'Sup! Welcome to Tad's toadally awesome list of what's coming to Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort and the other parks in 2021 and beyond! As the Frog Family’s resident thrill-seeker, tech junkie and head frog videographer — thank you very much — I live to keep tabs on all of the attractions and experiences heading to the Orlando theme parks, and I've been doing it for a few years. After an unusual year for theme parks, with temporary closures due to COVID-19, some openings and projects were delayed or postponed indefinitely. But there are a lot of exciting things to look forward to in 2021 and beyond!
In Disney news, during the annual IAAPA Expo, Disney Parks, Experience and Products Chairman Josh D'Amaro confirmed that a number of attractions were progressing, including Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind and the Star Wars hotel! And guess what? Harmonious AND Remy's Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT will debut Oct. 1, 2021, on Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary. Très bon! Also, later this year, the new Cirque du Soleil show, "Drawn to Life," will premiere Nov. 18, 2021, at Disney Springs.
After months of churro stand jokes and witty tweets to build the hype, Universal Orlando's Jurassic World VelociCoaster finally roared to life! The new coaster debuted June 10 after much anticipation, and it didn't disappoint. VelociCoaster packs in a lot of thrills, including its prominent top hat feature and barrel roll above the lagoon ... you're being chased after velociraptors, after all.
If you're curious about all of the Universal Orlando and Disney World construction around the parks, you're at the right place. Be sure to bookmark this page because I add to it as new rides, shows and other hoppenings are announced! (Hop here to see what opened in 2020 and previous years.)
What's Coming to Disney World and Universal Orlando in 2021 and Beyond
Harmonious — Oct. 1, 2021 — After EPCOT Forever's limited run, the new main lagoon show is listed as "a worldwide celebration of Disney music" with highlights from the show featuring "Moana," "Brave," "Pocahontas," "Hercules" and many others. We're excited to hear our favorite Disney songs reimagined in more than a dozen different languages by a diverse group of artists. It's promised to be "the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park." The all-new show will feature massive, floating set pieces, LED panels, moving fountains, lights, lasers, pyrotechnics and more.
Remy's Ratatouille Adventure — Oct. 1, 2021 — The France pavilion will be receiving an imported favorite. Similar to the popular 4-D ride Ratatouille: The Adventure that opened at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, guests will shrink to Remy's size and scurry to safety within Gusteau's legendary Parisian restaurant. It was due to open in summer 2020, but the opening was delayed, and will now debut just in time for Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary.
La Crêperie de Paris — Oct. 1, 2021 — As part of the expansion in the France pavilion, a brand-new crêperie will serve savory and sweet crepes, along with table-service and quick-service dining options, featuring a menu from celebrity chef Jerome Bocuse. It will open alongside Remy's Ratatouille Adventure.
Reimagined main entrance — in progress — EPCOT's main plaza will include new pathways, green spaces and a reimagined fountain (which is now complete!). The Leave A Legacy photos have moved just outside the park's gateway in a new, multi-colored display. There will be additional redevelopment to the area between Spaceship Earth and World Showcase Promenade.
Spaceship Earth Lighting — now hoppening — It was also revealed at D23 that Spaceship Earth's exterior (aka, the big golf ball) would receive a special, custom lighting package that connects to its surroundings (including the new entrance fountain, which also features special lighting effects) and offers a unique nighttime experience for park guests. The lighting package, new pavilion flags and EPCOT's new entrance fountain are all available now.
Creations Shop — Sept. 15, 2021 — Say goodbye to MouseGear ... Creations Shop will take over as the park's flagship merchandise location this summer. It will feature a bold, sleek design that creates an open and bright environment with glass walls and large murals of Mickey Mouse himself.
