Best Things That Happened at Disneyland This Year
The Happiest Place on Earth felt that much happier in 2022.
Disneyland eliminated many of the requirements that had bothered critics while adding some long-overdue amenities.
Here are the best things that happened at Disneyland this year.
Disneyland Plans for Tomorrow
History will remember 2022 as a transitional year at Disneyland Resort. That’s far from a bad thing, though.
On the contrary, the Anaheim campus is reinventing itself as we speak.
Imagineers are working tirelessly to create the next iteration of the Happiest Place on Earth.
We’ll discover some of these changes in 2023, but others won’t arrive until 2024 and beyond.
Specifically, we know that Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will debut in 2024.
Also, Disney has announced an Avengers Campus ride that will require assistance from Avengers across the multiverse to defeat the Thanos that won.
Before then, Disney will unveil several new attractions and amenities in the coming year.
In January, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will debut, followed by the new Mickey’s Toontown in March. Later in the year, the Villas at Disneyland Hotel will open.
Disneyland Resort will host new nighttime presentations as well. Park officials have scheduled World of Color – One and Wondrous Journeys for January 27th as well.
Yes, these events are part of the Disney100 events in store at the park.
However, that’s not all. Downtown Disney is also repurposing land to make it even better.
Disneyland spent the body of 2022 hinting at what’s coming soon. And it all sounds amazing.
Grad Nite Returns
COVID-19 forced Disney to cancel several of its beloved after-hours events.
Others required reworking to the point that Disney called them something else to eliminate confusion.
Thankfully, the world got a bit better in 2022. Along the way, Disneyland managed to bring back some of its most popular events.
Specifically, Grad Nites returned after a multi-year pause. During May and June of 2022, graduates danced into the night as they celebrated their achievements.
Since the classes of 2020 and 2021 didn’t get their own Grad Nites, Disney themed this year’s event as Grad Nite Reunion.
The idea was that it wasn’t just for a single graduating class, an idea that proved popular enough I suspect it’ll become permanent or at least recurring.
Later in the year, Oogie Boogie Bash – A Halloween Party came back in its true form, not the modified one from 2021.
Toss in the fact that the same statement applies to Haunted Mansion Holiday.
These beloved Halloween events returned to pre-pandemic norms, and we were all grateful for that. Disney even did the whole Halfway to Halloween routine in 2022!
Hyperspace Mountain Overlay Returns
Speaking of overlays, Space Mountain’s popular seasonal version returned for the first time since 2019.
Hyperspace Mountain transforms the existing Space Mountain into a roller coaster themed to Star Wars.
You can spot some of the differences starting at the 1:00 mark of this ride video:
Yes, that’s Star Wars music, TIE Fighters, and lots of scientifically inaccurate outer space explosions. Everyone loves this overlay.
The three-year absence also made our hearts grow fonder, too.
MagicBands Finally Debut
Yes, I know that some of you are wondering what year this is. That’s your East Coast bias talking.
Fans of Disneyland Resort know the deal here. The West Coast Disney park never got MagicBands.
That’s such a puzzling decision since Walt Disney World has used them for nearly a decade now.
Anyway, Disneyland finally corrected its longstanding shortcoming in 2022. In fact, the parks skipped straight to MagicBand+, which makes perfect sense.
The illumination effects of these MagicBands fit perfectly with Disneyland Resort’s breathtaking nighttime presentations. Speaking of which…
Fantasmic! Comes Back
California and Florida couldn’t have approached the pandemic any differently. They were the yin and yang of safety precautions.
For this reason, Disneyland struggled more with planning as executives famously feuded with California’s governor.
So, when Disneyland Resort finally reopened, it did so without nighttime presentations. Fireworks and the like wouldn’t return until the second half of the year.
Meanwhile, arguably the most popular nighttime presentation wouldn’t arrive nearly a year after that.
On May 28th, Fantasmic! finally reopened after a prolonged absence. Hilariously, the first few weeks of Fantasmic! shows were full of misadventures.
Mickey Mouse took a tumble once, while Maleficent failed to appear as a mechanical dragon at times, instead displaying as a water projection.
Still, Disneyland claimed bragging rights on this one. Fantasmic! at Walt Disney World wouldn’t return for another five months.
Paradise Pier Goes Pixar
In April, Disney confirmed a longstanding rumor about its least expensive hotel.
To increase interest, Disney announced a plan to convert Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel into Disney’s Pixar Pier Hotel.
This move made sense, given Disney’s elimination of other elements of Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure.
The theming at the hotel is no longer tied together with the accompanying theme park.
Later in the year, we learned that this problem would have only grown worse without the needed hotel re-theming.
Disney confirmed the intent to change the Pacific Wharf area into a San Fransokyo themed area. In other words, this section will look like the city in Big Hero 6!
Thankfully, guests didn’t have to wait long for the changes to begin. Almost immediately after the first announcement, Disney added a new amenity.
Management opened a walking path from Paradise/Pixar Pier Hotel to a back entrance to Disney California Adventure. It’s a spectacular benefit for hotel guests!
Visits Go Viral
Disneyland didn’t earn the nickname of the Happiest Place on Earth by accident. It’s the place where magic can happen any time.
During 2022, two different viral videos reminded us of that fact.
In the first one, a young girl takes a strong first step down the path toward becoming a member of the Dora Milaje. Seriously, how great is this?
Stuff like this exemplifies Disney at its finest. Of course, Disney is also multi-generational, as a different video proved.
Warning: This TikTok may cause you to tear up:
Folks, we’re right to love Disney the way that we do. It’s just the best. The absolute best.
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Feature Photo: Travel and Leisure