What’s New at Walt Disney World

What’s New at Walt Disney World

Most guests visiting Walt Disney World come every few years. When they think about going on vacation, their first question is often, “What’s new?” This page is dedicated to answering that question. Below you’ll find what has been added at Walt Disney World over the past three or so years, at least since Pandora, World of Avatar premiered. We’ll keep updating it with new projects as they are built. So keep checking on the site for more up-to-date info.

We discuss all of these on our podcast. You can find podcast number 80 here on PodbeaniTunesSpotifyMyTuner, and ListenNotes. Be sure to subscribe and share with others!

You’ll see there’s scores of new offerings. We don’t cover every little detail, but we do emphasize new projects and newer offerings. It will become clear as you scroll through that if you haven’t been to Walt Disney World in a few years, there’s lots to come back to see. Additionally, if you have plans for future visits, here is our list of what is to come.

Let’s start with the parks, move to the resorts, visit Disney Springs, and then finish out with the Disney Cruise Line.

Magic Kingdom

TTC Parking Lot Remodel

While there is still more to occur in the parking lot itself, the main tram drop off areas are largely completed, and guests now find a larger security check by which to enter.

Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party

Photo by Disney at Play.

Replacing the Move it! Shake it! Dance and Play It Street Party in Magic Kingdom, this new party features Mickey, Minnie and other characters dancing to popular Mickey Mouse Club remixes, plus a main key theme song It’s a Good Time by the DeeKompressors. The party includes merchandise, as well as themed food and beverages.

Joffrey’s Revive Coffee Kiosk

Complimenting this end of Tomorrowland is a new coffee location for guests needing a jolt before lining up for Space Mountain. It’s design is very much in keeping with earlier Tomorrowland architectural cues from the 1960s (Disneyland) and 1970s (Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World)

Photo by Disney at Play.

Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular

Fireworks for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Rendering by Disney.

For the first time in 14 years, the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World has introduced a brand-new, Halloween fireworks spectacular to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.  This new show features state-of-the-art projection effects, lasers, lighting and dazzling fireworks that come together to tell a not-so-scary story about how anything can happen on Halloween night. The show takes guests along on a trick-or-treating adventure, where four friends – Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy – find themselves drawn into a mysterious haunted house hosted by Jack Skellington. The journey takes them from one room of the house to another, encountering dancing skeletons, waltzing ghosts and a whole series of troublemaking Disney villains.

Minnie’s Wonderful Christmas Time Fireworks

Photos by Disney.

Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks show, hosted by the one-and-only Minnie Mouse, will celebrate the magic of Christmas with medleys of beloved holiday songs, from “Joy to the World” and “Deck the Halls” to “Up on the House Top” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”  


New Tram & Security Entrance

Arriving at Epcot there is a new tram loading and unloading station:

Tram load and unload station. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

There is also a new security entrance, making it easier to take the monorail from Magic Kingdom and TTC. You no longer have to go through another security check.

Epcot Security. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

New Pin Central Store

A central retail location for purchasing and trading pins will be moved from its current location into what is currently the camera store.

Awesome Planet

Over in the Land pavilion, Awesome Planet is the name of a new film that is played in the theater space where Circle of Life once showed, and Symbiosis prior to that. The film features spectacular imagery, in-theater effects and an original musical score from Academy Award-winning composer Steven Price

For a review of this film, check out the following:

New Character Meet ‘n’ Greets in Imagination

There are three

Temporary Starbucks Location

For those missing their old Starbucks Fountain View experience, that is gone. But in the interim, there is a new temporary location on your way to Canada in World Showcase. It is off the path that takes you to and from Journey Into Your Imagination. There is also a new restroom in this area as well.

Canada Far & Wide

Debuting in January of 2020, this film features a new story, a new musical score by Canadian composer Andrew Lockington and narration by Canadian actors Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy.

Check out my review below:

Beauty & The Beast Sing Along Review

“Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along” in the France pavilion is directed and produced by Don Hahn, producer of the animated and live-action “Beauty and the Beast” films, and invites guests to participate in a twist on a tale as old as time. It also features narration from Angela Lansbury, who played Mrs. Potts in the original film. The new sing-along rubs in rotation with “Impressions de France,” which will receive an upgrade to 4K projection. 

Prior to entering there is a beautiful collection of costumes, props and other assorted memorabilia from shows that have their roots in France:

Again, my review of this film is here below.

Race Against the Sun

There is a new exhibit in the museum at Epcot’s Morocco. The center of this showcase is focused on two modern-day races in the desert. It’s an interactive exhibit which allows you to sit in the driver’s seat and experience racing first hand.


