Updated: Jan 2
The 1990s were once declared to be the Disney Decade because of the rapid expansion of the parks and studios at that time. We Disney fans have seen massive amounts of change in every decade since, of course. This particular ten-year stretch brought with it new parks overseas, new acquisitions, and some of the most popular films of any age. As we close the books on this decade, your friendly ConciEARS have been reminiscing on our favorite additions to Disney.
Come along with us as we conjure the recent past!
Bryn kicks us off with thoughts on Disney’s movies over the decade:
10 years ago, my oldest daughter was 3 and deep into the princess stage. I had mixed feelings about that. As iconic and delightful as the movies are, the Disney Princess movement does not always emphasize the most empowering parts of those characters. But Tangled came out in 2000 and my daughter went nuts for Rapunzel. We once stood in a 100 minute line to meet her. It’s the longest I’ve ever stood in a character line. Once we got there, the Cast Member spent a long time talking about the artwork Sophia had drawn waiting in line; it was one of the best CM interactions ever.
With Tangled, Disney began a series of princesses who were pretty, kind, and wanted to be loved, but also could defend themselves, had impressive talents, and who had goals that weren’t just get married or find love (I know there was always more than that, but never as a primary plot point.) In the last decade we’ve seen Disney solidify the foundation they had from characters like Mulan. We’ve seen Merida say “I’ll be shooting for my own hand”, seen Moana love her peoples’ home and way of life, but also want to experience the world, and most recently, seen Anna and Kristoff work their way to a real partnership “my love is not fragile”. I love fantasy, and I enjoy sharing dreams with my girls, but I also want them to dream of all the things they can do, places they can go, and ways they can care about others. I want them to know that they can be beautiful and strong, intelligent and kind, have a family and adventure. In the last decade, Disney has done that better than ever before.
Lyndsey’s favorite new land:
As a boymom, Cars Land definitely ranks high on my list of favorite Disney developments over the past decade — my kids absolutely love exploring the real-life version of their favorite movie, and I love seeing them discover Disney magic like that. Personally, I’m always a sucker for the amazing performances at Disneyland — the Paint the Night parade was the BEST!! We still listen to the music from that around here :)
James’ favorite new attraction:
My favorite new ride was definitely Smugglers Run. Being able to be inside the Millennium Falcon was something I only thought was possible in video games and the imagination. But it was a lot of fun being able to see how much work went to make sure everything looked like it came right out of the movies. I intend to ride it again the next time I go to the parks.
Scot’s favorite nightspot:
My favorite new dining venue is easily Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar! At the beginning of this last decade the Disneyland hotel went through an extensive refurbishment, and adopted a new theme that celebrates Disneyland park and its history. With that refurbishment we got an incredible new place for dining and drinks. Trader Sam’s is a combination of of all of the elements that make Adventureland and its attractions so unique and magical. The interior is literally packed to the rafters with details and decorations. On the walls you’ll find letters exchanged between Prof. Ravenwood and Indian Jones, tiki totems that come to life, an enchanted ship(wreck) in a bottle, tributes to imagineers and cast members, sinking barstools, and the occasional natural disaster queued by certain orders being placed. And if there isn’t room inside, or you prefer a quieter setting to visit, there’s a cozy outdoor seating area and a nearby outdoor fireplace. Trader Sam’s has become one of my favorite places to end any day at Disneyland.
Bryn loves the new DCA:
Disney’s overhaul of California Adventure really changed how the Disneyland resort operates. Before the overhaul, DCA was maybe a 1/2 day park. Now, its consistent theming stands up to Disneyland. It’s absolutely a full day park, or even a multi-day park. The first year or two after it opened, Cast Members working in DCA seemed so proud to work there, proud of the renovation, and proud of being part of how well their park worked. Cars Land is extraordinary. I’m always struck by how much it feels like I’m in the movie! It’s incredible how well the Imagineers took a digital world and made it real. We’re more accustomed to seeing things go the other way. I also think that Radiator Springs Racers might be the best ride in both parks. It’s the perfect combination of story-driven dark ride and fast-paced thrill ride, and it’s really beautiful any time day or night!. The final piece of the DCA puzzle clicked into place with the Pixar Pier renovation. That area always felt like exactly what Walt Disney did not want at Disneyland. It’s still arcade games, but now it includes themes and artwork focused on Disney/Pixar IP and it isn’t so disorienting. My heart will always belong to Disneyland, but DCA is beautiful and I love it nearly as much.
Erik’s favorite park additions:
Favorite park addition: this might ruffle some feathers: Animal Kingdom! The Pandora: World of Avatar region added content to the park that demanded the hours extend well into the night. Amazing light shows were designed for the Tree of Life and the park got its first nighttime spectacular in Rivers of Light! Multiple new dining options around the park helped to push it over the edge. What used to be a half-day visit at best became a location where a family can spend an entire day. Oh, and Flight of Passage is possibly the best new attraction of any decade. Let’s pretend that Rise of the Resistance opened in 2020 for the purposes of this, OK?
Erik’s favorite new restaurant:
Tiffin’s! Only Joe Rohde could design a place like this. The decor in each room provides a feast for the eyes that will keep you coming back. What amazing art installation from what country will you sit near next time? The food is a feast for the rest of your body, as sustainable plant- and meat-based options pack the menu with options. Add a solid drink menu on top and you have a restaurant you will want to visit every time you hit up Animal Kingdom.
My favorite new restaurant is Be Our Guest at Walt Disney World. My favorite new show is World of Color at Disney California Adventure. Inside Out and Wreck It Ralph are my favorite movies of the decade.
Scot mirrors Bryn’s comments:
For me the redesign of California Adventure! In the summer of 2012 Buena Vista Street and Cars Land officially opened and the incredible level of detail and theming in these two lands completely changed the identity of the entire park.
James keeps it simple to round us out:
I would say Galaxy’s Edge being added to the parks!
If that’s not enough for you, we have a brief list of many of the attractions added to our favorite parks. Are we missing anything? Let us know! If you want to see these for yourself, then you know the drill! Get in touch with our planners and we can craft an amazing trip for your family to see the sights of a new Disney Decade!
Toy Story Land
Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland
California Adventure Redesign
Pandora: The World of Avatar
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Disney’s California Adventure:
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters
Radiator Springs Racers
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure
Goofy’s Sky School
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!
Jessie's Critter Carousel
Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
Toy Story Mania!
Slinky Dog Dash
Alien Swirling Saucers
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Frozen Ever After
Flight of Passage
Na'vi River Journey