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Walt Disney World to Add Two New Star Wars Shows at Hollywood Studios

February 19, 2016, 11:07 AM · Walt Disney World is adding more Star Wars attractions at Disney's Hollywood Studios, to tide over fans until Star Wars Land is ready.

Disney announced today that it will add two new Star Wars-themed shows at the park. The highlight promises to be the new nightly fireworks show, "Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular."

Call this "Star Wars Forever," as the show will combine next-generation fireworks with the spotlights and projection mapping technology Disney employed to great effect in Anaheim's Disneyland Forever show. From Disney's press release:

Through these state-of-the-art special effects that project onto the nearby Chinese Theatre and other surrounding buildings, guests will gaze at the twin suns of Tatooine, push through a field of battle droids, navigate through an asteroid field, soar down the trench of the Death Star and deliver the final blow to destroy Starkiller Base. The show, which will unfold through a series of acts, will be punctuated by a tower of fire as well as powerful spotlight beams that create lightsabers in the sky.

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular concept art
Concept art courtesy Disney

The new Star Wars nighttime show will debut this summer, according to Disney. Before that, on April 4, Disney will premiere a new Star Wars-themed stage show in the park. "Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away" will feature characters including Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Kylo Ren, in a performance that Disney says is inspired by iconic moments in the Star Wars film series. The show will take place several times a day on the stage in front of the Chinese Theater.

Also starting on April 4, a First Order Stormtrooper March, led by Captain Phasma, will proceed several times a day from the Star Wars Launch Bay to the Center Stage.

Last summer, Disney announced plans to build a Star Wars-themed land at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, as well as at Disneyland in California. Construction has begun in Anaheim, and Disney has announced the closure of several attractions at Walt Disney World, including the Lights, Motors, Action auto stunt show and Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground, to make way for its version of Star Wars Land. Disney has not yet announced an opening date for Star Wars Land on either coast.

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Replies (22)

February 19, 2016 at 12:04 PM · This is why I'm starting to doubt Disney's ability to create a Star Wars land that immerses guests in the Star Wars Universe and compete with Potter:
"'Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away' will feature characters including Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Kylo Ren" The Dark Side characters listed should NOT be in the same show. They are all from different eras. What type of show are we talking about here? A goofball review like the Hyperspace Hoopla? No thanks.

And why plopped in front of the Chinese Theater? That area isn't really good for a stage, especially now that you'll need the room for fireworks viewing. What about that stage they just built by Rock'n Roller Coaster?

February 19, 2016 at 12:07 PM · I didn't get from Disney's announcement that all those characters would be on stage at the same time. It seems to me that we're talking about a live, stage version of the clip show that's playing now in Disneyland at the Tomorrowland Theater. Which could be very cool, if executed properly. The days of Hyperspace Hoopla are over.
February 19, 2016 at 1:44 PM · And this is the plan to tide guests over till 2021 ?

Good grief.

February 19, 2016 at 3:26 PM · I'm sure people will react the same way they did to Frozen. No more Star Wars!!!
February 19, 2016 at 4:24 PM · Sounds like some good stuff, worth checking out while we wait for Star Wars Land. And just think, only ten more months before ROGUE ONE comes out!!! I can't wait for more!
February 19, 2016 at 4:36 PM · Awesome! They are sure milking for what it's worth (billions). But for a Star Wars fan like me, it's hard to get enough. Cannot wait for Rogue One too!
February 19, 2016 at 4:39 PM · Not much substance but the throngs will show up to see this even though the actual park attractions are dwindling by the day, and there seems no real hurry to get real deconstruction & construction started. They just finally started a little work on Catastrophe Canyon after sitting idle for eighteen months. Star wars at DHS is many years away. But they'll milk the movie for now.
February 19, 2016 at 8:34 PM · So if Universal adds anything else Harry Potter related to their parks, is that considered "milking it" too?
February 19, 2016 at 8:56 PM · Universal isn't slashing their budgets and staffing after record profits and they're building a ton of things that aren't in any way related to Potter. WDW does the Frozen and Star Wars milk runs but the real attractions are either far in the future or half hearted like the Frozen redo of Maelstrom. True Star Wars expansion at DHS is in a galaxy far far away in time, and moving ever so slowly.
February 19, 2016 at 10:16 PM · I was initially excited until I read through the whole post. I don't want to see a clip show done with stand-ins or with fireworks in the background. I want to live in that universe, which is something that Universal is doing so well with right now with Potter and the Simpsons (probably Nintendo someday). I know Star Wars Land is coming, but this just seems like cheap filler. Instead, I wish they would bring something like Mad T Party to the East Coast, and make it open to everyone in the park (non-upcharge).
February 19, 2016 at 10:32 PM · Thankfully Universal did not convert an old soundstage or a closed animation studio into a Harry Potter meet greet store as Diagon Alley was being built. Right now DHS is just dance parties and character meet and greets which does seem like milking it as no construction has even started.

