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
In Summer of 2017, Rivers of America will reopen after being closed for more than a year to make way for construction of the new Star Wars Land. That means the Mark Twain Riverboat and Sailing Ship Columbia will be running again, you can paddle those Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes and get over to Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer’s Island. Nighttime show Fantasmic! will also be back. And the Disneyland Railroad starts running again.
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 will return from Florida and I can’t wait to hear that cute little electronic music again. As of late 2016, it was scheduled to be a limited run, starting January 20 and ending on June 18.
This actually happened last year, but just barely.
Late in 2016, the World of Color returned to its original version.
In early 2017, in anticipation of the new Beauty and the Beast film, the old Edleweiss Snacks in Fantasylnand transformed into the Red Rose Taverne.
In California Adventure, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror closed in January. In the summer, it will return as Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! Here’s the storyline from Disney: "Deep inside his fortress-like collection, the mysterious Taneleer Tivan (aka The Collector) is displaying his newest acquisitions, the Guardians of the Galaxy.
They are trapped in customized display cases, suspended over a vast abyss. Unbeknownst to their unscrupulous captor, the intrepid Rocket has escaped and is enlisting the Collector’s VIP guests for help. Guests board a gantry lift, which launches them into a chaotic and hilarious adventure as they join Rocket in an attempt to break his fellow Guardians out of captivity." The good news for fans of the Tower of Terror is that the breathtaking free fall sensation will continue, but with new visual and audio effects.
Theme park writer Brady MacDonald says it's one of best new coming attractions at US theme parks this year. Expect it to be open in time for the May release of the Guardians of the Galaxy film sequel.
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.
There will be a new addition to the FASTPASS system and two more rides will be added to it: Matterhorn Bobsleds in Disneyland and Toy Story Midway Mania in Disney California Adventure.
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.
Coming to Disneyland: Star Wars Land
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.
What's New at Disneyland - New Rides in 2016
New for 2016, you can also make reservations for a Paint the Night parade dinner package that includes a voucher for preferred viewing of popular “Paint the Night” parade for that day.
Autopia has 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 will 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 will also end on September 5. The classic Fantasy in the Sky fireworks which dates to Disneyland's earliest days will return 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 has a new look. Jedi wannabes need to register to participate.
- The lower level of the old Innoventions building is now the Star Wars Launch Bay and the building was renamed Tomorrowland Expo Center.
- Space Mountain is now Hyperspace Mountain and has some new Star Wars-related theming.
- Star Tours became Star Tours the Adventure Continues. Expect some characters from the latest film to show 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's 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” will start showing on June 17, the day after it premieres at Shanghai Disneyland. The film is expected to follow 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