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.
This post has been updated to feature everything new that will open and has already opened this year. Last Updated: 6/12/18
Pixar Pier Makeover: Now open! To generate some interest throughout the sometimes desolate Paradise Pier, this area has been transformed into Pixar Pier. The area now features four different neighborhoods including The Incredibles, Toy Story, Inside Out, and the rest of the Pixar family (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.
Incredicoaster: Now open! Anticipating Incredibles 2, California Screamin’ got a facelift. The coaster has a new Incredibles theme, characters, special effects, and mid-century modern queue. Guests zoom alongside this incredible family to help catch the ever-adventurous Jack-Jack.
Pixar Fest: Continuing now through September 3rd, 2018 To commemorate the opening of Pixar Pier and the Incredicoaster, Disneyland and California Adventure will feature Pixar-themed entertainment, food, and parades. Read my full guides on Must-Do Pixar Fest Snacks and Pixar Fest Entertainment to make sure you don’t miss anything!
Brief Overview of Festival Entertainment:
- Pixar Play Parade (Daytime Parade – Disneyland)
- Paint the Night Parade (Nighttime Parade – California Adventure)
- Together Forever–A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular (Fireworks – Disneyland)
Lamplight Lounge: Now open! Replacing the crowd-favorite Cove Bar and Ariel’s Grotto is a new modernized outdoor bar and lounge. Fans are raving over lost “secret menu” items like the rainbow Fun Wheel cocktail. But, never fear! Disney announced the famed Lobster Nachos are here to stay. It’s unfortunate we will be losing the only Princess character dining, but I am excited about the update. You can take a look at Disney Food Blog to see some menu samplings.
Pirates of the Caribbean Update: Now Reopened Redd the pirate has made her appearance in the newly refurbished auction scene and it looks pretty awesome. For a limited time starting now, Redd will do live meet n’ greets in New Orleans! Disneyland meet n’ greets can be random times throughout the day, so keep your eyes peeled or ask a Cast Member about her!
Tropical Hideaway: End of 2018 Welcome to my tropical hideaway, you lucky people you! Some of you may be familiar with the awkward corner between the Tiki Room and Jungle Cruise. The section called “Aladdin’s Oasis,” which looks like an inviting attraction, but is actually the restroom…Coming this year, a new place to relax and snack with a view of the Cruise! No opening date has been announced, but construction is already well on its way. I predict it will be open by the end of summer at least.
Disneyland After Dark: This is a new, special-ticketed event series happening throughout the year. Hopefully, they will make it a yearly tradition to have nights like these. They’ve already had two this year and it sounds like they plan on doing more. Be sure to check back for updates! You can look at the official website here and I’ll post any updates/rumors to come. To give you an idea of what to expect, here are the events that have already happened this year.
Throwback Nite: (January 18th, 2018) The first event was inspired by the 50’s and 60’s retro era. There was a special viewing of the Fantasy in the Sky fireworks, first displayed in 1958. Retro-themed attire was encouraged and there was be oversized retro attraction posters for photo ops.
Star Wars Nite: (May 3rd, 2018) Once opened to the general public, this event sold out the same day tickets were released. Pre-sale tickets for Annual Passholder’s sold out quickly as well. At this event, there was a special meet n’ greet with Rey, unique photo ops, special merchandise, and other entertainment.
Downtown Disney will also get a nice update in the upcoming years, including a brand new hotel in 2021. Rainforest Cafe, ESPN Zone, the movie theatre, and Earl of Sandwich will all be removed to make way for this hotel. 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 already getting quite a few updates.
World of Disney: Throughout this year, the beloved Disney gift shop will be going through some major renovations. They’re reimagining the Disney Store franchise altogether, so I’m curious to see what the stores end up looking like. The last concept I saw looked a little lackluster and reminded me of just another department store. We’ll see what the come up with!
Ballast Point: Opening Late 2018 It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for…Disneyland is getting an outdoor Beer Garden. (But what would Walt say??) This brewery is based out of San Diego and apparently very popular among Californians. The menu will feature SoCal inspired food and the venue will have an onsite brewery, tasting room. Construction is rumored to start soon so I imagine they’ll have it up and running by late fall.
Star Wars Hyper-Reality Experience: Now Open 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. Watch The VOID’s video below and you can find tickets for the experience here.
Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria Renovation: Fall 2018 Due to their lukewarm reviews, I honestly don’t remember the last time I ate at Naples. I’m so glad they’re finally taking some time to update the restaurant. Disney will be adding a new outside patio and bar and installing three new wood-burning ovens. Which means, there will better food! Hurrah!
Disney Home: Now Open D-Street, the place for all your Marvel and Star Wars merchandise has been replaced by a Disney home good 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: Opening Late 2018 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) An opening date hasn’t been announced yet.
Splitsville Luxury Lanes: Now Open House of Blues has moved out of Downtown Disney and down the street. This space is now be occupied by the bowling alley, Splitsville. This bowling alley chain offers a full bar, music, outdoor seating, and late-night eats until midnight every night. And the retro concept is a fantastic aesthetic!
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.
Plan for Next Year
As events come and go this year, I’ll keep this portion updated with things we can hopefully look forward to next year!
Lunar New Year: This year California Adventure hosted an event celebrating the Lunar New Year. In honor of the Year of the Dog, the park provided 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 also showed a new installment called “Journey of Little Lantern.” This followed Little Lantern’s journey to reunite with their family, set to the score created for the opening ceremony of Shanghai Disney Resort. This is event ran near the Chinese New Year from January 18th-February 18th, 2018. With this and the beginning of the new Festival of Holidays, I really appreciate California Adventure’s inclusive atmosphere lately.
As we head into summer, I have a feeling we’ll get more confirmations regarding the parks and attractions. Be sure to check back and I’ll keep this page current for news and updates. Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below!