'Sup?! Tad here, the resident family thrill-seeker and videographer. I always have my green finger on the pulse of what’s hoppening in the parks, so I am toadally excited to go over the recent events, celebrations, rides and new lands that opened or hoppened at Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park, Universal Studios Hollywood and other Southern California theme parks. Let’s hop to it and explore what was new or opened at Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2019! For those of you who haven't visited in a while, we've also got a full list of what opened in 2018. Also, don't froget to check this list to look ahead and see what's coming to Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2020 and beyond ahead of your visit!
What Opened at Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2019
Get Your Ears On: A Mickey and Minnie Celebration — Jan. 18 - June 6, 2019 — Turning 90 is a big deal for a mouse, so Mickey and Minnie celebrated the big birthday with an epic park-wide party! Every great party needs a theme, and theme of this one was Get Your Ears On: A Mickey and Minnie Celebration. You could eat exclusive food and purchase event merchandise. Mickey and Minnie, along with Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto and Chip 'n' Dale had their party clothes on so that you could meet them in their new white confetti birthday celebration outfits in Town Square. Mickey’s suit had colorful confetti on it and Minnie’s puff sleeve dress had pompoms and a bubble skirt. Each character's outfit was a little different. There were several big pieces that were part of this celebration, including fireworks, a parade and a Valentine's celebration.
Mickey’s Mix Magic — This new nighttime projection show with music and lasers turned Disneyland Park into a rockin’ dance party. Select nights were enhanced with fireworks. Good news! You might still catch this hoppin' party as a replacement show (without fireworks) on nights when Disneyland fireworks get canceled due to wind or other factors!
Mickey’s Soundsational Parade — Jan. 18, 2019 - July 17, 2019 — Now it's time to say goodbye to this poppin' parade. It rolled out of town on Disneyland's birthday to make way for a new parade coming in 2020.
Valentine's Day fun with Mickey and Minnie — Jan. 22 - Feb. 18, 2019 — Minnie is still pretty sweet on Mickey after all these years, so she had a special celebration of her own. She hid valentines for Mickey around Disneyland during Valentine’s month. Guests could purchase a map and stickers to go on a scavenger hunt to find these hidden valentines. There were Mickey- and Minnie-shaped valentine treats and other ways to celebrate.
Disneyland After Dark — Feb. 7 and March 7, 2019 — These private parties required a separate admission ticket and took place for four hours after Disneyland closed for the day (guests could mix in starting at 6:00 p.m.) Sweethearts’ Nite was Feb. 7, 2019. It featured love songs, encounters with favorite Disney couples, photo opportunities, sweetheart décor and romantic food, beverage and merchandise opportunities. The '90s Nite on March 7, 2019, threw guests back to the 1990s. It featured an exclusive fireworks show, a Disney Afternoon Avenue, the chance to meet rare Disney characters from the 1990s and photo opportunities. Plus, you got a commemorative fanny pack — look at Disneyland making fanny packs cool again! Were they ever cool? Anyway, now I want one! Tickets for Disneyland After Dark events sell out quickly.
Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures — opened March 30, 2019 — If you’ve been wishing on a star for a princess character dining experience to make a comeback, then your dream has come true! Join the Disney Princesses for a fairytale experience in the luxurious Napa Rose in the Grand Californian Hotel. Breakfast is available Thursday through Monday between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. The breakfast for all guests 3 and up is $125 per person (tax and gratuity not included).
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge — opened May 31, 2019 — This is the largest and most immersive themed land yet. The 14-acre land transports guests to a trading post on the planet Batuu, where the stories and characters come to life. This remote outpost on the galaxy’s edge is a thriving port, home to smugglers, traders and those seeking adventure (as well as a haven for rogues seeking to hide from the First Order). Oga's Cantina is the hoppening spot where adults can order drinks with alcohol for the first time in Disneyland's history. You can enjoy blue and green milk, meet characters and build a lightsaber or droid.
The six-person crew on the now-open Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run ride allows you to pilot the Millennium Falcon (or act as a gunner or ship engineer) and take part in a critical mission (cool!). You can shoot blasters, pilot the ship and prepare for hyperspace. Your performance in this mission has consequences. You could earn galactic credits or end up on a Bounty Hunter’s list (which would cause problems if you show your face at the cantina).
The other ride, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (opening Jan. 17, 2020), is a trackless dark ride that puts you on a Resistance troop transport vehicle in the hangar bay of a First Order Destroyer. You'll get caught in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance (way cool). In this new land, you’ll encounter droids, creatures and other characters, shop for a lightsaber and eat alien foods. Is the force with you? I think so.