Epcot at Walt Disney World is taking the finest of Japanese cuisine to open Takumi-Tei, a table-service restaurant in the heart of the Japan pavilion. This little taste of Japan, will only increase your wonder of Japanese culture and customs. The setting is intimate, and serves premium dishes such as wagyu beef and expensive sake. It also has its own dress code.

Takumi-Tei Entrance. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Takumi-Tei, means house of the artisan. According to Disney, “The design celebrates the relationship between Japanese craftsmanship and the natural world, while the food is inspired by the wonderful collaboration between nature and takumi, the artisan. Guests interested in the ultimate experience are able to indulge in a multi-course tasting menu featuring traditional tea service. It will be the finest in Japanese dining.

Photos by Disney.

Regal Eagle Smokehouse Craft Drafts and Barbecue

The Liberty Inn underwent the knife to create a new counter service experience with plenty of barbecue, and a touch of muppets. The experience is both inside and out, with a counter service experience for those wanting craft brews. But the real winner here is the food. You can check out my post and podcast to find out more.

Art of Disney

The title and merchandise that was part of Art of Disney at the front of Epcot has moved to Heritage Manor at the American Adventure pavilion. Still, it sit amid Georgian clay brick with some colonial style touches.

Epcot Forever

A limited time interim show, titled Epcot Forever, debuted October 1, 2019. This is an all-new, limited-time spectacle of fireworks, music, lighting, lasers and choreographed, special effects kites. The show takes guests on a journey through the past, present and future of Epcot. You can see a video of this below:

The Epcot Experience

Guests can now see many of the new coming attractions coming to Epcot showcased at The Epcot Experience, now at The Odyssey. Along with models, photos and posters, this 360 seamless presentation is offered.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Revised Tram, Bus & Security Entrance

An open, wide and spacious area has been created in the front of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It opened in time for the start of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

New Studio Arch

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Arch. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Announced on the 30th anniversary of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the archway was redone with new paint and logo signage. Theoretically, it should present Mickey, Woody and BB8 on the arch, but that has yet to be added.

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Labeled as the first major Mickey-themed ride-through attraction at Walt Disney World, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway Train will put guests inside the wacky and unpredictable world of a Mickey Mouse cartoon short where anything can happen.

You can listen and see a full podcast and post here.

Mickey Shorts Theater

In a makeover to the theater where Path of the Jedi has been playing is a a new Mickey Mouse short entitled, Vacation Fun. This cartoon actually is a compilation of several previously done shorts, and is a great way to become familiar to this Disney Channel cartoon series.

Disney Junior Dance Party and More

Photo by Disney at Play.

Young ones can join favorites like Vampirina, Doc McStuffins, Timon and even Mickey. These stars of the Disney Junior TV shows rock out with guests during a high-energy production that takes place several times throughout the day. The attraction opened in the Fall of 2018.

Photo by Disney at Play.

Make note that Vampirini and now Fancy Nancy have been added recently to provide meet ‘n’ greets.


Photo by Disney at Play.

This was once a space called Pixar Studios, and it was the main entry for Toy Story Mania. The entrance for that attraction is now on the other side of the building off of Toy Story Land. This area has been re-established as An Incredible Celebration. During the day, you can find dance party titled The Super Shindig, where Mr & Mrs. Incredible along with Frozone are dancing and interacting with guests. It’s also the place to find Edna Mode for an official meet ‘n’ greet in her Super-Suit Gallery.

Lightning McQueen Racing Academy

This show seems catered to the youngest common denominator of Cars fan, but truth is that this show offers one of the most amazing animatronics Disney has to offer. It seems more like a car than animatronic. As you study the video below, you will recognize a racing machine come to life like never before:

Video by Disney at Play.

Monster’s Incorporated Meet ‘n’ Greet

For some time Walt Disney Presents has carved out a space for meet ‘n’ greets. It appears that the Mike and Sully from Monster’s Incorporated have taken up a more permanent space here, and are awaiting guests who drop by to visit.

Photo by Disney at Play.

Toy Story Land

Toy Story Land is the first of a one-two punch in revitalizing Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This land is similar to other lands created for Walt Disney Studios Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Shanghai Disneyland. Only this attraction features attractions not found in any of those lands.

Photo by Disney at Play.

Toy Story Mania New Track & Entrance

The first of these attractions is an old one, Midway Mania. It has a new entrance. And the attraction itself became 50% bigger a few years back when they added another track system. Therefore, the lines are not nearly as long as they were in the past.

New Entrance to Toy Story Mania
Photo by Disney at Play.

