2018 – The Year in Review at Walt Disney World

Slinky Dog Dash in Toy Story Land
Credit: Disney

Every year is a great one at the most magical place on earth. Some years trump others, however, when it comes to big events, newsworthy happenings and openings of new lands at Disney World. The year 2018 has been one such year. We even celebrated Mickey’s 90th birthday! It’s always fun to to look back over the year as it draws to a close, so here goes—park by park.


Magic Kingdom

  • Maleficent dies a fiery death: On May 11 of this year, the steampunk dragon version of Maleficent caught fire during that day’s presentation of the Festival of Fantasy parade. No Cast Members or Guests were hurt when the dragon caught fire, and the fire was quickly extinguished. Maleficent, however, was absent from the daily parade going forward as a result.

Photo Credit: Jacob Easley

  • Tomorrowland welcomes back some old friends—and a new one! Tomorrowland began celebrating the theatrical release of Incredibles 2 before the blockbuster hit theaters in mid-June with The Incredibles Tomorrowland Expo as part of “Disney’s Incredible Summer.” The dance party at Tomorrowland was reminiscent of days recently gone by when Guests could dance the night away with Mr. and Mrs. Incredible and Frozone. But another star from the Incredibles franchise really made a splash with her first ever Disney Parks debut. Designer Edna Mode made several daily appearances during the Incredible Summer celebration, and though Guests couldn’t meet her up close and personally, it’s safe to say that she was a hit with parkgoers—even if from a roving distance.

  • There’s a reimagined redhead scene at the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction! The iconic redhead scene in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, aka the “We wants the redhead” scene, got a bit of a politically-correct upgrade this year. Apparently, Disney didn’t feel that the scene was in good taste, as it portrayed the sale of brides. As a result, the redhead is still in the scene, but she has been reimagined as the head of the auction taking place for pirate booty and other goods.

  • Trump banner-waving Guests gets the boot: On November 13, Dion Cini, 49, boarded a log flume at the Splash Mountain attraction at Frontierland. No news here, right? But Cini proceeded to hold up a “Trump 2020” banner as he descended the 50-foot drop toward the end of the attraction, which landed him not only a citation from Disney but the worst possible punishment from Disney—expulsion from the park and a permanent ban on entering Disney Parks in the future. Per Disney, the man’s actions were in direct violation of one of Disney’s park rules—letter (d) under “Prohibited Activities,” which states that Disney World prohibits “the usage of any flag, banner or sign for commercial purposes or to incite a crowd.”

  • Maleficent is resurrected! After her fiery demise in May of this year, Maleficent the dragon was no longer a part of the daily Festival of Fantasy parade at Magic Kingdom. Most of us were left to wonder whether she’d return, and after several months of her absence, we had just conceded that she would not return. But alas, on November 9, we were pleased to learn that the steampunk dragon Maleficent is returning to the parade and for that, we Maleficent fans are exceedingly grateful!

  • New Mickey and Minnie dance party is coming to Magic Kingdom in 2019: During D23’s Destination D: Celebrating Mickey Mouse, Disney Parks Chairman Bob Chapek announced a new celebration coming to Magic Kingdom. From January 18, 2019 through September 30, 2019, Guests will be able to enjoy “Mickey and Minnie’s Surprise Celebration.” There will be new food and new merchandise unveiled as part of the event, as well as a new dance party for Guests to experience.



  • The Ratatouille attraction finally has a name! We are so excited about the new attraction at the France pavilion on the World Showcase at EPCOT. But until November of this year, we weren’t sure what Imagineers would name it. Then during D23’s Destination D: Celebrating Mickey Mouse event, Chairman of Disney Parks Bob Chapek announced that the new ride will be called “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.” We can’t wait to ride this one!

  • Goodbye, Illuminations! We also learned this year that the days are numbered for EPCOT’s long-running nighttime spectacular Illuminations. The show will run through the summer of 2019 before being replaced with a new nighttime spectacular.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Toy Story Mania gets an upgrade: In preparation for the opening of Toy Story Land, the famed Toy Story Mania attraction got some reimagining of its own. The Guest favorite got a new entrance on the Toy Story Land side, as opposed to the original entrance at PIXAR Place, and it was also outfitted with a third track, which no doubt helps with crowd control and shortens queue times.

