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What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023

by Tad on December 27, 2023
Los Angeles

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'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 2023. 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 2023 - MagicBand+ Debuts

What Opened at Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023

Many events and entertainment offerings hoppened or returned in 2023!

Disneyland Resort

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - Pixar Place Hotel room

Paradise Pier Hotel Retheming — Jan. 30, 2024 — While Disney's Pixar Place Hotel doesn't officially debut until Jan. 30, 2024, the hotel remained open under construction so we saw some changes to Paradise Pier Hotel pop up throughout 2023.

WWhat Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - Finding Nemo Splashpad

The hotel has a new "Finding Nemo" splash pad for the tadpoles and fun, themed fire pits that opened in late summer 2023. The fire comes out of the hot-headed characters' heads such as Jack-Jack and Anger!

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - Pixar Place fire pits

The new and expanded fitness center opened, offering treadmills, free weights and more for hotel guests. Go for a run next to a mural of Mike and Sulley running on a treadmill.

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - Pixar Place fitness center

Guests can enjoy a dedicated walkway straight into Disney California Adventure Park. It's located across the street, to the right of Disney's Grand Californian Hotel. You need a room key to access it.

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - Pixar Pier Hotel Great Maple

Great Maple — opened Nov. 15, 2023 — Local favorite Great Maple (known for fried chicken and maple bacon doughnuts) opened a flagship restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner on the first floor of the Pixar Place Hotel. It will also operate more food and beverage locations throughout the hotel, which are open a few weeks after Great Maple. Look for a new grab-and-go coffee shop in the lobby called Sketch Pad Café. Small Bytes debuts at the rooftop pool bar. The all-new menu serves up salads, wraps, assorted cheese plates and signature beverages.

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - DVC Villas

Disney Vacation Club Villas location — Sept. 28, 2023 — If you are a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) member, then you will be hoppy to hear that Disneyland opened a new DVC tower adjacent to the Disneyland Hotel. The Villas at Disneyland Hotel blend timeless Walt Disney Animation Studios classics with contemporary designs. This is the fourth tower at the Disneyland Hotel. It includes a restaurant, deck area, Mickey pool and pool restrooms. The DVC tower project area is located between South Walnut Street and the Disneyland Hotel’s Frontier Tower and swimming pool.

The Villas at Disneyland Hotel has 344 whimsically themed rooms including:

  • Duo studios
  • Deluxe studios
  • One and two-bedroom villas
  • Grand villas

The Villas opened Sept. 28, 2023. You do not need to be a DVC member to stay here. Did you know you can book the Villas at Disneyland Hotel at a discount through Undercover Tourist? Ribbit! Villas guests can also use the Disneyland Hotel pools.

Each villa includes modern amenities with Disney magic sprinkled throughout. Themes include Walt Disney Animation Studios films such as "The Jungle Book," "Sleeping Beauty," "The Princess and the Frog," "Fantasia" and more. The lobby features a one-of-a-kind mural created by Disney Animation artist Lorelay Bové. She has worked on classics from "The Princess and the Frog" to "Encanto." Villas are limited in availability, and restrictions apply.

Disneyland Park

Wondrous Journeys Fireworks Show — Jan. 27, 2023 — As part of the Disney 100 Years of Wonder celebration, this new fireworks show features all 60 Walt Disney Animation Studios films to date. The show is filled with artistry, music, storytelling and heart. Projections turn Main Street, U.S.A., Sleeping Beauty Castle, the façade of “it’s a small world” and the Rivers of America into an artist’s canvas as fireworks fill the sky. “Wondrous Journeys” has a new song called, “It’s Wondrous.”

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - After Dark Castle Shot

Sweethearts' Nite at Disneyland — Jan. 31, Feb. 2, 5, 7, 9, 14 and 16, 2023 —  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.

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - Chalk art in Downtown Disney

Celebrate Soulfully — February 2023 — and again in June for Black Music Month — Disneyland celebrated Black History Month with both local and popular musical acts, as well as other activities. 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 2023.

