If you've been to Disneyland before, you know what to expect, but what you may not know is what's new since then. To help you keep up with the changes, here's a list of new rides at Disneyland and California Adventure.
If you don't go to Disneyland every year and need to catch up you'll also find what was new in the past years below.
What's New at Disneyland in 2018
You may still have to stand in line for some of the rides, but you won’t have to queue up for food when Disney premieres mobile ordering from fast casual and quick-service restaurants with the Disneyland App. You can choose your food items and pick up time and then just step right up to pick your meal with no waiting.
Downtown Disney is also getting some upgrades that include a bowling alley, and multi-sensory Star Wars experience, new shops and restaurants.
A new arrival point called Eastern Gateway will provide guests more choices for access and parking when it opens in late 2018. It will include a new parking structure with 6,800 spaces, a new transportation facility, and an elevated pedestrian bridge over Harbor Boulevard.
Leading up to the June opening of Pixar Pier at California Adventure on June 23, Pixar Fest began on April 13.
At Disneyland, the Pixar Play Parade, which was previously California Adventure’s afternoon parade moved to Disneyland in April, replacing the Soundsational Parade. The monorail got a new paint scheme featuring characters from The Incredibles and Finding Nemo. Main Street U.S.A. also emerged from a refurbishment that replaced the horse-drawn streetcar track.
Pixar Pier at California Adventure opened on June 23. Paradise Pier got a new theme and a new name. Expect long lines as everyone tries to see what the new rides are all about.
The “Paint the Night” Parade moved over to California Adventure on April 13. The nighttime extravaganza was a big hit with guests at Disneyland and it has a new a float featuring characters from “The Incredibles.”
At Pixar Pier, most of the rides remain, but some of them will have new Pixar themes:
- The already fun and exciting California Screamin’ rollercoaster becomes the Incredicoaster when it adds a storyline: The Parr family races alongside you, trying to catch baby Jack-Jack!
- The Fun Wheel experience is unchanged, but the gondolas take on a new theme. Nearby you’ll find new midway games based on Pixar films.
- Toy Story Midway Mania also remains the same but it becomes the center of a Toy Story-themed neighborhood.
- A new play area with an Inside Out! theme is also in the works but may not open until 2019.
On the food front, you can still get a hot dog or a churro at the pier, but the stands serving them will have new Pixar character themes. The food item causing the biggest stir is the Jack Jack Cookie Num Num, a thick cookie with chocolate chunks and chewy dough
Ariel’s Grotto is closed, replaced by the Lamplight Lounge which will serve California casual gastro-pub cuisine and unique signature cocktails. Don’t worry about missing out on those Lobster Nachos which were a popular item at the restaurant’s Cove Bar. They will be on the Lamplight’s menu.
Coming to Disneyland in 2019 or later:
Star Wars Land (Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge) isn't open yet but you can keep up with the latest news about Disneyland's new Star Wars Land in this preview guide. It wipes out Big Thunder Ranch, which closed permanently on January 10, 2017. Some backstage areas will move to other locations to make room for the 14-acre addition.
In 2019, the Triton Carousel at California Adventure reopens as Jessie’s Critter Carousel. Its charming sea creatures will be replaced by 56 new land-based ones that Toy Story character Jessie the yodeling cowgirl might find out on the ranch. Flik's Flyers will also be moving from Bug's Land to Pixar Pier to become an Inside Out themed ride.
A new themed area is in the works for California Adventure, anchored by the popular Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! will be joined by Spider-Man and the Avengers in what will become a completely immersive Super Hero universe. Completion is scheduled for 2020.
Coming: More Hotel Options
Good news is on the way for anyone who would love to have more hotel options, but it will be a couple of years at least before these projects are finished. The city of Anaheim has approved several new high-end hotels in the Disneyland area. A JW Marriott is set to begin construction in 2016 or 2017. Other projects will replace the 56-year-old Anaheim Plaza Hotel & Suites and the Anabella Hotel near the Anaheim Convention Center. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has also announced a new hotel project near the theme parks.
What was New at Disneyland in 2017
Rivers of America reopened after being closed for more than a year to make way for construction of the new Star Wars Land. Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer’s Island, the Disneyland Railroad, Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia, and Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes are all open again
Nighttime show Fantasmic! returned on July 17, with new mist screens and effects.
The beloved Main Street Electrical Parade returned from Florida. It was scheduled for a limited run and finally made its last run in late 2017.
With the release of the new Beauty and the Beast film, the old Edelweiss Snacks in Fantasyland transformed into the Red Rose Taverne.
In California Adventure, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror closed in January. It returned as Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
Also in California Adventure, Cars Land got a seasonal overlay for Haul-O-Ween, with the residents of Radiator Springs dressing up and celebrate Halloween as only a bunch of talking cars can.
The Grand Californian Hotel launched a major room upgrade project in early 2017 that took most of the year to complete. Now the Grand California will be even grander than ever. You can get a look - and an overview of the hotel's pros and cons in the Guide to the Grand Californian.
