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Vote of the week: What to do about Star Wars in the parks?

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Published: November 2, 2012 at 6:07 PM
Okay, now that I've dismissed the idea that Disney is going to build huge new Star Wars-themed attractions in its U.S. theme parks anytime soon, let's talk about what Disney could do to show off its new Star Wars franchise in its theme parks.

As I wrote earlier today, forget about big new rides or permanent shows happening anytime in the next few years. But those are hardly the only ways that Disney brings characters and franchises into its parks. Meet-and-greets with Darth Vader, C3PO and other popular walk-around characters ought to be locks. (Sorry, Dads, but I wouldn't get your hopes up for "Slave Leia," though.)

Darth Vader
"Have your autograph books out! Or else..."

Disney's got a lot of options to show off more Star Wars, through its entertainment departments. The big question, as I alluded to this morning, is: What does the public want? Put it another way: What will get more people to visit or spend more at Disney theme parks? If a new entertainment offering doesn't help promote the bottom line, why choose it over some other option that would?

With that in mind, I'm suggesting three specific ideas for our Vote of the Week. (And thanks to Twitter follower Clayton Lott for suggesting the World of Color idea.) Vote for the one that most would get you to take an extra trip to a Disney theme park.


If you've got another idea, please let us know about it, in the comments. Have a great weekend, and if you're able and willing, please take a moment to give in support of hurricane relief efforts. We hope that our readers in the northeast soon will be back to normal, safe, and in the mood to talk about silly things like all this stuff.

Readers' Opinions

From Dominick D on November 2, 2012 at 6:33 PM
Let's wait until VII comes out. As for SWW in DL, TDL, and DLP, I don't think there's enough space.
From Jay R. on November 2, 2012 at 6:55 PM
The only thing I'd suggest immediately is expand Star Wars weekend.

For me, that's the only one that works for now. Beyond that I'd say hold out for a new attraction(s) (or a land where you can keep all the Star Wars stuff in)

Personally, I think (apart from the obvious merchandising) that Star Wars should keep some separation from the other standard Disney classics for now (Like how they're handling Marvel, to an extent)

It would be odd (for me) to see a Star Wars parade coming down main street or to see it alongside Beauty & the Beast during World of Color. (If there's a star wars land, a parade would be cool there)

No doubt this is a huge thing for Disney, but I think there still needs to be some franchise boundaries. As much as people love Star Wars, I still don't think people would love to see the parks overrun with Star Wars stuff.

I would obviously expand the area that it's currently in, but I would limit it to those areas.....you still want disney to be the bigger focus.

Who wants to see Princess Leia at the Princess meet n greet with the other Disney Princess???

From Anon Mouse on November 2, 2012 at 7:11 PM
I'd rather they hold off until they can best present Star Wars with the amazing attractions the public can be proud of. Universal is going full blast with Harry Potter. For Disney to do a scrawny job with STAR WARS is ridiculous and an insult.

There are many ways to add Star Wars. They can add a E-Ticket big attraction or go smaller with a D-Ticket companion to Star Tours. I can see them replace the Magic Eye Theater with Captain EO with a Star Wars 3-D film. Convert the eating establishments with Star Wars themed restaurants like the Cantina with real or animatronic figures as entertainment.

The Big E-Ticket attraction has to be the replacement of the Autopia ride (including the Nemo Submarine Ride if necessary) with a Star Wars themed land. This is a totally enclosed land with walking Star Wars characters and Meet and Greet spots.

From Robert Niles on November 2, 2012 at 10:04 PM
To me, World of Color is as much as a slam-dunk as the in-park characters. Disney can do that to high quality and it would help freshen the show.

FWIW, I think there should be an Avengers section, too, for next summer, along with Star Wars. But Star Wars' music is more iconic - so it would be the better of the two options if Disney decided to add only one new segment next year.

From Eric G on November 2, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Just what we need more hodgepodge in World of Color. The show is a broken montage with no story tying it together so why make it any worse. Star Wars is already well represented in the Disney parks. As for the future I think Florida is the likely bet should they decide to expand what they offer.

Based on what you read on this site you'd swear Disney buys these franchises for the theme parks, but in reality the film studio historically has been the profit engine for the company. Gee, I wonder if Marvel and Lucasfilm have more to do with the studio than the parks...

