There’s a lot of exciting things happening in both California Adventure and Disneyland Park in 2018. Most renovations are happening in California Adventure as they slowly transform the park from an ode to California to basically a hard copy of Hollywood Studios. Due to low attendance when it first opened, this park has undergone so many transformations that it hardly resembles the park they originally intended. That being said, I was skeptical when I heard they were transforming Tower of Terror to fit their new Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, but, after experiencing the new technology and updated drops, I’m quite fond of it. I still think it’s Tower of Terror with a paint job, but it’s a pretty cool paint job! I’m personally excited for what the new 2018 adaptations will bring.
Pixar Pier Makeover: To generate some interest throughout the sometimes desolate Paradise Pier, this area will be transformed into Pixar Pier. The area will now feature four different neighborhoods including The Incredibles, Toy Story, Inside Out, and the rest of the Pixar family-which will be represented on Mickey’s Fun Wheel. Where the Maliboomer once was, there will be a new Inside Out spinner attraction. You can see the rendering in the concept art below. The transformation will be complete and open on June 23rd, 2018.
Incredicoaster: Anticipating Incredibles 2, California Screamin’ will get a facelift. The coaster will have a new Incredibles theme, characters, special effects, and mid-century modern queue. It will also feature an actual storyline as well. Guests will zoom alongside this incredible family to help catch the ever-adventurous Jack-Jack. The coaster will also be open on June 23rd, 2018.
Paint the Night Parade: This one I’m most excited about! Disney’s coolest nighttime parade is returning to the parks on April 13th! This time, more appropriately, in California Adventure. If you’re not familiar, this parade features mostly Pixar characters and has some of the most advanced floats and costumes featured in a parade. This is a highly anticipated comeback that we hope will stick around.
Lunar New Year: A brand new event celebrating the Lunar New Year. Celebrating the Year of the Dog, the park will provide culturally inspired shows, music, decorations, and yes, lots of food! (I’m loving Disney’s obsession with food festivals these days.) The World of Color water and light technology will also be showing a new installment called “Journey of Little Lantern.” This will follow Little Lantern’s journey to reunite with their family, set to the score created for the opening ceremony of Shanghai Disney Resort. This is running January 18th-February 18th. With this and the beginning of the new Festival of Holidays, I really appreciate California Adventure’s inclusive atmosphere lately.
To celebrate the pier’s transformation both parks will be celebrating with Pixar Fest. Starting April 13 and continuing through summer, guests will experience new experiences and shows in honor of the Pixar movies.
Pixar Play Parade: Bringing back the Pixar themed day parade, but this time in Disneyland Park. In addition to the original floats, new characters and floats will join the parade. Dug, Carl, and Russell will travel along with their floating balloon house. Joy, Sadness, and Bing Bong will also join, placed on a float made of memory orbs, which I’m sure will be very dazzling!
Pixar Play Parade Float Concept Art | Disney•Pixar/Disneyland Resort
Together Forever-A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular: This new firework show will tell a story of unlikely Pixar friendships using projections, pyrotechnics, and music. Even Tinker Bell will hand over the reigns to Buzz Lightyear, where he will do a special flyover to Sleep Beauty’s Castle. The show isn’t just exclusive to the castle either. Projections will be featured on other attractions like It’s a Small World, Main Street, and the water screens of Rivers of America. That will make the show much more immersive for guests as the excitement will happen all around them!
Disneyland After Dark: This is a new, special-ticketed event series that I’m truly excited about. The first event, “Throwback Nite,” is inspired by the 50’s and 60’s retro era. I’m assuming this is also inspired by everyone’s obsession with Dapper Day. First off, there will be a special viewing of the Fantasy in the Sky fireworks which was first displayed in 1958. For music and dancing, tribute bands will play hits from the 60’s on the Disneyland Railroad platform, swing bands will perform in front of It’s a Small World, and a radio DJ will take song requests at Sleeping Beauty Castle. Retro-themed attire is encouraged and there will be oversized retro attraction posters for adorable photo opportunities! Throwback Nite happened for one night only from 8:00PM-1:ooAM on January 18th. But, there will be more events in this new series throughout the year.
Downtown Disney will also get a nice update in the upcoming years, including a brand new hotel in 2021. Making way for the hotel, Rainforest Cafe, ESPN Zone, the movie theatre, and Earl of Sandwich will all be removed. Although I really appreciate another onsite hotel, why must you take Earl of Sandwich away from us, Disney? Why?? As for this year, Downtown Disney is getting quite a few updates as well.
Star Wars Hyper-Reality Experience: Produced by The VOID, this “hyper-reality” experience allows guests to journey through a choice of 4 themed lands. Here, your team will be sent undercover to achieve a mission for the rebellion where you’ll interact with sets and experience sensory and immersive technology. This opened on January 5th. Watch The VOID’s video below and you can find tickets for the experience here.
Disney Home (Now Open!): D-Street, the place for all your Marvel and Star Wars merchandise has been replaced by a Disney homegood store. But never fear action hero fans, you will find plenty of D-Street products throughout the parks. Especially once the Star Wars land, Galaxy’s Edge, opens in 2019.
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer: Downtown Disney is in desperate need of a new casual dining experience and I’m glad to see that they’re adding this franchise to the mix. This classic diner-esque burger joint will serve a large assortment of burgers like the All-American classic and even a Vegan burger! Their signature “CrazyShakes” look like they will be the worth the visit too. Move over, Earl of Sandwich! (Not really. I’ll always love you, Earl of Sandwich) Construction is already happening and will hopefully be up and running soon!
Splitsville Luxury Lanes: House of Blues has moved out of Downtown Disney and down the street. This space will now be occupied by the bowling alley, Splitsville, this year. This bowling alley chain currently resides in Disney Springs in Florida and offers a full bar, music, and late-night eats until 12:30 every night. And the retro concept art looks fantastic! I imagine this will be the new happening spot for a night out.
Crowd-Favorites Returning this Year
Of course, some of our favorites are returning this year as well. Here are a few popular events that will return to 2018!
Food & Wine Festival: More food festivals! More, I say! Back by popular demand, the festival featuring “California inspired” food and drink will return March 2-April 12. And of course, that means more entertainment, music, and even appearances from celebrity chefs like Robert Irvine.
Festival of Holidays: To make up for Disneyland’s Christmas festivities, California Adventure will once again uphold the holiday standards with it’s Festival of Holidays. With food and music celebrating holidays from all over the world, this year’s festival was widely popular. Take a look at some of the food and that’s still being served at the holiday kiosks until January 7th. My favorite was the warm bourbon cider with bourbon infused marshmallow. So good!
Mickey’s Halloween Party: This special-ticket event is a little less epic than the Halloween Party in Disney World but definitely less crowded! Check out the Halloween parade, go trick-or-treating, and dress up as your favorite characters! And don’t forget to stop by California Adventure to see Cars Land dressed up for Halloween too.
Christmas at Disneyland: A Christmas Fantasy Parade, It’s a Small World Holiday, and the Haunted Mansion with the Nightmare Before Christmas makeover. What more you could want? Disneyland is extra special during the holidays. If you want to enjoy the special fireworks and experience the Christmas magic, I advise visiting either the first or second week of December. The closer you get to Christmas the crazier crowds get!
With that being said, we’ll be saying goodbye to some of our favorites too. Cove Bar and Ariel’s Grotto is already closed for renovations this year and we’re sad to see our favorite view of the Fun Wheel go. Rumour is, they will reopen briefly in April only to close again to be remodeled for Pixar Pier. So grab another drink and give a toast to whatever 2018 may bring!
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