Alien Swirling Saucers

Alien Swirling Saucers is similar to Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree at Disney California Adventure. Seated behind a Green Alien, you are swung around in a figure eight. It’s very much a carnival ride, but the way it is decked out it is clearly a play on the Pizza Planet theme, to include mushrooms, bell peppers and pepperoni on the nearby planets. It’s beautiful at night, which is a great time for riding it.

Alien Swirling Saucers at Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Photo by Disney at Play.

Slinky Dog Dash

Slinky Dog Dash is by far the centerpiece of this new land, and it’s a coaster that is best labeled as fun. This family coaster, with a dual launch system, really moves as it dips, dodges and dashes. It’s themed as if Andy built it in his backyard using his Mega Coaster Play Kit and some other favorite toys, including Jessie and Rex.

Photo by Disney at Play.

Woody’s Lunch Box

Andy has taken his lunch box and turned it into a backyard counter service restaurant serving treats unique to Toy Story Land. Grilled three-cheese sandwiches, “Totchos”, Root Beer floats, and tarts are all part of the fare. Breakfast is also served at this location.

Photo by Disney at Play.

New Toy Story Meet ‘n’ Greet Experiences

Woody, Buzz Lightyear and Jessie now have a new home at Toy Story Land, and they, along with the green army toy soldiers, are out meeting and interacting with guests.

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opened on August 29th, 2019 is the largest land addition to occur in a Disney theme park. At 14 acres, it occupies the back half of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It has many components, to include the following:

Black Spire Village Outpost. This is a bustling marketplace that offers food & beverage, merchandise, and immersive experiences. Most of the pedestrian experience will take place in this outpost. Beware, storm troopers have arrived and they are looking for members of the Resistance.


Shopping choices include:

  • Black Spire Outfitters
  • Jewels of Bith
  • Bina’s Creature Stall
  • Toydarian’s Toyshop
  • Dok-Ondar’s Den of Anitiquities
  • Savi’s Workshop–Handbuilt Llightsabers
  • Droid Depot
  • First Order Cargo
  • Resistance Supply


Food & Beverage includes:

  • Docking Bay 7
  • Ronto’s Roosters
  • Kat Saka’s Kettle
  • Milk Stand
  • Oga’s Cantina

Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run

Who doesn’t love the Millennium Falcon? This attraction is a major “E-Ticket” simulator that will allow you to pilot the infamous Star Wars ship. It is the focal point behind the village. It’s tucked away and waiting for guests to sign up for this important mission. No question that this is probably one of the most photographed icons at any Disney park. 

Rise of the Resistance

Sent on assignment to help out the resistance, your ship is pulled onto a Star Destroyer. There you board ride vehicles as you go about escaping the ship and heading back to Batuu. This is one of the most amazing and intricately complex attractions built by Disney in decades, and is a “not to be missed” attraction. Do not let the modest entrance to this experience mislead you. This houses one of the biggest attraction layouts, and involves multiple ride vehicle experiences in one of the longer ride experiences.

Need More? We highly recommend that you check out our Complete Guide to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. It includes exclusive interactive maps, photos, videos and much, much more.

Baseline Tap House

Photo by Disney at Play.

This open air space on Grand Avenue at Disney’s Hollywood Studios offers a variety of California brews and bites. Baseline Bites is a revised section of what was previously Streets of the World at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

New Star Tours Scene

Timed with the Rise of Skywalker film, Star Tours will have new places to travel on its itinerary. It also has scenes that take your ship to Batuu upon completion of your tour.

Wonderful World of Animation

Depiction by Disney.

As part of Disney’s Hollywood Studios 30th anniversary Wonderful World of Animation debuted. It uses state-of-the-art technology to take you on a magical journey through more than 90 years of Disney animation, all beginning with Mickey Mouse. You’ll find snippets from popular new films like Wreck it Ralph and Coco, to more obscure offerings like Bolt and The Black Cauldron. It’s shown in front of The Chinese Theater just prior to Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Pandora: World of Avatar

This new land has in many ways redefined the experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It is a brand new land, and is unlike anything Disney has created before. It’s largely an outdoor experience with indoor attractions. Many are uncertain about visiting, as they may not be fans of the Avatar film. But know that this experience stands on its own, and can be enjoyed even if you have never seen the movie.

For those who followed the film, it has now been several decades since the RDA (Resources Development Administration) have been thrown out of this planet. Now Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE) is providing environmental tours to guests visiting the area.

The signature of the land are the floating mountains. This is the Valley of Mo’ara, and throughout, one fines lush and unusual fauna and flora. At night much of this glows, so be sure to visit after the sun sets.

Photo by Disney at Play.

Avatar Flight of Passage

This attraction is rated as one of the best attractions in all of Walt Disney World. Here you climb atop a winged mountain banshee for an amazing 3D flight over Pandora’s otherworldly landscape. This is a thrill ride where you are wearing 3D glasses. There is also a height requirement. But don’t let this intimidate you. It’s a ride worth taking.