From Tom Cunningham on November 3, 2012 at 4:27 AM
Only two things to do

1)Gut Spaceship Earth install a killer 3D based ride and turn the outside into the Death Star
2)Turn Illuminations into a Star Wars based firework and laser show

-Job Done

Ps I know Disney wont do it but it would be cool

From grant crawford on November 3, 2012 at 6:50 AM
Okay, I have to disagree with your base premise. Although your argument is well thought out and raises good points, I believe the reason for no substantial star wars presence in Disney parks is already mentioned. Money.

Lucas has guarded his legacy like a dragon his treasure, and any use of Star Wars trademark in a theme park must have cost a fortune. I believe that the only reason Disney renewed Star Tours (unless they already had plans of buying Lucas out) was to rejuvanate what was essentially a relic (darn good relic though) and protect their hold over first rights to the star wars material - stopping anyone else using it. Disney never needed Star Wars to make their parks big, they already were. So why pay someone else for access to IP when your already the only show in town.

Two things have changed now.

Firstly, Universal has shown that it can be a threat, and with access to Harry Potter has shown what incredible and successful material can be created with the appropriate franchise. Disney is still top dog, but Universal is now starting to yap at its heels. Technically Harry Potter has been a more lucrative franchise (in books and movies), but I think Star Wars has far more lucrative possibilites, and has proven it has the longevity to compete with Potterland.

Secondly, they now don't have to pay licencing fees.

I believe you'll see little changes immediately, including all those ideas mentioned. I also believe that you won't see major changes (like you've said) at least until Ep7. This is for different reasons to yours. The development time is a big consideration, and it would take at least until 2015 to fully plan and develop a land. So if it is going to take until Ep7 arrives, no doubt they will wish to incorporate some of the new film ideas, at least as a cross promotion of sorts.

So my tip is all of the above with a real significant Star Wars presence by 2016-17, most probably a redevelopment of Tomorrowland in Disneyland, and a redevelopment of either Hollywood Studios or Epcot (or maybe eventually both) in Florida.

From Anthony Murphy on November 3, 2012 at 7:50 AM
I still think a whole new land would be the best course of action. Perhaps take bits of Start Wars Weekends that worked and make it into a more established attraction.

I don't like the World of Color idea, but then again, I am more on the WDW side of things.

From 72.218.121.20 on November 3, 2012 at 10:20 AM
We should wait out for a proper expansion in DHS for Star Wars or addition to any of the other parks. For the Studios, I'm thinking tearing down Sounds Dangerous and Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular for a proper Star Wars Land would be best. You could have an e-ticket replace Indy and the Cantina replacing Sounds Dangerous. It would be hard to expand much beyond that due to 50's prime time being as popular as it is and Muppets above Star Tours. And Tom, I'm going to take what you said as a joke about Spaceship Earth being gutted and turned into the Death Star. That's.....horrifying to contemplate.
From AJ Hummel on November 3, 2012 at 10:29 AM
I'd rather Disney concentrate their efforts on new attractions and/or lands, but of the three options the expansion of Star Wars weekends is the only one I like. Parades should remain restricted to Disney characters, and I don't think a Star Wars would be good for its own parade or fit into an existing one. I also think World of Color should delete segments if anything, as 30 minutes is way too long for a fountain show (it's telling if a majority of people in the non-reserved viewing areas leave half-way through).
From TH Creative on November 3, 2012 at 1:27 PM
First of all, note to Robert Niles: I am your father.

Dump the Indy show at DHS and make it a Star Wars thing.

Also on a personal note to Anthony Murphy: I am your father.

Gut that whatever restaurant to the left of Star Tours and turn it into the Cantina.

And by the way J. Rao: I am your father.

From 173.65.144.192 on November 3, 2012 at 4:27 PM
Disney need to do something with this franchise other than just another c ticket ride. HP at Universal is a reason to go to Universal. Nothing Disney has done, individually, is a reason to make you want to go to WDW
From 71.178.217.74 on November 3, 2012 at 5:24 PM
Ok, as much as I like Spaceship Earth, I cannot help but giggle and like the idea of Turning the sphere into the Deathstar.

Completely anti-EPCOT ethos, but very cool idea nonetheless.

From Brandon Townsend on November 3, 2012 at 6:59 PM

As Walt's ghost shakes hands with Ben Kenobi's ghost over this deal I can hear Ben say, "May the profits be with you."

Tom- I like your Spaceship Earth idea. Then they could aim it across central Florida at Universal and cause Harry Potter to feel a disturbance in the... whatever force is equivalent to in the HP world.

