Reasons to Visit Disney Parks in 2019

The end of 2018 can mean only one thing to Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members. You’re officially ready to plan your 2019 Disney vacation! Since you’ll reserve your room somewhere between seven and 11 months ahead of time, you’re already inside of your booking window for a lot of great vacation dates. Here’s a list of the major additions coming to Disney theme parks in 2019 along with some tips on how to schedule your DVC reservations.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Let’s begin with an obvious but crucial statement. Demand for the new Star Wars Land at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will surpass anything that we’ve seen at a Disney theme park since at least 1971 if not 1955. Those dates reference when Walt Disney World and Disneyland opened and those are the only instances where the entire population was at least casually interested in a Disney vacation. The same situation will occur in 2019 when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens.

Here’s what we know about the new themed land. It will feature two new two rides. The first is what Disney executives describe as the E-ticket attraction, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. The selling point on this one is simple. You get to fly the Millennium Falcon, the most famous spaceship from the Star Wars franchise. You’ll apparently receive some sort of grade based on your pilot skills, too, a novel aspect to a theme park attraction.

Star Wars Land

The other ride is more family-friendly in nature. Named Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, it drops park guests right in the middle of a conflict between The First Order and The Resistance. While Disney hasn’t referred to this one as an E-ticket attraction, everyone else has due to its scope and immersive nature. You’ll board an eight-person First Order Fleet Transport and attempt a rescue.

To a larger point, you’ll also have the ability to pick a side when you’re at Star Wars Land, choosing whether you’re on Team Jedi or not. As my wife’s t-shirt says, you might want to choose the Dark Side, as they have cookies. But that’s up to you. What we do know is that your decisions and performances at Galaxy’s Edge will impact your “reputation.” Yes, you’ll become a part of the Star Wars story when you visit this themed land.

Presuming that some of this information is news to you, your mouth is likely agape right now as you weigh the possibilities. Let me add a few additional points to help you in your Star Wars vacation planning. First of all, park traffic at this themed land will make Pandora – The World of Avatar’s current (record-setting) crowds look like the line for Barnstormer. Second of all, there are two Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge themed lands, and one opens sooner.

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Are you an early adopter or Star Wars fanatic, someone who absolutely cannot wait to visit Galaxy’s Edge? Then, you’ll need to book a trip to Disneyland. Their version of the themed land opens in the summer. Unfortunately, there isn’t an official date yet. You should expect an announcement by March/April, but that’s too late to book a DVC villa at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa, a place that frequently sells out prior to its seven-month window opening. You’ll need to improvise here to get the room that you want.

A suggestion is to aim for July or August with your booking. While you won’t be at the park for opening day, you will thereby avoid any early problems caused by new rides and MASSIVE traffic. The great thing about Disneyland is that you can ride virtually everything there in a couple of days anyway. So, a five-day trip with a Star Wars Land focus should assure you of a wonderful time at the new themed land. Let’s say that you’re willing to wait a while, though. You’ll have an even better option…

Disney Skyliner

No, I’m not done talking about Star Wars Land strategy yet. One subject naturally ties together with the other one. During the fall of 2019, Disney will open its newest form of transportation. It’s actually an old form that they’re bringing back. In the early days of Walt Disney World, gondolas would ship guests back and forth between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom.

Image result for disney skyliner

Next year, the same technology will return…but with a different purpose. Several hotel resorts including a new DVC property will connect directly to Hollywood Studios and Epcot via gondola. This overhead lift system is the reason why Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open later at Walt Disney World. Park officials want the Disney Skyliner operational when the newly themed land debuts.

Guests at several resorts will enjoy unprecedented logistics to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, and a resort that we’ll discuss in the next section are the lucky winners of the first Disney Skyliner depots. I say first because I believe that if/when this system proves effective, Disney will add more direct connections to official resorts and possibly the other two theme parks, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom.

Disney’s Riviera Resort

The third and final piece to your DVC vacation puzzle is Disney’s Riviera Resort. You may wonder how you’ve never heard of this hotel. The answer is that it hasn’t opened yet. It, too, will debut in the fall of 2019. This DVC-exclusive property will feature 300 rooms plus a Disney Skyliner depot. At this point, the puzzle is probably coming together for you.

