For several months, the Disneyland news and updates have been coming fast and furious! There is so much going on that it can be a challenge to keep up with all the changes. So many great things are going to be coming to Disneyland in 2023 and 2024! There are also returning and upcoming things on the horizon at both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure park. This is the Disneyland guide with all that’s new, returning and coming in the future to both of the Anaheim theme parks.
This article originally published August 4th, 2017 and has been updated and republished with a new date.
What’s New at Disneyland?
After the Disneyland theme parks completely shutdown for a year-long closure, guests have been looking forward to spending more time at The Happiest Place on Earth. The Disneyland Resort has seen MANY new changes including updated rules and policies. This includes a mandatory reservation system.
If you haven’t been since the reopening, these are the must-know tips for going to Disneyland this year. This includes adjustments to character meet ‘n greets, dining options and how to get Disneyland tickets (you can’t buy them at the gate anymore!)
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Changes Made at Disneyland Parks Before Closure
Thank heavens for the 2019 construction that Disney Parks called, “Project Stardust”. Before the closure in 2020, Disneyland Park had been making adjustments to areas in an effort to ease crowd congestion. Garden areas were made smaller to allow for more sidewalk space.
Curbs were removed at the hub around Sleeping Beauty Castle and the entry to Adventureland was reconfigured to widen the walkway. As a result of these changes, there’s extra space for more benches, tables and covered seating areas. Guests might notice less congestion around some of these areas.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge wasn’t even open for a year before the closure at Disneyland happened. For many guests who were unable to visit this new land when it opened in late May 2019, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is going to be a new experience.
The Millennium Falcon-Smugglers Run is an interactive way that guests can fly Han Solo’s famous ship. But the featured attraction is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. My friend Leslie at Trips With Tykes shares her tips on how to ride Rise of the Resistance without the wait.
New at Disneyland in 2021 & 2022
Disney Genie and Disney Genie+
This new line skipping service debuted in late 2021 as a replacement to FASTPASS and Maxpass at the Disneyland parks. Both are offered though the Disneyland app, with Disney Genie being a free service that offers itinerary suggestions.
Disney Genie+ is a paid plan, $25 per person, per day. A limited number of attractions are included on Disney Genie+, which works similarly to the previous Maxpass system. Guests schedule rides via the app then return to the Lightning Lane lines (formerly called FASTPASS lines) for entry. This offers a much shorter wait time than would be found in the stand-by queue.
Adding slightly to the confusion, there is an additional paid service to access certain high demand attractions that are not offered through Disney Genie+. Skip the line on the rides Rise of the Resistance, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Radiator Springs Racers by purchasing what’s called an “Individual Lightning Lane”. The cost varies and is dependent upon demand but runs between $10-25 per person, per attraction.
Disneyland App “Tip Board”
See wait times for all attractions in the park at a fast glance. Scroll through the Tip Board on the Disneyland app to view the standby wait time. Compare it to the return time for those who book with the Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane.
Use of the Tip Board can help you decide quickly which attractions have the shortest wait times and which you should use a Lightning Lane booking for. It’s also the place guests can make an Individual Lightning Lane purchase.
Many features of your park day are accessible through the Disneyland app (including Disney Genie+, mobile ordering, tickets and more). This means you’ll be using your phone even more than on previous visits.
Consider purchasing a Fuel Rod before you go on vacation. The convenient portable phone charging stations are located around the resort and you can exchange them for a full charge when your phone battery runs low.
Enhanced Dining Options
Mobile Ordering on the Disneyland App – Mobile ordering has been greatly expanded upon across the parks. Guests are highly encouraged to place mobile orders when possible rather than waiting in stand-by for quick service dining.
The mobile ordering process is easily done through the Disneyland app on your phone. Using mobile ordering for food is a great way to eat at Disneyland without reservations.