This Star Wars area needs to go into Hollywood Studios for sure. Indy can go, the Stunt Car thingie can go, and whatever is left can be removed with a blast from the death star.

Something BIG has to be built to catch everyone's eye from afar like Hogwart's Castle at UIA. A friend recently related how his wife teared up with emotion upon entering Harry Potter world. I'm 42 (so 7 y/o when Star Wars premiered) and I want to cry like a baby when I enter this new area. (And not just because of how much another Disney trip is costing me.)

Please get it right, Disney!

From James Rao on November 3, 2012 at 8:31 PM
Dad, uh, can you send some cash? Thanks.
From 71.218.59.179 on November 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM
Full new park. More than enough material and future material to warrant a full experience
From 206.177.43.70 on November 3, 2012 at 11:37 PM
I have to disagree with the thinking that Disney will be holding back on expanding Star Wars in their theme parks - and I suspect that a Star Wars Land is very much on their radar.

World of Harry Potter, followed by CarsLand, has shown the potential of heavily themed, focused, districts within a theme park. But (for the investment) there needs to be longevity. Very little news has been coming from the Avatar Land front since its announcement - except for rumors of problems and politics. Now, Avatar was a great movie. However, it doesn't seem to have the long-term cultural impact of that galaxy far, far away. Throw in a few progress headaches, and I could see the company looking away from the big blue aliens. Nobody talks about Avatar, two years later. Thirty-five years later, people still talk about, and reference, Star Wars.

And then there was the movement of the manager of the successful Cars Land project over at Disney Land to the Walt Disney World side (can't remember her name) the timing of which must have fallen into the period when Disney was in discussions with Lucasfilm.

Need a long term, culturally relevant, high design potential, family friendly, themed land to be put in the capable hands of a proven manager? Sounds like Disney has all the necessary requrements on the East Coast right now. And, let's face it, Disney Studios could use a bit of improvement.

From TH Creative on November 4, 2012 at 10:39 AM
Hot Rumor: New show planned at Cinderella's castle: "When You Wish Upon a Death Star."

Stay tuned!

From O T on November 4, 2012 at 11:44 AM
If theme parks should have learned one thing about the succes of Harry Potter at IOA is that you need to treat the source material with respect. That's what most fans want. JK Rowlings held her foot down, Disney backed out and Universal agreed. The result is a hit. It would be nice if Disney would build a land, show, ride, etc that they would do the same. At the moment the ride is fine but for the rest it's horrible. Dance offs, Mickey Jedi, R2D2 popcorn buckets is pissing on the franchise and redecul it.
Putting it in a collage thing like Colours is fine, it lacks story and is a tech demo (a nice one but still a tech demo not to Disney standards).
If Disney is doing it right we will see lot's of jedi's walking the park like we see wizards at IOA and Disney will earn a load of money. If not they at least would lose me as a customer for that land.
From 64.183.229.217 on November 4, 2012 at 1:52 PM
Meet and Greets
From Alan Hiscutt on November 4, 2012 at 5:57 PM
First off The Death Star at Epcot? Epic. It is an entire self ecased eco system with hydroponic bays, water purification tanks, Room to house a million peeps, Metal fabrication workshops, A zillion different career paths. Seems like this is Walt had in mind after all.

Secondly, If Disney can agree for Avatar land after a single movie (and IMO not one that was overly impressive story wise) then I dont doubt for one second that Mos Eisley will pop up somewhere in a park. Of course if Disney really wanted to impress me that build Walt Disney Star Wars Galaxy In England, possibly within walking distance of my house. :)

From Todd Donahue on November 4, 2012 at 6:37 PM
I don't know what everyone is talking about, I'm looking forward to that kiddie dawrf ride yaaaay! (Sarcasm) for anyone that knows me. I say you own it now flaunt it. An imperial march going down Main Street in the old electric parade would be sweet.
From travis traymoore on November 4, 2012 at 9:44 PM
What ppl keep forgetting Is that this deal includes the Indiana jones films also. Speaking for DHS only I'd love to see theme Crete a theme park with in a park ala world showcase base on Lucas film. Indy stunt how and star tours are located fairly close to each other so the new are would include those two rides, an ewok village, a cantina, a replica of Marion's bar from raiders of the Lost arm, an almost virtual clone of the Indiana jones ride from disneyland and perhaps a few c and d ticket rides like an Indy mine train coaster and souped up version of the old star jet ride with a star wars makeover
From Mike Gallagher on November 5, 2012 at 3:13 AM
" raiders of the Lost arm, "

Congratulations, Travis, on your first Typo Of The Week Award!

