By Michele E. Buttelman
California invites travelers to discover a wealth of new offerings coming to the Golden State in 2023, ranging from theme park experiences and cultural attractions to photo-worthy museums and luxury resorts.
What’s New in Theme Parks?
The Walt Disney Company will mark its 100th anniversary in 2023, timed to its founding by Walt Disney and Roy O. Disney on Oct. 16, 1923.
Disney 100 Years of Wonder will be the largest cross-company global celebration in the history of The Walt Disney Co. At Disneyland Resort, the heart of the celebration, the fun kicks off Jan. 27 with limited-time offerings taking place throughout the year. Highlights include: Platinum-infused décor throughout the resort; two all-new nighttime spectaculars: “World of Color – One” at Disney California Adventure Park and “Wondrous Journeys” at Disneyland Park; the new Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction; the opening of the reimagined Mickey’s Toontown in spring 2023 and the long-awaited return of the “Magic Happens” parade at Disneyland Park in time for spring.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Super Nintendo World, the innovative, immersive and highly anticipated themed land, will open Feb. 17 at Universal Studios Hollywood as the first Super Nintendo World in the nation.
The U.S. debut will transport theme park guests and Nintendo fans into the world of Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach. The immersive land will be a visual spectacle of vibrant colors and architectural ingenuity within a newly expanded area of the theme park, featuring a groundbreaking ride, interactive areas for the whole family and themed shopping and dining.
Nearby, the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen is an original concept restaurant opening at Universal CityWalk in early 2023.
SeaWorld San Diego
The new highly anticipated coaster, Arctic Rescue, will open at SeaWorld San Diego in spring 2023. Joining other thrill rides at the theme park, Arctic Rescue will be the longest and fastest straddle coaster on the West Coast. This family friendly, multi-launch ride invites guests to hop on a snowmobile and launch up to 40 mph on a chilly adventure as they race through the unpredictable arctic climate to help animals in danger. With a 48-inch height requirement, even young adventure seekers can enjoy Arctic Rescue.
Knott’s Berry Farm
Montezooma’s Revenge was the first flywheel-launched roller coaster in the world when it opened at Knott’s Berry Farm in 1978 and it is the oldest shuttle loop roller coaster still in its original location.
For 2023, Montezooma’s Revenge is being rethemed with new thrills that will allow guests to be completely surprised by the direction the train takes them.
The new Fiesta Village will reopen at Knott’s Berry Farm in summer 2023, showcasing beautiful décor across three new zones in the area, brand-new food locations, an updated Fiesta Plaza stage and a redesigned marketplace inspired by Los Angeles’ Olvera Street.
What’s New in Major Attractions
Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza
The new Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza coming to downtown Palm Springs in 2023 will feature the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, the Spa at Séc-he and an outdoor Oasis Trail. The new museum will celebrate the history, culture and modern times of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, and the state-of-the-art spa will showcase the Tribe’s ancient Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Spring. Inspiration for the Cultural Plaza’s design includes Agua Caliente traditions such as basket weaving and pottery, and elements found in nature.
Museum of Illusions Coming to San Diego
Museum of Illusions will open a new museum in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter toward the end of 2023. The nearly 10,000-square-foot museum will feature optical illusions, 3D holograms, brain-puzzling exhibits and interactive illusion rooms designed for visitors of all ages to enjoy.
Los Angeles Pink Panther Experience
In partnership with MGM, Bounce, a new experiential travel app, launches “The Pink Panther and the Case of the Missing Diamond,” an interactive, app navigated outdoor adventure, revolutionizing travel and entertainment experiences in Los Angeles.
Through the Bounce app, individuals, friends, and families, led by the inimitable Inspector Clouseau, are navigated through Los Angeles, stopping at popular destinations and local gems.
Each location unlocks new parts of the story, suspects to interrogate, and clues to uncover, all the while connecting friends and family, encouraging them to explore new, and perhaps even some unknown, places right in their own backyards.
Yosemite Virtual Reality
Yosemite Cinema at the south gate entrance of Yosemite National Park in Oakhurst is making history with the addition of Yosemite Virtual Reality. Yosemite VR is the only permanent Positron Powered Virtual Reality theater in the United States.
The feature film, narrated by Bryan Cranston, “Experience Yosemite,” allows the viewer to see the park like never before. The state-of-the-art Positron Voyager chairs feature sight, sound, scent, haptic feedback and movement.
What New in Accomodations?
In 2022 California saw the opening of 30 new hotels accounting for more than 5,100 additional rooms.
Noteworthy new hotels slated to open in 2023 include:
Pendry Newport Beach, www.pendry.com/newport-beach, replaces the iconic former Fashion Island Hotel.
Tommy Bahama Miramonte Resort & Spa, www.miramonteresort.com, opening in late 2023 in Indian Wells.
Canopy by Hilton, www.hilton.com/en/canopy, opening in early 2023 in downtown Sacramento.
Appellation Hotel, https://appellationhotels.com/healdsburg, in the rolling hills of Healdsburg.
Palihotel San Diego, www.palisociety.com/hotels/san-diego, opens spring 2023, along with three new hotels within Palisociety’s brand-new Le Petit Pali brand.