Virtual Walk-Up List – Another newer feature is the ability to join a virtual wait list for some full service restaurants. If you weren’t able to grab an advance dining reservation, search the restaurant that you’re interested in visiting on the Disneyland app.
Click the “Join Walk-Up List” when available (you’ll need to be physically nearby the location for this to work). If the restaurant is accepting walk-ups, the app will add you to the wait list and notify you when your table is ready.
We joined the walk-up list for Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar on a recent vacation at the Disneyland Hotel and waited about an hour for our reservation. Ideally getting an advance dining reservation is best. But the virtual queue for dining is helpful to use in a pinch. Sign up for the MouseDining free service to notify you when a coveted ADR opens up!
Disability Access Service Changes
Changes have been made for disabled guests that aim to make the process of obtaining a DAS easier. This including pre-trip planning that includes a video call directly with Disney to set up the service. Use of booking DAS through the Disneyland app may eliminate the need to visit kiosks at the park.
My friend Becca has a thorough review of the new Disneyland DAS system on her site, This Crazy Adventure Called Life.
Disney 100 Years of Wonder
Expect to experience one of the biggest celebrations Disney parks has ever put on in honor of Disney’s 100th year. Disneyland is expected to be the heart of the jubilee which will include special decor, foods, nighttime spectaculars and character experiences.
The Disney100 anniversary celebration kicked off Jan. 27, 2023. Watch for special limited-time offerings to happen at the resort all year long. Keep reading through for additional experiences that will debut on the same date.
Sleeping Beauty Castle Anniversary Look
In keeping with tradition of making over the Castle, there will be some dramatic decorations in honor of the anniversary celebration. Look for elegant platinum banners and bunting, the three Good Fairies from the movie and a sparkling wishing star on the center tower. Two new water fountains have been added on either side of the moat, adding a magical touch!
Disney100 Nighttime Spectaculars
World of Color – ONE – A new nighttime show was announced for Disney100, celebrating the story of Disney’s first 100 years. This Disney California Adventure water show debuted Jan. 27, 2023 with new music.
Wondrous Journeys – Disneyland also debuted a new fireworks show called Wondrous Journeys, in honor of the Disney 100th anniversary. Every Walt Disney Animation Studios film to date receives a nod in the presentation and includes a new original song.
The projection show can be viewed from in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, at the Rivers of America, Main Street U.S.A., and the façade of “it’s a small world”.
Free Disney PhotoPass – On ride digital photo downloads captured by Disney PhotoPass will be complimentary for all ticketed park guests on the Disneyland app. This freebie started February 4th 2023, and lasts throughout the Disney100 celebration.
Please note that this does not include complimentary Disney PhotoPass pictures taken by Disney photographers around the theme park. However, those photos are still available for download with the purchase of Disney Genie+ at Disneyland.
More New Things Happening at Disney California Adventure Park
With the continued popularity of Marvel characters, it’s no surprise that Disneyland dedicated an entire land to these heroes and villains. Avengers Campus opened in June 2021.
Guests are encouraged to interact with characters throughout the land including Captain America, Thor, Loki, Black Panther and Doctor Strange. Incredible Hulk began appearing in Avengers Campus in his Quantum Suit in mid-September.
Live shows take place including an awesome Spider-Man animatronic that flies over the rooftops!
Within Avengers Campus, guests can sling webs with Spider-Man on the new interactive WEB SLINGERS attraction. Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! is now a part of Avengers Campus.
Pym Test Kitchen is the newest eatery, with inspired dishes both large and small. Get the Choco-SMASH, you won’t regret it!
An e-ticket attraction is expected to come to Avengers Campus, though an opening date has not been announced.
The only information shared was at D23:
Avengers Campus at Disneyland Resort will head into the Multiverse with a third attraction with a brand-new story! When joining battle with the Avengers, you never know what foes you’ll face from anywhere and everywhen.Disney Parks Blog
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Characters
New character greetings are coming to “Star Wars Land” at Disneyland. Look throughout Batuu for bounty hunter Boba Fett and mercenary Fennec Shand.