Disney's Riviera Resort

Yes, those of you willing to wait until Galaxy’s Edge comes to Walt Disney World can capitalize on your DVC membership. You can book a reservation at the Riviera Resort, knowing that Star Wars Land is scheduled to open in “late fall”. When you arrive for your hotel stay, you can take the new Disney Skyliner straight to Hollywood Studios. From there, you can walk over to Galaxy’s Edge and have the time of your life.

To a larger point, when DVC resales contracts for Riviera Resort become available, you should target a contract. It’s the most desirable property for Star Wars fans, at least until Stars Wars Hotel opens. The current belief is that this resort won’t debut until 2021-2022. So, the upcoming 15th DVC property is the default choice for the first couple of years of Star Wars Land…and there’s no guarantee that Star Wars Hotel will have DVC rooms during its first few years of operation.

Other Reasons to Vacation at Disney in 2019

Are you still on the fence about spending your 2019 vacation at a Disney theme park? Hey, not everyone’s a Star Wars fan, right? Well, any self-respecting Disney fan will still want to head to Walt Disney World next year. Why? The first ever Mickey Mouse ride will debut in 2019!

Yes, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is another Hollywood Studios attraction coming in 2019. And yes, it’s another project scheduled to debut in the fall of 2019. Those of you who prefer summer vacations may feel like you’re missing out on a lot this time. The attraction is a dark ride that allows you to enter a Mickey Mouse cartoon. It’s not a planned adventure or anything, which explains why it was a mistake to let Goofy drive the train.

Due to poor train engineering, you’ll drive through a movie screen and become a part of the cartoon. Imagineers have created a new technology that can create 3D effects independent of 3D glasses. Should you hear the ride described as 2.5D, that’s what it references. You’ll experience 3D without a visual aid.

More importantly, you’ll get to spend some time with Mickey and Minnie on a ride, something that’s never been possible before. This attraction is the replacement for The Great Movie Ride. So, it should be capable of massive throughput in addition to being the family-friendliest of all Disney rides.

Another attraction will qualify as family-friendly, too. Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy will occupy the former space of Club Villain, which you may recall is fairly large. Disney’s introducing a show here that’s allegedly similar to Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot.

Children will interact with either an audio-animatronic (AA) or digital projection of Lightning McQueen. Mater and Cruz Ramirez are apparently part of the show, too. All of them want to pass along their wisdom about how to go fast and how doing so helps you in life. It sounds like big, silly fun and a show that kids will adore.

Speaking of shows, The Wonderful World of Animation will tell 90 years of animation history as told by Mickey Mouse and friends. The prevailing belief is that it’s a tie-in with Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday celebration. It’s another digital projection experience akin to the ones already available at the Chinese Theater.

To a larger point, you may wonder why so much is happening at Hollywood Studios in 2019. It’s not a coincidence. The park opened to the public in 1989 as Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park on May 1, 1989. Yes, Hollywood Studios will celebrate its 30th anniversary on May Day!

The Riviera isn’t the only new set of rooms opening at Disney next year. Disney’s Coronado Springs has been under construction for quite some time. The major expansion is a new 15-story lake tower that will add a whopping 500 rooms to the hotel’s inventory. It’ll have concierge services as well and instantly become the newest and shiniest of all non-DVC hotel rooms.

By the way, Hollywood Studios isn’t the only park getting a new show. IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth would turn 20 late in 2019, and Disney has decided that’s too long. The award-winning nighttime exhibition will be retired in favor of a temporary fireworks display called Epcot Forever. The new show will celebrate classic Epcot music like One Little Spark with new arrangements. It’ll in turn be replaced in 2020 by the new, permanent exhibition at World Showcase Lagoon. In other words, you need to get to IllumiNations quickly if you want to see it one last time. And you’ll have only a year, maybe less, to watch Epcot Forever.

Given all of the above, the target window for a DVC vacation depends on what you want to accomplish. IllumiNations fans will want to commemorate the end of an era. The show apparently ends at some point next summer, and so you should plan a trip prior to that.

For those who want to see all of the new additions at Hollywood Studios, the fourth quarter of 2019 seems like your best target window. Most if not all of the attractions that interest you should be open by then. And there’s an argument to be made that visiting on May 1st to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the park is an inimitable experience.

Folks, 2019 is going to be amazing at Disney theme parks. I guess what I’m saying is that you should probably travel to Walt Disney World more than once this year…and maybe throw in a trip to Disneyland, too. That’s what my family is doing anyway.

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