5 Major Changes Coming to Disney World in January 2023

disney world updates

The Disney parks are constantly changing and evolving to add new attractions or restaurants like TRON Lightcycle Run in Magic Kingdom and Roundup Rodeo BBQ in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.   So what changes can you expect if you’re visiting Disney World in January 2023? These may be a bigger deal than you think!

Splash Mountain Will Close Permanently

One of the biggest changes in Magic Kingdom in January is that Splash Mountain is going away FOREVER. The ride is going to be rethemed to Princess and the Frog with the new name Tiana’s Bayou Adventure and the new attraction will be open in late 2024.

Splash Mountain

That leaves just about 2 years for the retheme to be completed, so Splash Mountain will be closing on January 23rd, 2023. The ride will still be open for the majority of the month — get your last rides in before the ride changes into something totally new!

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure ©Disney

The ride will feature a story during New Orleans’ Carnival season where Tiana is throwing a Mardi Gras people for her friends in New Orleans. However, Tiana realized that the party is “missing a key ingredient” and she needs help finding it — that’s where we come in to help! At the end we’ll be able to celebrate at a huge Mardi Gras party — we can’t wait to keep learning more about this reimagined attraction!

After Hours

Although it feels like the parks have returned to “normal” after the 2020 closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still some aspects missing in Disney World.

The After Hours events are returning to Disney’s Hollywood Studios starting January 4th, 2023 and Magic Kingdom starting January 9th, 2023. These are separately ticketed events that allow you to stay in Disney World 3 hours after the park officially closes. These events have a limited number of tickets which means shorter wait times and less crowds overall!

Cinderella Castle

Some dates are starting to sell out for both parks already, so grab tickets if you want to attend! The prices range from $129 to $159 per person depending on the date. Click below to learn all about what you can expect from one of these events!

Festival of the Arts

It seems like we were JUST celebrating the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival  and then the EPCOT Festival of Holidays…but it’s just about time for the EPCOT Festival of the Arts! The festival runs from January 13th to February 20th, 2023 and we’ve already learned a lot about the festival.

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

Runners from all over the world will gather at Disney World from January 4th to 8th, 2023 for the Walt Disney World Marathan Weekend!   There are several 90s themed races throughout the weekend, so if you are in the parks during this time, prepare for big crowds.

Not only are there tons of people in the parks celebrating their accomplishments, but there are some road closures that may impact your regular route if you’re driving to the parks.  And if you’re running during this race weekend, good luck!

Rides & Pools Closing for Refurb

January is the month of refurbishments and there are quite a few you should prepare for! First of all, Kali River Rapids in Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be closing for a lengthy refurb starting on January 9th, 2023. The ride does not currently have a reopening date.

Kali River Rapids

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Magic Kingdom is one of the most popular rides in the park, but it will also be unavailable starting on January 9th, 2023. However, this is a short closure — the coaster is set to reopen on January 14th.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Over in Disney’s Hollywood StudiosFor the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along is closing for refurbishment as well. The show will be closed from January 9th to January 27th, 2023.


Since it is winter, several pools are closing for refurbishment during January. First of all, the Lava Pool Slide will be closed at Disney’s Polynesian Village starting on January 3rd, 2023. If you’re staying at the Polynesian, don’t worry! The pool will remain open — only the slide is closed until early February 2023.

Lava Pool

If you’re staying at Disney’s Contemporary Resort in January, it may be a little harder to find a spot to swim! The Feature Pool and Whirlpool Spa are closing from January 3rd to August 3rd, 2023.  Anyone staying here still has access to the water play area and Bay Look Pool during this time!

Contemporary Feature Pool

Guests at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort will not be able to visit the Meadow Swimmin’ Pool and whirlpool spa from January 9th through April 3rd, 2023. That being said, the water play area, Meadow Snack Bar,  and the Wilderness Swimmin’ Pool will still be open!

Meadow Swimmin’ Pool

From early January 2023 to late March 2023, the High Rock Spring Pool and On The Rocks Pool Bar will be closed for refurbishment at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. There are still several pools open including the The Grandstand Pool, The Paddock Pool and Congress Park Pool!

On the Rocks Pool Bar

Last but not least on the long list of refurbishments is the Skyliner! The Skyliner connects several hotels to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, but from January 22nd to 29th, 2023, the Skyliner will be closed for a quick refurbishment. You’ll still be able to use the free Disney buses, boats, and Monorail to get around!

News Sources: Disney Food Blog.

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