The Mandalorian and Grogu The Child (aka: “Baby Yoda”) will appear in what is a high-demand meet n’ greet.
What’s New at Downtown Disney District?
Downtown Disney Dining – Lots of new dining options opened at the Downtown Disney District before the closure. Salt & Straw is where to find gourmet ice creams (black olive brittle with goat cheese, anyone?).
Black Tap is open and offering Crazy Shakes, with interior dining or a outside to-go menu. Ballast Point is a beer-lovers respite with casual dining indoors or on the upstairs patio.
New Shopping -Additions include Pelé Soccer, Post 21 and Lovepop. The Star Wars Trading Post, which opened last year, is a fully themed shop in the former Rainforest Café location.
Mobile Wait List – Popular shops like Marceline’s Confectionary may offer a mobile wait list system during busy times. When the shop is at capacity, guests will scan a QR code then be alerted through the Disneyland app when their shopping window is available.
What’s Coming to Downtown Disney District?
The entire west end of this shopping area is undergoing a massive renovation that includes a possible future Monorail closure. The former AMC Theatre building has been removed, along with the Earl of Sandwich location and the west-end Starbucks.
Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen has also seen a renovation that includes a menu change.
The transformation will include additional shopping and dining locations along with grassy space for relaxing and events. No date has been offered up for reopening yet.
Popular Chinese restaurant Din Tai Fung will come to Downtown Disney, located within the new section of the mall. In addition, several current restaurants will see changes. Catal & Uva Bar have closed and will change into Paseo and Centrico, known for their Mexican cuisine.
Earl of Sandwich returns – La Brea Bakery has closed all locations, including at Downtown Disney. In its spot, Earl of Sandwich will fill in. The popular shop offers both grab-and-go options as well as table service at the Earl of Sandwich Tavern. This is expected to be a temporary location for them.
Porto’s Bakery and Cafe will open its Downtown Disney location, in the spot that La Brea Bakery stood. No timetable has been set for that yet.
More New at Disneyland
Magic Key – When the Disneyland annual pass program was discontinued, frequent visitors to the California theme park speculated when a new system would be announced. Guests may choose from a tiered plan with varied block-out calendars and discounts.
Magic Key sales will open occasionally, as they become available. Those who already hold an annual pass are permitted to renew.
Earlier Park Hopping
Guests with a Park Hopper ticket may now hop to the other park as early as 11:00 am. Since reopening the theme parks, park hopping has only been available after 1:00 pm.
Anaheim Hotels – For guests are looking for accommodations outside the “Disneyland Bubble” there are many new options at local hotels off-property. There’s a great mix of lower cost and luxury hotels recently opened.
MagicBand+ at Disneyland
While MagicBands have long been used at Walt Disney World, it was finally announced that they were also coming to Disneyland! The Disneyland MagicBand+ debuted in the parks on October 26th, 2022.
Expect some differences between what’s in use at WDW versus what is available at Disneyland. These are the MagicBand+ Disneyland highlights:
- Hands-free park entry with a valid ticket
- Lightning Lane entry when using Disney Genie+ or the individual paid Lightning Lane
- Color-changing LED lights and vibrations during some park experiences and entertainment, including World of Color.
- A Play Disney Parks app companion within Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to find virtual bounties.
- Additional features to come in the future.
Mickey’s Toontown Reopened
Toontown closed in March 2022 for the complete overhaul that included a new ride and play areas. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway (already operating at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios) features state-of-the-art technology and special effects.
Mickey’s Toontown reopened in phases, including playhouses, fountains, splash pad, and the newly reimagined Chip ‘n’ Dale’s GADGETcoaster.
Changes to Toontown include more interactive play areas, grassy lawns, and water tables. These are all exciting adjustments and guests looked forward to the refresh in Toontown!
