A note from Tad: The Southern California theme parks have temporary closures in place in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. For more details about park closures, read our theme park reopening status blog post, and our What to Expect When the California Theme Parks Reopen post, which we will continue to update with the latest news.
'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 for some of the upcoming events, rides and new lands coming to Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park, Universal Studios Hollywood and more. For those of you looking for what opened last year and even what opened the year before that, we've got you covered!
Let’s hop to it and explore what's coming to Disneyland and Universal in 2021 and beyond! Also, don't froget to bookmark this page so you can come back and see what's opened as you get closer to your trip!
What’s Coming to Disneyland and Universal in 2021 and Beyond
Disney California Adventure Park
A Touch of Disney — select days March 18 through April 5 — Hoppin' news! Disney California Adventure Park is opening its gates for a limited time, limited capacity, ticketed experience this spring! A Touch of Disney will allow you to access the Disney California Adventure theme park for dining and entertainment, including your favorite characters AND your favorite theme park snacks. Rides will remain closed. For all of the exciting details, hop over to our full event guide.
Avengers Campus — coming soon — At Disney California Adventure, you can see walls surrounding the former A Bug’s Land. Behind the fence, they are making way for a new Super Hero–themed land called Avengers Campus to open soon. You see, the Stark Expo in Hong Kong was attacked by the forces of Hydra, so that inspired the the Avengers to set up new and unique headquarters around the planet to recruit and train the next generation of heroes. Sounds MARVEL-ous to me! This new land was originally supposed to open in July 2020, but Disneyland has been temporarily closed. We look forward to seeing Avengers Campus after the parks reopen.
Avengers Campus will feature Spider-Man and the Avengers, including members of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Black Widow, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Thor, Loki, Black Panther with his Dora Milaje and Iron Man! Did you read that right? Iron Man!
Keep your eyes to the skies. What's most exciting is that Disney has released video showing the use of "struntronic" technology to have Spider-Man leaping and flipping through the air over the new land. We cannot wait to see this in action!
The land will open in phases, starting with the Worldwide Engineering Brigade (WEB) and the Pym Test Kitchen. The second phase will bring another exciting ride to the land.
WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure — coming soon — An immersive, interactive ride-through attraction is coming to the new land. The Marvel story is expanding with WEB, an attraction-based organization (founded by Tony Stark). This is home to the new Spider-Man experience and the first Disney ride to feature Spider-Man. Have you always secretly wished you could sling webs from your own wrist just like Spider-Man? Here’s your chance (thanks to immersive technology)! Attend an open house at WEB, where the inventors invite you to take a test drive of the WEB Slinger vehicle.
You can sling webs and help weave a web to trap Peter Parker's Spider-Bots. The bots are usually helpful, but it seems they have some bugs of their own and have gotten stuck in replication mode. Can you harness your own super powers to save the Campus from chaos? This ride has no height requirement and is appropriate for all ages.
Speaking of Spider-Bots, both the robots and all-new WEB merchandise are now available at Downtown Disney.
Spider-Man will be swinging through Avengers Campus in a redesigned Spidey-suit. The suit will be on display at Disney California Adventure soon so guests can get a taste of what’s to come.
Pym Test Kitchen — coming soon — You may be familiar with how Ant-Man and The Wasp can use subatomic “Pym Particles” to alter their size and mass grow or shrink. Just wait until you see this eatery, where the foods are enhanced with Pym Particles. The foods may be shrunken down or grown to a larger size! Enjoy massive meals, tiny treats and shareable bites. Being that the quick-service restaurant was built in an old lab facility, you can enjoy decor that includes giant soda cans and condiment bottles, and read the menu off massive cell phones! I am hopping excited to see the menus. I have a question though. Can I shrink my vegetables but expand my dessert (while keeping the calories and nutritional content the same, of course)?
The Sanctum — coming soon — In the late 1940s, a Stark Industries complex was built on a remote location near Los Angeles. There had long been rumors about unexplained energies and unexplainable events that took place. Now Tony Stark has invited Doctor Strange to this Avengers Campus to teach recruits about the mystic arts. Doctor Strange has suspended the cloaking spells surrounding the area, revealing the Sanctum to the world! Wait, has it been hidden at Disney California Adventure this whole time?
