What’s coming – and what’s coming back – to Walt Disney World this summer after COVID

Carly Terzigni

Summer is one of the busiest times of year at Disney World and not just for crowds—there’s always a lot of new things to see and do too. With families ready to travel for summer vacation and Disney World’s phased reopening still picking up steam, you can expect this summer to be loaded with new rides, special events and the return of some fan-favorite theme park entertainment.

If you’re preparing to visit Disney World this summer, take note. Here are the most exciting new events, activities and rides coming to the Most Magical Place on Earth in the months ahead. 

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1. H2O Glow After Hours at Typhoon Lagoon

Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, which reopened earlier this year, has just resumed its H2O Glow After Hours nighttime event on Saturdays.

If visiting a Disney water park is on your family vacation ideas wishlist, summer 2022 may be the time to do it. The popular H2O Glow After Hours is back at Typhoon Lagoon every Saturday through Aug. 27. This limited-attendance, hard-ticketed event gives guests the opportunity to experience popular attractions with a shorter wait time, plus the chance to see Typhoon Lagoon completely illuminated at night. A DJ dance party and limited-time exclusive snacks add to the fun.

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2. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is the new family-thrill coaster attraction at EPCOT.

Disney’s newest thrill ride just celebrated its official opening at EPCOT. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is a family-friendly indoor roller coaster that features an out-of-this world soundtrack, a reverse launch and of course the Guardians of the Galaxy themselves. 

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Currently, guests may only access the attraction via virtual queueing, either through Boarding Groups (available each day at 7:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and again at 6:00 p.m. on select dates for guests eligible to attend the park’s extended evening hours) or through an Individual Lightning Lane purchase (prices vary).

3. Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!

The big blue world beckons once again as “Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!” debuts June 13 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park at Walt Disney World Resort.

The just-launched "Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond!" is a 25-minute stage show with puppets and other performers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. The production features songs from Disney's original "Finding Nemo" musical, including "In the Big Blue World" and "Go With the Flow," along with new set pieces and a LED video wall. 

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4. Reopening of Hoop Dee Doo Revue at Fort Wilderness

After closing in 2020, the fan-favorite Hoop Dee Doo Revue will reopen on June 23. This beloved dinner show runs for approximately two hours and is located in Pioneer Hall at one of the most popular places to stay at Disney World, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. The menu includes fried chicken, smoked BBQ ribs and strawberry shortcake. 

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According to Disney, guests can be on the lookout for “a few updates to its script and scenery” while enjoying this classic show that has delighted diners for nearly 50 years. Advanced dining reservations are available now for Hoop Dee Doo, with doors opening at 4:00 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The show is dark on Mondays and Tuesdays.

5. Return of the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival

The EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival is back in full force for 2022.

One of Disney World’s flagship events, the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival, returns July 14 and runs through November 19. This year’s event includes all of the familiar features of years past, including more than 25 Global Marketplace food booths, Remy’s Ratatouille Hide and Squeak scavenger hunt, Emile’s Fromage Montage cheese crawl and plenty of festival merchandise to fill your luggage with. 

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The summer and fall festival will also bring the return of the Eat to the Beat Concert Series, featuring a lineup of acts that include Big Bad Voodoo Daddy,  Hoobastank, Hanson and Boyz II Men, among others.

6. Return of the full version of 'Festival of the Lion King'

The modified, COVID-era “Celebration of Festival of the Lion King” will end after the July 4th show, to be replaced by the full 'Festival of the Lion King" starting July 15.

Following Disney World’s temporary closure in 2020, entertainment saw a slow but steady return to the parks. To allow for safe social distancing, a modified version of the fan-favorite show Festival of the Lion King debuted at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2021.

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That modified show, "A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King," will have its final performance on July 4 to allow for the return of the full version of the park’s long-running musical show beginning July 16. If you’ve been waiting to welcome back the Festival of the Lion King that you know and love, this summer is the time to do it.

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7. The launch of Disney World’s new MagicBand+ 

Guests at Walt Disney World Resort  will be able to use MagicBand+ to experience nighttime spectaculars in a new way.

File this one under things likely to happen at Disney World this summer. While no official date has been announced for the full rollout of Disney’s new MagicBand+, a select number of Disney’s next-generation wearable technology has already arrived on store shelves. And with MagicBand+ seemingly in “soft launch” mode right now, we might expect to see the full launch happen later this summer.

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If you’re visiting Disney World, keep your eyes peeled for the opportunity to purchase a MagicBand+ in stores or online ahead of your visit. Once the full MagicBand+ launch gets underway, park guests will be able to experience a new wave of digital wristbands with light-up features and tech that allows the wearer to interact with their environment, including the Disney Fab 50 Golden Character Statues

While Disney World no longer provides complimentary MagicBands ahead of your visit, you can reuse an old MagicBand for no additional cost, or you can use MagicMobile, which offers all of the same features as MagicBand on your mobile device.

Be on the lookout for additional reopenings this summer, including Harmony Barber Shop in the Magic Kingdom on July 31. We may also soon see the reopening of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques, giving young princesses and princes the chance to undergo a royal transformation.

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