  • It’s time to PLAY BIG—finally! At long last, Toy Story Land opened to the public on June 30, 2018. On that particular Saturday, it seemed as though Central Florida had saved up a week’s worth of rain and dumped it on thousands of Guests waiting in the line that stretched well past the Chinese Theater and curved down in front of the ABC Commissary. As people exited Andy’s backyard, more would be permitted admittance. Initial reports listed wait times for the new Slinky Dog Dash as greater than 3 to 4 hours at one point that morning. The new land boasts two new attractions—Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers. It also houses the unprecedentedly popular Toy Story Mania, and there’s even a Toy Story-themed quick-service counter called Woody’s Lunch Box.

  • We got new details about Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway: In November, Bob Chapek, Chairman of Disney Parks enlightened guests at D23’s Destination D: Celebrating Mickey Mouse with new info about Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction. We learned that not only will the new ride open in late 2019, but it will also include a new original story and will take Guests on a journey inside the zany and wacky world of Disney Channel’s Emmy Award-winning Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts.

  • A Galaxy far, far away is actually just around the corner! It looks as though Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will finally open to the delight of thousands of adoring fans next fall. We can see a lot of the land’s construction from Andy’s backyard—it’s visible to Guests just over one side of Andy’s fence. And we’re still trying to wrap our minds around the fact that we will finally have the chance to pilot a Millennium Falcon!

  • A new nighttime spectacular is coming to Hollywood Studios: In celebration of the 30th anniversary of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the park will get a new nighttime show beginning in May 2019. “The Wonderful World of Animation” will use state-of-the-art projection technology to take Guests on a magical journey through over 90 years of Disney animation. This one sounds really interesting!

Photo Credit: Disney

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • Hippo born for the first time in 13 years: In January of this year, Animal Kingdom welcomed a new baby Nile hippo—the first hippo to be born at the park in 13 years. Baby boy Augustus weighed a whopping 168 pounds at birth and continues to delight Guests at the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction. Mom Tuma and baby Augustus are doing well!

  • The Caravan Theater gets a new show and new friends! The Caravan Theater at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been home to the Flights of Wonder bird show for longer than we can remember. But there is now a new experience called UP! A Great Bird Adventure Show. The presentation still showcases exotic birds. The show began on the park’s 20th anniversary in April. Dug the Dog and Russell from Disney/PIXAR’s Up help in hosting the show. This one is not to be missed!

  • Donald found his ancestors! It’s true. This year, Donald Duck learned that his ancestors were actually dinosaurs, and he couldn’t be more excited! In celebration of his new-found knowledge, Donald hosts a huge celebration called Donald’s Dino-Bash at Animal Kingdom’s Dinoland U.S.A. The event features some very special guests, including Daisy Duck, Goofy, Pluto, LaunchPad McQuack from Disney’s DuckTales and even Chip ‘n’ Dale, dressed in their “dino” best.

What was your favorite part of 2018?

About Rebekah Tyndall Burkett

Rebekah grew up in Forney, Texas and lives just outside of Dallas. She’s been a Disney superfan since childhood, experiencing the magic at Walt Disney World for the first time at the age of 11. Journeys to Neverland are at least a yearly occurrence for her, her husband and her four children (the Fab Four). When they go to the parks, they stay in Florida for three weeks at a time. Rebekah loves exploring the history of the parks, the genius behind the Magic in the person of Walt Disney, and she is intrigued by all things Disney World and Disney Imagineering. When in the parks, Rebekah and her husband Scott make the most of their time by enjoying every minute with their Fab Four, by delving deeper into Walt’s vision for the parks and into the history behind the Walt Disney World Resort, and by photographing the many different types of architecture at Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and on the World Showcase at EPCOT. When she’s not in the parks, Rebekah is excitedly setting travel dates and planning her family’s next adventure to their happy place deep within the Sunshine State. On breaks from planning her next trip, Rebekah is a writer, journalist and children’s author, penning children’s books about kids with special needs that she affectionately calls “believement-achievement” stories. Her hobbies include creative writing, paper crafting and interviewing Imagineers. She is also an advocate for Autism Awareness and for children with developmental disabilities of all kinds.