What’s New & Coming to Disney World in 2023 & 2024

New rides, restaurants, entertainment, and more is coming to Walt Disney World in 2023 & 2024. Here’s what’s rumored and confirmed as coming next: construction info, expansion plans, and opening dates so you know what to expect when planning your WDW vacation. (Updated April 16, 2023.)

Walt Disney World is now a time in transition. The World’s Most Magical Celebration, the 18-month anniversary event for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, is finally over. If you missed that, you didn’t miss much. Most of the best additions during that were permanent, so you can still experience them for years to come.

Following the conclusion of that, the fan-favorite Happily Ever After fireworks at Magic Kingdom have made their triumphant return. Additionally, EPCOT Forever is back over World Showcase Lagoon as an interim nightly fireworks show. That comes ahead of the start of the 100 Years of Wonder Celebration for Disney’s 100th Anniversary, which will begin in Late 2023. No, that’s not a math error in going from 50 to 100 in the span of a couple years–one was Walt Disney World’s anniversary, the other is the company as a whole.

Outside of anniversaries, there’s a decent amount that’s new as of 2023 and on the horizon for later this year and 2024. For those visiting anytime soon, the next big ride and restaurant are both now open. Much more is coming soon, so if you’d like to have more Walt Disney World news & rumors about what’s on the horizon, sign up for our FREE Walt Disney World Email Newsletter to receive updates.

When it comes to what’s new, several of the biggest things don’t involve construction at all, but rather, are changes to the guest experience. First up is Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, the highly-controversial paid FastPass replacement. This is far and away the most consequential change in the last few years, and it is imperative that you understand this system before visiting. Everything you need to know is covered in our Guide to Genie+ and Lightning Lanes at Walt Disney World.

In addition to that, Early Entry and Extended Evening Hours have replaced Extra Magic Hours in the morning and at night. These have their own pros & cons, from being only available to on-site guests (or a subset thereof) to requiring people to get up early or stay late. If you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of each, learn more in our Guide to Early Entry at Walt Disney World and Guide to Extended Evening Hours at Walt Disney World.

Another major change occurred at the beginning of last year when the Disney’s Magical Express airport shuttle service ended. Now, visitors arriving to Orlando International Airport will need to rent a car, use Uber/Lyft, or arrange for an alternative shuttle service (Mears Connect or Sunshine Flyer). See our Guide to Airport Transportation for Walt Disney World for the pros & cons of each option.

Speaking of transportation, there was a positive change made in 2023 with the return of free overnight self-parking for guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort hotels. This fee had been added a few years ago and was a major source of outrage at the time. Free parking is a major distinction that few off-site hotels around Orlando offer.

Finally, the Disney Dining Plan is still on temporary hiatus. It’s still likely that Walt Disney World will bring that back sometime, as covered in When Will the Disney Dining Plan Return? However, we’ve been anxiously anticipating its return for over a year–after all, Disney did tease that it would be back soon about a year and a half ago. So who knows at this point!

With regard to construction, the good news is that many of the biggest projects are finished or don’t impact the guest experience. This includes the massive Disney’s Hollywood Studios overhaul, Animal Kingdom expansion, and resort development. In fact, 3 of the 4 Walt Disney World theme parks are looking good and mostly wall-free.

There’s not nearly as much construction at Walt Disney World right now than any other time in the last 5 years. The primary exception is Epcot, which is a sea of construction walls right now, and will be for the foreseeable future–likely through late 2023.

Here’s a park by park look at everything new and coming soon to Walt Disney World…


At Epcot, the front of the park is looking good as the reimagined park entrance project is finished. Redesigned landscaping, flags, topiaries, and an iconic prismatic pylon fountain in front of Spaceship Earth have all been installed. These are further enhanced at night by an upgraded lighting package, including the Beacons of Magic discussed below.

Between Spaceship Earth and World Showcase, it’s a sea of walls. The work here is currently the largest construction project at Walt Disney World, which results in a lot of visual blight to the front of Epcot. Basically, the entire center of Future World is enclosed by construction walls right now.

Technically, this is no longer Future World. The massive redesign at the front of Epcot eliminated Future World and replaced it with 3 new neighborhoods. Walt Disney World hasn’t announced a timeline for this project, except that it won’t be “done” until 2023. (That much is obvious just by looking at it. If the lethargic pace of past progress is any indication, late 2023 is when it’ll most likely be finished.)

