What’s Coming to the Disney Theme Parks, Disney Cruise Line, and Adventures by Disney in 2023

The year ahead is shaping up to be an exciting one for Disney fans.
Journey of Water will be the first attraction inspired by Moana (Credit: Disney)
Journey of Water will be the first attraction inspired by Moana (Credit: Disney)

With new rides, restaurants, and shows all set to debut at Disney’s theme parks in Orlando and Anaheim, plus new themed cruises on Disney Cruise Line and new guided tour options coming to Adventures by Disney, it sure seems like 2023 is going to be a big year for The Walt Disney Company. If you’re planning a Disney vacation, here’s everything you need to know about what’s coming in the year ahead.

What’s Coming to Walt Disney World in 2023

With four massive theme parks, two Disney water parks, more than two dozen Disney hotels in Orlando, and a lively dining and entertainment district, Walt Disney World is always a popular family vacation spot in even when there aren’t new attractions to buzz about. But in 2023, a number of new attractions and dining venues (plus the return of two beloved fireworks shows) give Disney fans reason to be even more excited than usual.

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1. TRON Lightcycle / Run at Magic Kingdom

TRON Lightcycle / Run is one of the fastest coasters in any Disney park (Photo: Disney)
TRON Lightcycle / Run is one of the most anticipated new theme park attractions of 2023 (Photo: Disney)

One of the most highly anticipated attraction openings in recent years, TRON Lightcycle / Run is set to finally welcome guests to the grid on April 4, 2023. The high-speed coaster is based on the TRON movies and is located in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom. One of the signature features of this new coaster is the large covering that hangs over the outside portion of the track, which will be illuminated in the iconic TRON blue at night.

2. The Return of Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom

Disney's Happily Ever After fireworks show at Magic Kingdom (Photo: Kent Phillips)
Disney’s Happily Ever After fireworks show returns to Magic Kingdom in 2023 (Photo: Kent Phillips)

During Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, a new nighttime fireworks show, Disney Enchantment, took to the skies over Magic Kingdom. Now that show is set to retire and the fan-favorite Happily Ever After will make its triumphant return on April 3. The returning show will feature its iconic soundtrack along with new projections down Main Street U.S.A.

3. Round-Up Rodeo BBQ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

A new eatery will open this spring inside Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. At Round-Up Rodeo BBQ, guests will be able to enjoy delicious house-smoked BBQ and sides all served family style. Around the Western-themed restaurant, avid Toy Story fans will spot some of their favorite characters from the franchise, larger-than-life toy trains, and barrels of monkeys strung across the ceiling.

4. Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana at EPCOT

If you have kids, or if you love animated movies, you’ve likely heard the songs of Disney’s hit animated movie Moana. This year the movie is getting its own themed attraction at EPCOT. Called Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana, the interactive walk-through attraction will be located in World Nature, near The Seas with Nemo and Friends and The Land pavilions.

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Along with hidden characters in the rock work, parkgoers will encounter a 16-foot-tall figure of the character Te Fiti. Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana, is scheduled to debut in late 2023.

5. Two Fireworks shows at EPCOT

Epcot Forever fireworks spectacular (Photo: Kent Phillips)
Epcot Forever will return for a limited time in 2023 (Photo: Kent Phillips)

EPCOT’s current fireworks, Harmonious, will end with the conclusion of Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary. Starting April 3, for a limited time, the popular EPCOT Forever fireworks spectacular will be shown nightly around World Showcase Lagoon. Then later this year, an all-new nighttime show will launch into the sky at EPCOT. 

6. Festival Season Returns at EPCOT

EPCOT International Festival of the Arts (Photo: Harrison Cooney)
EPCOT International Festival of the Arts is one of four seasonal festivals at the park (Photo: Harrison Cooney)

One thing that continues to draw guests into EPCOT is its year-round festivals. This year, there will be four festival seasons, each of which has its own distinct theme. January 13 through February 20 will be the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts. In the spring, EPCOT is in full bloom during the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival. Summer will bring EPCOT’s iconic International Food and Wine Festival, which will run until the holidays when the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays starts. 

7. The Cake Bake Shop at Disney’s BoardWalk

Opening where the shuttered ESPN Club was formerly located at Disney’s BoardWalk will be a new whimsical bakery called The Cake Bake Shop. The eatery will be part bakery and part restaurant with brunch, lunch, dinner, and afternoon tea service. The bakery is a welcome addition to Disney’s BoardWalk, which continues to get major upgrades.

8. Rosa Mexicano at Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resort

Another new restaurant coming to Walt Disney World is Rosa Mexicano at Disney’s Dolphin Resort. With other locations around the country, Orlando’s version of the restaurant will feature an elevated dining experience, with signature menu items and award-winning margaritas. Rosa Mexicano is slated to open in early 2023. 