The queue takes you through laboratories, caves and mountain trails that tell the story of your flight of passage. Photo by Disney at Play..

Na’vi River Journey

This dark ride is a boat journey through the Kasvapan River of Pandora. Here the native animals and bioluminescent flora come to life. Wait until you see the native frogs jump back and forth from giant lillies. The highlight of this short tour is coming upon the Na’vi Shaman of Songs. It’s Disney’s most advanced Audio-Animatronic to date.

Photo by Disney at Play.


This shop has had its walls long since overtaken by natural root structures. But here you find Na’vi cultural artifacts and animal toys to science kits and Alpha Centauri Expeditions Apparel. A favorite is a toy Banshi that you can carry on your shoulder.

Photo by Disney at Play.

Satu’li Canteen

One of the most popular counter service restaurants in all of Walt Disney World, this indoor and outdoor mess hall, allows you to take a break while indulging in the art and culture of the Na’vi. But the food is the real star of this location, with a variety of beef, seafood and tofu bowls. You choose your choice of base and sauces to go with it. Folks love the variety it offers, but it competes with the cheeseburger steamed pods. Dessert offers unique choices as well.

Photo by Disney at Play.

Pongu Pongu

Those looking for a quick snack can find some unique beverages plus Pongu Lumpia–pineapple cream cheese spring rolls. One can also find breakfast items to go.

Photo by Disney at Play.

Pandora Entertainment

The real star of this land is the land itself. It is stunning to study. Still, there are some entertainment offerings:

The Pandora Drummers–Swotu Wayä help visitors explore the unique sounds and organic rhythms beating forth from “the sacred place of song.” Join in and bang on a drum or when invited to do so or between presentations.

Photo by Disney at Play.

Pandora Rangers operate the Exo-Carrier Utility Suit, an awe-inspiring piece of mobile research equipment. It’s perfect for sharing insightful lessons on conservation and for doing meet ‘n’ greet photos.

Photo by Disney at Play.

UP! A Great Bird Adventure

Photo by Disney at Play.

There has always been an exotic bird show in this space since Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened over 25 years ago. But recently it has been revamped to the theme of UP! Russell and Dug join the cast, but they are overshadowed by the birds themselves.

Photo by Disney at Play.

The Animation Experience at Conservation Station

A good chunk of Conservation Station has been taken over with a drawing class where you get to learn how to draw your favorite Disney animal characters. You can see how it plays out in the video below:


The one bird that is not in the UP! bird show is the bird from UP! Kevin is that bird, and she (yes she) makes appearances walking through Discovery island.

Photo by Disney at Play.

Donald’s Dino-Bash

Photo by Disney at Play.

This temporary entertainment overlay from last year has been so successful that it continues to dress the experience in this corner of the park. The premise is that Donald has learned that his feathered ancestors were dinosaurs. So why not camp out in Dinoland? While Chip ‘n’ Dale actively joins the dance party, most of the characters do meet ‘n’ greets. This includes Goofy, Daisy, Pluto, Scrooge McDuck, Lauchpad McQuack and of course, Donald.

Holidays at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

While there have been decorations and even a festive tree in front of the park during the Christmas holidays, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been several notches below the other parks in recent years. In 2019 the park added a number of features–and in each of the lands.

It begins when you cross the bridge to Discovery Island, here guests find themselves in the midst of a celebration of winter, hand-crafted by the eclectic community of artists who make the island their home. The village is filled with sparkling white holiday decorations. Colorful, animal-inspired luminaries line the rooftops, and wireframe lanterns in the shape of beautiful birds are found perched throughout the area.

And during the day, Discovery Island springs to life with a holiday gathering of winter animals, realized in the form of life-size, artisan-sculpted puppets. Reindeer, foxes, polar bears, penguins and more interact with guests, accompanied by serenading musicians as they create a playful atmosphere of festive fun.

As day becomes night, the rooftop luminaries and bird lanterns all around Discovery Island bring a nighttime glow to the entire village. At the center of everything, the Tree of Life awakens with a series of wintry tales, complemented by a familiar and heartwarming holiday-inspired musical score. Between awakening moments, the Tree of Life continues to shimmer and sparkle throughout the night, alive with the magic of nature and the spirit of the holidays.

Over in Dinoland, U.S.A., all the Disney character friends gather for Donald’s Dino-Bash! getting into the spirit with colorful holiday decorations in the style of Donald Duck and each of his pals. The lighting package here is almost reminiscent of the outpouring of lights that was found during the Osborne Festival of Lights at the Studios.