See ancient ruins that have been hidden for centuries. Learn from Doctor Strange about an ancient battle that threatened to tear a hole in the fabric of time and reality and how that battle led to the creation of the Orb of Cagliostro. You'll want to visit at night, when the The Orb is known to be especially active. When it's dark, you might see the Sanctum flowing with magical energy!
You'll get to experience Dr. Strange demonstrating his mystical abilities, and he will open your eyes to the mysteries of the multiverse.
WEB Suppliers — coming soon — No doubt after riding WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, you're going to want to get your very own Spider-Bot robot sidekick along with at-home kits to build webs and other accessories. Don't forget your Avengers swag and souvenirs at this shop!
Avengers Headquarters — coming soon — The iconic Avengers Headquarters building will open when the land opens, but the ride it houses will come at a later date. Be sure to lift your eyes to the rooftops to spy Avengers and the Quinjet parked up there. The Avengers have heard reports that a villain called the Taskmaster is planning to break into the Avengers command center. Black Widow, Iron Man, Captain America, Captain Marvel and others will be greeting new recruits and keeping an eye out for threats. Should the Taskmaster and his crew appear, the Super Heroes will be ready to spring into action. Watch for a confrontation that takes place all over the building, including the rooftop!
This building is the entrance to a brand-new “E-Ticket” attraction (opening at a later date) that puts you right in the middle of the action. Step aboard a Quinjet and fly along with the Avengers to Wakanda and places beyond. You’ll team up with the Avengers and fight alongside them to save the world in battle against powerful villains. Do you have what it takes to defeat them? The brand-new ride technology is unlike anything you've seen before!
Disneyland After Dark: Villains Nite — TBD— This Disney California Adventure Disneyland After Dark Party is dark indeed, with a villain theme! The separately ticketed event was supposed to take place in April 2020 after the park closed for the night, but guests could enter early at 6 p.m. Tickets were sold out. This party will be rescheduled for after the parks reopen. A current ticket for Villains Nite will be automatically eligible for the rescheduled event. Guests can call Disneyland at (714) 781-4636 if they wish to cancel instead.
Party attendees often dress elaborately in theme (costume guidelines for special events apply). This party has a Villains Cabaret with a cast of outlaws who will sing and dance their way through a revue. Guests will be spellbound by DJ-hosted dance parties and enjoy character meet and greets with nefarious Disney fiends, fun photo-ops and themed food, drink, decor and merchandise. It's possible some entertainment could be modified at the rescheduled event to meet the current government guidelines.
Possibly a new way of accessing Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance — once Disneyland reopens — This new ride in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge was open for about eight weeks when Disneyland closed for the pandemic, so it will be a brand-new ride to the majority of guests when Disneyland reopens. Guests step inside an epic battle between the Resistance and the First Order, with appearances by Storm Troopers, AT-AT Walkers and Kylo Ren.
This ride may have a virtual queue during your visit. Hop over to our Galactic Guide to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge before you visit for the latest updates on how to access this popular attraction. There may be a new procedure to join the virtual queue in place by park opening. At Disney's Hollywood Studios at Disney World, guests can now attempt to join Boarding Groups twice a day — before arriving at the park at 7 a.m., and at 2 p.m. from inside of the park. Keep hopping back for updates as the Disneyland reopening approaches to find out if there will be changes coming to Boarding Groups for the West Coast version of the ride.
Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival — spring — This event is a California foodie's paradise, and one of the top Disneyland events in 2021! The festival takes place each year during March and April. Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival offers guests the chance to partake in delicious food and wine offerings every day, plus special workshops, classes and experiences on the weekends. Tad and Lily love participating in Jr. Chef with Goofy, and we all love the free treat that comes with the free experience.
Guests can taste food and drinks at the Festival Marketplaces, themed around different tastes and drinks of California. Foodie fans can reserve seats at premium experiences with famous chefs. You’ll also encounter musical entertainment and special character meet-and-greets, including opportunities to meet some rarely-seen characters. You could do some shopping for festival-themed headwear, apparel, décor and cooking gadgets. The Sip and Savor Pass returned for all guests in 2020. We hope the pass and the event return in 2021!
