What’s Coming (and What’s Coming Back) to Walt Disney World This Summer

With new shows, new rides, and the return of some beloved favorites, the magic is most definitely back at the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Guardians of the Galaxy at EPCOT (Photo: Disney)
Guardians of the Galaxy at EPCOT (Photo: Disney)

Summer is one of the busiest times of year at Disney World, and not just for crowds—there’s always a lot of new things to see and do too. With families ready to travel for summer vacation and Disney World’s phased reopening still picking up steam, you can expect this summer to be loaded with new rides, special events, and the return of some fan-favorite theme park entertainment.

If you’re preparing to visit Disney World this summer, take note. Here are the most exciting new events, activities, and rides coming to the Most Magical Place on Earth in the months ahead.

WHERE TO STAY: The Best Disney World Hotels for Families of 5+

1. H2O Glow After Hours at Typhoon Lagoon

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park in Orlando (Photo: Kent Phillips)
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park in Orlando (Photo: Kent Phillips)

If visiting a Disney water park is on your family vacation ideas wishlist, summer 2022 may be the time to do it. The popular H2O Glow After Hours is back at Typhoon Lagoon every Saturday through August 27. This limited-attendance, hard-ticketed event gives guests the opportunity to experience popular attractions with a shorter wait time, plus the chance to see Typhoon Lagoon completely illuminated at night. A DJ dance party and limited-time exclusive snacks add to the fun.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Ultimate Guide to Disney Genie and Genie+

2. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

The first full-size Starblaster ever built stands outside the Guardians of the Galaxy ride (Photo: Disney)
The first full-size Starblaster ever built stands outside the Guardians of the Galaxy ride (Photo: Disney)

Disney’s newest thrill ride just celebrated its official opening at EPCOT. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is a family-friendly indoor roller coaster that features an out-of-this world soundtrack, a reverse launch, and of course the Guardians of the Galaxy themselves.

GALAXY QUEST: Is the New Star Wars Hotel Worth the Cost for Families?

Currently, guests may only access the attraction via virtual queueing, either through Boarding Groups (available each day at 7:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., and again at 6:00 p.m. on select dates for guests eligible to attend the park’s extended evening hours) or through an Individual Lightning Lane purchase (prices vary).

3. Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!

Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond at Disney's Animal Kingdom (Photo: David Roark)
Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Photo: David Roark)

The just-launched Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond! is a 25-minute stage show with puppets and other performers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. The production features songs from Disney’s original Finding Nemo musical, including “In the Big Blue World” and “Go With the Flow,” along with new set pieces and a LED video wall.

SUMMER READING: 33 Books Like Harry Potter to Binge on Your Next Vacation

4. Reopening of Hoop Dee Doo Revue at Fort Wilderness

A selection of foods served at the Hoop Dee Doo Revue at Fort Wilderness (Photo: Disney)
A selection of foods served at the Hoop Dee Doo Revue at Fort Wilderness (Photo: Disney)

After closing in 2020, the fan-favorite Hoop Dee Doo Revue will reopen on June 23. This beloved dinner show runs for approximately two hours and is located in Pioneer Hall at one of the most popular places to stay at Disney World, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. The menu includes fried chicken, smoked BBQ ribs, and strawberry shortcake.

WHAT TO EXPECT: Here’s Everything That’s Changed at Disney World Since 2020

According to Disney, guests can be on the lookout for “a few updates to its script and scenery” while enjoying this classic show that has delighted diners for nearly 50 years. Advanced Dining Reservations are available now for Hoop Dee Doo, with doors opening at 4:00 p.m., 6:15 p.m., and 8:30 p.m. The show is dark on Mondays and Tuesdays.

5. Return of the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival

Remy welcomes guests to the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival (Photo: Disney)
Remy welcomes guests to the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival (Photo: Disney)

One of Disney World’s flagship events, the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival, returns July 14 and runs through November 19. This year’s event includes all of the familiar features of years past, including more than 25 Global Marketplace food booths, Remy’s Ratatouille Hide and Squeak scavenger hunt, Emile’s Fromage Montage cheese crawl, and plenty of festival merchandise to fill your luggage with.

DISNEY VACATIONS: The Complete Guide to Disney Vacation Club (DVC)

The summer and fall festival will also bring the return of the Eat to the Beat Concert Series, featuring a lineup of acts that include Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Kris Allen and David Cook, Hoobastank, Hanson, and Boyz II Men, among others.

6. Return of the Full Version of Festival of the Lion King

Following Disney World’s temporary closure in 2020, entertainment saw a slow but steady return to the parks. To allow for safe social distancing, a modified version of the fan-favorite show Festival of the Lion King debuted at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2021.

BRING THE WHOLE FAMILY: How to Plan a Multigenerational Disney World Vacation That Makes Everyone Happy

That modified show, A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King, will have its final performance on July 4 to allow for the return of the full version of the park’s long-running musical show beginning July 16. If you’ve been waiting to welcome back the Festival of the Lion King that you know and love, this summer is the time to do it.

7. The Launch of Disney World’s new MagicBand+ 

MagicBand+ will launch this summer at Disney World (Photo: Disney)
MagicBand+ is expected to launch this summer at Disney (Photo: Walt Disney World Resort)

File this one under things likely to happen at Disney World this summer. While no official date has been announced for the full rollout of Disney’s new MagicBand+, a select number of Disney’s next-generation wearable technology has already arrived on store shelves. And with MagicBand+ seemingly in “soft launch” mode right now, we might expect to see the full launch happen later this summer.

PERSONALIZED PICKS: How to Choose the Best Orlando Theme Park for Your Family

If you’re visiting Disney World, keep your eyes peeled for the opportunity to purchase a MagicBand+ in stores or online ahead of your visit. Once the full MagicBand+ launch gets underway, park guests will be able to experience a new wave of digital wristbands with light-up features and tech that allows the wearer to interact with their environment, including the Disney Fab 50 Golden Character Statues.

While Disney World no longer provides complimentary MagicBands ahead of your visit, you can reuse an old MagicBand for no additional cost, or you can use MagicMobile, which offers all of the same features as MagicBand on your mobile device.

Be on the lookout for additional reopenings this summer, including Harmony Barbershop in Magic Kingdom on July 31. We may also soon see the reopening of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques, giving young princesses and princes the chance to undergo a royal transformation.

More from FamilyVacationist:

Carly Terzigni
Carly Terzigni is a New England-based writer who specializes in theme parks, local attractions, food and drink, and travel. Her expertise for all things Disney has been featured in numerous industry-leading sites, and over the years she has become a trusted voice in helping first-timers and experts alike plan their Disney vacations. When Carly isn’t planning her own Disney getaway, she can be found catching the latest Broadway play. Visit her website at carlyterzigni.com for more information, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @carlyterzigni for theme park news, other daily musings, and pictures of her pets.

Family Travel Ideas Delivered to Your Inbox

Love vacations? So do we! Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for ideas, tips, and inspiration.

Thank you! You are subscribed.