From high stakes thrills to nighttime spectacles, your favorite blockbuster movies and groundbreaking animated stories are finally coming to life.
With Pixar-themed lands opening on both coasts, an eye-popping Harry Potter parade hitting Japan, and Marvel experiences worldwide that can’t be missed, each attraction, show, and restaurant debuting at theme parks this summer will let you jump directly into the vivid worlds of films like Fast & Furious, Kung Fu Panda, Guardians of the Galaxy and beyond.
DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor's Quest
WHERE: Universal Studios Hollywood
If you’ve watched and loved each Kung Fu Panda film, just wait—the multi-sensory spectacle landing at Hollywood’s pinnacle theme park June 15 is like a new sequel you never saw coming. Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor’s Quest upgrades the trilogy’s characters to an all-new immersive theatre format with reactionary effects from state-of-the-art stadium seats and photorealistic projections that feels so real, you’ll struggle to believe you aren’t actually alongside Po within the Spirit Realm. Consider it boundary-pushing technology that would impress even Master Shifu, with enough hidden surprises to sustain repeat visits all summer long.
INSIDER TIPKeep an eye out for appearances by DreamWorks characters from Trolls, Shrek, and How To Train Your Dragon in everything from the building’s wrought iron gates to within the actual attraction.
WHERE: Disney California Adventure
If it’s superheroes you’re after, look no further. The not-so-suburban family from 2004’s Incredibles serves as the centerpiece attraction of Pixar Pier, a revamped land embracing oodles of animated characters that opens June 23rd. Previously known as California Screamin’, this reimagined ride features the multi-talented family working together to find baby Jack-Jack, whose unwieldy powers—conveniently revealed when Incredibles 2 opens days prior—continue to keep them at bay with plenty of special effects and surprises incorporated throughout this hotly-anticipated roller coaster.
INSIDER TIPHit the Incredibles-themed cookie stand on the way out as a reward for the coaster-averse.
Recommended Fodor’s Video
Fast & Furious — Supercharged
WHERE: Universal Studios Florida
After eight box office blockbusters, Orlando vacationers can finally feel the adrenaline of a street race alongside Fast & The Furious favorites on this new trackless attraction. Here, instead of simply waiting in line, you’ll explore a workshop run by Dom’s “family” and get an up-close glimpse at 15 cars, all selected for inclusion in the attraction by Dennis McCarthy, the picture car coordinator for the Fast & Furious franchise. Roman, Hobbs, Dom, and Letty join passengers for a race against Owen Shaw that’s high-stakes and high-speed while Mia and Tej make personal pre-taped appearances, letting guests into the inner circle without having to break any laws.
Toy Story Land
WHERE: Disney's Hollywood Studios
You’re bound to forget you’re at Walt Disney World upon entering Andy’s backyard, where oversized checkers pieces, construction blocks and other Toy Story accoutrement will make guests feel as tall as Buzz Lightyear as two new attractions encourage family-friendly fun. Grab a seat on the Slinky Dog Dash coaster as it zooms past familiar faces like Jessie, Rex, and Wheezy or hop aboard Alien Swirling Saucers, helmed by the trilogy’s otherworldly creatures; either one will the bring you closer than ever to the ragtag group of toys when the famed franchise comes to life June 30.
INSIDER TIPArrive hungry to Woody’s Lunch Box, a food outpost serving up treats like gussied-up grilled cheese and tomato-basil soup that are delightfully reminiscent of childhood.
Marvel: Super Heroes United
WHERE: Walt Disney Studios Park
Disneyland Paris Resort’s boundary-pushing show will be the only one of its kind when it opens on June 10th at Disneyland Paris Resort—or any Disney park, that is. Witness Iron Man and Captain America battle each other, Spider-Man and Black Widow team up, and The Avengers take on Thanos with full effects on a tech-savvy stage utilizing enormous LED screens, video projections, and even indoor drones. With visits to the Sanctum Sanctorum and Thanos’ home base, It’ll be like watching Avengers: Infinity War in real time, without the fear of being snapped into oblivion.
