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Disneyland opens a new view on Star Wars Land construction

December 29, 2016, 4:23 PM · Sure, the park is overflowing with guests at Disneyland this week, but some fans are getting to enjoy an extra attraction along with the hassle of those big holiday crowds.

Disneyland has reopened the Big Thunder Trail at the park during especially busy periods this week, to relive some of the pressure on the castle and the hub, as fans try to move from the west side of the park to Fantasyland. Big Thunder Trail had closed earlier this year as part of the construction of the upcoming Star Wars Land, leaving visitors no way to get from Frontierland to Fantasyland without returning to the castle.

Today's Big Thunder Trail looks nothing like its former form. As documented by my colleague Mark Eades from the Orange County Register (click on the slideshow), it's now a backstage construction area, where Disney is building rockwork, bridges, and tunnels. This isn't Star Wars Land itself, but rather the new facade surrounding the land on its Frontierland side. Visitors can get a more complete — though distant — view of the entire Star Wars Land construction site from the Mickey and Friends parking structure.

Disney announced in August 2015 that it would build Star Wars lands at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida. Construction began this year, with Disneyland closing its Rivers of America attractions last January to accommodate the construction. Disneyland is rerouting the Rivers of America, shortening its length on the northern end (where the cabin and Indian village used to be) to create more available space for the Star Wars project.

Star Wars Land will occupy 14 acres north of the Rivers of America, spanning from Critter Country to Fantasyland. The construction site also has consumed several backstage facilities in addition to the old Big Thunder Ranch area. The new land will include two major attractions: a Millennium Falcon ride and another dark ride that brings visitors into a battle with the First Order. Set on a new planet in the Star Wars universe, Disney's Star Wars Land also will include a cantina, themed dining and retail, as well as character meet and greets, and other unannounced interactive opportunities where visitors will get to "use the Force."

Construction in Florida is several months behind the progress in Anaheim, as Walt Disney World also will be building a new automobile entrance into and exit from Disney's Hollywood Studios as well as expanding its parking lot to accommodate Star Wars Land as well as the new Toy Story Land that Disney also is building at that park.

Disneyland also is expanding its parking facilities, with plans for a new multi-level garage east of Harbor Boulevard, which will connect with the resort via a new Eastern Gateway pedestrian overpass above that street. The new garage and Eastern Gateway are expected to open in 2018. Disney has not yet announced opening dates for Star Wars Land in Anaheim or Orlando, however, we expect the Disneyland version to open in late 2018 or sometime in 2019, with the Florida version following, up to a year later.

Replies (2)

December 29, 2016 at 10:57 PM · Some of the rock work looks otherworldly, it looks like there will be some twirling rocks in tribute to the old Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland. Here's hoping that they will recreate part of the Rainbow Caverns.

At first I was hoping for the third theme park, but with Star Wars Land being this big, and Disney just starting to put Marvel in DCA, we probably won't see a third park for 20 years.

December 31, 2016 at 11:06 AM · 2020 ... ? sigh

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