Disney finally reveals opening date for 'Star Wars' theme park

Disney’s immersive Star Wars lands are opening ahead of schedule — but there’s a catch. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will welcome visitors beginning May 31 at Disneyland Park in California and August 29 at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. However, the new park’s biggest feature — Rise of the Resistance, described by Disney as “the most ambitious, immersive and advanced attraction ever imagined” — will be part of a Phase 2 opening later this year.

So what can the first guests to Galaxy’s Edge expect? A ride on the Millennium Falcon, some unusual snacks, exciting merchandise and an interactive element unlike any other Disney theme park. Read on for the new details.

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11 new things to do at Disney in 2019
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11 new things to do at Disney in 2019

Mickey and Minnie's Surprise Celebration

Open: January 18, 2019 through September 30, 2019

Join Disney's Mickey and Minnie for new surprises in the Magic Kingdom. Sign the Celebration Guest Book and meet the duo (in their new party outfits!) for a picture inside the Town Square Theater. Then join them outside in front of the castle for their new Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party

The new outdoor dance parade features a new song called "It's a Good Time," and classic cast members like Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Chip 'n Dale and more. 

Choreographer Cindy Wilson told the Disney Parks Blog, “The ‘Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It!’ Street Party is a throwback to the Mickey Mouse Club, with wonderful music that everybody’s going to want to get up and dance to, and it’s contemporary at the same time. I think when [the characters] all come off the floats, guests are going to want to just jump in.”

Check the entertainment schedule for run times. 

Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party

Open: January 2019

Disney is celebrating the 25th anniversary of "The Lion King" with a Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party hosted by Timon and Rafiki on Discovery Island in the Animal Kingdom.

The dance party includes music, characters and new photo ops every day from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

Meet The Incredibles at Pixar Place

Open: January 2019 through September 30, 2019

At the start of 2019, Pixar Place at Disney's Hollywood Studios transformed into a Municiberg city block. The park features a party for Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible and Frozone to honor their victories and a meet-and-greet with Edna Mode and her best creations. In addition, guests can look throughout Pixar Place for clues on where to find the youngest member of the Incredible family, Jack-Jack.

Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy

Opening: March 31, 2019

Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy is a new show using high tech screens. Guests (rookie racers) will learn the rules of the road from "Cars" star Lightning McQueen. There will also be a new character meet-and-greet with Cruz Ramirez.

Wonderful World of Animation

Opening: May 1, 2019

The Wonderful World of Animation is a new projection light show that will take place at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The show will take guests on a journey through more than 90 years of Disney and Pixar animations with favorites including "The Incredibles," "Coco," "Sleeping Beauty" and more. 

Space 220

Opening: 2019

Epcot is opening a new space-themed restaurant called Space 220. According to Disney Food Blog, the restaurant will showcase simulate space views while guests sit in a restaurant modeled after a space station. It will seat more than 350 guests, those of which will be "transported" to the restaurant by elevators covered in digital screens that will mock a trip to space.

A job posting seeking staff for the restaurant lists April 2019 as when applicants can join the cast, so we can assume this restaurant will be open by summer. 

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

Opening: Fall 2019

Both Disney World and Disneyland will be opening a Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. The park is being made to look like the planet of Batuu, which is a remote outpost that was once a busy crossroads along the old sub-lightspeed trade routes and is now a safe haven for those avoiding the First Order. 

There will be two main attractions where guests can fly the Millennium Falcon and another that puts guests in a Star Destroyer in a battle between the First Order and the Resistance.

Other fun additions will include Luke Skywalker's blue milk, a marketplace and toys, apparel and characters like BB-8 and Chewbacca. 

See more on the park's progress here

Skyliner Gondola

Opening: Fall 2019

If you like taking the monorail into the parks, you'll want to check out the new Skyliner Gondolas. Similar to a lift you'd find at a ski resort, the gondolas will take guests through two parks, offering spectacular views. 

The Skyliner Gondola will connect Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios to four hotels: Disney’s Art of Animation ResortDisney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort as well as a new resort coming in fall 2019, Disney’s Riviera Resort.

For more on the Skyliner Gondola system, see here

Disney's Riviera Resort

Opening: Fall 2019

The new Disney Riviera Resort hotel is inspired by the "grandeur of Europe." It will have transportation to the parks, a fitness center, a rooftop restaurant and wide range of room sizes.

The Riviera Pool, a family-friendly pool, will be decorated with stucco façades, a slide that winds around a column tower (pictured) and a kids interactive water play area that slightly mimics the public fountains of Europe. 

For adults seeking peace and quiet, there's a separate area called the Beau Soleil Pool. 

The Disney Riviera Resort is currently taking reservations for Dec. 16 - Dec. 31, 2019. 

Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway

Opening: 2019

While there's no set opening date yet for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, their first ride attraction, it's set to open sometime this year. The ride will begin with guests viewing a new cartoon short with the mice getting ready for a picnic As Mickey and Minnie are leaving, they drive alongside a train where they see that Goofy is the engineer and the ride takes off from there.

There isn't a whole lot of additional information, but according to the Disney Parks Blog, "Imagineers have been hard at work creating Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, using breakthrough technology to transform a two-dimensional cartoon into an amazing real-world experience."

Epcot Forever

Opening: Fall 2019

Epcot's famous IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth nighttime lights and fireworks show is sadly ending at the end of Summer 2019, but will be temporarily replaced with a show called Epcot Forever. The new show will feature classic Epcot tunes, combining music with fireworks, lighting, lasers and special effects kites. 

Then, keep an eye out, because in 2020 Disney is gearing up to replace Epcot Forever with a new nighttime show called A Celebration of Disney Music with floating set pieces, custom-LED panels, fountains, lights, fire and lasers.