Now completely open, guests can visit Goofy’s House including an indoor playroom and outdoor “How-to-Play Yard”. Donald’s Boat also reopened with a splash pad in front, and Mickey and Minnie’s respective houses feature meet ‘n greet locations.
Read more about the best Disneyland Toontown rides and attractions.
Tiana’s Palace Restaurant
The French Market Restaurant in New Orleans Square has seen a complete retheming into Tiana’s Palace. The outdoor patio dining remains and the Mint Julep Bar next door has also reopened.
The restaurant is still quick service and offers mobile ordering through the Disneyland app. This is not a character dining experience, but Tiana will still appear throughout the area.
What Returned to Disneyland in 2023
Nighttime Spectaculars – Cue the dramatic music, because these popular evening shows returned this year. World of Color and the Main Street Electrical parade have already come back to Disneyland.
- World of Color reopened in Disney California Adventure park. Check the Disneyland app for show dates and times. It will not be shown on Oogie Boogie Bash party nights.
- Fantasmic! returned to the Rivers of America in Disneyland. However, after severe fire damage occurred to one of the major features, this nighttime show has closed, without announcement of it’s return.
Magic Happens Parade Returning
This beautiful parade only appeared briefly before the Disney parks closure in 2020. The Magic Happens parade returned to Main Street USA in early 2023.
Main Street Electrical Parade Came (& Went)
Main Street Electrical Parade returned to Disneyland for a summer run. In a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Main Street Electrical Parade, all the favorites returned, including Pete’s Dragon, Elliott!
A new series of 7 parade floats were introduced for the Main Street Electrical Parade finale. These floats feature classic and contemporary characters from Disney & Pixar, inspired by Mary Blair’s it’s a small world style.
Look for stories featured including “Encanto,” “The Jungle Book,” “Raya and the Last Dragon,” “Aladdin,” “Coco,” “Mulan,” “Brave,” “The Princess and the Frog” and more.
More Returns to Disneyland Resort
Spa at Disney’s Grand Californian – The official name of this on-property resort hotel is Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. But the actual spa had been closed for a while! Tenaya Stone Spa has opened as an elegant retreat to relax and rejuvenate after a day in the parks.
Tale of the Lion King – The Fantasyland Theatre has reopened, this time with a return of the Tale of the Lion King. Previously presented at Disney California Adventure, the live-stage show is a welcome addition to the entertainment line-up.
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage – the lagoon went through a major refurbishment and reopened to guests. There’s a big addition of new underwater coral and Hank the septopus from the movie Finding Dory.
When Will Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Reopen?
The popular princess make-over shop reopened August 25th 2022 at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom theme parks! Children aged 3-12 may participate.
Look for new hairstyles and costumes! Guests must reserve up to 60 days ahead, via reservation in the Disneyland app.
Returning to Disneyland in 2023
Southern California Resident Ticket Deal
SoCal Resident Tickets are available for purchase now! They can be used for visits beginning January 9th – May 25th, 2023.
These tickets are valid on weekdays only and reservations are required. These three-day, one-park per day tickets do not have to be used on consecutive days. Valid proof of residency is required for entry at the gate.
2023 Special Events Returning to Disney California Adventure
The best part about the following returning special events is that no special ticket is required. These in-park activities are included with a regular Disneyland park ticket for all guests!
Both events are held within California Adventure and feature specialty food booths, live music, entertainment and character greetings. Look for kid’s craft areas, commemorative merchandise and additional event dining options at Paradise Garden Grill.
Lunar New Year
January 20th – February 15th, 2023 – A celebration of Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean cultures during the Year of the Tiger. Look for 6 culinary marketplaces and the return of “Hurry Home – Lunar New Year Celebration”, which is presented before the World of Color nighttime show.