In Asia, the residents of Anandapur decorate the theatre district in celebration of Diwali, the holiday festival of lights in India. Glowing flowers, lanterns and more will illuminate the square between Anandapur Theater and the waterfront stage, home to authentic cultural performances.

The village of Harambe in Africa welcomes visitors with a unique holiday presentation, blending the inspiration and style of western traditions with the colors and textiles of authentic African celebrations. The various groups appearing throughout Harambe introduce holiday-inspired enhancements, including costume additions and new music, to their performances.

The holiday spirit even reaches Pandora–The World of Avatar,  where the ex-pats living and working on the moon of Pandora bring a little Christmastime fun to their alien home, with a display at Pongu Pongu of kitschy holiday décor, combining vintage pieces from Earth with items handcrafted from materials indigenous to Pandora.

Rivers of Light: We are One

Disney’s Animal Kingdom has always needed a nighttime show. It’s challenge centers around two issues. First, tying the show to the themes of the park. Second, doing a show without the use of pyro, so as to not create anxiety among the animals who call this park home.

Photo by Disney at Play.

The result of this is Rivers of Light. The show has evolved over the last couple of years as it seeks to find its identity. Its current incarnation is Rivers of Light: We are One. This show celebrates nature with a touch of Disney, as animal characters from the movies make their appearance. Instead of pyro, the show uses fountains, boats and projection to illustrate how “We are One”. You can see the show below:

Video by Disney at Play.

Tree of Life Awakenings

The centerpiece not just of Discovery Island, but all of Disney’s Animal Kingdom comes to live at night with Tree of Life Awakenings. Occurring every 10 or so minutes through the evening, this music and projection show comes to life. It’s very popular with guests as they finish out their day at the park. Some like the show more than Rivers of Light

Photo by Disney at Play.

Disney Resorts

Disney Skyliner

Disney Skyliner. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney has opened a gondola system that connects with four hotels, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Riviera Resort. It is a complimentary service. You can see a video of it below:

Disney’s Grand Floridian

Enchanted Rose

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa has a new re-imagined lounge featuring four unique spaces inspired by the film, Beauty and the Beast. The signature bar has a gold chandelier that takes its inspiration from Belle’s flowing ball gown, with subtle nods to the Beast’s magical rose. The formal library showcases classical baroque designs and French furnishings inspired by Belle, with hints of the Beast’s friends. The garden room draws its inspiration from the enchanted forest surrounding Beast’s castle. And the outdoor patio evokes the romance of the Beast’s garden terrace. All of this will occur in the space which was formerly Mizner’s Lounge and Commander Porter’s.

Disney’s Riviera Resort

Disney Vacation Club’s 15th property opened in December 2019. It offers about 300 family-friendly vacation homes, including deluxe studios, one-and two-bedroom villas and grand villas that sleep up to 12 guests. A separate Disney Skyliner station offers transportation.


Disney’s Riviera Resort has a rooftop signature table-service restaurant called – Topolino Terrace: Flavors of the Riviera and views of nighttime shows at Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Topolino is the Italian name for Mickey Mouse. The restaurant will include an expo kitchen and wood-burning grill, and will serve authentic French and Italian dishes. It will also offer character dining for breakfast.

Additionally, La Petit Cafe is largely a lounge and can be found on the 2nd level. You may recall that this was the name of the restaurant in Disney’s AristoCats.

Voyageurs’ Lounge

Adjacent to Le Petit Cafe is a small library space. It’s a great location to grab something from the cafe and sit back and enjoy. In the evening it becomes a more formal lounge on its own offering drinks and snacks.

Primo Piatto offers casual service dining. The food is really good, though the queue to order is long, and the wait for food thereafter not much better. Still, it’s a great respite that is just a Skyliner away from being at the Studios or Epcot.

It along with Bar Riva can be found on the 1st level.

For shopping there is La Boutique.

Disney’s Coronado Springs

Gran Destino Tower

This moderately priced hotel that focuses on convention traffic has just created a more upscale experience. At the center is a new 15 story tower that also is the main entrance point for hotel resort guests. It alone adds 545 guest rooms, including 50 suites.

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Entering the hotel guests are greeted by a two-story lobby. This addition has an interior connection to the main areas of the rest of the conference hotel.

Barcelona Lounge

With a magnificent stained glass background, the Barcelona Lounge on the first level of the new tower offers signature cocktails, premium wines, craft beer, and coffee favorites.

The dramatic backdrop to the Barcelona Lounge. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Toledo–Tapas, Steak & Seafood

Head to the top of the tower at night for a fine-dining experience.

Grand Destino Tower at Night. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

A themed table-service restaurant will sit atop the tower and offer views of the resort. This will be a great location to watch fireworks from Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Dahlia Lounge

The Dahlia Lounge accompanies the Toledo restaurant. It is a rooftop lounge that also feeds off of the Spanish surrealism. And it offers great views.

A savory churro available at Dahlia Lounge. Photo by Disney.

Three Bridges Bar & Grill at Villa del Lago.

Three Bridges Bar & Grill at Villa del Lago. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

This location offers not only a great place to casually dine, but an important bridge that was needed to get guests from one end of this sprawling resort to the other.

Three Bridges Bar & Grill at Villa del Lago. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Storybook Dining at Artist Point

Photos by Disney.

Artist Point received a makeover, becoming a character dining experience with characters from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The restaurant has been transformed into an enchanted forest where guests will dine on a dishes such as Hunter’s Pie, Winter Squash Bisque, Royal Prime Rib, Seafood Stew, and Fairy Tale Gooseberry Pie. While there, they get to meet Snow White and a few of the dwarfs as they move around the restaurant. Guests even have an opportunity for a meet ‘n’ greet encounter with The Queen!

Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort

Ale & Compass

Photo by Disney.

This restaurant, formerly known as Captain’s Grille) just off the lobby at Disney’s Yacht club has a new look and feel. The on-stage “hearth” oven area, where a select few diners can grab a seat, is the focal point of this warm and inviting space that is reminiscent of an off-shore lighthouse with rich, salvaged materials that are the decorative finishes. It also has a newly redesigned menu, while still keeping longtime favorites.

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Calypso Trading Post

The first of Disney’s moderately priced hotels, major renovations has come to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort in Spring of 2018. Originally, the check-in area was up front and separate of the main public spaces of Old Port Royale. That space has given way to Disney’s Riviera Resort, and Old Port Royale now serves as the new port of entry. The lobby has been colorfully reappointed with an open-trussed roof and a colonnade with floor-to-ceiling tiles.

Photo by Disney at Play.

The original gift shop for the resort has been moved to a new location, and now provides supplies and souvenirs for guests staying there.

Photo by Disney at Play.

Centertown Market

Port Royale also had the first real “food court” when it was established back in 1988. It’s still a fast-casual indoor street market, but now guests are able to order and pay from one location and also was one of the first to utilize mobile ordering.

Sebastian’s Bistro

Photo by Disney at Play.

Shutters was once the table service establishment. Now an entirely new restaurant has been created in an all new space. Sebastian’s Bistro is a Caribbean-inspired table-service restaurant featuring warm island hospitality and waterfront views. It’s not heavy on The Little Mermaid theme, but guests will feel like they’ve stepped into a tropical beachfront home offering tantalizing Latin and Caribbean flavors. Banana Cabana is an adjacent pool-side bar that’s always on “island time.”

Spyglass Grill

This new walk-up quick service location offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, and featured on the menu are popular American foods infused with classic Caribbean flavors. It’s separate of the other offerings in Port Royale, providing an option for guests in the Trinidad South area.

Photo by Disney.

Minnie Van

Photo by Disney at Play.

In its short tenure, over a million guests have used the Minnie van transportation service. It is now in conjunction with Lyft and brings guests visiting the Walt Disney World Resort to locations throughout the resort and also to and from the airport. They can accommodate scooters and ECV.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

The Arena

Photo by Disney at Play.

ESPN Wide World of Sports opened a new multi-use sports and entertainment venue in 2018. It will seat more than 8,000 guests and have the ability to host six regulation basketball courts, six regulation volleyball courts or concert configurations. For cheer and dance events, it will accommodate performance and warm-up space and include a flexible design for one large competition space that can be set up for as many as four competition areas. Additional areas can be tailored for warm-up and practice, along with areas for judges and officials. There are concessions throughout the building, and additional box office and entry to the complex.

Disney Springs

NBA Experience

Located in the space formerly occupied by DisneyQuest, this NBA fan’s dream will include interactive games and immersive experiences that allow you to shoot hoops and dunk balls. It’ll also feature a retail store and an adjacent restaurant. It opened in August of 2019.

City Works

The seventh of its kind in the country, City Works offers 90+ beers on tap and a menu of American food with chef-driven twists. It sits in the same adjacent space as the NBA Experience.


Photo by Disney at Play.

This may be the most instagrammable retail location in all of Walt Disney World. This boutique offers on-trend apparel and accessories inspired by beloved Disney attractions and characters. Imagery of Dole whips, churros, is in step with a large teacup set up for selfies.

Jaleo by José Andrés

Photo by Disney at Play.