The good news is that there’s now a walkway running directly from the main entrance to World Showcase that passes in front of Creations Shop and Connections Cafe & Eatery. This is much easier and more efficient than using the bypass on the other side that winds around the Land, Seas, and Journey into Imagination pavilions.

Not much is going to be built in the Giant EPCOT Dirt Pit™️ above, which will become CommuniCore Hall & Plaza. This area will be home to trees, an enchanted garden, planter, and festival area. It’ll also feature an outdoor stage, demonstration kitchen, and character meet & greet.

This area has already been torn up for almost 4 years, and won’t be finished for at least 1 more. The closure of Walt Disney World resulted in this overhaul being paused for roughly one full year, with Imagineering going back to the drawing board. Many elements were scaled back, cut entirely, or reworked. The original plans were much more ambitious than simply planting trees and rebuilding a structure they demolished.

Moreover, Walt Disney World has indefinitely delayed or cancelled a handful of Epcot projects. In Future World, there’s the Spaceship Earth Overhaul & Enhancements. The “story light” component of this has been delayed indefinitely.

Other upgrades have happened, including “Beacons of Magic” on the outside of the geodesic sphere. It’s nothing to plan your evening around, but it’s a nice touch, and there are also seasonal versions of the show for the park’s various festivals (and, for now, EPCOT’s 40th Anniversary).

Right behind Spaceship Earth, the Creations Shop and Club Cool are both now open. These were built in the former Innoventions building, where MouseGear was previously located.

On the other side of the building, Connections Cafe & Eatery is also now open in the space that used to house Electric Umbrella. In addition to a counter service restaurant, this is now Epcot’s permanent Starbucks location. (See our Connections Cafe & Eatery Review for recommendations and photos.)

The biggest recent addition at Epcot is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, which is a hybrid roller coaster. This blockbuster attraction opened at Walt Disney World at the start of last summer. Cosmic Rewind is awesome–the best new ride at Epcot in decades.

Experiencing the roller coaster is a bit complicated, so if you want to experience it (and you should!), check out our How to Ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind & Virtual Queue Speed Strategy to improve your chances of success for joining the free virtual queue. Another alternative is buying line-skipping access via the Individual Lightning Lanes.

Nearby in Future World, Space 220 Restaurant adjacent to Mission: Space is now open. We’ve dined here several times, and have already shared Photos & Video Inside Space 220 Restaurant as well as our Space 220 Lunch Review that looks at whether the food is worth the price tag

At Space 220 Restaurant, guests board a special space elevator that ascends to the stars. Upon arrival, you enjoy a celestial panorama from the space station, with the ability to peer out and enjoy daytime and nighttime views of Earth from 220 miles up.

Next, let’s turn to World Showcase Lagoon and discuss nighttime spectaculars. Now through at least this summer, you can catch EPCOT Forever. This limited-time spectacle of lasers, lighting, special effects, and fireworks will be shown will Walt Disney World’s entertainment team preps the lagoon for the next nighttime spectacular, and removes the Stargate and Water Taco barges that Harmonious used. A new permanent nighttime will debut at EPCOT in late 2023.

EPCOT Forever is lower stakes than other nighttime spectaculars, but we’d still recommend checking out our Best Fireworks Viewing Locations at Epcot for location advice.

Moving deeper into World Showcase, the newest E-Ticket attraction to open at Epcot is Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. This family-friendly trackless dark ride is part of an expansion of the France pavilion.

In addition to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, this expansion to the France pavilion includes a variety of retail and restaurant additions, most notably La Crêperie de Paris. This crêperie offers both table and quick-service options featuring a menu from celebrity chef Jerome Bocuse.

In a surprising turn of events, another project that had radio silence for over 2 years has debuted: DuckTales World Showcase Adventure. You can now play this game once you’ve downloaded (or updated) the Play Disney Parks app.

Disney’s DuckTales World Showcase Adventure is the next iteration of the interactive scavenger hunt around World Showcase that previously featured Kim Possible and currently Phineas & Ferb. It’s a good way to engage kids in an area of Epcot they often find “boring.”

Another addition that’s definitely coming to the front of Epcot is Moana: Journey of Water. This is the first-ever attraction based on the Walt Disney Animation Studios hit film, Moana. This water maze will be a lush environment where guests can interact with living water in a beautiful and inspiring setting.

Disney has repeatedly stated that Moana’s Journey of Water will debut in “Late 2023.” However, we’ve seen progress as of April, and it looks ready to open. Not everything is 100% done, but certain finishing touches are already in place, suggesting it’s weeks, not months, away from debuting. As discussed in our latest Moana’s Journey of Water construction update, we suspect it’ll quietly open this summer as a way to ‘surprise and delight’ guests.

