When many people think of Florida for a family vacation they think of the theme parks that showcase some of their favorite movie characters, high-speed roller coasters, and lots of tasty treats. In 2021, expect plenty of new attractions, shows, and lands to be added to parks such as Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort.
Editor’s note: Theme parks may have limited services, reduced capacity, and strict health rules due to the pandemic. Be sure to check with the park before visiting, and follow any travel restrictions/quarantine guidelines for your home state or Florida.
Walt Disney World
Over at the Most Magical Place on Earth there’s quite a bit coming to the four theme parks, hotels, and Disney Springs. Epcot is right in the middle of a multi-year transformation that will make the park more kid-friendly. Disney Springs is adding two new spots to get sweet desserts, and Magic Kingdom is gearing up to celebrate their 50th anniversary in October. Park by park, here’s what’s going to be new in 2021 at Walt Disney World.
Epcot is the park that Disney is focusing the most on right now. The number one thing that many visitors are anticipating is Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure coming to the France pavilion in World Showcase. The new attraction will have guests feel like they are the size of Remy from Disney and Pixar’s Ratatouille as he makes his way through Paris and navigates Geusteau’s Restaurant. As part of the France pavilion expansion there will be a new restaurant near Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure called La Crêperie de Paris, which will be a combination quick service and table service restaurant. Celebrity chef Jérôme Bocuse will head the new restaurant. There is currently no opening date for the attraction or restaurant.
A new nighttime spectacular called Harmonious is also coming to Epcot this year. The show will combine fireworks, music, Disney characters and more to create one of the largest nighttime shows ever created for a Disney Park. There is currently no opening timeframe for the show.
In the front of the park a new restaurant will likely open called Space 220. The new dining spot will be located between Mission: Space and Test Track. Space 220 was originally set to open in 2020, but had delays due to the pandemic. Diners will get the chance to be virtually transported 220 miles above the earth to space through an elevator ride. Once inside the restaurant’s dining room, you will be able to look out into open space and dine on some out-of-this world dishes.
Epcot will also be hosting four festivals throughout the year. These fan-favorite events feature diverse dining with outdoor kitchens and unique entertainment around the park. Starting January 8 through February 22 the Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts will take place. Spring brings in the Taste of Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, which runs March 3 through July 5. Fall features the Taste of Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, and winter will offer the Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. Dates for the last two festivals have not been announced.
October 1 will no doubt be one of the busiest days at Walt Disney world because it kicks off the 50th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort. The epicenter of the celebrations will be Magic Kingdom where Cinderella Castle has been fully repainted with bright blue, blush pink, and gold enhancements. While no new attractions will be opening at Magic Kingdom this year, there will likely be exclusive merchandise events, character cavalcades, and a bounty of new 50th anniversary treats and eats to get your hands on.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Last year when Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios the multi-year transformation of the park was complete. In 2021, guests can expect to see much of the same as 2020 including Star Wars, Toy Story, and of course Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Not much is known about the future of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. For 2021 there are no major plans to unveil anything new, but guests are still lining up for hours to enjoy the ultra popular attractions inside Pandora- The World of Avatar.
There are three new spots opening up at Disney Springs this year. The first is Gideon’s Bakehouse. This is the second location for the famous Orlando cookie and cake shop, with the first one being in the East End Market. The store is located near Wine Bar George and Morimoto Asia and sells half pound cookies and delectable slices of cake. Late in 2020 the store did a soft opening that went well, but no grand opening date has been announced. The second sweet shop that will open at Disney Springs is Everglazed Donuts and Cold Brew. The donut shop will be located near the AMC Theater and Splitsville Luxury Lanes and serve over-the-top donuts and refreshing cold brew coffee that guests can enjoy in a nearby donut garden. The last spot opening at Disney Springs is M&M’s Orlando. This new store will be located on Disney Springs Westside near the NBA Experience.
There’s quite a bit of work going on at the resorts on Walt Disney World property. One of the biggest transformations of a Disney resort hotel is taking place at Disney’s Polynesian Village, where guest rooms are getting a Moana makeover and the Great Ceremonial House is getting a facelift with a completely redone port cochere and entryway. The resort revamp is set to be completed this summer, just in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary.
