(Photo: Courtesy of Disney/Lucasfilm)
Disney is making room for the Force — make that a lot of room. With “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” set to bring the sci-fi franchise back to theaters on Dec. 18, Disney has revealed extensive plans on how it’s going to start integrating George Lucas’ world into its theme parks.
1. The company will build “Star Wars” lands at Hollywood Studios, in Florida, and Disneyland, in California. While dates for when the attractions will open have not yet been announced, the attractions will clearly embrace what has made “Cars Land” such a huge success for Disney’s California Adventure theme park in Anaheim, Calif., and “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” for Universal and Warner Bros. in Orlando.
Both lands will be based on a remote trading port, and have two signature attractions, including one that puts guests behind the controls of the Millennium Falcon as they go on a secret mission.
“We are creating a jaw-dropping new world that represents our largest single themed land expansion ever,” said Walt Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger while announcing the attractions. Disney already is building a separate “Avatar”-themed land at its Animal Kingdom park in Orlando. “These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new ‘Star Wars’ planet, including an epic ‘Star Wars’ adventure that puts you in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.”
2. “Star Tours,” which first opened in 1987 and was updated in 2011 as “Star Tours — The Adventures Continue,” will now get a new adventure that includes locations and characters from J.J. Abrams’ “The Force Awakens.” The new sequence, again produced by Industrial Light + Magic, will debut later this year, in time for the film’s release.
In addition to Hollywood Studios and Disneyland, Disney opened a “Star Tours” at Tokyo Disneyland in 2013, and plans to open one at Paris Disneyland in 2017. “The Adventures Continue” enabled the ride film to feature more than 50 different story outcomes and the possibility for guests to visit five different planets. New footage from “The Force Awakens” will increase that.
3. Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the Tomorrowland section of Disneyland will get a “Star Wars Launch Bay” later this year, that will include exhibits, special merchandise and food themed around “The Force Awakens.”
4. The Jedi Training Academy, popular with young “Star Wars” fans, will be updated to include characters and the newest villain seen in Disney XD’s animated “Star Wars Rebels” show.
5. Early 2016 will kick off “Season of the Force” on both coasts, with Disneyland’s Tomorrowland to include themed food locations and entertainment. Space Mountain will be renamed Hyperspace Mountain during the seasonal event as part of a stunt that reimagines the ride as an X-wing Starfighter battle. Orlando’s Hollywood Studios will launch nightly fireworks shows on weekends set to John Williams’ iconic “Star Wars” score.
Check out the final trailer for “The Force Awakens” below.