On both Saturdays, community choirs from across SoCal will join in between performances. You can catch more music in Downtown Disney and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa's lobby. At Downtown Disney, we enjoyed music, including R&B, Gospel, reggae, funk and jazz, at nightly outdoor concerts throughout February. At Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, there was live music in the lobby in the evenings, along with a special menu of wine, beers and spirits from Black-owned businesses at the Hearthstone Lounge.

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway

Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway — opened Jan. 27. 2023 — All aboard! Woot, woot! This new ride rolling into Mickey's Toontown is the first major Mickey-themed ride at Disneyland.

The ride features an original story (and catchy theme song) where Mickey and Minnie are premiering their newest short, “Perfect Picnic,” at the El CapiTOON Theatre. Before you enter the theatre, you'll explore the special exhibit featuring props and costumes from the toon world. Then, you’ll step from the human world straight into the unpredictable cartoon world of Mickey and Minnie, and board a trackless train with Goofy as the engineer.

What could possibly go wrong in this magical, out-of-control ride with surprising twists and turns? Hold onto your ears, because it's a multi-dimensional cartoon world, so anything can happen! The ride has state-of-the-art technology and dazzling visual effects to immerse you into Mickey's and Minnie's zany animated world. This ride opened for the 100th-anniversary celebration ahead of the rest of Toontown.

Magic Happens Parade Returned — Feb. 24, 2023, through Oct. 15, 2023 — The magical parade that ran for just two weeks in 2020 returned! Hop over to our Magic Happens post to find out all the details.

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - toontown opening

Reimagined Toontown — opened March 19, 2023 — Toontown got a fresh makeover in honor of the new ride featuring grassy play spaces perfect for tadpoles to get the wiggles out. One of the new areas in Toontown is CenTOONial Park, showcasing a fountain designed for play, including water tables. The fountain is brought to life at night, as well. Nearby, a dreaming tree provides opportunities to play, crawl and explore.

Roger Rabbit's CarToon Spin, Mickey's House and Minnie's House remain. Gadget's Go Coaster, Goofy's House and Donald's Boat, however, have been reimagined. Don't worry! Donald's Boat and Goofy's House are still there, but with all-new sensory experiences and Gadget's Go Coaster returns with new and exciting changes.

Roger Rabbit's CarToon Spin does get a new plot twist. Jessica Rabbit gets a lead role in a new update for this ride based on the 1988 movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." This more relevant version has Jessica Rabbit as a private eye working to fight a Toontown crime wave run by none other than the Toon Patrol Weasels.

Disney Vacation Club Star View Station Lounge — April 19, 2023 — A new DVC member lounge opened in Tomorrowland at Disneyland. This new lounge takes over the second floor of the Star Wars Launch Bay building. It has DVC member services, complimentary Wi-Fi, charging stations and complimentary soft drinks.

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - throwback nite fireworks

Disneyland After Dark: Throwback NiteApril 18 & 20, 2023 — All the cool cats (and frogs) enjoyed this magical event in 2023. Only the second year it had occurred at the park, Throwback Nite transported guests to the debonair days of the 1950s and 1960s. With retro-inspired entertainment, attractions, dining and decor reminiscent of the park's early days, this event took guests on a trip down memory lane. There was even a special firework spectacular, paying homage to the first fireworks show ever held in the park in 1957, "Fantasy in the Sky."

Disneyland After Dark: Star Wars Nite — May 2, 4, 8 & 11, 2023 — 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 beverages. We grabbed our lightsabers and posed for "Star Wars"–themed photo opportunities.

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - pride nite

Disneyland After Dark: Pride Nite — June 13 and 15, 2023 — The first ever LGBTQIA-themed After Dark party took place in June 2023. At this separately ticketed after-hours event, guests enjoyed unique, themed experiences, exclusive photo opportunities, event merchandise and much more! Hop over to our Pride Nite post for more details, as it will return in 2024!

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - Women at Cafe Orleans

New Beverages and Foods at Table-Service Restaurants — Sept. 12, 2023 — Three Disneyland Park restaurants added drinks with alcohol (as well as some new nonalcoholic options) to their menus in conjunction with new seasonal foods, as of September. River Belle Terrace, Carnation Café and Café Orleans all began serving beer, wine and specialty cocktails. At that time, River Belle Terrace began serving brunch.

