'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, and I covered all of the frogciting events, rides and new lands that came to Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park, Universal Studios Hollywood and more in 2022. For those of you looking for what opened last year and even what opened the year before that, we've got you covered!
What Opened at Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2022
Many events and entertainment offerings hoppened or returned in 2022!
MagicBand+ — debuted Oct. 26, 2022 — The next generation of the wearable MagicBand, MagicBand+, made its big debut at Disneyland Resort in October 2022. It features interactive elements that guests can use all around the Disneyland Resort, allowing guests to see and feel park experiences in a new way. Besides being used to enter the park and Lightning Lanes, the rechargeable and waterproof band has color-changing LED lights, haptic vibrations and gesture recognition.
During nighttime spectaculars, the band pulses with colorful lights and vibrations. Guests can get PhotoPass photos with the tap of a wrist. When MagicBand+ is paired with a smartphone through the Disneyland app, it allows for personalized options, including light colors and being able to adjust vibration and motion recognition.
In Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, use it to find virtual bounties when you play with the interactive Star Wars: Batuu Bounty Hunters quest. Pair it with the thermal viewer in the Play Disney Parks app. Enjoy surprising magical touches during certain entertainment in Avengers Campus.
Disneyland Resort Hotel Benefits — returned August 2022 — Several benefits for hotel guests have returned to the Disneyland Resort! On top of "Hey Disney," hotel guests are able to send packages back to their hotels. And — drumroll, please — early entry to the parks has returned, too!
Sweethearts' Nite at Disneyland — Feb 1, 3, 8, 10 and 14, 2022 — The popular Sweehearts' Nite made Disneyland the most romantic place on Earth for five unfrogettable nights. Disney fans and their sweeties had a date night at Disneyland.
Here's what was included:
- A special themed fireworks show
- Projection effects on Sleeping Beauty Castle and Main Street, U.S.A.
- A jazz ensemble aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat
- Live entertainment, including a Royal Ball and a dance party with a DJ
- Rarely-seen Disney couples together in the park
- Fun photo opportunities featuring romantic scenes from iconic Disney films
- Lovely décor
- Food and beverage offerings for sale around the park
- Unlimited PhotoPass downloads
- Early admission to Disneyland park, starting at 5 p.m., with no theme park reservation required
Celebrate Soulfully — select days in February 2022 and again in June for Black Music Month — Disneyland celebrated Black History Month with musical acts and more. Celebrate Gospel! — which used to take place at Stage 17 at Disney California Adventure — moved to Fantasyland Theater at Disneyland Park to celebrate the soulful spirit of Gospel music for two Saturdays in 2022. On Feb. 19, 2022, award-winning Gospel singer, Kierra Sheard performed with a capella Gospel group Sacred Groove. On Feb. 26, the Grammy award-winners Jonathan McReynolds and Mali Music, along with The Singers of Soul, took the stage. Community Choirs performed on both days, as well.
Guests did crafts, ate snacks from Troubadour Tavern and shared thoughts on the gratitude wall.
The celebration extended outside the theme park. At Downtown Disney, we enjoyed music, including R&B, Gospel, reggae, funk and jazz, at nightly outdoor concerts throughout February. Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen offered live jazz piano music nightly.
Special merchandise was available at Pele Soccer, Lovepop, WonderGround Gallery and the Post 21 cart. We admired art displays from emerging Black artists who have been inspired by Disney and Pixar's "Soul," "The Lion King," "The Princess and the Frog" and "The Proud Family." Chalk muralist Marcella Swett created a new chalk mural each week. Hue Unlimited collaborated with Pixar for a collection of wearable art.
At Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, there was live jazz in the lobby in the evenings, along with a special menu of wine, beers and spirits from Black-owned businesses at the Hearthstone Lounge.
At Downtown Disney in June, the art exhibit, “The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure” was found adjacent to the Star Wars Trading Post. We also enjoyed nightly music and a DJ on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
"We Don't Talk About Bruno" Overlay — debuted April 11, 2022 — Watch as the exterior of "it's a small world" transforms several times a night with projection effects inspired by the iconic "Encanto" song none of us can talk about, but we all definitely sing along to ;) During the day, guests can also visit Mirabel in Frontierland.