Two more rides were added to the FastPass system: Matterhorn Bobsleds in Disneyland and Toy Story Midway Mania in Disney California Adventure. You can find out more about the new MaxPass system here.
Disney MaxPass: In early 2017, Disneyland announced a new way to get FastPasses. It's called Disney MaxPass which you can use on the Disneyland app to get your Fastpasses digitally without the need to walk to a FastPass machine to collect them.
What Was New at Disneyland in 2016
Autopia got snappy new cars that Curbed LA says "look like something Magnum P.I. would drive." They're sleek, Honda-branded sports cars in red, black, white, royal blue, silver.
Disney surprised many of their fans by announcing that the nearly-new Paint the Night Parade would make its last run on September 5 and both the 60th-anniversary fireworks show Disneyland Forever and the World of Color water and light show at California Adventure Park also ended. The classic Fantasy in the Sky fireworks which dates to Disneyland's earliest days returned.
There weren't any big, new rides at Disneyland in 2016, but big changes began as they worked to build the new Star Wars Land. Also related to Star Wars:
- The film Star Wars: Path of the Jedi replaced Captain EO.
- Jedi Training Academy got a new look. Jedi wannabes need to register to participate.
- The lower level of the old Innoventions building because the Star Wars Launch Bay and the building was renamed Tomorrowland Expo Center.
- Space Mountain became Hyperspace Mountain with some new Star Wars-related theming.
- Star Tours became Star Tours the Adventure Continues. Characters from the latest film showed up in some of its storylines.
What Was New at California Adventure in 2016
A new “Frozen” musical replaced the long-running Aladdin show at the end of May.
Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters opened in early March, replacing Luigi's Flying Tires with a more engaging experience.
A new film “Soarin’ Around the World” started showing on June 17, the day after it premiered at Shanghai Disneyland. The film follows the same general format as the original Soarin' but features locales from around the world.
What Was New at Disneyland in 2015
2015 was Disneyland's 60th anniversary, with a big “diamond” celebration.
At the Haunted Mansion, the Hatbox Ghost returned. He shows up just after you leave the attic, and has a fun effect that involves his head and the box.
At Matterhorn Bobsleds, the abominable snowman got an upgrade that made him more realistic.
Peter Pan emerged from refurbishment with some newly added effects.
A new seating system premiered for the Fantasmic! nighttime show, with reserved viewing areas that require a Fastpass, similar to the way World of Color operated since it first opened.
The Disneyland Forever fireworks show and Paint the Night parade dazzled visitors during the diamond anniversary, but both were retired after that. World of Color: also got a new storyline but went back to its previous format afterward.
Mad T Party at California Adventure got a new look.
New at Disneyland in 2014
2014 brought only minor changes and additions.
After what seemed like the longest refurbishment in Disneyland history, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad reopened, with a new, silky-smooth track and a fun new ending.
Longtime musical act Billy Hill and the Hillbillies played their final day of performances at Disneyland Park on January 6, 2014.
New Disneyland Rides in 2013
No major updates happened at Disneyland and California Adventure in 2013.
Fantasy Faire moved to a new home near Sleeping Beauty Castle. It gives princesses and knights of all ages a role in a charming storytelling experience and a nicer place to meet and greet their favorite Disney princesses. A new show called Mickey and the Magical Map also opened at the Fantasyland Theatre.
New Disneyland Rides in 2012
- Cars Land in California Adventure opened in 2012
- Also at California Adventure, San Francisco chocolate maker Ghirardelli opened a new soda fountain and chocolate shop
- For the first time in 20 years, new music was playing as you entered Main Street U.S.A.
- Matterhorn Bobsleds got new cars, with three seats per car, two of them linked together to accommodate 6 guests. And after a long hiatus, the mountain climbers came back.
Disneyland hotel renovations completed, with new guest rooms, pool area, and dining options.
New Disneyland Rides in 2011
- Star Tours converted to 3-D and set in the period between the two Star Wars trilogies
- Mickey's Soundsational parade premiered in June 2011
- New at California Adventure: Ariel's Undersea Adventure
- Old and New at California Adventure: Goofy's Sky School, the classic "mad mouse" roller coaster that opened as Mulholland Madness took on a flying academy theme with Goofy as the instructor.
New Disneyland Rides in 2010
- Orange Stinger (California Adventure) converted to Silly Symphony Swings
- World of Color premiered at California Adventure, a nighttime water show
- Captain EO starring Michael Jackson returned, replacing Honey I Shrunk the Audience
New Disneyland Rides in 2009
- it's a small world renovated
- New fireworks show at Disneyland
- Cinderella's Castle opened a new walk-through attraction
- California Adventure's Sun Wheel got a new Mickey face and a new name: Mickey's Fun Wheel, but was otherwise unchanged
- The Disney Gallery reopened in the Former Bank of Main Street building
- Space Mountain premiered a new holiday light show
- Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln returned to the Opera House in a newly refurbished version as part of The Disneyland Story