Disney California Food & Wine Festival
March 3rd through April 25th, 2023 – All the best tasting-sized dishes and drinks return for this fun culinary event, the Disney California Food & Wine Festival. Walk the marketplace to purchase food, with a guide to the best bites coming soon. During the weekends watch cooking demonstrations live on stage.
Look for the return of the popular “Alice’s Wonderland Bakery Unbirthday Party” cupcake decorating experience for kids. Soarin’ Over California also returns for limited time during the festival.
Disney Festival of Holidays
Returning for holiday 2023 season – Holiday-inspired eats and treats from around the globe. Guests can enjoy music, dancing and live entertainment at this family-friendly food festival inside Disney California Adventure park.
Disney New and Returning Nighttime Fun
Once night falls, Disneyland comes alive with amazing evening events and nighttime spectaculars. Some are returning while others are new for 2023.
As with all these nighttime events, a special ticket is required for entry. The ticket allows for a certain number of hours to “mix-in” before the party begins.
Only those with the event ticket may stay for the party activities, which include exclusive character greetings and photo ops. Find out more about Disneyland After Dark events on my friend Jessica’s site, The Happiest Blog on Earth.
Disneyland After Dark
Sweethearts’ Nite, Villains Nite and Star Wars Nite returned in 2022! Sweethearts’ Nite and Star Wars Nite took place in Disneyland. Villains Nite happened at Disney California Adventure. A Grad Night Reunion was offered at California Adventure in June.
Coming in 2023 are two limited-time after-hours events: Sweethearts’ Nite and the new Princess Nite. Both events will include exclusive character greetings, entertainment, dining opportunities and photo ops.
- Sweethearts’ Nite – Jan 31, Feb 2, 5, 7, 9, 14, 16th 2023
- Princess Nite – March 7 & 9th 2023
Oogie Boogie Bash
The 2023 fall season will bring the return of the popular Oogie Boogie Bash. This Halloween time special event offers families the ability to dress in costume and trick or treat through Disney California Adventure along with an exclusive nighttime parade.
Expect sales of tickets for Oogie Boogie Bash to happen each year around the month of June. Magic Key holders generally receive first access, then sales open to the general public. Popular dates, including Halloween night, will sell out quickly.
What’s New Coming to Disneyland?
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure
Splash Mountain will be reimagined into an all new experience featuring Tiana from Princess and the Frog! New details have been released about this new attraction that will take over the Splash Mountain ride.
Splash Mountain has already closed at Disneyland. An opening date for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure of late 2024 has been shared.
Haunted Mansion Expansion
Coming in 2024, the Haunted Mansion will expand upon their queue with an immersive garden and greenhouse. The expansion includes a new Haunted Mansion themed retail shop just outside of the attraction exit.
The plaza between Haunted Mansion and the new Tiana’s Palace restaurant will also be upgraded to include shade, seating, and a live entertainment venue.
Disneyland Resort Hotels Updates
Early Entry Returns
Another one of the best perks of staying on-site has been reinstated. Early morning entry into the theme parks for resort hotel guests returned in late fall.
Is it the same Magic Morning of old? Not really. This perk is only available for on-site guests and just 30 minutes (versus the hour early entry). However this Early Entry happens daily at each of the two theme parks, so that’s a bonus!.
Disneyland resort hotels can again take advantage of package delivery. Purchases made in the theme park will be delivered back to the hotel the following day.
Disney Vacation Club Tower at the Disneyland Hotel
While Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa has long had DVC villas, this will be the first time Disney Vacation Club members can use points to stay at the Disneyland Hotel. 350 rooms will include studio rooms and villas.
Preferred Dining Access
This is a big feature for guests who love to book advance dining reservations! Disneyland Resort Hotel guests will soon have preferred access to reservations at select hotel full-service restaurants. Will this include Goofy’s Kitchen? I’ll update with more details as I find out.
Paradise Pier Hotel Transformation and More
Retheming of Paradise Pier Hotel into Pixar Place Hotel!