Speaking of surprises, a Figment Meet & Greet is coming to EPCOT! You’ll once again be able to meet Figment in person at EPCOT “by the end” of 2023 according to Walt Disney World. No word yet on whether he’ll be joined by Dreamfinder, but we sure hope so!

The way that’s worded, it could be any day between today and December 31, 2023. However, that would not be the word choice if the intent were to open this anytime soon. I know staffing shortages are still impacting character appearances, but this isn’t that. Perhaps this is somehow related to the new Figment feature film being made by Seth Rogen?

Finally, we turn to the uncertain Epcot project: Play Pavilion, which will or might replace Wonders of Life. At one point, this was also intended to open “in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary.” More recently, the company has indicated that it is “re-evaluating the original concept that was planned.”

For those who are unfamiliar with Disneyspeak, that’s a coded way of saying that the Play Pavilion has been shelved. That doesn’t mean it’ll never happen, but the concept as-announced will not. Our hope is that Walt Disney World comes up with a new plan for this space, as it’s very much needed.

Magic Kingdom

Next up is Magic Kingdom, where the World’s Most Magical Celebration decorations are already being quicked removed. Cinderella’s Castle is almost back to normal, with the “50” medallion already gone, and the jabots and swag also coming down.

More importantly, Happily Ever After is now back and being performed nightly. The beloved nighttime spectacular features enhancements, such as projections on Main Street and more. It’s also drawing colossal crowds, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. Walt Disney World fans love Happily Ever After and are coming out in full force to see it.

Our Viewing Guide to the Happily Ever After Fireworks at Magic Kingdom covers the best & worst spots to see the nighttime spectacular. Perhaps most importantly, it shares a few great low-crowds locations for those who don’t want to be in the crush of crowds. (Seriously, don’t underestimate the chaos and congestion, which can be downright uncomfortable, especially for those with strollers or ECVs. Personally, I would not watch Happily Ever After from Main Street if I were an ECV user; I would not feel safe.)

Magic Kingdom is also home to the biggest and newest ride at Walt Disney World: the TRON Lightcycle Run Roller Coaster in Tomorrowland behind Space Mountain. The Walt Disney World Railroad, which was previously closed due to TRON construction, has also returned.

TRON Lightcycle Run is already proving to be one of the most popular rides at Walt Disney World, and is relatively unique in NOT offering a traditional standby line. See our Virtual Queue Strategy Guide for TRON Lightcycle Run for how to experience the attraction for free. As with Cosmic Rewind, you can also purchase Individual Lightning Lane line-skipping access.

With that said, neither the free nor the paid option is simple or straightforward. There are two times to join the virtual queue–one is early in the morning and the other is in the afternoon–and both fill up within seconds. Buying Lightning Lane access is slightly easier, at least if you’re staying on-site. To that end, read our Ride Review: Is TRON Lightcycle Run Worth Your Time or Money? to determine if the hassle or expensive is justified.

Finally, there TRON Lightcycle Run has some issues with larger guests not fitting into the ride vehicles due to weight, height, and more. If you’re tall, have muscular legs, or are plus-sized, you might have issues with the normal lightcycles. We cover everything you need to know in TRON Lightcycle Run Problems for Larger Guests. If you think you could have problems fitting into the lightcycle, we’d strongly recommend reading that. Not only does it cover common issues, but also suggestions for improving your chances of ‘successfully’ riding the attraction in a standard seat.

Looking forward to later in 2023, Magic Kingdom will be “plussing” an iconic attraction in with the addition of the Hatbox Ghost. You may recognize this popular character from the attraction at Disneyland Resort in California.

Adding Hatbox Ghost to Haunted Mansion after so many years seems like thinly-veiled fan service, and it probably is. But who cares? the figure is cool, the effect is awesome, and it’s a nice plussing for the attraction. Plus, is it really so bad that there are Imagineers with their finger on the pulse of what the fan community wants who are willing to lovingly embrace the history of the park?

Following that, there’s the Princess and the Frog reimagining of Splash Mountain at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. The name of the new attraction evolving from the reimagining of Splash Mountain is Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. The reimagined ride will bring guests into the world of “The Princess and the Frog” after the events of the movie. According to Disney, the reimagined ride will open at Magic Kingdom in Florida and Disneyland in California in late 2024.