Heartbeat of New Orleans Projection Show — Sept. 29, 2023, through spring 2024 — A new nighttime projection show debuted on Rivers of America while "Fantasmic" continued its refurbishment. Watch as a bayou frog hears the call of jazz music in the distance.

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - Tiana's Place art

Tiana's Palace — Sept. 7, 2023 — The French Market Restaurant in New Orleans Square at Disneyland was reimagined into Tiana’s Palace! The French Market Restaurant and Mint Julep Bar closed for refurbishment Feb. 17, 2023, and the restaurant reopened as Tiana's Palace on Sept. 7, 2023. Don't worry — Mint Julep Bar has returned for those delicious Mickey-shaped beignets and Mint Juleps.

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - tiana's palace

Tiana's Palace remains a quick-service dining location. The menu expands on current favorites served at French Market, includes seasonal flavors and adds some New Orleans classics. We can expect a new look, with peach-colored walls, fancy green wrought-iron balconies and elegant fixtures that reflect Tiana’s life and friendships. Tiana’s Palace has much of the same pizzazz as the restaurant in the film.

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - Adventureland Treehouse

Adventureland Treehouse inspired by Walt Disney's "Swiss Family Robinson" — Nov. 10, 2023 — Ever since Tarzan's Treehouse closed in 2021, fans have been speculating about what version of the treehouse would be coming to Adventureland. Well, the tree went back to its roots, so to speak.

The Adventureland Treehouse is inspired by the original Walt Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson tree house, built in 1962 for the hit movie, “Swiss Family Robinson.” The new Adventureland Treehouse returned in a fresh, new way with a new storyline. As you may have guessed, there is a new Swiss Family Robinson television show in the works for Disney+. The Adventureland Treehouse showcases wonderous new environments nestled amongst the branches of a giant tree on the shores of the Jungle River. Guests can once again enter near the giant waterwheel, climbing the wood rope stairways up into the boughs.

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - treehouse concept art

The tree has rooms that the family in the new story created. Visit the mother’s music den or the young sons’ nature room, or the teenage daughter’s astronomer’s loft. The father’s studio reflects the family’s affinity for exploring the unknown and designing the unimaginable. The treehouse is built with discovered objects, natural resources and pure imagination. The home’s iconic waterwheel is powered by a small brook that babbles nearby. The family created a pulley system to deliver water from the stream up into the tree, generating the energy needed to activate many of their gadgets and inventions.

For those who like to keep their feet or wheels on the ground, they can explore the bottom floor kitchen and dining room, along with the father’s art studio. They won't miss out on seeing the other rooms, though. The father displays hand-drawn sketches and paintings of each of the rooms.

Disney California Adventure Park

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - world of color one

World of Color – One — Jan. 27, 2023 (ending for Holiday Time and returning mid-January 2024) — As part of the Disney 100 Years of Wonder celebration, a new World of Color show debuted. This nighttime spectacular celebrates 100 years of storytelling that Walt Disney began. The story shows how a single action, such as a drop of water, creates a ripple that can grow into a wave of change. The show features new and classic courageous, loving and inspiring characters as well as a new original song, "Start a Wave."

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - baymax

San Fransokyo Square — Aug. 31, 2023 — Pacific Wharf is now San Fransokyo Square from "Big Hero 6!" You can meet Hiro and Baymax, your personal healthcare companion, of course. (His hugs are as great your you've imagined!) The area has eateries and shopping. The good news is that the food options we love so much are staying and there are amazing new additions! The food court serves as a base for the Lunar New Year festival that takes place annually from late January to mid-February.

The Pacific Wharf renovation turned the Monterey Bay fishing port–inspired land into a cross between the San Francisco Bay and Tokyo Bay areas. The “Big Hero 6” fictional city of San Fransokyo is a visual East meets West mash-up of both cities featuring Japanese and American architecture.

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - rogers the musical

Rogers: The Musical — June 30, 2023 through Aug. 31, 2023 — This one-act, 30-minute musical came to The Hyperion for a limited time in the summer.

Downtown Disney

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. Construction is currently underway, and with the ongoing Parkside Market expansion in development, will continue through to 2024. There's still much more to come! In 2023, a new lawn area for live music and entertainment opened.

Universal Studios Hollywood

Super Nintendo World and Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge ride — opened Feb. 17, 2023 — 'Sup gamers? Universal Studios Hollywood introduced an expansive and immersive Nintendo-themed area to the park in early 2023. Guests can enter this colorful and interactive new land via a Warp Pipe.

The land features a new ride, Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge, located inside Bowser's Castle. Guests are immersed in a large, interactive moving track ride that brings together augmented reality (assistance from head-mounted goggles) with projection mapping technology and set pieces.

The ride is inspired by the video game, and you've never experienced anything like it. Riders climb aboard four-person, stadium-style Mario Kart vehicles from the dungeons of Bowser's Castle. Then, it's time to put on the goggles and wait for the 3-2-1-Go! signal from Lakitu. In the quest to win the Golden Cup, riders steer through courses in the clouds and even underwater. The ride has a variety of outcomes, which means riders will want to go again and again! The ride appeals to guests of all ages, even those with little gaming experience.

What

The new land also includes dining and shopping at Toadstool Cafe (thanks, Chef Toad!) and the 1-UP Factory. Visitors can expect colorful animatronic scenery with spinning gold coins, boxes with question marks and more. To begin the countdown, Universal reimagined the Feature Presentation store into Super Nintendo World theming. Mario and Luigi apparel and iconic character hats, along with plush characters (including Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and Bowser) and more, are available for purchase. You can also find Super Nintendo World merchandise in the Universal Studio Store.

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - Power-Up Band

Throughout the new land, guests can use wearable Power-Up Bands that work with the Universal Studios Hollywood app to level up the experience and enhance interactive elements, such as collecting digital coins by punching blocks. Power-Up Bands come in six design options with character themes and are available for purchase in Super Nintendo World and Nintendo-themed shops at Universal Studios Hollywood and CityWalk.

Universal CityWalk

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - exterior

The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen — opened Jan. 27, 2023 — A Universal Orlando CityWalk family favorite is here on the West Coast! The menu offers all-day brunch (yes, please!), lunch and dinner items, but the creative milkshakes and decadent desserts are what really get my attention. The steampunk-decorated restaurant is located in the former Hard Rock Cafe location, near the Universal Cinema. Toothsome joins other recently opened restaurants at Universal Studios Hollywood CityWalk, including Antojitos Cocina Mexicana, VIVO Italian Kitchen, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and Voodoo Doughnut.

What Opened at Other Southern California Theme Parks in 2023

SeaWorld San Diego

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - Arctic rescue art

Arctic Rescue — Opened June 2, 2023 — It's time to hop on the fastest and longest straddle coaster on the West Coast! Arctic Rescue is a family-friendly thrill ride that reaches speeds up to 40 mph and has three launches and over 2,800 feet of track.

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - Rescue Jr.

Rescue Jr. — Opened May 27, 2023 — SeaWorld San Diego re-vamped this water-focused play area in the middle of the park. Bring those swimsuits to cool off in the splash pad, and look at real rescue vehicles. There are still kid-friendly rides, a climbing structure and more, but now you can also meet real rescued animals during daily presentations. Learn about rescued animals, including marsupials, primates and reptiles.

Knott's Berry Farm

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - Food and alebrije statue

All-new Reimagined Fiesta Village — Opened in May 2023 — Fiesta Village comes alive in celebration of culture. Inspired by Hispanic influence in SoCal, Fiesta Village will have new experiences, entertainment, dining, shopping and thrills. Part of that is the reimagining of Montezooma's Revenge (coming in 2024).

What Opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 - Show in Fiesta Village

Visit Fiesta Mercado, which is inspired by Olvera Street in Los Angeles, to discover a variety of merchants with unique and authentic items, surrounded by colorful alebrijes and landscaping. Bite into made-to-order burritos and tacos at the new full-service Casa California restaurant, or enjoy a cold cerveza or specialty cocktails at the new adjacent Cantina Del Sur. Take in more live entertainment at the transformed open-air Fiesta Stage.

I hope you've enjoyed this overview of what opened at Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023. Don't froget that you can see what's coming to the parks in 2024 and beyond!

Related: Best Times to Visit Disneyland in 2024 and 2025

Stay cool!

Keep hopping, Tad!
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