It will be interesting to see if Disney will ripoff Universal again like Gastons brew/butter beer and make an show where Maz looks into your eyes and hands you a light saber that you can buy in the next rooms gift shop or let you trade your junk US currency for Star Wars money with an character.

Universal has people lining up to buy wands and give real money to a talking goblin for money that can only be used at Universal. Right now Disney is not themed well enough to milk people without them caring like Universal and I bet Mickey is jealous

February 19, 2016 at 11:06 PM · So when they do provide 2 brand new attractions on an IP that's relatively underrepresented in their parks but people are really interested in seeing, that's reason to criticise them? I just want to be clear.
February 20, 2016 at 12:39 AM · Criticism comes because they are fillers, along with a general malaise that Bob Iger has barely invested in the parks in Orlando. Hollywood Studios specifically is in a bad shape, same ticket price, reduced hours across the board, slow build of new attractions along with a snails pace production so far for Star Wars Land, etc all combine to make guests a little unhappy.
February 20, 2016 at 9:10 PM · It's Star Wars, gang, just be happy! There was a time when we thought Star Wars was never going to be great again - but now we have five more tremendous films on the way to amaze us and transport us to a galaxy far, far away, and a growing slate of theme park attractions to fulfill our deep rooted desires to be swashbuckling space heroes! How can we as Star Wars fans argue and bicker when it is once again "cool" to say, "May the Force be with you"?????!!!!
February 20, 2016 at 7:46 AM · Heh, I love Star Wars. My criticism is that Disney uses this type of stuff to cover up their lack of meaningful new attractions and the slow pace of their construction. But, most important, it comes at a time when they're slashing the budgets and staff at WDW while they're experiencing record attendance & revenue at the USA parks. They always seem to single out WDW. Heck, cut & slash the budgets of those ill fated venture foreign parks. They're the cause of the problems, not WDW.
February 20, 2016 at 9:13 PM · I've read all the doom and gloom articles too, Rob, but have yet to hear from one real park goer that the recent cost cutting changes have adversely impacted their enjoyment of the parks. Sometimes I think we get all bent out of shape based on industry info related to things that have been going on at the parks for years. There is always an ebb and a flow to operations, and every major company cuts back here and there to make sure stock holders are happy and to ensure the revenue streams necessary to fund the future expansion of the brand keep flowing. Disney is a huge company - maybe too huge - and adverse impacts in one part of the company can lead to cutbacks elsewhere. I don't like it - you don't like it - heck no theme park fan likes it - but it is not a uniquely Disney problem. It may be a little tougher to understand with a company like Disney that seems to be rolling in cash and flush with massive profits, but until they start slashing expansion budgets and until we see a material impact to the guest experience, I don't think we should worry too much about it. And this "type of stuff" (parades, fireworks, live shows) is exactly the type of stuff visitors to Disney parks expect to see. So I don't think Disney is just slamming a bunch of drek in place without any thought whatsoever about park visitors. Quite the opposite, I believe every move Disney makes is calculated and designed to bring the most enjoyment to the most people while we "hard-core" fans all wait for the main event coming to DHS in a few years. Remember, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few - and as jaded TPI regulars, we are indeed the few.