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run — now open — Guests can launch into hyperspace while piloting the famed Millennium Falcon on this ride. The ride offers guests three unique crew roles.
Disneyland Forever — June 7 - Sept. 2, 2019 — This fan-favorite fireworks show made a comeback from Disneyland's 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration on June 7, 2019. With state-of-the-art projection, dazzling fireworks, special effects and a nostalgic musical score, this show was a definite must-see.
Mickey and Friends Band-Tastic Cavalcade — July 18 - Aug. 1, 2019, and Oct. 1 - Nov. 7, 2019 — This parade-route entertainment bridged the gap between Mickey's Soundsational Parade's departure and the Main Street Electrical Parade's return. Then this short and sweet cavalcade returned from Oct. 1 through Nov. 7, 2019. Show times were at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. daily. We love that we got to see so many characters, including rare ones, with very little time commitment. You never know if this cavalcade will return as a gap filler.
Main Street Electrical Parade — Aug. 2 - Sept. 30, 2019 — Summer nights got a little brighter with the announcement that this classic parade was making a comeback. With its half-million twinkling lights and memorable electronic music, this retro parade made my parents starry-eyed as they took a trip down memory lane to when they first saw it as young tadpoles.
Halloween Screams projection show — select nights during Halloween Time — The Halloween Screams projection and special effects show haunted the park each night throughout Halloween Time at Disneyland Park. On select nights (mostly Friday through Sunday), the show was enhanced with fireworks. This is a change from recent years where the show was strictly a fireworks show and was only shown to Mickey's Halloween Party guests.
Testing for changes to FASTPASS kiosks — Oct. 15, 2019, to TBD — It seems there may be changes ahead for guests who use the FASTPASS distribution kiosks at Disneyland. Starting mid-Oct., Disneyland is testing a new centralized FASTPASS kiosk in Tomorrowland. During the pilot program, guests can collect digital FASTPASSes for Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and Star Tours from a touch screen. The new system will not print out a reminder ticket. Guests can either link their ticket to the Disneyland app to manage their FASTPASSes or snap a photo of the touch screen to keep track of their return times. Guests still have a waiting period before making a new FASTPASS reservation. This pilot program could be a sign of permanent changes to come. Learn more about FASTPASS and the pilot program from our Guide to Disneyland FASTPASS service.
Mickey's Mix Magic with Fireworks — Nov. 1-3, 2019 — This popular nighttime extravaganza with a rockin' soundtrack by DJ Mickey, lasers, special effects, projection and fireworks made a quick comeback for the weekend in between Halloween Time ending and Holiday Time beginning.
Star Tours – The Adventures Continue — Dec. 20, 2019 — We have exciting news for Star Wars fans and Star Tours fans alike. As of Dec. 20, your Starspeeder 1000 is blasting off to new places. The new destinations being added are inspired by "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," which launches that same day. Soon you can visit the ocean moon Kef Bir. More details are still to come!
Disney California Adventure
Inside Out Headquarters and Pixar Pier — now complete — In 2018, Paradise Pier was transformed into Pixar Pier with new neighborhoods, restaurants, characters to meet, new foods to try, shopping opportunities and revamped rides (like the Incredicoaster and the Pixar Pal-A-Round). But there is another family-friendly ride that just opened, and it's perfect for my little sister, Lily. The fourth Pixar Pier neighborhood, Inside Out Headquarters, is now complete with the opening of Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind. You can meet Joy and Sadness in the park to balance out your day. The colorful Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff had already opened with whimsical snacks and Memory Refreshers — frozen drinks of every color with toppings like cotton candy, popping pearls and colorful candy. The remaining areas of Paradise Pier from Paradise Gardens to The Little Mermaid — Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is now known as Paradise Gardens Park, but that area has not changed much.
Jessie's Critter Carousel — now open — Mosey on over to this new carousel ride in the Toy Story neighborhood, inspired by the characters from Woody’s Roundup. It replaced King Triton’s Carousel and traded the sea creatures for woodland critters inspired by “Woody’s Roundup,” the vintage television show in “Toy Story 2.” Giddyup!
Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind — now open — Take a spin on the Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind. If you are familiar with the now-closed A Bug’s Land, this ride used to be Flik’s Flyers. Each riding compartment and ball are a different color and design, based on the different "Inside Out" characters. A different character takes over to narrate each ride.
Mickey’s Philharmagic — now open — Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and friends team up in this 3D show at the Sunset Showcase Theater in Hollywood Land. Donald comes across Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat and conductor’s baton while preparing the orchestra for Mickey. Donald magically enters a 3D dream world that takes him — and you, the viewer — into the world of Disney animated musical sequences from several classic films. Prepare to be swept away.