Club Cool Hosted by Coca-Cola — Sept. 15, 2021 — They can't get rid of the Beverly that easily! A revamped Club Cool location will open right next to Creations Shop. The fan-favorite experience of tasting drinks from all over the world will return, and it'll also offer some new magic to celebrate the global experience of Coca-Cola.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind — date TBD —
Planned to be one of the world's longest enclosed roller coasters, the ride will feature a unique story currently being created by Walt Disney Imagineering and will include a new, innovative ride system that’s guaranteed to wow guests. The experience begins in the "Galaxarium," a planetarium-like exhibition that highlights the formation of Earth's galaxy and Xandar. But then the Guardians of the Galaxy arrive, and you're whisked away on an adventure across the cosmos. The D23 Expo revealed that it will be a storytelling coaster that rotates 360 degrees so you can focus on the action and will include the first reverse launch on a Disney coaster. Guardians was originally supposed to blast off in 2021, but that date has not been reconfirmed.
Space 220 — Sept. 20, 2021 — Guests will have the opportunity to dine in the stars in a space station-themed table-service restaurant located next to Mission: SPACE. You'll hop in a special elevator that makes you feel like you're traveling to the space station in real time. Once inside, the restaurant will have panoramic daytime and nighttime views of Earth from 220 miles up. It will feature international cuisine, more than 1,000 bottles of wine and a wide selection of craft beer. Space 220 was originally slated for a 2020 debut, but was postponed and is scheduled to open sometime in mid-September.
Journey of Water, Inspired by “Moana” — date TBD — This brand-new walkthrough attraction will "let guests interact with magical, living water in a beautiful and inspiring setting," and you'll get to learn about the importance of the natural water cycle.
PLAY! pavilion — date TBD — Originally slated to open in time for Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary, this new pavilion in the former Wonders of Life location will showcase first-of-its-kind experiences devoted to play and fun, including an interactive city where guests will be able to interact with characters. Help Edna Mode on a fashionable quest to rid the world of uninspired style, or compete in a water-balloon fight with Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby.
"Wondrous China" film — date TBD — This World Showcase pavilion will receive a new film that is presented in a seamless 360-degree format.
Special events pavilion — date TBD — A new pavilion will provide a home base for the park's annual festivals and live events. The three-level structure will provide stunning views of the park from a plaza level, a middle expo level and a sky level.
Dreamers Point — date TBD — Near the exit of Spaceship Earth, a new statue that celebrates the legacy of Walt Disney will be placed alongside natural environments. It will include a wishing tree and a story fountain that plays iconic music from Disney storytelling.
Mary Poppins attraction — postponed — At this time, development for this attraction has been postponed indefinitely. The United Kingdom pavilion was set to host the first attraction inspired by Mary Poppins. Stroll along Cherry Tree Lane, past Admiral Boom's house, and enter Number 17, the Banks family's home.
Magic Kingdom Park
Disney Enchantment — Oct. 1, 2021 — As part of Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary celebration, Disney Enchantment, a brand-new nighttime spectacular will premiere at Magic Kingdom. Inspiring everyone to believe in magic, the show will feature fireworks, enhanced lighting and new project effects that extend to Main Street, U.S.A.
TRON Lightcycle Run — date TBD — Imported from Shanghai Disneyland, Tron Lightcycle Run will be a coaster-style attraction where riders board a train of two-wheeled Lightcycles. The ride pushes you into the energy, lights and excitement of TRON’s high-tech universe.
Jungle Cruise reimagination — summer 2021 — New adventures are coming to this classic Disney ride. For years, Jungle Cruise skippers have cracked punny jokes, but now the storyline will follow a skipper's journey that takes an unexpected turn. Disneyland's version has completed a similar update. At Magic Kingdom, the refurbishment is taking place while the ride is in operation. All of the changes are expected to be completed by the end of summer 2021.
Splash Mountain retheming — date TBD — Splash Mountain will be getting a total makeover in the coming years. Inspired by "The Princess and the Frog," the popular log flume ride's new storyline will pick up after the final kiss, and follow Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure. The current version is still open, and a specific timeline has yet to be announced.
Disney KiteTails — Oct. 1, 2021 — To celebrate the 50th anniversary, a new daytime show will debut at the Discovery River Amphitheater. Performers will fly windcatchers and kites of all shapes and sizes, while larger three-dimensional kites, depicting Disney animal friends (including Simba, Zazu, Baloo and King Louie), will soar through the sky above the water to the beat of Disney songs.
Disney's Polynesian Village Resort retheming — now open — This deluxe resort is undergoing a major refurbishment project. The guest rooms have received a new look inspired by "Moana." As of Sept. 5, a new monorail station has opened.