Disneyland Forever — returned April 22, 2022, through Sept. 1, 2022 — One of our all-time favorite fireworks shows returned in 2022. Disneyland Forever was a game-changer for all future Disneyland fireworks shows when it debuted for Disneyland's 60th Diamond Celebration in 2015. Its projections, special effects and nostalgic music bring a flurry of emotions and a tear to Mommy Frog's eye every time she sees it. Upon its return, Disneyland Forever ran for a limited time on the weekends, with Mickey's Mix Magic running during the week.
The Main Street Electrical Parade — returned April 22, 2022, through Sept. 1, 2022 — This oldie but goodie parade returned to Disneyland Park for a limited time to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Even better? This classic was reimagined with an all-new grand finale, featuring stylized scenes from "Encanto," "The Jungle Book," "Raya and the Last Dragon," "Coco" and more!
Hyperspace Mountain — returned April 29, 2022, to July 5, 2022 — Space Mountain closed April 28 and reopened as Hyperspace Mountain the next day through July. I love this exciting overlay that has returned from time to time for May the Fourth and Star Wars Nite. Woohoo!
Disneyland After Dark: Star Wars Nite — May 3, 4 and 27, 2022 — This Disneyland After Dark event invited members of the dark side and the light side to come together once Disneyland Park closed for the night. For the event, there was a battle in the skies above Disneyland with a special "Star Wars"–themed fireworks spectacular! "Star Wars" fans also enjoyed galactic dance parties, character encounters, themed decor, event merchandise and inspired food and beverage. We grabbed our lightsabers and posed for "Star Wars"–themed photo opportunities.
Tomorrowland Skyline Lounge Experience — returned May 20, 2022 — The Tomorrowland Skyline Lounge Experience is back. For $60 (plus gratuity) you have a place to chill for the evening on the balcony over Star Wars Launch Bay. You can watch fireworks from this location, so you'll want to reserve a night with fireworks! No refunds are given if the fireworks get canceled though. You can stay for the evening or come and go as you like.
The experience includes:
- Delectable dessert selection
- Unlimited soft drinks, bottled water or hot chocolate
- A place to use throughout the evening. You can come and go or stay put.
"Fantasmic!" — returned May 28, 2022 — Disney's longest-running (turning 30 years this year!) nighttime spectacular returned. The waters of the Rivers of America spring to life as Mickey Mouse uses his imagination to create images on fountains inspired by Disney classic films such as “Fantasia,” “The Jungle Book,” “The Little Mermaid” and more. Many live characters sail by on rafts and boats. The theme song is now embedded in our heads in anticipation of its return. Hop over to our Fantasmic! post for updates and tips.
Tale of the Lion King — returned May 28, 2022 — The popular storytelling performance returned, but this time to a new location. Previously, the show took place in the bright sunshine at Paradise Gardens Park. We are toadally excited that it found a new home in the covered Fantasyland Theater (with seating) in Disneyland Park. Rejoice in the telling of "The Lion King" by Storytellers of the Pride Lands. This troupe of traveling performers presents Simba’s journey in a unique story-theater style with live music, dialogue, dance and percussion. We are feeling the love tonight! Special food and beverage are available at Troubadour Tavern.
Disneyland Tours — returned October 2022 — Hip, hop, hooray! Disneyland tours have resumed. A new tour is offered, called Walt's Main Street Story. Learn about Walt's home in Marceline, Mo., and how it inspired the nostalgic hometown feel of Main Street, U.S.A.
The tour takes you into Walt's apartment above the fire station, where a lamp remains lit in the window to honor Walt's spirit. We went on this tour with some froggy friends and there was not a dry eye in the place. This tour accesses some areas never seen on previous tours. At holiday time, look for the return of holiday tours.
Grogu and the Mandalorian arrive in Galaxy's Edge — debuted Nov. 18, 2022 — Guests can cross paths with the iconic bounty hunter himself, as well as the Child.
Eudora’s Chic Boutique Featuring Tiana’s Gourmet Secrets — opened Sept. 20, 2022 — A new retail store opened in New Orleans Square. Tiana collaborated with her dressmaker mother, Eudora, to open a shop, selling accessories to create and serve masterful Orleans-style cuisine and more. It's located near Blue Bayou.
Disney California Adventure Park
Disneyland After Dark: Villains Nite — March 8 and 10, 2022 — This Disneyland After Dark Party at Disney California Adventure was dark indeed, with a villain theme! This party had a Villains Cabaret with a cast of outlaws who sang and danced their way through a revue. Guests were spellbound by DJ-hosted dance parties and enjoyed character greetings with nefarious Disney fiends, fun photo-ops and themed food, drink, decor and merchandise.