From 190.212.81.40 on November 5, 2012 at 7:54 AM
I think they should keep it at Hollywood Studios, and maybe do something big with it. Being a GIANT Star wars Fan and A Freakishly Obsessed Magic Kingdom Disney fan. We need to keep Magic Kingdom clean and free of outside influence, if you know what I mean. Star Wars is a whole other world and way of fantasy, a whole different type of dream. Hence, preferably keeping it at a park you can just park your car at and walk in. Am I right?
From Chad H on November 5, 2012 at 11:11 AM
@ Mike Gallagher , I think thats the name of the Scrubs Musical in development.... ;-)
From 84.56.127.90 on November 5, 2012 at 1:29 PM
Im not convinced that nothing has changed for Disney with regard to decission makeing about theme park attraction with the purchase.

Now that Disney controls the entire franchise, they can calculate the value of a theme park attraction throughout the value chain. A great theme park ride has the potential to improve out of park sales of Star Wars stuff for decades. As long as Disney did not own the rights, theyd naturally rather improve the sales of say cars stuff.

From TH Creative on November 5, 2012 at 1:38 PM
I'm not trying to foment an argument here but ... Is there really a world of opportunities when it comes to Star Wars attractions?

Certainly a theatrical production like the Indy show (which already has a great space and theater to accommodate a production) is available. And there's the Cantina, expanded retail,, interactive game and play area and character greeting opportunities

But after that ... what else?

Star Tours runs through almost every simulation permutation in virtually every SW environment and is all about speed and flight.

Certainly Star Wars is a great get for Disney but ... Where are the E-Tickets?

From Mike Gallagher on November 5, 2012 at 1:55 PM
Chad, I'm old enough to remember MAD Magazine's parody of the film..they called it "Raiders Of A Lost Art."

I assume your reference is to the TV show "Scrubs," but I don't get it :(

From 96.228.49.229 on November 5, 2012 at 2:59 PM
As many else have probably stated: Throw out Avatarland and recreate something based on Star Wars. Avatar is not a good film.
From James Rao on November 5, 2012 at 3:26 PM
TH, I still argue for a Tie Fighter vs X-Wing dueling coaster! Thanks to the shortsightedness of our friends at Universal Creative, it would be the only dueling coaster in the state!

Beyond that ├╝ber ride, there's always the Ewok Shooting Gallery attraction (the targets are actually on the Ewoks), an expanded Jedi Training Academy (indoors and with more tech and 3D wizardry), the Death Star omnimover adventure (where we visit scene after scene of imperial troops getting throttled by Vader), and last, but not least, the Slave Leia Meet 'n' Greet (an after hours, up charge attraction for the 21 and older crowd).

Easy! And I just came up with those on the bus ride home....

From Anon Mouse on November 5, 2012 at 5:04 PM
There is much unexplored territory with a possible Star Wars Land. I can see them doing quite a few attractions.

1. A representation of one or two planets. There were some impressive landscapes represented in the prequel trilogy (episodes 1-3).

2. A Jedi Academy done full force (pun intended) with training film and backstory. Practice using lightsabers. Include simulation of "force" with training goggles.

3. Ride any variety of Star Wars vehicles in an enclosed planetary environment a la Star Wars Autopia. Add a racing feature or target shooting or pick your adventure.

4. A walk through adventure in Death Star. Visit the trash compactor. See the control room. Help Luke and Princess Leia escape via the Millenium Falcon. Shoot the TIE Fighters on a robotic arm on a track like simulator.

There are many things that can be done.

From Tim Hillman on November 6, 2012 at 9:49 AM
I'm not sure what Disney is going to do with Star Wars, but if I were Universal, I'd try to get rights to Mel Brooks' Spaceballs. Imagine all of the snarky Disney and Star Wars shots that Universal could take if they had the rights to that property. I'd be one of the first people in line to take a ride on the Winnebago-shaped Eagle 5 to save the universe from Dark Helmet and Spaceball One.

"May The Schwartz be with you!"

From Mike Gallagher on November 6, 2012 at 1:59 PM
Thank you, Tim...you made my day.

MERCH-andising, MERCH-andising!!

What's the matter, Colonel Sanders?....CHICKEN???

From Tim Hillman on November 6, 2012 at 3:21 PM
In honor of election day....

President Skroob: "Sandurz, Sandurz. You got to help me. I don't know what to do. I can't make decisions. I'm a president!"

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