Walt Disney World Swan Reserve — Sept. 2021 — As an expansion of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts, the Walt Disney World Swan Reserve is now taking reservations, starting in September. The third hotel will add 349 new guest rooms, including 149 suites, a signature Mediterranean restaurant, a health club and its own pool.
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser — spring 2022 — Debuting as part of the new Disney 360 vacation concept, this hotel is being billed as a living adventure that allows guests to immerse themselves in an entirely new form of Disney storytelling. Guests will check in for a two-night adventure aboard a starship, The Halcyon. You’ll become a citizen of the galaxy and experience all that entails, including dressing up in the proper attire. Once you leave Earth, you will discover a starship alive with characters, stories and adventures that unfold all around you. It is 100 percent immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day. It will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits. This new resort will be located near Hollywood Studios, so there will be easy access to Galaxy's Edge! It will debut in spring 2022.
Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge — date TBD — Disney's 16th Disney Vacation Club property is in the works at the former site of River Country water park. Originally slated to open in 2022, the nature-themed deluxe hotel will be located between Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. The project has likely been postponed.
Drawn to Life presented by Cirque du Soleil & Disney — Nov. 18, 2021 — The show must go on! Originally scheduled to debut in 2020, Drawn to Life will premiere Nov. 18. The show is a collaboration between Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering. It tells the story of a love between a father and a daughter and brings timeless Disney stories and characters to life through design, acrobatics, musical scores and brand-new animation.
Salt & Straw — 2022 — A new ice cream parlor will make its way to Disney Springs sometime in 2022. Salt & Straw is known for its unique flavors that make up its ever-changing menu.
M&M's Store — now open — A new M&M'S store brings a colorful, immersive shopping experience to the West Side of Disney Springs. Sign me up for a sweet supply of chocolate candies!
Everglazed Donuts & Cold Brew — now open — Hot, fresh doughnuts have arrived at Disney Springs! Drool. Located adjacent to Splitsville and near the west entrance and exit of the Orange Parking Garage, Everglazed offers up hand-crafted donuts, cold brew lattes and coffee cocktails.
Gideon's Bakehouse — now open — An Orlando native, award-winning bakery, Gideon's is known for its delectably crafted cookies. The cookies are small-batch, but HUGE in size! The nearly half-pound cookies take about 24 hours to create — but you can wash them down with one of Gideon's iced drinks, such as Peanut Butter Iced Coffee. The Bakehouse opened its doors in December 2020 for a soft opening, revealing a haunted library-esque vibe. It officially opened its doors Jan. 16.
Beatrix — date TBD — We're excited that this new restaurant coming to Disney Springs' West Side will feature healthy food options, including vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan menu items. Beatrix is your neighborhood restaurant, coffeehouse and grab-and-go market all rolled in one. It will also feature a bakery and full-service bar with beer, wine and fresh-squeezed juice cocktails.
Universal Orlando Resort
Jurassic World VelociCoaster — now open — On Jurassic World VelociCoaster, heretofore known as the Jurassic coaster, you'll feel the rush of the hunt as you race alongside raptors. We lucky frogs leapt at the opportunity for a Universal Orlando passholder preview in early May, but now the apex predator of roller coasters is open to all frogs! The queue itself is an experience — you can watch as the coaster zooms by and the raptors chase after it until they see you. Come face-to-face with a restrained raptor as it rattles in its cage. Everything must go into a locker, which can be found halfway through the queue, as there are metal detectors.
The roller coaster itself is AMAAA-ZING. The two launches are no joke — the ride is very fast (it reaches up to 70 mph) and intense. We were surprised by the airtime given by lots of surprising twists and turns. Our favorite moments were the top hat launch, the zero-g stall (the ride vehicle is inverted for 100 feet) and the barrel roll finale. Frog tip: if you wear glasses, make sure they are super snug, or else they may end up in the lagoon below.