A complete overhaul “reimagining” is coming to the Paradise Pier Hotel. The transformation into a Pixar-themed resort is much anticipated! No date has been released for any closures during the remodeling, but parts of the hotel have been revealed and reopened.
The fun Finding Nemo themed pool renovation and sections of the lobby re-do are already open. These are much-needed upgrades that adds more perks to what has been the “lesser” of the three Disneyland resort properties.
Direct Theme Park Access OPEN
A newly opened special entrance is now available to guests of Paradise Pier Hotel. This side entrance is just across the street from the hotel. Guests with a valid park ticket will be deposited into Disney California Adventure in the Paradise Pier area of the park.
When Are These Coming to Disneyland?
While many things have returned to Disneyland, there are some features that have changed within the parks and resort.
If you’re curious about when some things will return to Disneyland, join the Disneyland With Kids Facebook group. We will update our followers as soon as we hear news!
When Will Character Dining Go Back to “Normal”?
Disneyland Character Dining has returned, but some locations aren’t completely back to the pre-closure norm. For instance, at Goofy’s Kitchen characters no longer mingle at each table. Instead, the characters participate in a parade through the dining area with brief pauses for photos.
At Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park, characters are again stopping for hugs and autographs. A large number of characters used to wander through this Plaza Inn restaurant experience but this has been whittled down a bit.
When Are These Reopening at Disneyland?
Steakhouse 55 – this upscale restaurant in the Disneyland Hotel will not reopen and nothing has been announced as a replacement.
More About What’s Coming to Disneyland This Year
Halloween Time Activities Return
These much-anticipated Halloween at Disneyland events returned this year. The usual fall decorations are found in both parks, including the photo-worthy Mickey Mouse pumpkin on Main Street USA.
Haunted Mansion Holiday – The annual overlay returns for the season, lasting through the new year.
Halloween Screams – This nighttime spectacular lights up the night from September 1st – October 31th, 2023. Projections and a light show are shown nightly with the addition of fireworks on weekends.
Disney California Adventure Fall Fun
Cars Land – The elaborate Halloween transformation in Radiator Springs is a must-see.
Seasonal Overlays – Several Halloween-themed ride overlays add to the spirit of the season. In Cars Land, get in line for Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree and Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween. Don’t forget the spooky Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark in Avengers Campus.
Plaza de la Familia – Celebrate Día De Los Muertos from September 1st – November 2nd, 2023 at Plaza de la Familia. The Paradise Garden area transforms for the season with special dining, crafts and live entertainment including A Musical Celebration of Coco. Don’t miss the Mirabel from Encanto meet ‘n greet in this area!
Fall Season Resort Activities
Resort Decorations – Watch for fall decor in all Disneyland Resort hotels and in Downtown Disney.
Pluto’s Pumpkin Pursuit – This popular pumpkin scavenger hunt through Downtown Disney will happen from September 9th – October 31st, 2023.
Holidays at Disneyland Returned in 2022
All the best of the holiday season is back at the Disneyland Resort, November 10th, 2023, through January 7th, 2024!
From the sparkling seasonal decorations to the immersive ride overlays, the holidays at Disneyland are truly magical. Here’s what to watch for this year, coming to Disneyland this holiday time.
- Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle and other holiday decorations
- “it’s a small world” Holiday ride overlay and façade projection show
- “A Christmas Fantasy” parade returns
- “Believe… in Holiday Magic” fireworks including snowfall
- Tomorrowland Terrace dance parties with popular characters
- Haunted Mansion Holiday attraction overlay that combines both Halloween & Holiday seasons
- Disney Festival of Holidays
- World of Color – Season of Light
- Viva Navidad Street Party
- Santa meet ‘n greet in Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
- Cars Land decorations and ride overlays on Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl and Mater’s Jingle Jamboree.
- “Mickey’s Happy Holidays” – watch for this lively procession of Disney and Pixar characters marching along the parade route with the Holiday Toy Drummers