Vampirina joined the Disney Junior Dance Party on Feb. 1, 2019 — Vampirina joined the Disney Junior Dance Party, a high-energy show featuring music and popular Disney pals.
Captain Marvel — has arrived — One of the most powerful heroes in the universe began greeting guests ahead of the Marvel-themed land debuting in 2020.
And speaking of Super Heroes … there was a Super Hero party in spring 2019.
Disneyland After Dark: Heroes Assemble — April 30 and May 1, 2019 — The first Disneyland After Dark party at Disney California Adventure was Heroes Assemble. At this separately ticketed event that took place for four hours after the park closed, guests were blasted off into the past, present and future of favorite Super Heroes. Heroic characters greeted guests (including Iron Man in his first visit to the Disneyland Resort), and guests enjoyed special photo ops, dance parties, music and popular attractions without the lines.
"The Lion King" — June 7 - Sept. 2, 2019 — “The Tale of the Lion King” roared into Disney California Adventure to celebrate the movie's 25th anniversary. A traveling troupe of storytellers brought “The Lion King” celebration to life through story, song and dance.
Meet Fancy Nancy — Fancy Nancy is ready to strike a pose and give hugs to her fans. You could meet her and show off your outfits to each other in Hollywood Land.
Meet Bo Peep — now through TBD — Come meet Bo Peep from “Toy Story 4” at Pixar Pier this summer. Bo Peep arrived June 12.
Celebrate 80 years of Super Heroes — Aug. 9 - Sept. 2, 2019 — Park guests suited up in their best DisneyBound outfits (park costume guidelines applied), and got their faces painted to meet Super Heroes, as well as classic Disney characters cosplaying as their favorite Super Heroes. During this special event, you could hop right into an "Avengers Assemble" comic book for photo ops. You could also power up with special limited-time menu items themed after your favorite Super Heroes. Guests who visited could also find epic merchandise, learn to draw Super Heroes inside Animation Academy and receive a commemorative button.
Oogie Boogie Bash — A Disneyland Halloween Party — select nights Sept. 17 - Oct. 31, 2019 — During Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort, the former Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland Park hopped over to Disney California Adventure Park. The party transformed into a new event with new entertainment, shows and more immersive trick-or-treat trails. For all of the scary details for the new party, hop over to the Oogie Boogie Bash — A Disneyland Halloween Party.
Avengers: Damage Control at the The VOID — began Oct. 18, 2019, for a limited time — Get ready to suit up and step into the action like a Super Hero! You can help Wakanda's Princess Shuri test her latest prototype design: Emergency Response Suits. You may find yourself recruited into action when sinister forces intervene. Fight side-by-side with Avengers such as Doctor Strange, the Wasp, Ant-Man and more. This one-of-a-kind experience blends VR with a 3D multi-sensory experience. But hop to it, because this immersive world is only around for a limited time.
Ballast Point — now open — This new eatery serves up California cuisine, award-winning craft brews. It has the first brewery on-site in Downtown Disney.
Naples Ristorante e Bar — now open — This restaurant reopened after a lengthy refurb.
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes — now open — Enjoy luncheonette-style food with old-school hip-hop music and out-of-control CrazyShake milkshakes. #drooling
Pop-Up Disney! A Mickey Celebration — now closed — This exhibition popped up in the old ESPN Zone space next to the Disneyland Hotel for a limited time. The unique exhibition created just for Downtown Disney featured colorful, themed rooms with vivid and imaginative displays inspired by everyone’s favorite mouse couple, Mickey and Minnie. The photo ops were fabulous, including a giant Minnie bow sofa that made the perfect place to lounge and pose for photos.
Asian Street Eats — holiday season 2019 — The west end of Downtown Disney is getting a trendy take-out window, serving up flavorful Asian dishes. Chef Hung Huynth introduces this new concept by Earl Enterprises (the group that owns Downtown Disney favorite Earl of Sandwich).
Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
GHC Craftsman Bar & Grill — now open — A new bar and grill popped up (hopped up?!) in the pool area. It's an expansion of the nearby popular White Water Snacks, which recently underwent a refurbishment. White Water Snacks is now known as GHC Craftsman Grill but will keep serving its popular menu. (Whew! What a relief!) Then the new lounge area in the pool area is called GHC Craftsman Bar.
The GHC Craftsman Bar serves artisanal pizzas, avocado toast, sliders, nachos, shawarma and more. The tadpoles can enjoy chicken skewers, salmon, grilled cheese, chicken tenders, hamburgers and other tasty dishes. The desserts will satisfy your sweet tooth on a sunny southern California day. Try the salted chocolate chip cookie fingers with dipping sauces, a waffle-churro sundae or the root beer float. The restaurant is open to all guests, but use of the pool area will be restricted to hotel guests with wristbands.
