What's New This Summer at Disneyland and Walt Disney World

Whether you’re an east coast or west coast-based Disney fan, this summer promises to be a big one.

Both Disneyland Resort in California and the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida are unveiling a variety of new or limited-time offerings as well as bidding goodbye to attractions and events that are wrapping up their run.

The fun began last month in California with the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which has received rave reviews. The new 14-acre land increased the size of Disneyland Park by 20 percent, creating a more comfortable experience and shorter wait times on many attractions, according to Disney officials.

Yet another notable event for west coast fans, the beloved and iconic Main Street Electrical Parade will be returning to Disneyland on August 2 for a limited time.

“There is such heritage with this parade. It scores very high with visitors and there’s a very emotional connection to this event for our clients,” Claire Bilby, senior vice president of Sales, Services & Events for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts told TravelPulse during an interview. “It’s got a long history and a lot of emotional connection to the park.”

The parade will be offered through September 30.

While at Disneyland this summer, don’t miss Sleeping Beauty Castle, which is fresh off an extensive refurbishment, giving the beloved icon more shimmer than ever.

And one last note for the west coast groupies, “Disneyland Forever” also returned this summer. The fireworks made its reappearance in early June and features sparkling pyrotechnics, immersive projections and other effects.

Meanwhile, Walt Disney World is gearing up for the arrival of Star Wars Galaxy Edge on August 29. But that’s not the only noteworthy event for east coast Disney lovers. Not to miss offerings here include:

—Celebrate the 25th anniversary of “The Lion King” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom by taking photos with special, dimensional backgrounds or letting loose on the dance floor during the “Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party” featuring Timon and Rafiki.

—Explore the reimagined Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort including a magnificent new tower, restaurants, activities and arrival experience.

This summer also marks the final opportunity for guests to take a musical journey through the cosmos with Star-Lord and Gamora during Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Live! at the America Gardens Theatre in Epcot. The attraction ends its run August 18.

Now is also the time to bid farewell to Epcot’s nighttime spectacular Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, which is slated to close September 30 after nearly 20 years.

And one last limited-time offering to keep in mind. This summer visitors can meet Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse together – in special celebratory outfits – in Town Square Theater as part of Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration at Magic Kingdom Park. This opportunity also ends September 30.

As for all the hubbub surrounding the bi-coastal openings of Star Wars Galaxy Edge, Bilby said she wants travel advisors, in particular, to know that the new attractions are not just for longtime Star Wars fans.

“Whether or not you are a Star Wars fans, this is still an incredible experience,” she said. “I’ve probably only watched four of the movies and it was still spectacular. I was there with several agents and they were all blown away. This land offers something for everyone.”

One last breaking news item from Disney, there are new Extra, Extra Magic Hours coming up at Walt Disney World Resort theme parks to keep in mind.

The Extra, Extra Magic Hours benefit will include Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as well as other experiences at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom theme parks. Here are some of the highlights:

Disney’s Hollywood Studios — Daily from September 1 through November 2, the park will have Extra, Extra Magic Hours from 6 a.m. until 9 a.m., including Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, plus Toy Story Land attractions and select other attractions. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and its experiences.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Extra, Extra Magic Hours will happen daily August 29 through November 2, from 7 a.m. until 8 a.m., featuring Pandora – The World of Avatar and other attractions throughout the park.

Magic Kingdom Park —Extra, Extra Magic Hours will happen daily from August 29 through November. 2, from 7-8 a.m., featuring favorite attractions in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.

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