Snow White's Enchanted Wish — TBD (when Disneyland reopens) — This classic Fantasyland dark ride, which has been around since Disneyland Park opened, is getting a makeover. Snow White's Scary Adventures underwent a major refurbishment just before Disneyland temporarily closed and will be ready to reopen with a new name and enhanced — or should we say "enchanted" — storyline. We can expect all-new scenes with new music, state-of-the-art audio and visual technology, LED black lighting, laser projections and a new animation system. Look to see Snow White dancing with the Seven Dwarfs, and take a whiff — is that fresh apple pie? Crews have been putting finishing touches on the exterior with fresh paint and new fairy tale inspired details that will complement Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, it's off to work we go. Prepare to be dazzled by the shimmering jewels in the mine scene. We'll be able to see the Dwarfs at work. The Disneyland crews have been at work replacing show sets, props and scenes in this iconic ride. They will also refurbish rock work (to make it warmer and cheerier) and make electrical upgrades, according to the building permit. The permit also calls for a new projector platform.
Snow White is now getting the "happily ever after" she deserves. We are hoppy to see that one of our favorite Disneyland scary rides will be a little more fun for younger children and will be sticking around to delight many more generations to come. As you may know, Disney World removed the Snow White’s Scary Adventures dark ride in 2012 (although Disney World guests get to enjoy the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coaster instead).
Indiana Jones Adventure Refurbishment — Speaking of refurbishments, this popular Adventureland ride was set to gets some updates in 2020. The Disneyland crews are expected to replace a plank bridge and refurbish rock work.
Jungle Cruise Encounters New Adventures — Next door to Indy, the Jungle Cruise is getting some "gnu" adventures. The skipper and his or her "dry humor" already plays a significant role in the ride experience. New additions to this classic attraction at both Disneyland and Disney World will feature skippers out in the habitat with sinking boats taken over by chimpanzees and the skippers interacting with ... er escaping from ... wildlife. As it turns out, the rhino still gets the point in the end. But that's not the "hull" story. There is no exact launch date for this enhanced cruise, but we can expect more details coming later in 2021.
Haunted Mansion Refurbishment — As Disneyland closed in March 2020, the Haunted Mansion was undergoing a refurbishment. It's mostly fresh paint and maintenance so we do not expect to see any changes to the 999 happy haunts' abode.
It looks like we have a lot to look forward to with some of our favorite classic rides once Disneyland officially reopens.
Disneyland After Dark: Star Wars Nite — TBD — This Disneyland After Dark event was scheduled to take place inside Disneyland in 2020, inviting members of the dark side and the light side to come together once Disneyland Park closed for the night. This separately ticketed event was set to fall on opening night of the Star Wars Celebration, a fan convention that was to take place at the Anaheim Convention Center Aug. 27–30, 2020. However, that event has been postponed for two years (due to COVID-19), and Disneyland is postponing the Star Wars Nite to a different date yet to be determined. A ticket for the original Star Wars Nite will be eligible for the rescheduled event option. Guests who no longer wish to use their current ticket may call (714) 781-4636 for assistance.
For the originally scheduled Star Wars Nite, guests were to access the park as of 6 p.m., and the event was going to be underway from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Those details could change once a new date is set. For the event, look for a battle in the skies above Disneyland with special Star Wars–themed fireworks spectacular! Star Wars fans can also enjoy galactic dance parties, character encounters, themed decor, event merchandise and inspired food and beverage. Grab your lightsaber and prepare to pose for Star Wars–themed photo opportunities. Unlimited PhotoPass downloads are included.
Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway — opening 2023 — All aboard! Woot, woot! This new ride rolling into Mickey's Toontown will be 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 will have state-of-the-art technology and dazzling visual effects to immerse you into Mickey's and Minnie's zany animated world.
Don’t worry! This ride will not replace any of the other Toon Town rides. The entrance will be where the current Gag Factory store is. Toon Town will be getting a fresh makeover in honor of the new ride. If you thought this ride was set to open in 2022, well, it was. This train schedule is experiencing delays due to COVID-19. It looks like we will have something to look forward to for another year and will look forward to taking this crazy ride in 2023.
Expansion of Downtown Disney into Buena Vista Street — Nov. 19, 2020 — During the 2020 holiday season, we got a special treat. The Downtown Disney District expanded into the Buena Vista Street area of the closed Disney California Adventure Park. Shopping and dining are open, but characters and entertainment are not available. Hop over to our posts on Downtown Disney and Buena Vista Street shopping and dining for all the deets, as the situation during the pandemic is very fluid and the open shops and dining can vary based on the latest government guidelines.