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As previously disclosed, Galaxy’s Edge is set on the remote fictional planet of Batuu, in a notorious port town called Black Spire Outpost. Guests begin their adventure on the interactive ride Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. Disney has now revealed that the Falcon’s cockpit will feature three different crew positions — gunners, pilots and flight engineers — so that guests can change up their experience of the ride.

Next, guests can explore Black Spire Outpost, where they may spot familiar characters like Rey, Finn, Poe, BB-8 and Chewbacca. Through the Play Disney Parks mobile app, visitors can explore an extra dimension of storytelling: participating in missions, translating alien languages, discovering hidden stashes of treasure and talking to droids.

When it’s time for a break, guests can pop into Oga’s Cantina, where they can enjoy “exotic beverages served in unique vessels.” (Here’s a sneak peek at some of those cocktails.) Longtime Disneyland fans will recognize the club’s DJ: He’s Rex, the droid created for the classic attraction Star Tours, and he’ll be spinning custom cantina tunes composed by songwriters from around the world. Outside in the market, patrons can sip on sweet blue milk (from A New Hope) or citrusy green milk (from The Last Jedi), eat a sweet-savory-spicy popcorn mix from Kat Saka’s Kettle or eat fresh-roasted ronto meat (actually sausage and roast pork). There’s also a docking bay where galactic food trucks can park, including a “traveling diner” run by Maz Kanata’s personal chef Tuggs.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Disney park without shops. One-of-a-kind merch from Galaxy’s Edge will include customized lightsabers, customizable astromech droids that can actually interact with park elements, new gear with Resistance and First Order logos and “antiquities” including Jedi and Sith artifacts.

The Phase 2 opening date, including the park’s other signature attraction Rise of the Resistance, has not yet been announced.

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment

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8 secret places you didn't know existed at Disney Land
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8 secret places you didn't know existed at Disney Land

Real suite in Cinderella's castle

Cinderella’s Castle in Disney World isn’t just for show—it actually is home to the only hotel suite in Magic Kingdom. A pumpkin carriage acts like an elevator to deliver guests to the space, which features two beds and a pullout couch in a regal interior, complete with stained glass, ornate columns, and a working fireplace. Unfortunately, you can’t book a room—you need to be invited, such as by winning a contest. Don't miss these other insider secrets to having the best Disney vacation.

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VIP restaurant

In the heart of Disneyland’s New Orleans Square is a winding staircase leading to the five-star restaurant Club 33. You can’t just expect to walk in and get a seat though. The only way to get in is by being a member or a guest of a member, and rumor has it there's a 14-year waiting list to be accepted. Find out more about Club 33’s history and what it takes to become a VIP.

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Dream Suite in Disneyland

Right around the corner from Club 33 and above the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is an elevator leading to another elite hotel. Like the Cinderella suite, you can’t book a room unless invited, but those VIP guests are in for a treat. A button in the master bedroom makes the lighting moody with the moon and clouds projected on the wall, and a panel in the bathroom turns on Fantasia music and makes stars appear on the ceiling. A massive parlor has a French Provincial theme, based on Walt Disney’s designs for his apartment on Main Street that never came to be, according to Entertainment Weekly. VIP suite or not, check out these 14 ways to save money on a Disney vacation.

(COURTESY JULEEN MATHIAS, @JLGENIE)

Basketball court in the Matterhorn ride

Near the top of Disneyland’s Matterhorn Bobsleds ride is a secret, attic-like room with a basketball hoop and floor markings. The room started as a resting place for the Disney employees who climb the “mountain,” then transformed into a mini half-court when one worker brought a basketball hoop when the weather kept staff from climbing. Find out where a brand new Disney park will be built.

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Walt Disney's private apartment

Walt Disney had a 500-square-foot apartment built above the firehouse on Main Street that he would stay in when he visited. Employees used to know he was in town because they’d see the lamp on a table turned on. The suite isn’t open to the public, but you can still spot it from the street; the park keeps that lamp on 24/7 as a tribute to its founder. Learn the cheapest (and most expensive) times to book a Disney trip.

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Train named for Mrs. Disney

Four out of five Disneyland Railroad trains are named after locomotive legends, while the last is in honor of animator Ward Kimball. Every now and then, you’ll see a fifth car added to the end called the Lilly Belle, named after Walt’s wife, Lillian Disney, who helped design it. The car used to be VIP-only, but you can now reserve it for a special two-hour tour. Find out how to beat the crowds at Disney, even during its peak season.

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Wishing wells

Tucked to the right of Sleeping Beauty Castle, by the moat, is a surprisingly serene garden called Snow White Grotto. The area features marble figurines of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which were sent to Walt Disney anonymously from Italy. Snow White’s voice floats over the area and echoes in the Wishing Well. Toss in a coin and make a wish—your money will be donated to children’s charities to make their wishes come true, too. There’s a similar wishing well in Disney World, too. Walking toward Tomorrowland on the right side of Cinderella’s Castle, you’ll find an easy-to-miss alcove leading to Cinderella’s Wishing Well, which also donates its coins. Learn more little-known differences between Disneyland and Disney World.

(Courtesy Walt Disney World Resort)

Inside tour of the riverboats

Riding the Mark Twain Riverboat in Disneyland or the Liberty Belle in Disney World is one thing, but it’s surprisingly easy to get a chance to get behind the wheel. While you’re still at the dock, just let an employee know you’re interested in checking out the captain’s quarters. As long as you aren’t with a huge group and no one else has beat you to the request, you’ll probably be allowed up to steer the ship and signal to other boats. Just leave these 15 surprising things banned from Disney parks at home.

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