Updated: December 24, 2013
It's hard to keep up with all of the new things that opened at Disney World in 2013, let alone what's opened at SeaWorld, Universal and all the other Orlando theme parks, but while they were fresh in my mind, I decided to write them all down. That way, I could easily come back to the page and update it with new information or just to remind myself of all the things that will be happening after I convince my parents that we should visit :)
Note: I've listed things by season and added dates for the things that are known. And as a special surprise, I've now added a list of what's coming to the parks in 2014! Yep, there are already some amazing things planned, but before we get ahead of ourselves, here is the list of what's still coming for 2013 and what has already opened.
Limited Time Events
- Each week of the year, Disney unveils a set of new limited-time experiences as part of Limited Time Magic that are unveiled periodically here. Two of the big experiences so far this year have been Long Lost Friends Week, where "long lost" characters made a visit to the parks and True Love Week (during Valentine's) that featured a number of romantic gestures.
- "Sophia the First" and "Doc McStuffins" made their debuts at Disney's Hollywood Studios on Feb. 15 when they're added to Disney Junior – Live on Stage! after a monthlong refurbishment in mid-February. OPEN
- Mickey and Minnie have a new meet-and-greet area inside Animal Kingdom at the Adventurers Outpost, an indoor retreat, on Discovery Island on OPEN. Other Disney friends will continue to meet at Camp Minnie-Mickey.
- The Kinsey Collection, a national touring exhibit of authentic and rare art, artifacts, books, documents and manuscripts that tell the story of African American achievement and contribution, came to the American Adventure Pavilion in Epcot in March. OPEN
- Disney World was uncharacteristically quiet about the construction taking place between (old) Fantasyland and Liberty Square. It turns out that the area featuring Rapunzel's tower and village is elaborately themed bathrooms and electronics charging stations. OPEN
- Following in the footsteps of Haunted Mansion, Dumbo and Winnie the Pooh, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad now has an interactive queue, which will allow guests to immerse themselves in the story of an attraction while they wait to board. A little bit of the ride's enhanced backstory has already been revealed. OPEN
- Kennedy Space Center launched a new interactive exhibit called Angry Birds Space Encounter that features an Eggsteroids Slingshot target game; Red Planet Lazer Challenge and a mirror maze called Danger Zone. OPEN
- Those of you who've been drooling over the cone options at Disney California Adventure since Cars Land opened can now find a number of cone creations -- like the Chili Cone Queso -- at Marketplace Snacks in front of Team Mickey at Downtown Disney. OPEN
- Starbucks reopens opens at Main Street Bakery inside Magic Kingdom. The bakery, which is already closed for the transition, is keeping its name, theming and an assortment of Disney cookies, brownies and seasonal cupcakes, but it will be adding some Starbucks breakfast items and other goodies as well as the Seattle coffee company's signature drinks. OPEN
- Construction has been progressing swiftly on SeaWorld Orlando's most ambitious project to date. Antarctica, a combination ride-exhibit featuring real-live penguins, will follow a young gentoo penguin named Puck. Guests will be transported to the bottom of the world starting May 24!
- Young adventurers (and young adventurers at heart) are invited to become Wilderness Explorers and get to know Disney's Animal Kingdom using field guides, completing challenges and earning badges. OPEN
- The Simpsons' Springfield has come to life at Universal Studios. While a new attraction called Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl is still under construction and will open some time this summer, Moe's Tavern (where you can knock back a real Duff's Beer) and Krusty Burger are already open.
- A new interactive quest launches this spring at Adventureland in Magic Kingdom. In A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas, guests will use a map and special talisman to help them complete pirate raids. OPEN
- Just in time for the summer crowds, Transformers: The Ride 3-D will open at Universal Studios. This flight simulation attraction is expected to be a near clone of the very popular attractions at Universal’s theme parks in Singapore and Hollywood. GRAND OPENING JUNE 20
- L’Artisan des Glaces, an artisan ice cream and sorbet shop, debuts in France at Epcot. The shop will offer 16 different flavors with fresh ingredients. Adults will have the option of adding liqueurs to their frozen concoctions. OPEN
- LEGOLAND Florida has unveiled a new "world" devoted to the "Legends of Chima," which will feature an interactive water ride and play arena where kids can build and race Speedorz. OPEN
- Kennedy Space Center debuts a $100 million interactive exhibit that features space shuttle Atlantis. OPEN
- Sofia the First is now making appearances outside of Disney Junior — Live on Stage! at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Lily is so excited!
- A second Starbucks location opens at Walt Disney World -- this time at Fountain View inside Epcot. OPEN
- California Grill, which boasts panoramic views from atop the Contemporary, OPENED Sept. 9 with new decor, a new menu and a new kitchen. Perhaps, even more importantly, it will feature even more prime viewing spots for the Magic Kingdom fireworks!
- One of the most eagerly awaited attractions of this year, Princess Fairytale Hall is one of the final attractions set for New Fantasyland. This royal hall, which we've only seen renderings of, will feature meet-and-greet areas for Disney's princesses. Cinderella and Rapunzel, as well as other "rotating" princesses, will call the hall home. It officially OPENED Sept. 18. We have more details here.
- Ready to Glow with the Show? Light-up, interactive Mickey ear hats are coming to Walt Disney World. Guests can be part of the show starting Oct. 15 during Fantasmic! at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Oct. 19 during Wishes and Celebrate the Magic at Magic Kingdom. OPEN
- MyMAGIC+ and FASTPASS+ are perhaps the biggest experiences of Walt Disney World this year. These new initiatives aimed at enhancing the user experience have been steadily rolling out in test, with a full rollout now expected for 2014. The centerpiece of MyMAGIC+ is the MagicBands, RFID bracelets that will serve as tickets and room keys, similar to the existing Keys to the World card. Guests would be able to use these “MagicBands” to make purchases in the parks as well as interfacing with FASTPASS+ kiosks and PHOTOPASS by simply touching their band to one of the RFID devices.
We've already devoted a few posts to this technology that are worth checking out:
- A new waterfront eatery was planned for Morocco in Epcot's World Showcase by year's end and now will be in early 2014. Spice Road Table will feature small plates and beverages, and will include indoor and outdoor seating.
Related: What's Coming to the Parks in 2014
Related: Special Events at Walt Disney World
Related: Special Events at Universal Orlando
What opened at Disney World in 2013 that you were most excited about? What are you looking forward to in 2014? Share your thoughts below!