Looking Forward to 2018 at the Disneyland Resort

by Megan Walker, contributing writer

Another year has come and gone, and we're left now to look ahead and wonder what 2018 has in store. When it comes to the Disneyland Resort, we have a lot to wonder about for next year. Every year at the resort brings new and exciting opportunities and experiences, and although Disneyland is in a state of flux right now, with a lot of construction occurring throughout the resort, there will undoubtedly still be lots of fun surprises in store this year.

Downtown Disney Revitalization

One thing that will definitely look different by the end of the year is the Downtown Disney District. 2018 will mark the beginning of a long-term plan to overhaul Downtown Disney, updating the aesthetic and adding a new variety of experiences. Additionally, with construction of the new hotel that will take over a large part of Downtown Disney, things as we know it will definitely be changing. There are three major things that I'm most looking forward to at Downtown Disney this year:

"Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire," the new virtual reality experience from Lucasfilm and Void, is set to open in January and looks to be a lot of fun. It's a completely unique experience for Downtown Disney, which has never had something like this, so it will definitely set the tone for the "new" Downtown Disney.

Also set to make Downtown Disney a new home is Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, a New York-based restaurant, and I personally can't wait to try one of those CrazyShakes…yum!

Finally opening its doors this year (in the space formerly occupied by the House of Blues) is Splitsville Lanes, a new bowling alley also found at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World. Like the Star Wars VR experience, this will be a new adventure for guests of Downtown Disney and, as someone who enjoys visiting Downtown Disney almost as much as the parks themselves, I can't wait.

Downtown Disney will start looking different in 2018. Photo by Megan Walker.

Seasonal Celebrations

One of my favorite parts of visiting the Disneyland Resort is the different celebrations that they host throughout the year, especially the one that's set to begin in 2018 at the end of January: the Lunar New Year Celebration. I've visited the resort during this particular celebration a couple of times, and it is so much fun. It's definitely one of the best events that the resort puts on each year and I always looking forward to it. This year kicks off the Year of the Dog, and Goofy will definitely be around to celebrate…dressed as the God of Good Fortune. Mickey, Mulan, Mushu, and the rest of our favorite friends will also appear and be dressed accordingly. The event will also feature a nighttime water show on Paradise Bay called "Hurry Home–Lunar New Year Celebration." You will also be able to make a wish for the year in the Lucky Wishing Well; watch Mulan's Lunar New Year Procession; take part in some traditional craft-making; and eat all of your favorite Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese foods. Also, as always, there will be specialty merchandise available, as well. I love these special celebrations, they're a lot of fun and it's fun to learn about different cultures and experience their celebrations and traditions.

Lunar New Year Celebration Procession. Photo by Megan Walker.

Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival

In what has become one of my favorite things to experience at the Disneyland Resort each year, the Food & Wine festival at Disney California Adventure will be making its return this spring as it runs for an extended six weeks. I've been lucky enough to experience each festival DCA has held in the spring and winter thus far and I've never been disappointed. It's fun to see what the chefs of the resort come up with each year to make it bigger and better than the last, and the food is always very tasty. I love trying new food, so exploring the many marketplace stands and tasting a variety of menus is a lot of fun. It makes for a great activity with your loved ones, as well, as you eat and discuss your favorites and least favorites.

Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival. Photo by Megan Walker.

Pixar Pier

Debuting this summer is probably the biggest change at the resort this year, and that's the remodeling of Paradise Pier into Pixar Pier. Featuring new theming on some attractions, new food, and, of course, new merchandise, Pixar Pier is set to celebrate the many different films and characters from Pixar. California Screamin' is set to close early next year to be reimagined as the Incredicoaster, a roller coaster themed to The Incredibles, just in time for the release of The Incredibles 2 next summer. Mickey's Fun Wheel will also get re-themed, featuring art of Pixar characters on the side of the gondolas. Finally, the midway games will all change their theme to fit Pixar characters and films. Disney has also mentioned creating a family-friendly attraction themed to Inside Out to open later in the year, but haven't revealed any further details. They have also announced that Ariel's Grotto and Cove Bar will close and reopen as a newly themed lounge and grill restaurant. Early opinions from fans on this change have been pretty divisive (especially the loss of the only Princess character breakfast in the resort), so it remains to be seen how the change will play out, but it will surely be popular when it first opens.

Paradise Pier Bay Pre-Pixar. Photo by Megan Walker.

"Together Forever–A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular" Fireworks

Beginning this spring, a new fireworks show will be lighting up the sky at Disneyland Park, celebrating the films of Pixar. "Together Forever–A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular" promises to bring an "emotional journey" through the Pixar films we all know and love, including pyrotechnic displays, projections along Main Street, water screens on the Rivers of America, and more projections on the front of "it's a small world." The show will also feature a "special flyover" by Buzz Lightyear as he flies "to infinity and beyond" above Sleeping Beauty Castle. I love the fireworks at Disneyland; they're a traditional experience that marks the end of any great day at the parks. It's always fun to see what the pyrotechnic teams come up with when debuting a new fireworks show, so I can't wait to see what's in store for this one.

Disneyland Fireworks Spectacular. Photo by Megan Walker.

Parade Swapping

While not exactly new altogether, new to Disneyland Park specifically this year will be the Pixar Play Parade when it makes its move from across the esplanade this spring. I was never a big fan of the Pixar Play Parade when it was at California Adventure, but it will be interesting to see how it lands with guests in its new home and to see exactly what changes with it. Either way, it's always good to switch things up when it comes to the parades and having a new (at least to Disneyland specific) parade will be refreshing. Meanwhile, as Disneyland takes over hosting the Pixar Play Parade, nighttime at California Adventure will become a bit busier at the Paint the Night parade makes DCA it's new home this spring. Paint the Night was a great parade while it was at Disneyland, so I have no doubt it will continue to be very popular at California Adventure.

Paint the Night Parade. Photo by Megan Walker.

More Galaxy's Edge (aka Star Wars Land) Progress

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the one thing most people are waiting for: Star Wars Land, which we now know will be called Galaxy's Edge. However, although not opening in 2018, as it nears the end of the year, you will absolutely be able to see a lot of progress in the land's construction. It's been fun to watch things take shape this year, and 2018 should be even more exciting as the constructions nears its completion.

BB-8 is ready for Galaxy's Edge. Photo by Megan Walker.

Changing of the Seasons

One of the best parts of visiting the resort multiple times a year is witnessing the changing of the seasons. Whether it's spring to summer, summer to fall, or fall to winter, the resort is constantly changing, updating, and sprucing up. I especially can't wait for the holidays, which are my favorite time of year to visit the resort. As Disney usually doesn't announce any changes to their holiday celebrations until closer to them, they always seem to have something new for both Halloween and Christmas, so it's always fun to see what they have in store this year. With California Adventure including a lot more for their celebrations this year, we can probably expect even more next year.

Haunted Mansion Holiday. Photo by Megan Walker.

Disneyland Main Street Christmas Tree. Photo by Megan Walker.

As each year passes the only thing we can definitely count on is a number of changes at the Disneyland Resort; whether it's new attractions, new overlays, new fireworks or parades, or even just new food, the resort keeps things fresh and new every year, I for one like change, and it's fun to see how the resort grows and changes each year, it keeps fans on their toes and continues to give them something new to look forward to with every trip. I can't wait to see what else Disneyland has in store for guests.

Happy New Year everyone!