As a result, Splash Mountain is now closed at Walt Disney World. The ride went down in early 2023, and work is already apparent on the exterior of the attraction as elements are removed or modified. The late 2024 deadline for Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is a tight turnaround time for Imagineering, especially given how drawn out recent projects have been. Hopefully creatives are given the time and budget necessary to make this good!

After Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is finished, it appears that Walt Disney World will turn its attention to that ride’s neighbor. At the D23 Expo, the company shared a variety of Villains, Encanto, and Coco Concepts for “Beyond Big Thunder.”

It’s premature to get excited about any of these, as these are only ideas being thrown around at this point, and a final proposal for the plot has not yet been decided. The salient point is not the specifics–it’s that Walt Disney World intends upon building a major expansion on par with New Fantasyland.

Animal Kingdom

There’s not really anything major on the horizon for Disney’s Animal Kingdom that’s official, nor is there much that’s new.

The only official thing is Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond, which is a reimagined version of Finding Nemo: The Musical. The show is substantially similar, but it’s a tighter production with a shorter runtime. Still has the songs and puppets that made the musical a winner!

What’s next for Animal Kingdom is unclear. Primeval Whirl permanently closed and there have been rumors and speculation, of varying degrees of credibility, that what’s currently Dino-Rama is the next big expansion site at Walt Disney World. This was essentially confirmed during the “A Boundless Future: Disney Parks, Experiences and Products” presentation at D23 Expo.

Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro offered a sneak peek at concept art for the future in addition and teased what was to come in a few years. He revealed blue sky pitches and “potential expansion” opportunities and “early concept exploration” for Dinoland USA at Animal Kingdom. One of those included detailed concept art for a Moana Mini-Land at Animal Kingdom that would replace Dino-Rama.

The other is a Zootopia Expansion for Animal Kingdom that would be built beyond Dino-Rama. The concept art show that both of these proposals are simultaneously viable. The detail of the concept art suggests they are far along in the development. The caveats offered by Disney indicate that they have not yet been greenlit or funded, meaning that they may never happen.

Pessimistically, Walt Disney World has slowed and stretched out construction timelines, and already has projects lined up between now and 2023 or 2024. The company’s conservative approach and lethargic pace doesn’t instill confidence that anything with Dino-Rama is opening in the next 5 years. But we shall see!

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The next addition to Disney’s Hollywood Studios is in Toy Story Land. Due to its popularity and crowds, this area has already received minor expansions in the form of a gift shop and covered seating area.

The latest of these is the Toy Story Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant, which is now open as of Spring 2023. This table service restaurant serves family style, all-you-can-eat barbecue, and is incredibly popular. It’s already proving to be one of the most popular restaurants at Walt Disney World, and ADRs are difficult to score.

Let’s run through the other recent additions–as a lot has happened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the last several years. At the front of the park, you’ll find Mickey & Mickey’s Runaway Railway, which was inspired by cartoon shorts and brings guests through the screen to take a ride inside a zany cartoon world.

As you can read in our Spoiler-Free Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway Review, we enjoy this attraction. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it’s a solid addition. Additionally, the Mickey Shorts Theater has debuted and is playing an original short film in the style of the popular Disney Channel animated series “Mickey Mouse.”

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is also now a few years old, and is the biggest addition to Walt Disney World in about a decade. The first phase included all shops, dining, and the Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run ride.

That was followed by Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the flagship attraction of Galaxy’s Edge. As we covered in our spoiler-free review, this ride is absolutely worth the wait. It’s one of Walt Disney World’s top 5 attractions, and the best thing added to Walt Disney World in at least 25 years.

In the last year, there have been other additions to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The first of these is Batuu Bounty Hunters, an interactive game that can be played with the MagicBand+ and Play Disney Parks app. This is a hot/cold game that is integrated into a bounty board within the land.

Speaking of which, the MagicBand+ is another relatively new addition to Walt Disney World. This is a mixed bag, which you can read all about in our MagicBand+ Review: The Good, Bad & Ugly! The MagicBand+ is now available and features color-changing lights, haptic vibrations, and gesture recognition. Whether you should buy one really hinges upon whether you want to play Batuu Bounty Hunters, hence it being “buried” here.

Two other big new additions to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge are the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda walk-around characters who meet and greet guests. Din Djarin and Grogu are appearing as part of the promotional push for the third season of “The Mandalorian” on Disney+, but no end date has been set for the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda walkaround characters in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The dynamic duo does not have specific appearance times, nor do they have a dedicated location. You’re most likely to spot them around Black Spire Outpost between 10 am and 5 pm. No other information has been provided as to when or how long these characters will appear at Walt Disney World. They are insanely popular and usually mobbed by guests. If you want the best chance to see them with the lowest possible crowds, be in Galaxy’s Edge as close to 10 am as possible.

