Planning a spring break or summer vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth? Disneyland is ever-changing with the seasons, and every spring and summer brings something new. This 2018 year has plenty of new attractions, shows, parades, and more that will make any Disneyland vacation special and memorable. From the return of the Disneyland Food & Wine Festival to Pixar Fest, Pixar Pier, and more, find out what you need to know about what’s new at Disneyland in spring and summer 2018.
And… if you are planning a spring or summer visit of your own, make sure you read to the end to find out how to save big on your vacations with Trips With Tykes partner Get Away Today.
And now on with what’s new at Disneyland this spring and summer….
Disneyland Food and Wine Festival at Disney California Adventure
(Note: this event has ended for 2018 but will surely be back next year!)
The Food & Wine Festival at Epcot in Walt Disney World has been a favorite for more than two decades, but its time in California has been fairly short. It returned in 2016 after many years on hiatus, expanded substantially in 2017, and is back for even more culinary adventures in 2018! The event runs this year from March 2, 2018 until April 12, 2018, making it perfect for spring breakers.
Hosted in Disney California Adventure, the event this year features celebrity chef demonstrations, over a dozen marketplaces for food and drinks, and lots of surprises. For the kids, they can enjoy the foodie fun by doing kid chef classes with Chef Goofy.
I attended the opening weekend of Food and Wine this year – be sure to check out my guide to Disneyland’s Food & Wine Festival for lots of insider tips and photos of the amazing food.
Starting later in the spring, Disneyland has put Pixar front and center in both parks with the launch of Pixar Fest. Pixar Fest opened April 13, 2018 and runs through the end of summer until September 3, 2018.
There are three major features of this initial stage of Pixar Fest. There are two parades (the Pixar Play Parade and Paint the Night) making a new and improved return in new locations as well as the addition of an entirely new fireworks evening spectacular. Of course there are plenty of meet and greets, smaller shows, and food and merchandise too!
I attended the opening of Pixar Fest at the press preview on April 12 and on opening day April 13. Be sure not to miss my complete guide with insider tips for Disneyland’s Pixar Fest!
Here are the key highlights for Pixar Fest:
Pixar Play Parade. Many Disneyland guests are already familiar with the Pixar Play Parade that has been in Disney’s California Adventure for a few years. It has been one of my favorite attractions for toddlers and preschoolers at Disneyland. As part of Pixar Fest, it gets a new home in Disneyland park.
The Pixar Play Parade has being upgraded with new floats and elements to make it fresh and new. Expect to see Russell and Dug from Up and the famed Pixar lamp and yellow ball to lead the parade’s opening. Another brand new addition to the parade for Inside Out fans is be Joy, Sadness, & Bing Bong.
Paint the Night Parade. The stunning nighttime parade with 1.5 million LED lights is be back in April as well, this time across the esplanade in Disney California Adventure park. Paint the Night features Pixar Favorites from Cars, Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story as well as memorable music. It’s probably my personal favorite Disney parade or show – ever!
Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular. Disneyland has also launched a new fireworks spectacular in Disneyland Park as part of Pixar Fest. “Together Forever” is focused on friendship – a theme that runs through many Pixar classics. The fireworks uses projection technology on the castle, along the storefronts of Main Street USA, on its a small world, and on the Rivers of America to surround guests in multiple locations with the full experience.
I won’t spoil all the fun but sharing what happens in the show, but expect Coco to be included in a big way, along with elements form Up. Looks also for Buzz Lightyear to fly over the castle, Tinkerbell-style.
Not to be confused with Pixar Fest, Pixar Pier is a re-imagined land opening in Disney California Adventure two months later — on June 23. Previously known as Paradise Pier, this land is the area behind the lagoon where Mickey’s Fun Wheel and California Screamin’ were located.
Pixar Pier will now feature mini-lands that highlight several of Pixar’s most popular franchises: most notably – the Incredibles, Toy Story, and Inside Out. The Inside Out neighborhood will be open at a later date (TBD and NOT on June 23), but we expect most everything else in Pixar Pier to be ready to go early this summer.
Incredicoaster. The centerpiece of this land’s transformation will be the thrill ride to be known as the Incredicoaster. What used to be California Screamin’ will be re-themed to feature the Incredibles family, just in time for the opening of Pixar’s Incredibles 2 sequel in theaters June 15. Since the ride will be on the same track, expect some major speed — as well as some major waits. Using Maxpass to snag your Fastpass reservations is going to be a must.
Mickey’s Fun Wheel. Mickey’s Fun Wheel is also getting an overhaul as part of the launch of Pixar Pier. It will anchor the 4th neighborhood within Pixar Pier. Each of the 24 gondolas will be themed with a different Pixar character. So even if your favorites aren’t one of the few focuses of the other three mini-lands, it’s safe to bet quite a few more Pixar movies will be around too. The area around Mickey’s Fun Wheel with the former midway games will also feature a myriad of Pixar characters.
Lamplight Lounge. At long last, we finally have the scoop on what restaurant will be replacing Cove Bar and Ariel’s Grotto at the entrance to Pixar Pier. Cove Bar will have a brief re-opening from March 16 to the end of May, but then it shutters its doors for the redo.
Disney has announced that a behind-the-Pixar-scenes themed restaurant called Lamplight Lounge will be opening in its place with the rest of Pixar Pier on June 23. Signature cocktails and California gastro-pub food will be on the menu, along with the famed Lobster Nachos, naturally. With Ariel’s Grotto gone for good, this means that there will be one fewer character dining location at Disneyland more permanently (or at least for a long while), so book those other Disneyland character meals early!
Paint the Night — Further Upgrades. When Pixar Pier opens, one more feature will be added to Paint the Night which will already be running regular since the opening of Pixar Fest. Expect a brand new Incredibles float to join the procession through DCA this summer.
Other Attractions & Offerings To Look Out For
While not as big as the major events of the Food & Wine Festival, Pixar Fest, and Pixar Pier, Disneyland has lots of smaller new offerings all the time. This spring, look for the following meet-and-greets, food, events, and more:
- Black Panther Appearances. Wakanda comes alive with character sightings in the Hollywood Backlot of Disney California Adventure. DATES: February 19 until TBD
- Rose Gold Churros. The rose gold theming of everything knows no end! No longer just for Mickey ears or jerseys, you can now eat the color with this sweet strawberry treat. DATES: February 16 until TBD
- Main Street Vehicles Return. Main Street USA had a lot of walled off areas as of late February to do construction on the Main Street vehicles. But the vehicles returned in the early spring.
- Meet Rey at Star Wars Launch Bay. Rey from Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be making appearances in Disneyland park later this spring in the Star Wars Launch Bay. DATES: Some time in May until TBD
- The Tropical Hideaway in Adventureland. Within minutes of my publishing this post originally, Disneyland announced that a new experience would be coming to Adventureland in the space currently occupied by Aladdin’s Oasis: “This one-of-a-kind destination will be a popular rest stop for Adventureland locals and weary explorers alike. Guests will be able to rub elbows with their favorite skippers in an exotic traders’ market, featuring all of the sights, sounds and flavors of the tropics.” DATES: TBD (but I think this summer is a safe bet).
Disneyland Vacation Deals!
With all that is new, there really is no bad time to go this spring and summer to Disneyland. But I want to make sure you are getting the best deal whenever you are going!
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