This 22,000 square foot restaurant is brand new, and celebrates the cuisine of Spanish chef José Andrés. The venue brings the spirit and flavors of Spain to Disney Springs visitors via a freestanding, two-story building with a design that was strongly influenced by the artichoke – a vegetable native to Andrés’ homeland. In this context, the artichoke structure opens up with “petals” that form pergolas, seamlessly extending to the outdoors. With no solid walls, the space is completely open to the outside and features large windows that offer picturesque lake views and an impressive central courtyard that visually connects both floors. It is an avant-garde, and expressionist architecture. The color palette showcases citrus shades like orange and lemon paired with photos and paintings from some of Spain’s most celebrated photographers and artists.

The menu features an extensive menu of tapas, the traditional small plates of Spain, as well as paellas, sangrias, and a selection of Spanish wines and sherries. It is the fifth Jaleo location in the U.S., and the first in Florida. It is also their largest.

Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill

Photo by Disney.

Wolfgang Puck has had a long-time presence during the Downtown Disney years. Now at Disney Springs, it has a brand new restaurant in an all new location. Puck continues to bring the essence of the laid-back California dining experience to this new venue.

Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante

The title suggests Italian food, but the decor is altogether different. Set in a storied airline terminal from the 1930s, the structure has transformed into an elegant eatery featuring a spacious interior that perfectly sets the tone for a first-class, foodie experience.

Photo by Disney.

Noteworthy elements include 50-foot high ceilings, a grand staircase and floor-to-ceiling views of Lake Buena Vista. Vintage maps and artifacts on display throughout the dining room also playfully enhance the aviation theme. And the menu? Here you find the taste of traditional Sicilian dishes true to Southern Italy.

Enzo’s Hideaway

Photo by Disney.

You’ll see the sign for this locale, but you won’t see a building attached to it. That’s because this locale is underneath the Landing. It’s the former dressing rooms for Cast Members during the Downtown Disney days. Now it’s been transformed into a 1920’s speakeasy hideaway, inspired by Florida’s secretive “rum-running” past. As such this watering hole specializes in barrel-aged cocktails and has the largest selection of rums and scotches than any other restaurant at Disney Springs.

Pizza Ponte

Photo by Disney.

Need to grab a quick slice of pizza to go? Consider this quick-service restaurant a go-to spot when you’re in the mood for something sweet or savory. Menu highlights include made-to-order sandwiches, an assortment of house-baked Italian pastries and Sicilian-style pizza by the slice. A selection of Italian beer and wine is also available.

World of Disney

Photo by Disney at Play.

World of Disney received a massive overhaul to its signature superstore. Gone are the gold steampunk style vehicles driven by Disney characters. The store, which was compartmentalized like a department store is now wide open. In place of its individually themed rooms is an open industrialized look. The effect is bright and airy, but much less thematic. Touches can be found throughout the store that harken back to old-style animation–in particular, the 9 old men who led hand-drawn animation. Film posters change out, sketch pads come to life, and pixie dust jumps between paint jars behind the registers. Look at the counters themselves, where you see character sketches carved into the wood.

Photo by Disney at Play.

The details are subtle and must be studied to be seen. What the new remodel does allow is having the merchandise become the center of the focus. Entire sections of the store can be re-themed with lighting and props as they focus on various holidays or character offerings. Moreover, there is a lot of it. There is no store with more Disney merchandise gathered together in one place, and thousands flock daily to do their one-stop shopping.

Chicken Guy

Photo by Disney at Play.

This locale adjacent to Planet Hollywood is the creation of celebrity chef Guy Fieri and restauranteur Robert Earl. These two most recently collaborated on the new burger and sandwich menu at Planet Hollywood and came together once again to create an all-new concept that features one-of-a-kind all-natural fresh chicken tenders. Grilled and fried chicken tenders are offered with your choice of two signature sauces from 20 varieties. There are also other add ons. Note this is a counter-service restaurant where you line up to order, and then your food is brought out to you.

This store is also in the process of enlarging its size/capacity.

Ron John Store

This 10,000-square-foot store carries GoPro cameras, surfboards, skateboards and everything sun lovers need. There is an array of men’s, women’s and kids’ beach essentials—from casual apparel, swimwear and wetsuits to a plethora of accessories, drinkware, footwear, headwear, home goods, games, sun care, toys and souvenirs commemorating “60 years of surfing.”

Wine Bar George

Photo by Disney at Play.

George is for Master Sommelier Goerge Miliotes. He along with Chef was responsible for the creation of Disney’s California Grill before they left to join Darden’s and create Seasons 52 across the country. He now has his own “comfortable-yet-lively environment that’s reminiscent of a renovated winery. The 6,000 two floor, 200-seat location features wood ceilings, concrete floors, warm lighting and over 1300 selections by the ounce, glass, and bottle. It also features a range of dishes. Adjacent is a to-go shop called Basket at Wine Bar George.

