Disney has released new details for “Star Wars Land,” under construction in Orlando and Anaheim, Calif. (Photographs courtesy of Disney Parks)
“Star Wars Land” might be a working title, but Disney’s new theme parks coming to Orlando and Anaheim have us firing up our lightsabers and ready to pack up our X-Wings to fly off to Florida and California.
Excited, we are!
We’ll just have to wait a little while. Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios and California’s Disneyland will be the first to let guests explore more than 14 acres dedicated to the beloved sci-fi franchise when the new themed experiences open in 2019.
Yet that hasn’t stopped Disney from sharing details of what’s to come. Here are the main attractions (so far) that we can’t wait to experience.
Flying the Millenium Falcon
The Millenium Falcon is a mainstay of the “Star Wars” series, and it’s one of the first rides announced for the new lands.
Known as one of the fastest ships in the galaxy, fans will not just be riding on this iconic ship. Oh, no, they will be controlling it.
Guests will form a flight crew and each member will be responsible for different tasks and, according to Disney, if your crew doesn’t do a good job there would be “consequences” for that later on.
“An experience might begin on board the Millennium Falcon and follow you right out the door of the attraction and into the local watering hole,” said Walt Disney Imagineer exec Asa Kalama.
How and what that means is still under wraps but as Han Solo would say, “This baby’s got a few surprises left in her, sweetheart.”
“Using the Force” via Disney Magic Bands
Yes, most folks have been loving the Magic Bands at Walt Disney World and how well they allow you to skip lines and pay for R2-D2 Mickey ears, but what else can this technology do?
The Florida parks recently utilized the wristbands to allow their loveable characters to know a personal tidbit about each guest wearing one.
Mickey Mouse, for example, might mention your name or comment on where you’re visiting from.
The band basically enables Disney to track guests’ movements and patterns of their day’s activities.
When it comes to “Star Wars Land,” the way you interact with characters and rides can begin to frame the way you experience the park.
“You can essentially build a reputation in the ‘Star Wars’ universe,” said Pablo Hidalgo of the Lucasfilm Story Group.
We all know the Force has two sides and you will be in control of which side you’re teaming up with. But choose wisely.
“There could be someone looking for you eventually,” warned Disney Imagineer Wendy Anderson.
So yes, that rough ride you put the Millenium Falcon through earlier might just come back to haunt you later on when you’re unsuspectingly enjoying your Darth by Chocolate dessert.
“There are going to be a ton of opportunities to help out and support the Resistance, lots of smugglers and bounty hunters who are looking for a little bit of help and might be willing to offer you up a side job, and for those of you who are interested in supporting the First Order, that will absolutely be an opportunity as well,” said Disney Imagineer Asa Kalama.
Of course, you can opt out and just be an observer if interaction gives you some anxiety or fear.
But remember as Yoda warned, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to getting kicked out of Disneyland.” Or something like that.
A Pint of Blue Milk, Please
The Galactic Grill in Disneyland (among other “Star Wars” themed pop-up restaurants) has been serving up out of this world choices since the “Season of the Force” took over in 2015.
The black-bunned “First Order Specialty Burger,” “Cheese-3PO” and BB-8 shaped crisped rice treats have already shown that the possibilities for fun themed food can be as limitless as potential “Star Wars” movie sequels and spinoffs.
But another new development for “Star Wars Land” is a fully immersive table-service Cantina-style restaurant.
With the announcement that all restaurants, shops and other establishments will be run by “locals,” the theming possibilities for this dining experience and other quick service locations are bountiful.
The Moroccan inspiration in the concept art shows how “Star Wars” can even feel elevated with its jewel-toned hues, tiled ceilings, and gilded lamps. Films in the franchise were shot in Morocco, after all.
Don’t worry, though, the blue milk will be free-flowing and no live frogs will be served. Sorry Jabba!
These ARE the Droids You’re Looking For
A recent internet rumor caught fire when Disney filed a patent application for a “humanoid” robot.
All signs point to this being a new version of the huggable Baymax from “Big Hero 6,” but how could this not come to the “Star Wars Land,” where droids play such a huge part of that universe?
New interactions and stories can be shared with each guest as this technology develops.
“We wanted to build new ‘Star Wars’ stories, new ‘Star Wars’ destinations,” according to Walt Disney Imagineering’s Scott Trowbridge. “It’s a new planet. It’s a new place.”
A new place filled with interactive droids?
Only time will tell, but we do know Disney is building two life-sized AT-ATs straight from the big screen.
Combine that thrilling construction with these possible in-depth interactions and you’ll feel like you’re right there amongst the forces of the Rebellion.
Do You Take Cash or Just Galactic Credit?
Artist renderings of the park’s central marketplace has us raising our Galactic Credit limits to experience the planned levels of detailed immersiveness for every possible shopping scenario.
Due to the evergreen nature of the franchise at this point the forthcoming “other-worldly marketplace” has the potential to ebb and flow with new films or nostalgia of the past hits.
Disney describes the setting of “Star Wars Land” as “a remote village that was a once a busy crossroads along the old sub-lightspeed trade routes, but the prominence of the outpost has been bypassed with the rise of hyperspace travel.”
Speaking at a panel discussion, Trowbridge said it’s the kind of location that draws “the smugglers, the bounty hunters, the rogue adventurers looking to crew up, the people who don’t want to be found ― basically all the interesting people.”
Since the planet these experiences exist on will be entirely new for Disney’s parks, we could be buying, trading, watching or even smelling anything that exists across the ever evolving “Star Wars” installments.
Just let us know when we can buy an actual working lightsaber, please.
Check out the video below to watch Disney’s theme park designers discuss “Star Wars Land.”
A Long Time From Now in a Galaxy Very, Very Close …
If you’re like the team at Marriott Traveler and 2019 just can’t get here fast enough, there are a few things to hold you over until “Star Wars Land” opens its galactic gates.
“Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacle” is Disney’s most elaborate fireworks display in the parks’ entire history and is currently illuminating the skies above Hollywood Studios.
It spectacularly combines fireworks, pyrotechnics, special effects and video projections that not only form massive lightsabers in the sky but also turns the park’s recreation of Hollywood’s Mann’s Chinese Theater (which hosted the premiere of the original “Star Wars”) and surrounding buildings into the twin suns of Tatooine, the trench of the Death Star and many more “Star Wars” destinations all set to the scores of the franchise.
Disneyland’s ongoing “Season of the Force” enables fans to interact with Stormtroopers, meet Kylo Ren and Chewbacca and fly as an X-Wing pilot via the repurposed Hyper-Space Mountain.
A New Adventure
But best of all may be the addition to “Star Tours – The Adventures Continue” at both Disneyland and Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.
The latest expansion for that attraction will take guests to the planet of Crait in the middle of an epic battle.
Based on scenes and characters from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” it should hopefully help tide us all over until the new parks arrive.
But until then … may the patience be with you.