloved ship is a life-sized simulator ready for guests to climb aboard and embark on a real journey through space. If you’re familiar with Mission Space in Epcot, this ride is fairly similar, but with more interactive qualities. Guests are assigned the roles of Pilots, Gunners, and Engineers once they board the ride. They’re given commands and sent on a mission, facing Kylo Ren. The awesome part is, the ride will react if you succeed or fail to take the commands. You will either achieve your mission or end up taking the consequences. This ride is a real-life choose your own Star Wars adventure!
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – This trackless, 3-D dark ride will transport you through a multi-level show building. The scene is set inside a hangar bay and you’re caught in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance. The technology is sure to be astounding!
Oga’s Cantina – Excluding the incredibly restrictive Club 33, Oga’s will be the first place inside Disneyland that serves alcohol. Until now, California Adventure was the only place you could find libations inside the parks. Which, by the way, if you want an alcoholic guide to California Adventure, I got it right here. Keep it on hand if the Star Wars crowds get too much for you. The cantina is set inside the village of Black Spire Outpost where seedy folks journey to get their drink on. Music is DJ’ed by RX-24, the droid who previously starred in the original Star Tours! There will also be atmospheric Star Wars characters and even blue milk.
Everything New Coming to Downtown Disney
Downtown Disney faced some serious drama last year. To make way for a brand new luxury Disneyland hotel, Disney closed the AMC movie theatre, Rainforest Cafe, Earl of Sandwich, and ESPN Zone. Last summer, a tax feud between Anaheim officials and Disney began, which put construction for the hotel on hold, indefinitely. It doesn’t sound like Disney will get their fourth hotel any time soon. No matter, because the current Disneyland hotels are way overpriced anyway. After the debacle, Disney reopened Earl of Sandwich and we’ve yet to hear what will happen in the other spaces or if construction will start up again. Good news though! We still have two new Downtown Disney restaurants we will happily welcome this year.
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer (Now open!): With only four locations in the world, the trendy NYC-based burger bar will open in Downtown Disney within the next few months. This small chain is inspired by old New York luncheonettes and known mostly for their CrazyShakes and gourmet cheeseburgers. Construction is continuing slowly and the opening date has yet to be announced.
Ballast Point (Now open!): Another restaurant and bar that will surely be popular among the 21+ crowds! This classy joint will serve craft beers and sustainable California eats. It will also feature an outdoor beer garden, onsite brewery, and tasting room. I know where I’m spending the rest of my summer!
2019 Returning Favorites
World of Color (Open now!): World of Color fans have been anxiously awaiting the return of California Adventure’s night show for a long time. Back in April of 2018, World of Color went down for a scheduled refurbishment. Supposedly, the show platform was accidentally lowered into the water when the wiring and mechanisms were exposed, causing a lot of damage. Since then, they’ve been trying to repair the show and it’s taking a lot longer than they thought. Well, the show is up and running now! I just caught the show a few weeks ago and it’s still an incredible show!
Lunar New Year (January 25-February 17): New to the annual festivals last year, this Chinese New Year celebration was bound to make a reappearance in 2019. The event features traditional Chinese-inspired cuisine, decorations, and Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession parade starring Mulan and Mushu. Last year, the Year of the Dog was celebrated with Pluto as the reigning New Year mascot. This created adorable photo ops and entertainment featuring the world-famous dog. 2019 is the Year of the Pig, so this event will feature the Three Little Pigs from the old Disney cartoon, Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
Food & Wine Festival (March 1-April 23): This popular event has been extended to last 8 weeks this year! Epcot’s famous Food & Wine Festival at Disney World is the inspiration for this event. While Epcot’s festival features food and drinks from various countries around the world, Disneyland has menu items inspired by California cuisine. Some previous food-favorites were the Korean Tacos with Kimchi Slaw, Frushi (fruit sushi), and of course, Californian wine! Much like Epcot’s Festival, you can join affordable cooking seminars and learn to cook from celebrity chefs. Like all festivals, there will be special entertainment and theming as well.
Festival of Holidays (Sometime Between the First Week of November – First Week of January): Christmas at Disneyland is definitely the best time of year to visit. Main Street is covered with snow, festive parades perform, and characters are dressed in their holiday best. The best way to celebrate is to spend some time at California Adventure’s Festival of Holidays. You can eat your way through the holiday kiosks, enjoy some multi-cultural holiday entertainment, and dance in the street with The Three Caballeros for Viva Navidad! To make sure you’re getting the most out of your holiday visit check out Christmas in Disneyland: Everything You Need to Know.
Mickey’s Halloween Party at California Adventure (Sometime Between Mid-August-October 31st): This is Disneyland’s annual special-ticket Halloween party. For around $100 you can meet rare characters, experience specially themed fireworks, all-you-care-to-enjoy candy, and fewer crowds. Costumes aren’t enforced, but what better place to dress as your favorite Disney character? This party is a ton of fun if you’re looking for something different to do at Disneyland. I will warn you, the party isn’t quite as impressive as Disney World’s annual Halloween party, so try not to compare the two if you decide to attend.
Marvel Land featuring the Avengers (Coming in 2020): Last March, we said goodbye to A Bug’s Land, making way for a new Avengers-themed area. This land will match the fairly new Guardians of the Galaxy ride and open in two phases. The first phase will open in 2020 and transform the old “It’s Tough to be a Bug” theatre into a 3-D gaming Spiderman ride, similar to Toy Story Mania. There will also be a microbrewery inspired by Ant-Man. Microbrewery…Ant-Man, get it? The second phase is rumored to have a huge roller coaster in the works!
2019 is sure to be one of the most exciting years in Disneyland history. It’s been a while since the park has seen updates like this! Cars Land was the last stunning addition and since then we’ve only been treated to Pixar overlays and lackluster events. If you want to stay updated on everything to come, including Star Wars Land and new announcements throughout the year, be sure to sign up for my FREE Theme Park Planning Resource Library.
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