Tangaroa Terrace, Tropical Bar and Grill — now open — This Southseas hideaway reopened with a slightly new name after a refurbishment. They sell coffee, breakfast foods such as pineapple upside-down pancakes and breakfast sandwiches. For lunch and dinner, they have tropical meals such as Kalua-style poutine and fried spam musubi. But the big excitement is over the Dole Whip and Dole Whip float! Mommy Frog is looking forward to kicking back with a Dole Whip with a splash of rum.
Disneyland Parking — Pixar Pals structure now open — Disney built a new Pixar Pals parking structure adjacent to Mickey & Friends with over 5,000 new parking spaces. This much-needed structure opened in late June 2019. The new structure has six stories and comes with six additional entrance lanes (only open in the earlier part of the day). It features a new electronic parking system designed to expedite the parking process (plus, new lights in Mickey & Friends indicate open parking spaces). This helps us get into the parking structures and then to the parks even faster. Mommy Frog loves this time-saver, for sure! You can access the new structure from Magic Way.
Disney redesigned the tram loading area to accommodate both parking structures. If you’ve ever wanted to get to Downtown Disney more easily from the parking structure, well, that wish has been granted, too! The new structure now has a pedestrian bridge over Magic Way feeding into Downtown Disney, allowing you to skip the parking shuttle and get some food, play with Legos or do some souvenir shopping on the way to and from the parks. You could also hop on the Monorail from there to transport straight into Tomorrowland.
There's new Downtown Disney parking, as well. The Stitch lot we've always used for Downtown Disney is no longer for guest use. The new Downtown Disney lot is on the other side of the Paradise Pier Hotel.
The Toy Story lot is also expanding, with over 2,000 additional spaces and more entrances. We are most excited to hear that bathrooms are being built! (Anyone with a potty training toddler knows what we're talking about!) Guests who park at Toy Story lot will begin going through security screening before boarding the shuttle buses to eliminate screening in the esplanade outside the theme parks at peak times.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Running Universal 5K — May 11, 2019 — Have you ever wished you could run down the streets where movies such as "Back to the Future," "King Kong," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "War of the Worlds" and so many more were filmed? Universal Studios opened up the gates for the first Running Universal 5K event, featuring Illumination’s Minions. The event kicked off May 11, 2019, with a 6 a.m. race time. Runners rushed through the front gates into the Upper Lot and made their way to the Backlot, racing through iconic movie sets before finishing at the 5 Towers on Universal CityWalk. The finish line festivities included a party with live music, food and beverages (included!) and plenty of post-race swag (including collectible Minion pins and more).
Jurassic World – The Ride — now open — This Lower Lot ride used to be Jurassic Park — gee, things evolve rapidly these days. This next generation ride is part expedition, part water ride and includes new dinosaurs from the films. My heart is already pounding just thinking of the dinosaurs that are even more terrifying than before!
Also in that Lower Lot area adjacent to the ride, Blue, the beloved but also terrifying Velociraptor you can meet during “Raptor Encounter,” has a new area in which to eat — oops, I mean greet! — guests. (Seriously, have you met her? She’s terrifying!) You can also meet a much gentler baby raptor named Tango and a triceratops named Juliet. Also, for tadpoles of all ages, a new interactive “Dino Play” area reopened. Now the area has some educational components that allow kids to excavate dinosaur fossils.
The adjacent restaurant, Jurassic Cafe, is now open and completely redesigned with an exciting new menu. We've hopped over to try the food and loved the pomegranate guacamole with plantain chips, slow roasted Mojo pork and the chorizo and potato empanadas! Yum! There is a new bar — Isla Nu-Bar — with fun tropical drinks, too. Plus, the redesigned Jurassic Outfitters is now open, as well.
Running Universal 5K on Nov. 16 and 10K on Nov. 17, 2019 — Experience a heart-pounding race that involves dinosaurs! The 5K, 10K and Kids' 1K Raptor Run featured fan-favorite "Jurassic World" dinos. The 5K and 10K races took you through the theme park and parts of the Universal Backlot. You could take photos with dinosaurs along the way or other photo ops. Racers completed the race at the finish line in Universal CityWalk with swag, music and refreshments.
If you're planning a trip, it's great to see what opened in Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2019 so you don't miss out on the brand-new fun! If you are looking for discount theme park tickets, rental cars, transportation or hotels near Disneyland or Universal Studios, you can score some hoppin’ good deals through Undercover Tourist. Choose “Los Angeles” and then hop to it.