What's new at Central Florida's theme parks this summer?

May 28, 2019, 4:47 PM · Yesterday, we talked about what's new this summer at Southern California's theme parks. Today let's do the same for the world's theme park capital — Central Florida.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is the big story at Walt Disney World, too, with the new Star Wars land opening August 29 at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Unlike at Disneyland, you won't need to make advance reservations to get in when the land debuts — it will be open to all ticket holders from day one. But expect to see a virtual queue if the land hits capacity, and no, there will be no Fastpass+ available (at least initially), either.

But Disney has other new stuff to keep fans on property this summer, too. Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy opened earlier this spring in Disney's Hollywood Studios — a new indoor stage show starring an animatronic Lightning McQueen interacting with other Cars characters on a giant wrap-around screen. The park celebrated its 30th anniversary on May 1 with the debut of a new projection and fireworks show, Wonderful World of Animation. And over at Disney's Animal Kingdom, the park just opened Rivers of Light: We Are One, a new version of Rivers of Light that adds several Disney animation characters to the show.

Disney's biggest competition this summer will come from, as usual, Universal Orlando, which getting ready to open Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure on June 13. Featuring a world-record seven launches, the new coaster will be Florida's longest and will include a drop track, a backwards section on a spike track, and several indoor show scenes.

Also at Universal, the Today Cafe has opened at Universal Studios Florida next door.

Legoland Florida this summer is celebrating the opening of The Lego Movie World. The land replaces the former World of Chima, adding Legoland's first flying theater ride, Masters of Flight.

SeaWorld Orlando is offering a new Sesame Street land, replacing Shamu's Happy Harbor.

And finally, Busch Gardens in Tampa has opened Florida's tallest launch coaster, Tigris, another Premier Sky Rocket II model.

What is on top of your to-do list this summer?

Orlando attraction tickets Buy Tickets: For tickets to Walt Disney World and other Central Florida attractions, visit our authorized Orlando-area attraction tickets page.

Replies (9)

May 28, 2019 at 5:10 PM

And today marks the 20th anniversary for both Universal's Islands of Adventure and CityWalk Orlando, both officially opened March 28, 1999- though both had extensive soft openings months in advance, for those who remember visiting before that date:)

May 28, 2019 at 5:37 PM

I miss tidal wave. BG should do a giga or a 4 dimensional x style coaster after the gwazi remake and commit to being the Magic Mountains of Florida; it's the only way to compete with the big boys.

May 29, 2019 at 8:40 AM

Since we mentioned the Today Cafe opening at Universal Studios, The Big Fire is also opening this summer at CityWalk in Universal Orlando. The Big Fire is where Emeril's used to be and since it's open for lunch, this would be another smart lunch option to get away from the crowds in the park and have a relaxing meal. (My insider tip is to do Diagon Alley bright and early, train to Hogsmede, then Marvel or Seuss depending on your party, then lunch in Citywalk!)

Any other restaurant options opening up y'all are looking forward to?

May 29, 2019 at 12:17 PM

The Hagrid coaster looks great but I do think the name is bit too convoluted. Personally I can’t wait for Universal to announce when the Terminator replacement will open, REALLY hoping for How To Train Your Dragon

May 29, 2019 at 12:17 PM

The Hagrid coaster looks great but I do think the name is bit too convoluted. Personally I can’t wait for Universal to announce when the Terminator replacement will open, REALLY hoping for How To Train Your Dragon

May 29, 2019 at 12:26 PM

How To Train Your Dragon has been most widely tabbed to replace Shrek 4-D or be featured at Fantastic Worlds. All rumors indicate that the Terminator replacement will be another live-action style attraction, likely to be Jason Bourne, some other stunt-based show, or perhaps Pitch Perfect.

At least the abbreviation for Hagrid's is not offensive like Alien Swirling Saucers.

May 29, 2019 at 3:44 PM

There's a Star Wars land opening? How has no one been talking about this?

In seriousness, looks really good overall additions although my family is waiting for the initial wave of Star Wars fans hitting before we plan vacation to try it out.

Also nice to see Busch Gardens get a shout out, that park somehow gets overlooked a lot.

May 29, 2019 at 3:46 PM

Dave Bakas, I remember being in Orlando in August of 1999. It was just Disney but a lot of buzz about Universal too.

Then again, that was a huge year for WDW: Test Track, Winnie the Pooh, Buzz Lightyear Ranger Spin, Rock n Roller Coaster, Asia section of Animal Kingdom with Kali River Rapids, DisneyQuest and more. Really hot but still one of my all-time favorite Disney trips.

May 29, 2019 at 4:34 PM

MikeW, I may well had encountered you back then since I was working both Disney and for my particpant firm then:) These anniversaries make me feel older and not necessarily wiser since still involved with many hats! Still have my opening cast member and team member swag from everywhere too.

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