Disney Vacation Club location — TBD — If you are a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) member, then you will be hoppy to hear that Disneyland has filed a permit with the city of Anaheim to build a new DVC tower location adjacent to 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. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa has 17 DVC units and is currently the only DVC resort on the West Coast.
Universal Studios Hollywood
A Taste of Universal — select days March 12 through April 4, 2021 — A limited-time, separately ticketed event gets us into the closed theme park for food, photos and a little wizarding magic. Rides and shows remain closed. Tickets are on sale now. Hop over to our Taste of Universal and Universal Studios Hollywood reopening post for all the yummy details. The lands of the Upper Lot are open with fan favorite foods available. Adult tickets include five tastings and child tickets include three tastings. The event is held Fridays through Sundays from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! — coming soon — If you’ve always felt like a puppy inside, then your imaginary tail must be wagging with the news that an all-new immersive ride based on “The Secret Life of Pets” movies is coming to the Upper Lot near Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. The adventure includes star pets from the movies and will give you and other riders the chance to take on the role of stray puppies in search of a family. According to Universal Studios, “The innovative adventure will blend live, dimensional and animated characters with hyper-realistic media as guests zip along a track aboard ride vehicles through bustling New York City streets towards the Pet Adoption event and the ultimate happy ending: forever homes. Along the way, guests will face an array of challenges and meet up with fellow animal pals eager to help guide them toward their destination.” What a treat! This ride was set to open in the spring just before Universal closed down due to COVID-19, so we expect it to open shortly after the park reopens!
Nintendo-themed area — date unknown — 'Sup gamers? While there are not a lot of details released yet, Universal Studios Hollywood is planning on bringing an expansive and immersive Nintendo-themed area to Universal Studios Hollywood in the next couple years. Check back for updates, but we have been hopping with excitement to see construction continuing for this new land during the park closure.
Bravo Top Chef Food & Wine Festival — This event was postponed in 2020 and may return — This new culinary event was inspired by Bravo's hit series "Top Chef." The separately ticketed event was set to kick off at 7 p.m. It offered live competitions, special panels, dozens of delectable culinary tastings and beverages. The event was for adults 21+ and included curated wines, craft beers and spirits. Regular admission did not include theme park attractions, although there were day/night combo tickets that allowed entrance into the theme park at 12 p.m. The VIP package also allowed entrance into the park as of 12 p.m. the day of the event and other perks. Hop back to find out if this event will hoppen in 2021.
The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen — coming 2021 — A Universal Orlando CityWalk family favorite is coming to the West Coast, and we are hopping with excitement! We're also hopping to burn some calories in advance, because we plan to do some damage when it opens! 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 will be found in the former Hard Rock Cafe location, near the Universal Cinema. Toothsome will join other recently opened restaurants at Universal Studios Hollywood CityWalk, including Antojitos Cocina Mexicana, VIVO Italian Kitchen, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and Voodoo Doughnut.
What's Coming to Other Southern California Theme Parks in 2021 and Beyond
SeaWorld San Diego
Emperor Coaster Opening — TBD — SeaWorld has not dropped the specific date of this coaster's opening, but our happy feet are swinging with frogcitement for this new floorless penguin-themed dive coaster. Emperor is expected to make a splash in 2021 (after SeaWorld is given the thumbs-up to reopen rides). With speeds over 60 mph and a dive plunge over 150 feet (and over 90 degrees), Emperor Coaster will be 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.
Knott's Berry Farm
Knott’s Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair — TBD — A closed Knott's ride from 1975 is returning as a 4-D interactive dark ride. The new story takes place 34 years after the original adventure. Riders follow Boysen Bear and Girlsen Bear as they travel to the Country Fair to earn the blue ribbon prize for their famous boysenberry pies. Uh oh! It looks like Crafty Coyote is back with his mischievous pups. They plan to steal all the pies for themselves. (Admittedly, the boysenberry pie at Knott's is delicious, but don't steal it or be selfish like Crafty Coyote.)
Knott's Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair takes guests on an exciting journey through reimagined show scenes from the original dark ride, including the Boysenberry Pie Factory, Frog Forest, Fortune Teller Camp, Thunder Cave and Weird Woods. It culminates in a celebration at the County Fair.
Guests climb aboard ride vehicles equipped with jelly blasters to try and recover the stolen boysenberry pies. They travel through whimsical and beautiful environments while competing for the highest score. We can expect to see this ride open after Knott's Berry Farm is able to fully reopen the theme park with rides.
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