One resort Star Wars fans have been looking forward to since it was announced at the D23 Expo in 2019 is Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. The two-day, two-night experience will immerse guests in all things Star Wars, with rooms that look out into space, a “port day” at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and an interactive space where you can learn to wield a lightsaber. No official opening date has been announced for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.
Near Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios a brand new 14-story hotel is currently under construction and is scheduled to open this summer. The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve is part of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort area that’s just a short walk to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The hotel will have 349 guest rooms. Over at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, the resort will be hosting two weekends of food and drink fun with the Food and Wine Classic: A Taste of Swan and Dolphin, on January 16 and February 27. Each event will offer 10 food stations from the hotel’s restaurants, and more than 50 drink offerings. On February 7, the resort will host a Big Game Tailgate Watch Party, and will include seven food stations and unlimited craft beer and wine.
At the Four Seasons Orlando, each of the guest rooms and suites have been refurbished with all new carpeting, furnishings, and even wine dispensers (park-view rooms only). The resort also offers upscale dining, Disney character breakfasts on weekends, golf courses, a spa, and a massive pool area.
Other Walt Disney World Happenings
Around Walt Disney World there are a few new offerings. Starting March 7, Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park will reopen after nearly a year-long closure. The park will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year and will likely have some fun in-park celebrations planned. Over at the Disney golf courses, there are new Robo-Carts that act as a personal caddy during your round of golf. The carts use Bluetooth and GPS technology to safely carry your clubs, drinks, snacks, and more around the course with you as you play.
Universal Orlando Resort
Fans of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Marvel will love exploring Universal Orlando Resort this year. The resort recently opened their brand new hotel, Universal’s Endless Summer Resort- Dockside Inn and Suites, which features rooms that sleep up to six people. Rooms are very affordable, starting at just $88 a night.
Over at Universal’s Islands of Adventure a brand new roller coaster is set to launch this summer. The Jurassic World VelociCoaster has two launches, one of which reaches 70 miles per hour in 2.4 seconds. Riders will experience a 360-degree barrel roll right over the Islands of Adventure lagoon, a zero-gravity inverted stall that goes upside down over 100 feet of track, and an 80 degree drop after going 155 feet in the air.
SeaWorld Orlando is debuting Ice Breaker, a new rollercoaster that features backwards and forwards launches. The reverse launch will be the steepest in Florida at 93 feet tall and a 100-degree angle. Ice Breaker will also feature airtime hills and four launches. Guests at SeaWorld can ride Ice Breaker this summer.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Iron Gwazi will open at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay this year. The new rollercoaster will send riders over a 206 foot tall peak into a 91-degree drop and reach speeds up to 76 miles per hour. The ride is a wood and steel hybrid coaster and has three inversions.
LEGOLAND Florida Resort
2021 marks the 10th anniversary of the LEGOLAND Florida Resort. The park is kicking the year off with a brand new show, Brickbeard’s Watersports Stunt Show. The show launches February 12, and will debut a brand new female LEGO pirate character. During the show visitors can see stunts including barefoot-skiing, and the iconic ski pyramid. Also debuting February 12 is the new PirateFest Weekend, where families can enjoy pirate themed everything at the park.
In spring, LEGOLAND will debut a new 4D movie at LEGOLAND Fun Town Theater. Summer will bring an all-new stage show to LEGO CITY. The fun doesn’t stop there, because all year long LEGOLAND is inviting all guests to channel their inner 10-year old as they celebrate the park’s 10th birthday with events and entertainment.
Gaylord Palms Resort
While not technically a theme park, Gaylord Palms is a destination worth visiting while in Orlando, or just making a vacation out of all of the offerings at the massive resort. January through March the resort is hosting their fan-favorite Pirate and Princess Weekends, which includes family-friendly activities like treasure hunts, a brand new stunt show, and a pirate pool party. Adults can enjoy a hidden pirate speakeasy with drinks and tales of the bravest buccaneers.
You might also like:
- The 11 Best Amusement Parks in Florida, 2021 Edition
- 10 Best Places to Go in Florida
- Disney FastPass+: The Ultimate Guide
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