On Aug. 15, Disney announced Star Wars-themed lands will be built at Disneyland park in Anaheim, California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, one of the theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. Both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort will add other new “Star Wars” experiences or enhancements to existing offerings, notably Star Wars Launch Bay and Season of the Force, a new seasonal event.
Official confirmation that a greatly expanded Star Wars presence is coming to Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios took place at D23 Expo 2015. The Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced the two Star Wars-themed lands to an audience of more than 7,500 fans that Star Wars-themed lands during the event’s Hall D23 live-action presentation; the announcement was offered as a surprise for attendees who had been told in advance not to expect a new trailer for “The Force Awakens.”
Walt Disney Parks and Resort’s plans for realizing Star Wars in these two parks are ambitious, characterized as being Disney’s largest single themed land expansions. Both Star Wars themed-lands will be 14 acres of what Disney describes as an immersive environment filled with sights, sounds, smells and even tastes of another world.
With these lands, Disney will transport guests to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port at the Outer Rim and “one of the last stops before wild space.” It is here that Star Wars characters – both new and familiar – 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.”
Disney’s Star Wars lands will feature two signature attractions. One attraction will allow guests to fly a customized secret mission on the Millennium Falcon. The other will thrust guests into an epic battle experience between the First Order and the Resistance, the two sides featured in the upcoming “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Attractions will be one part of the lands’ immersive theming, which will extend to food (Bantha milk was mentioned), dining (a cantina run by local inhabitants) and shopping.
Both Iger and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek shared concept images of the Star Wars-themed lands at their respective D23 Expo presentation, offering a brief look at what’s on the drawing board for Disney parks. No groundbreaking or completion date, or rough timeline of construction, was announced at either presentation.
Disney also released information on more “Star Wars” experiences for the theme parks during Saturday’s second D23 Expo 2015 session in Hall D23. During the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts presentation, Chapek brought out Imagineer Scott Trowbridge to discuss the “Star Wars” plans he’s been in charge of developing for the parks.
In addition to the two new Star Wars-themed lands, Chapek and Trowbridge announced that new and more “Star Wars” will be coming to the domestic Disney parks in the next few months and in 2016.
- Star Wars Launch Bay: This interactive experience will focus on Episode VII, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” with exhibits and behind-the-scenes looks, opportunities to meet new and familiar Star Wars characters, and merchandise and food available for purchase. There will also be game play with exclusive content. Star Wars Launch Bay will located in the Animation Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and in Tomorrowland at Disneyland park, where it will share space with the reimagined Super Hero HQ – where guests can meet characters such as Captain America and Thor or experience Iron Man Tech Presented by Stark Industries. Guests can enjoy these experiences later this year.
- Season of the Force: Disney announced this new seasonal event, to kick off early 2016, for both parks. In Disneyland park, Tomorrowland will offer special entertainment, themed food locations and Hyperspace Mountain, in which Space Mountain will be re-imagined as an X-wing Starfighter battle. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests can enjoy a weekend nights with a new fireworks spectacular on weekend nights, which set to John Williams’ score for the “Star Wars” films, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.
- Enhancements to Star Tours and Jedi Training Academy: Later this year, Star Tours – The Adventure Continues will feature a new adventure with locations and characters from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Jedi Training Academy will be updated to include new characters and a villain from the Disney XD series “Star Wars Rebels.”