2022 Year in Review: New Coasters, ‘Star Wars’ Experience, Peppa Pig Park, New Attractions

In 2022, Orlando theme park fans are saying hello to new attractions, hello again to an eagerly awaited pandemic comeback, and saying goodbye to some old faithful. Add a few hurricanes and some unexpected headlines, and you have 22 years of news.

Celestial projections greet guests lining up for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, which opens at Epcot in May.

Coaster fans meet Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. cosmic rewind In the future world, icebreaker At SeaWorld Orlando, Iron melon seeds Papa Pig roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Peppa Pig theme park. The lineup is indoors and out, high-flying and kid-centric, circling the waterfront, rolling with and without intellectual property, and playing an ever-changing soundtrack. Furthermore, this heralds the opening of at least two major thrill rides in 2023.

Peppa Pig ParadisePart of the LEGOLAND Florida Resort in Winter Haven, bringing a boutique-style attraction to Central Florida, it’s aimed directly at a very specific, very young market.

new Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser The experience of being adjacent to Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park also appeals to a niche audience. Immerse yourself in the ways of the Jedi and the Rebels during a two-night stop filled with lightsaber training, cryptic clues, starship dining, and climactic combat.

Disney has launched the MagicBand+, which adds functionality to the wearable technology, including interactions with statues and nighttime wonders.

The Disney character gets a new high-visibility home on the curved screen at the corner of the parking lot at International Drive and Sand Lake Road.

Connections Eatery and Connections Cafe (aka Starbucks) opened in Epcot, and construction continues in Epcot’s long-term “transformation” neighborhood.

The Universal Movie Escape, a challenge based on “Jurassic World” and “Back to the Future,” premieres on Universal’s CityWalk.

Ripley’s Mirror Maze opened on International Drive, while the original Ripley’s attraction next door has completed a renovation that includes a new space-themed room.

Lego City Space, a hands-on rocket and rovers exhibit, opens at Legoland Florida.

Featuring escape room games, ax throwing, virtual reality gaming and more, Max Action Orlando makes its debut at Icon Park.

The Orlando Science Center hosts the “Bionic Me” and “Hot Wheels” exhibits, the latter of which is open until January 8.

The Orange County Regional History Center has developed “The Figurehead: Music and Chaos in the Orlando Underground,” a year-long exhibit at the museum through September.

Two bus tours have been added to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, including visits to the launch pad, Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, and more.

Lasers and smoke illuminate Mickey Mouse on the first night of November's return of

Following extended closures in 2019 due to the COVID pandemic, the phased reopening of attractions continues into 2022.

This year, Walt Disney World is returning the epic Indiana Jones stunt spectacle and Fantastic Fantasy to Hollywood Studios; the Wonderfest Parade, Mickey’s Magic Friendship Circus and Harmony Barbershop at the Magic Kingdom; and Hoop-Dee-Doo The Musical to Camp Wildfort. It introduced a modified/simplified “Finding Nemo” show to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where the tumbling monkey character was re-integrated into a full-on “Lion King Festival” show.

The resort also brought Minnie Vans back to the streets this summer. In November, Blizzard Beach Waterpark reopened, but its sister park, Typhoon Lagoon, closed again.

In December, the Walt Disney World Railroad, which was suspended for construction of the Tron ride, began circling the Magic Kingdom again.

At Universal Studios, Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster reopened after an extended recovery period that began in January.

ICE, the icy festival event, returns to Gaylord Palms after a two-year absence.

The Universal Studios Fest Parade, which debuted in 2012, is the last Universal Studios Street Tour in 2022.

Shrek 4-D closed at Universal Studios, followed by the neighboring Monster Cafe. The space will eventually be incorporated into a Minion-themed land.

Universal Pictures’ Superstar Parade wrapped up its 10-year run in June.

The “Disney Kite Tail” stops flying at Animal Kingdom in September.

Orlando Freefall Tower closed after 14-year-old Tire Sampson fell to his death from International Drive. The tower will eventually be demolished.

actress marilyn monroe singing "Happy birthday" Honor President John F. Kennedy on his upcoming 45th birthday at Madison Square Garden.

Orlando-based Ripley Entertainment is lending its The multi-million dollar Marilyn Monroe gown Kim Kardashian wore (briefly) at the Met Gala in New York.

Hurricane Ian forced many attractions to suspend operations, notably Gatorland, which was flooded. It was closed for two weeks. Happily, Gatorland got mentions on “Jeopardy” and “Saturday Night Live.” Also unlocks the Capybara Encounter experience.

The Wheel at Icon Park dropped the Bullseye Blast interactive game and announced a new similar event – called “Great Florida Road Trip” – will debut in early 2022.

Universal Studios added “Vamos — Bailalo,” a street performance with a dozen dancers and Latin music.

Universal Pictures recreated CityWalk’s Red Coconut Club as holiday-themed pop-ups, titled Halloween Dead Coconut Club and Year-end Green Red Coconut Club.

The Night of a Million Lights fundraiser for Give Kids the World Village moved to Island H2O Waterpark.

The Walt Disney Company plane, which spent years as part of a Hollywood Studios backlot tour, was restored and displayed at the D23 event in California.

Email me ddevil@orlandosentinel.com. Subscribe to Theme Park Rangers Newsletter at orlandosentinel.com/newsletters or Theme Park Rangers podcast at orlandosentinel.com/travel/attractions/theme-park-rangers-podcast.