February 20, 2016 at 9:31 AM · Sorry, but I think every Disney move is calculated to make the most of the bottom line. Just like the My Magic Next Gen stuff that had nothing to do with enhancing the guest experiences and everything to do with redistributing the flow of the crowds so they wouldn't have to pay for new attractions, plus generate 11% revenue increase related to the MM initiative, by their own CFO's statement, to get more money out of every guests wallet. But that MM benefit didn't work just like these overseas ventures don't. And these cuts are just being implemented now, so they haven't had a chance to affect the experience yet.And I'm a customer that was adversely affected by their slash philosophy. The fact is they've severely cut live entertainment throughout the parks. Just an example, when we were there in Oct. for two weeks there was significantly less live entertainment On the MK Main St. compared to previously and few Citizens of Main St. visible. And that's echoed throughout all the parks.Another Example:Fantasmic, as of now, is being cut back to one show a night. The lines are long with two shows, imagine one show's lines during spring break or summer. So that new Star Wars show isn't really a special offering, it comes as the expense of a Fantasmic offering. And if you had to stand in as many long lines for food and entertainment/attractions as we did, as compared to past Fall visits, you might say otherwise. The guest experience is deteriorating, albeit slowly but surely, and frankly Disney doesn't give a damn. But there's enough of people that drink the kool aide and their brand is so strong because of past people that ran the company, that they can get away with it, at least for now. For me though, I'll never spend a two week on site vacation at WDW again. I might do a couple of days if they ever complete any of these expansions, but that's it. My money, and I spend lots since I do everything basically first class, will go to the resort down the street that believes in expanding, not contracting, and has hotel resorts that are decently priced for their value, and seems to want me as a customer & guest. And the vacation experience, that requires almost no planning, is a vastly superior one if you're staying on site......NB has been so right about this.
February 20, 2016 at 10:02 AM · I'll avoid the fanboy desire to continue the Disney/Universal debate... It is a very old and tired discussion of little interest to me. I'll also avoid the 'it's too busy at the parks' debate because long lines are part and parcel of a Disney visit and always have been. But I do want to point out that 'calculated to please the most people' is synonymous with making more money, which directly helps the bottom line. And all these theme park companies want to make lots and lots of money - again, it is not a driver unique to Disney. Just be glad Disney is doing something with Star Wars instead of resting on their laurels - which they could do, and massive crowds would still descend onto their parks.
February 20, 2016 at 10:36 AM · If they weren't doing these Star Wars events at DHS, I would seriously doubt that massive crowds would still be descending on DHS, especially with it's sparse offerings. Star Wars will save the DHS attendance for the next year or so, and it's a good business decision, and that's why, back to my original comment that I would not have added to if I wasn't attacked by Crawford for stating, that's why they are milking Star Wars.
February 20, 2016 at 3:39 PM · As usual, Rob, you are spot on...Disney IS milking the Bantha poodoo out of Star Wars, and will continue to do so as long as they are producing high quality movies and other SW related products that capture the imagination of the world - which hopefully means for years and years to come!!
February 20, 2016 at 11:50 AM · And, in case the point was lost, I too love Star Wars. In fact I was one of the fortunate few that got to watch it the first day it was released way back when. It wasn't yet the cultural phenomena it is now, but it sure was impressive for the time. SW & Spielberg's Jaws were probably the first of what's now known as tent pole films. It was a time when movie attendance was dying, and those two movies had a big role in saving the film business. And I'm sure the Star Wars franchise will help save DHS, which was my favorite WDW park a few years back.
February 20, 2016 at 5:20 PM · I didn't really want to add much to this debate because I'd figure we'd see, well, pretty much what we saw. However, regardless of whether these offerings are headliners or not, they do add a little dynamic from ride overload. Rides are good and fun, but shows are much more relaxing and Disney usually does a great job with them. I'd like to see Universal look towards more changes in their entertainment because outside of Celestina Warback or the Horror Makeup Show, there's nothing really worth seeing in either park.

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