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, I've compiled a list of new rides at Disneyland and California Adventure.
I know everyone doesn't go to Disneyland as often as I do, so you'll find what's new in the past years below.
What's Coming 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.
This one is good news and bad news, as far as I’m concerned. In late 2016, Disneyland discontinued the eye-popping, lighted Paint the Night Parade. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the beloved Main Street Electrical Parade returned from Florida and I can’t wait to hear that cute little electronic music again. It is scheduled to be a limited run, ending on August 20.
This actually happened last year, but just barely. Late in 2016, the World of Color returned to its original version.
In 2017, with the realease of the new Beauty and the Beast film, the old Edleweiss 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 will take most of the year to complete. When it's done, it looks like the Grand California will be even grander than ever. You can get a sneak peek - and an overview of the hotel's pros and cons in my 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 that a new way to get FastPasses is coming. It's called Disney MaxPass which you can use on the Disneyland app to get your Fastpasses digitally.
What's Coming to Disneyland in 2018
Disneyland will get a new, Pixar-themed fireworks show. The Pixar Play Parade, which was previously California Adventure’s afternoon parade will to Disneyland.
In California Adventure, Paradise Pier transforms into Pixar Pier, with a new look and more characters from Pixar films including The Incredibles, Inside Out, and Toy Story. That includes building some new areas dedicated to Pixar films. Some or all of those changes may happen in 2018 or later.
At the D23 Expo in 2017, Disney also announced that Spider-Man and the Avengers will join what Disney is describing as a “completely immersive Super Hero universe” at California Adventure, but with no dates or details given.
The amazing Paint the Night parade will be back, but this time in California Adventure.
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.
Coming to Disneyland in 2019: Star Wars Land (Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge)
It isn't open yet - and may not until 2019 - 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.
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 - New Rides 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. The Disney Parks blog says improvements to this ride will continue throughout the year.
In August 2016 Disney surprised many of their fans by announcing that the nearly-new Paint the Night Parade would make its last run on September 5, but with brief returns during the holiday season, starting in November. The 60th-anniversary fireworks show Disneyland Forever and the World of Color water and light show at California Adventure Park also ended on September 5. The classic Fantasy in the Sky fireworks which dates to Disneyland's earliest days returned Friday through Sunday starting September 9.
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 becae 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 story lines.
On January 10, 2016, these attractions closed for at least a year. Where noted, limited-time experiences are offered.
- Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes
- Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
- Sailing Ship Columbia
- Mark Twain Riverboat: Check out the limited-time experiences on board Fantasmic!
- Disneyland Railroad: At the Main Street and New Orleans Square Train Stations, you can get up close to the historic steam engines and talk with the engineers that run them.
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 will feature 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.
New Shows in 2015:
- Disneyland Forever: The fireworks show is dazzling, but the real stars of this show are the projections, which transform the storefronts of Main Street USA into a constantly-moving video montage. Besides scenes from beloved Disney films and an effect that makes the buildings look like they're dancing, there's also a magical snowfall.
- Paint the Night: If you remember the iconic Main Street Electrical Parade, this is its precious offspring, a colorful, sparkling show that uses more than 1.5 million LED lights.
- World of Color: The new show has more of a story line, but less of an "I want to sing along" feel. It still uses the same eye-popping light and water effects
- Mad T Party: At California Adventure, the popular night time dance party 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 enter 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 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
New Disneyland Rides in 2008
- Toy Story Mania!, California Adventure
- House of the Future at Innoventions
- Walk-through attraction at Sleeping Beauty Castle, Disneyland