What’s Coming to Disneyland in 2023

World of Color at Disneyland in Anaheim, California (Photo: @gavinvanderbeek via Twenty20)
Disneyland kicks off the Disney100 celebration in January (Photo: @gavinvanderbeek via Twenty20)

The original Disney theme park in California will be the kickoff point for Disney100, which starts January 27 and celebrates 100 years of The Walt Disney Company. With that celebration comes a plethora of new things to do at the resort. 

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1. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disneyland

One of the new attractions debuting the same day as the official kick-off of the Disney100 celebration is Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The attraction is located in Mickey’s Toontown, which is also getting a major overhaul and is set to open later in the spring.

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be similar to the attraction of the same name on the opposite coast at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The story will take guests into the cartoon world of Mickey and Minnie Mouse as they ride the train with Goofy and end up in a few unusual circumstances.

2. Overhaul of Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland 

While Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will open first, the rest of Mickey’s Toontown will reopen to guests starting March 8, 2023. The reimagining will bring all-new experiences including a new green space for kids to play and redesigned spaces like Goofy’s House, Donald’s Boat, and more. 

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3. Wonderous Journeys at Disneyland

With the start of Disney100 comes a new nighttime spectacular to Disneyland called Wonderous Journeys. The all-new show will feature nods to every single Disney Animation Studios film to date and a new song, “It’s Wondrous.”

New projections will flow down Main Street U.S.A. and across Sleeping Beauty Castle, the Rivers of America, and the facade of “it’s a small world.” The projection portion of the show will be featured every night of the week, with the addition of fireworks on select nights. 

4. World of Color: One at Disney California Adventure

Over at Disney California Adventure, a new take on its nighttime show, World of Color, will debut on January 27. World of Color: One promises to bring the storytelling legacy of Walt Disney to life with Disney characters projected on water screens and a brand new song called “Start a Wave.” 

5. Disney California Adventure Festivals at Disney California Adventure

Like EPCOT, Disney California Adventure hosts food festivals throughout the year. In 2023, the festival season kicks off with Lunar New Year, which runs January 20 through February 25, and celebrates all things Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese culture through food and entertainment.

From March 3 through April 25, Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival will take over the park and feature some of the best bites of the year. Disney Festival of the Holidays will take place starting in November and run through the first part of January 2024, though specific dates have not been announced yet. 

What’s Coming to Disney Cruise Line in 2023

Pixar Day at Sea from Disney Cruise Line (Photo: Preston Mack)
Pixar Day at Sea debuts on Disney Cruise Line in 2023 (Photo: Preston Mack)

With five ships in its current fleet and three more on the way, Disney Cruise Line is gearing up for a major expansion of its family cruises in the next few years. In 2023, though, the cruise line just has two major celebrations and new happenings set to debut.

1. Pixar Day at Sea on Disney Fantasy

Making its debut on the Disney Fantasy this year is Pixar Day at Sea. The weeklong cruises will have one dedicated day to celebrate all things Pixar with themed meals, lively entertainment, and fun character meet-and-greets with beloved Pixar Characters. Pixar Day at Sea takes place from early January until mid-March on both Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings. 

2. Disney Cruise Line 25th Anniversary Sailings (Fleet Wide)

Coming this summer, Disney Cruise Line will celebrate its 25th Anniversary on all five Disney ships. The “Silver Anniversary at Sea” will feature new entertainment, merchandise, and experiences onboard the Disney MagicDisney WonderDisney DreamDisney Fantasy, and Disney Wish. The celebration will start in May and go through September. 

What’s Coming to Adventures by Disney in 2023

Adventures by Disney trip to Iceland
Adventures by Disney offers guided trips on all seven continents (Photo: Piotr Redlinski)

With a sprinkle of Disney magic and the company’s signature storytelling expertise, Adventures by Disney is Disney’s take on family tours. The tour operator runs guided family travel adventures to all seven continents while engaging kids and parents alike on the history and culture of the destinations visited.

In 2023, Adventures by Disney is launching two new tours to its lineup. The first is a 10-day land-based tour of the British Isles that includes Dublin, Belfast, the Antrim Coast, Giant’s Causeway, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and London. The second new trip is to Sicily for eight days, where travelers will visit Palermo, Monreale, Agrigento, Piazza Armerina, Caltagirone, Siracusa, Mt. Etna, and Taormina. 

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Megan duBois is a freelance writer who covers theme parks, cruising, food and drink, and family travel. Her work has appeared on Buzzfeed, Popsugar, Insider, Orbitz, The Daily Meal, Family Vacation Critic, TravelPulse, and more. Megan has been quoted as an expert and thought leader on theme parks for Forbes and other outlets. Follow her on Instagram @MinglingwithMickey and Twitter @Megand513 for theme park travel tips and tricks, and email her at megand513 [at] gmail [dot] com for story ideas.

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