Terralina Crafted Italian

Photo by Disney at Play.

This locale may seem familiar, as it was once the Portabello restaurant. It has been remodeled into a different Italian culinary experience. Inspired by Italy’s Lake District, with its alluring vistas and sun-drenched settings, guests have a standing invitation to soak in all that feels good. Here we find crafted Italian cooking around genuine flavors and authentic dishes. The kitchen is at the heart of Terralina Crafted Italian and the wood-burning oven fires a selection of hand tossed pizzas, calzones and fresh vegetable along with dishes from the hearth including chicken parmesan and seafood cannelloni prepared with housemade pasta.

The Edison

Photo by Disney at Play.

The Edison is a steam-punk, industrial-gothic themed restaurant and entertainment venue. It offers a variety of spaces such as the Lab performance space, The Ember Parlour, Telegraph Lounge, The Patent Office, The Tesla Lounge, The Radio Room, and the Waterfront Patio. It also offers nightly entertainment, with guests needing to be 21 years or older after 10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday nights.

The Void

Photo by Disney at Play.

The Void is a virtual reality studio where guests have a multi-sensory experience into new worlds. Armed with headware teams of four are able to walk freely and untethered as they go through a 365 degree world. There are two types of experiences. Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire invites guests to go undercover as stormtroopers to capture Imperial intelligence vital to the budding rebellion’s survival. In Ralph Breaks VR, you join Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz as they break out of the arcade games they call home and roam the online world. Reservations can be made ahead of time, as well as, a schedule of which experiences are held when.

Disney Cruise Line

We cover the Disney Cruise Line because many people choose a land/sea option when visiting Walt Disney World. If you haven’t, then discovering the Disney Cruise Line may be the biggest experience you are missing. Still, our coverage focuses on recent additions to the fleet. We’ll cover each ship below:

Disney Magic

Rapunzel’s Royal Table

Disney Magic cruise ship in March 2018 added an enchanting dining experience for families at Rapunzel’s Royal Table. The first table service restaurant themed to “Tangled” that features characters and live entertainment, transports guests to the kingdom of Corona for an evening of music and interactive fun. It’s adorned with Rapunzel’s hand-painted murals and 240 wish lanterns.

Photo by Disney.


  • The Vibe, a retreat just for teens 14-17 has also been redesigned.
  • A remodeled Cove Cafe, exclusive to adults, opens adjacent to the Quiet Cove Pool.
  • Club Disney Junior has added additional enhancements.

Disney Dream

Beauty and the Beast

Through a combination of high-definition projections, dynamic scenery and a little bit of Disney magic, this new interpretation of “Beauty and the Beast” creates a visual panorama that reaches beyond the stage and into the audience. Staging wise, it follows some of the sensibilities of the live action film, Beauty and the Beast.

Photo by Disney.

Tiffany & Co.

The iconic American luxury brand is now onboard the Disney Dream in a glamorous boutique located on deck four near the ship’s grand atrium. The new location offers the same similar sophisticated shopping experience as the brand’s store on the Disney Fantasy.

Disney Wonder

French Quarter Lounge

The world of “The Princess and the Frog” came to life with Tiana’s Place Restaurant. Now a French Quarter lounge is added to this space, featuring live music and themed activities for the family. It is a natural precursor to dinner at Tiana’s, or a place to come and enjoy after dinner and through the evening.

Photo by Disney at Play.


  • The Vibe, a retreat just for teens 14-17 has also been redesigned.
  • A remodeled Cove Cafe, exclusive to adults, opens adjacent to the Quiet Cove Pool.

Disney Fantasy

Reimagined, Aladdin–A Musical Spectacular

Photo by Disney.Photo by Disney at Play.

The reimagined version of Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular debuts on the Disney Fantasy thanks to the creative minds of Disney and a team of Broadway’s top artists. Along with an updated script and enriched storylines, the show has brand-new choreography, score additions, puppetry, reimagined costumes, lighting, video/projection design and exciting pyrotechnics. Just in time for the live action movie’s release, this production is sure to delight theatergoers of all ages and will help inspire the next generation of “Aladdin” fans.

Frozen, A Musical Spectacular will also join the Disney Fantasy on October 26th. It plays already on the Disney Wonder.

Photo by Disney at Play.

So, now that you are up to date on the new and exciting offerings at Walt Disney World, if you haven’t had a chance yet, check out what is to come. Our new page, What’s Coming, will blow you away. Dozens of new attractions, hotels and restaurants will open in the next few years, so get ready. There is lots to see and do. Come pay a visit!

J. Jeff Kober