Jurassic World Tribute Store — now closed — To celebrate the opening of Jurassic World VelociCoaster, Universal opened a tribute store at Universal Studios Florida. The merchandise space regularly switches up its theming based on special events, and this summer, the rooms were themed as the Jurassic World VelociCoaster control room, a raptor paddock and a Jurassic Park lab. There was also a room filled with special treats, including a giant chocolate dinosaur egg! It closed to make way for the Halloween Horror Nights store.
Universal Studios Store — now open — Construction has been going on in CityWalk for the past several months, and now there's an all-new, much larger flagship Universal Studios Store next to Voodoo Doughnut. The former Universal Studios Store is now the Universal Legacy Store, with props and merchandise to celebrate movies and attractions of yesteryear.
Universal's Epic Universe — postponed until 2025 — Universal Orlando Resort announced that it's building a brand-new theme park called Universal's Epic Universe. Little is known about the themed lands, but Universal says it will be its most immersive and innovative theme park yet. In addition to the lands, it will feature an entertainment center, hotels, shops, restaurants and more. Located about 12 minutes away from its existing properties, Universal's Epic Universe will nearly double Universal's total available acreage! Check out the latest developments in our Universal's Epic Universe guide.
Due to COVID-19, further development had been postponed, but it's been confirmed that the restart is hoppening immediately, as Universal restaffs and resembles their teams. Construction should be up to full speed in several months, with an estimated completion date in 2025.
Super Nintendo World at Universal's Epic Universe — postponed until 2025 — Universal has partnered with Nintendo to bring to life experiences based on Nintendo's games, characters and worlds. It has been confirmed that Super Nintendo World will be one of the themed lands at Universal's Epic Universe. The very first Super Nintendo World (which will likely be similar to the future Orlando version) opened at Universal Studios Japan on March 18, 2021.
What's Coming to Other Florida Theme Parks in 2021 and Beyond
Altitude Burgers — now open — Take your tastebuds to new heights at this brand-new burger bar (formerly known as Mango Joe's).
Edy's Ice Cream Parlor — now open — We all scream for ice cream! The new ice cream parlor features mega-monster shakes, brownie sundaes and hand-dipped ice cream cones. You can also create your own sundae with your choice of over 13 signature flavors of Edy's Ice Cream.
Lakeside Grill — now open — Formerly the Spice Mill, Lakeside Grill offers a modern spin on Mediterranean cuisine, including grilled kabobs, falafel and hummus. Lakeside Mediterranean Nachos and the Lakeside Mediterranean Burger are also on the menu for those who don't want to stray too far from classic theme park fare. The restaurant's redesign features a 600-gallon aquarium that houses marine reef fish and live coral.
Ice Breaker — Feb. 2022 — SeaWorld's first multi-directional launched roller coaster is coming! It'll feature four launches — both forwards and backward — that will ultimately launch you into the steepest vertical drop in Florida at 100 degrees. Expect lots of twists, turns and airtime!
Giraffe Bar — now open — Located at Serengeti Overlook, this new bar will have panoramic views of Serengeti Plain to accompany cocktails, flights of local craft beers, wines and spirits. For snacks, the menu features vegetarian shareables, such as loaded hummus and oversized Bavarian soft pretzels.
Iron Gwazi — March 2022 — Gwazi is getting a makeover! The former wooden coaster that closed in 2015 is being converted into a hybrid steel-wooden coaster, manufactured by Rocky Mountain Construction. It will feature all-new thrills and restored elements from Gwazi. Standing at 210 feet tall, it will become North America's tallest and the world's fastest and steepest hybrid coaster. Iron Gwazi will also have three inversions, including a 180-degree stall that will keep riders upside down for a few seconds while moving forward.
Peppa Pig Theme Park — 2022 — Peppa Pig is coming to LEGOLAND Florida Resort! Based on the popular Nick Jr. TV show for tadpoles, the park will feature rides, live shows, character interactions, themed play areas and water-play areas with “muddy puddles." While it will operate as part of LEGOLAND, guests will enter through a separate gate. It's expected to open in 2022.
I hope you've enjoyed this look at what's coming to Disney World and Universal in 2021 and beyond. Make sure to come back to see what's been added as you get closer to your visit. Hop on over to our When to Visit Orlando page for more planning tips, part of our Orlando Planning Timeline!
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