Star Wars Lands announced for Disneyland and Walt Disney World at D23 Expo

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Disney CEO and Chair Bob Iger said we’d know in 2015 how the company planned to bring Star Wars into the theme parks. Passing on Celebration and SDCC, Iger waited until today at the D23 Expo to reveal the star Wars-themed lands that are coming to Disneyland in Anaheim, Ca., and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fl.. The new lands will allows Star Wars fans to step into the newest stories set in a galaxy far, far away.

Calling the plans ambitious, Disney will bring Star Wars to life in the two parks include creating Disney’s largest single themed land expansions ever at 14 acres each, transporting guests to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life.

“I am thrilled to announce the next chapter in the long and exciting history between Disney Parks and Star Wars,” said Iger. “We are creating a jaw-dropping new world that represents our largest single themed land expansion ever. 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.”

These Star Wars lands will each have two signature attractions (it sounds like the same two attractions will appear in both parks). Along with the thrilling battle experience, another attraction puts guests behind the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, as they take on a customized secret mission.

The land will be populated with all the characters you’d expect from Star Wars, like droids, aliens, and roaming beasts. Stores and restaurants will be operated by local inhabitants. While we won’t get the cantina from Tatooine, we will get a cantina-ish restaurant.

Iger also shared concept images of the Star Wars-themed lands, giving fans a glimpse at what is to come for Disney parks.

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The partnership between Disney and Lucasfilm dates back to 1987, when the successful Star Tours attraction, inspired by George Lucas’s legendary Star Wars film series, opened at Disneyland. The attraction was then redesigned, emerging as “Star Tours – The Adventures Continue” in 2011 and featuring more than 50 different story outcomes and the possibility to visit five different planets.

My initial thoughts are that this is one attraction shy of being a Potter-swatter that everyone dreamed of. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy with these plans. The scale is impressive (14 acres is about 10.5 football fields), the level of total-immersion will no doubt be impressive (I’m told the land will feel like you’re on another planet and a being constructed in giant warehouses (but that’s not officially confirmed)), and I trust Disney Imagineers to do Star Wars right (after all we now own Lucasfilm and can go right to the experts when ever they need them).

Even though I understand the reasoning, I was worried about the attractions being based on the new movies. But with the Millennium Falcon, they have a thread that ties together the middle and last trilogies (episodes 4-9). So I think that will satisfy those whose most cherished Star Wars memories are of the earliest Star Wars films not the latest.

I’d like to learn more about the capacity of the two attractions. The ‘Galactic Battle’ sounds like it will be an E-ticket scale (typically at least 1,600 ppl an hour) but without knowing more details about the Millenium Falcon experience, I can’t guess about the throughput for that one.

Some other unanswered questions:

  • What’s happening to Star Tours? Answer: It will be getting new destinations later this year.
  • We have a good idea where in Disneyland they’ll be building (from the old Hunchback arena under the berm into the backstage areas), but nothing official about the location for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • When will it open? This appears to be an addition on the scale of Radiator Springs Racers at DCA. That took about two and a half years to build. Could we be riding these new attractions in Spring of 2018?
  • What is the name of the planet we will be visiting? Presumably it plays a big role in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

What else would you like to know about Star Wars lands?

This is a developing story, check back later for more. In the meantime, please share what you think about the announcement in the comments below!

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