INSIDER TIPAvengers fans should mark their calendars for 2020 when Disneyland Paris’ Marvel-inspired hotel opens.
Book a Hotel
Together Forever — A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular
WHERE: Disneyland Park
The seasonal show is themed to a medley of Pixar’s heartstring-pulling creations, but its segment honoring the recent Oscar-winning Coco is the undeniable highlight. Explosions of marigolds enveloping Sleeping Beauty Castle is a stunning sight, but nothing compares to Main Street, U.S.A. where massive skeleton figurines pop up to join the Dia de los Muertos fiesta, showcasing Disney magic at its finest.
INSIDER TIPIf you can’t make it to Main Street in time for the show, Disneyland’s Rivers of America and It’s A Small World facade also display the projections in sync with the explosions in the sky.
Spectacle Night Parade
WHERE: Universal Studios Japan
The Osaka theme park’s eye-popping new parade brings the Harry Potter film franchise to life in ways even beyond its in-park Hogsmeade village. Tricked-out floats, including a full-size Hogwarts Express with passengers projected to appear within cabins, line the parade route as students push teetering owl-topped luggage racks, soar in an up-close quidditch pitch, and even battle against dementors. If you’re more of a muggle, simply wait a few moments for the next worthy display to appear—there’s also an homage to Jurassic Park with free-roaming raptors and a full-size Bumblebee towering above a Transformers float.
UP! A Great Bird Adventure
WHERE: Disney's Animal Kingdom
The story of a proud young scout and his chocolate-devouring rainbow pet snipe didn’t end with Pixar’s Up—in fact, it only continues at Walt Disney World’s nature-inclined theme park. This new performance, retooled from a previous show, infuses humor into a free-flying presentation co-hosted by Up‘s Russell and Dug, the loveable talking dog. An African fish eagle soars overhead, a toucan hops across audience participants, and a bald eagle and peacock grace the stage, letting little ones learn about Kevin’s ancestors first-hand alongside their fellow Wilderness Explorers.
INSIDER TIPHave even more up-close experiences with animals by taking the park’s Wildlife Express Train to the petting zoo and conservation care facility at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
Bing Bong's Sweet Stuff
WHERE: Disney California Adventure
Ever wondered what the candy tears pouring out of Riley’s imaginary friend tasted like? You’re in luck this summer because the California theme park is debuting an entire candy shop dedicated to the heart of Pixar’s Inside Out. Bing Bong’s confectionary will bring rainbow cotton candy, saltwater taffy and yes, those delicious little teardrops when it opens with Pixar Pier on June 23, finally rendering that dapper cat-elephant-dolphin truly unforgettable.
Guardians of the Galaxy — Awesome Mix Live!
Welcome to Earth—Spaceship Earth, that is. Fans of the frenzied Marvel franchise can watch Star-Lord and Gamora throw a dance party with a seven-piece alien band at Epcot from June 9 to August 19. It will be a few more years ’til the intergalactic gang’s indoor roller coaster bows at Walt Disney World, but with Peter Quill jamming to the oldies, Gamora’s quick wit and a possible guest appearance from Baby Groot, it’ll be just like riding aboard the Milano, only with much less drama.
Alien Pizza Planet
WHERE: Disneyland Park
Get ready to eat like Andy does, because this Tomorrowland restaurant has been overtaken by Toy Story’s little green aliens as part of Disneyland Resort’s summertime Pixar festivities. It’s not quite the first film’s version of Pizza Planet—sadly, there’s no claw game—but instead pays homage to the cinematic eatery’s quirkiness with a neon-green miso pesto pasta and pickle-topped cheeseburger pizza boasting a sesame seed crust. With cheeky artwork on the walls and macarons shaped like the first film’s adorable lil’ guys rounding out the dessert menu, it’ll have you saying Ooooh! until September 3.