World of Color — returned April 22, 2022 — This spectacular nighttime water show returned this spring! The world is a carousel of color, and we can once again get swept away by the magical combination of music, fountains, fire, fog, lasers and projections from Disney and Pixar films. Our Disneyland World of Color post has all the details.
Celebrate Soulfully — June 1 through July 4, 2022 — Disney offered daily live entertainment and specialty food offerings, art and more. At Disney California Adventure park, daily live music celebrates Black music genres from Doo-Wop to Motown. In the evening, the Hollywood Backlot hosted a special block party, featuring nightly live musical acts.
Disneyland After Dark: Grad Nite Reunion — June 23, 28 and 30, 2022 — An all-new Disneyland After Dark party kicked off in June at Disney California Adventure. The party, which spans six decades of music and fun, included:
- Sightings of beloved Disney characters throughout the evening with a few proudly wearing their cap and gown
- A march-along pep-rally style with some favorite Disney friends
- Dance through the decades to hits of today and yesterday
- Retro photo opportunities (with unlimited PhotoPass downloads
- Unique, cafeteria-inspired food and beverage offerings
- Special after-hours access to most of the park’s attractions
The Incredible Hulk Greetings — debuted Sept. 21, 2022 — More green came to Avengers Campus as the Hulk interacted with guests!
Downtown Disney Expansion — began in January 2022 — A multi-year project to expand this shopping, dining and entertainment space began in early 2022. The businesses west of the Monorail track (from Starbucks to Earl of Sandwich) closed and construction went underway and will continue through 2023. There's still much more to come!
Universal Studios Hollywood
"Nope" Set Coming to the Studio Tour — opened July 22, 2022 — For the first time ever, a movie set opened on the World-Famous Studio Tour to coincide with its theatrical release date! Guests encounter the original Jupiter’s Claim set from Jordan Peele’s expansive new horror epic, "Nope." The set is a permanent attraction on the tour.
What Opened at Other Southern California Theme Parks (and Zoos) in 2022
SeaWorld San Diego
Emperor — opened March 12, 2022 — Our happy feet are swinging with frogcitement for this new floorless, penguin-themed dive coaster, which opened just in time for spring break in 2022. With speeds over 60 mph and a steep plunge over 150 feet (and over 90 degrees), Emperor is now the tallest and fastest dive coaster in California. That makes sense to me, as the emperor penguin is the tallest of all of the penguins.
Sesame Place San Diego — opened March 26, 2022 — Sunny days ... An all-new theme park opened in Chula Vista in spring 2022! Join Sesame Street characters such as Elmo, Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby and others for rides, slides, shows and more. Sesame Place features seven themed dry rides, an interactive musical play area, and 11 water attractions, including a 500,000-gallon wave pool! Guests can expect an award-winning parade, photo-ops, special events and an interactive Sesame Street neighborhood. We can tell you how to get to Sesame Street! For our friends with autism spectrum disorder, Sesame Place San Diego opened as a Certified Autism Center (CAC).
San Diego Zoo
Wildlife Explorers Basecamp — opened March 11, 2022 — Your tadpoles can climb, scramble, and explore this new area, which replaces the former children's zoo. Bring a swimsuit for water play! It's a place where kids of all ages can learn about nature, play alongside animals, encounter new species and ultimately develop empathy for wildlife. The whole family can discover wildlife in four unique habitats: Rainforest, Desert Dunes, Marsh Meadows and Wild Woods. There are indoor and outdoor exhibits. The tadpoles enjoyed meeting the amazing species at the Spineless Marvels insect and spider habitats and at Jake’s Cool Critters — a place for reptiles, amphibians and more.
Six Flags Magic Mountain
WONDER WOMAN Flight of Courage — opened July 16, 2022 — Six Flags introduced its 20th coaster, and it's a record-breaker. The new thrill ride is the tallest and longest single-rail coaster on the planet! The new coaster reaches 58 mph after climbing a 131-foot-tall lift hill and descending an 87-degree first drop. The ride’s four 12-passenger trains travel over a 3,300-foot-long track featuring three inversions — a raven dive, zero-gravity roll and 180-degree stall. It has a Greek-inspired entrance and queue area.
I hope you've enjoyed this overview of what opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2022. Don't froget that you can see what's coming to the parks in 2023 and beyond!
Related: How to Plan for a Disneyland Trip in 2023