Although technically behind the park in the Disney’s Hollywood Studios Cast Member parking lot, Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser is now open behind Galaxy’s Edge. This offers an immersive visit that further enhances what guests experience in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Our Guide to Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Resort covers everything you need to know about this project, which is very different from every other hotel at Walt Disney World–and is more like a cruise ship on land meets immersive theater. We’ve done this and share a ton of thoughts and photos in our spoiler-free Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Review.

Disney Springs

Then there’s Disney Springs. This is the entertainment and shopping district previously known as Downtown Disney. Producing a comprehensive list of what has opened here in the last ~5 years would be daunting, as around 75% of this area has been overhauled.

Cirque du Soleil: Drawn to Life is the most recent thing to debut, beginning its run last holiday season. This is the successor to “La Nouba,” which ran for almost two decades in the iconic white circus tent on the Westside before closing.

Next up, Summer House on the Lake will be built on the site that was slated for Beatrix. This California coastal cuisine in a modern setting actually looks better than Beatrix to us.

Aside from that, the re-imagining of Disney Springs is pretty much finished. These changes have made fans of both of us big time with solid additions such as the Boathouse, Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar, Morimoto Asia, the Edison, 4 Rivers Cantina, and more. Jaleo by José Andrés and Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill have also recently opened.

Read our Table Service Restaurant Rankings for Disney Springs and Counter Service Restaurant Rankings for Disney Springs Springs if you want better insight as to which of the many, many dining options to choose.

WDW Resort Hotels

Two resorts opened at Walt Disney World relatively recently. The first of these was Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. Our review of this property was mixed, with our ultimate conclusion being that it offered strong bang for buck and was very appealing for a certain type of traveler.

Next, Disney’s Riviera Resort is the latest DVC Resort. This property is adjacent to Caribbean Beach and offers direct Skyliner access to Epcot. Our Disney’s Riviera Resort Review covers the pros & cons of these Disney Vacation Club accommodations.

This DVC resort, along with Caribbean Beach, Pop Century, and Art of Animation are connected to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios via the recently-added Disney Skyliner gondola system, which opened a few years ago.

For all of the basics and our full thoughts, read our Skyliner Gondola Review: Walt Disney World’s Most Magical Flight on Earth article. We’d go as far as recommending a Skyliner resort for your next trip to Walt Disney World, as it offers a huge advantage in terms of transportation.

Throughout 2023 and 2024, several resorts are undergoing refurbishment, construction, and expansion projects.  We would recommend consulting our list of Construction & Refurbishments at Walt Disney World Hotels in 2023-2024, which we update regularly for insight into changes at existing hotels.

With that said, two of the biggest projects are occurring outside Magic Kingdom along the monorail loop. See Grand Floridian Resort Reimagining News & Construction Updates for 2023 and New Tower at Polynesian Village Resort: Timeline, Details & Construction Progress for the latest on those projects.

As you can probably tell, there is a lot that’s new and coming soon to Walt Disney World in the next few years.

With that said, don’t fret too much about the construction–even with an unprecedented amount, must of its out-of-the-way of guest areas, and there are still a ton of attractions to do at Walt Disney World no matter when you visit!

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

Your Thoughts

Which attractions coming to Walt Disney World in 2023 or beyond are you most excited to experience? Are you delaying your next visit to maximize seeing ‘new stuff’ or moving it forward to avoid the crowds? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

98 Responses to “What’s New & Coming to Disney World in 2023 & 2024”
  1. Cheryl April 18, 2023
    • Rose April 19, 2023
  2. Maggie April 16, 2023
  3. Geoffrey March 13, 2023
  4. Ann December 28, 2022
  5. Ross October 28, 2022
  6. Mark October 23, 2022
    • Rory Osborne October 24, 2022
  7. Sam September 4, 2022
    • Holly October 1, 2022
  8. Tom August 8, 2022
    • True August 30, 2022
    • Nikki October 9, 2022
  9. Bridget July 17, 2022
  10. Joe June 14, 2022
  11. Liz C June 13, 2022
  12. Barry Duncan June 12, 2022
  13. Mary June 12, 2022
    • Maggie June 13, 2022
  14. Matt June 11, 2022

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *