Theme Park Insider

Disney reveals more details from Star Wars land, in Orlando

April 15, 2017, 2:41 PM · Walt Disney Imagineers today revealed more details from the upcoming Star Wars lands, now under construction at Disneyland in California and Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida.

The reveals came during the Disney Parks panel at the Star Wars Celebration event at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars film in 1977.

Disney's Scott Trowbridge, the creative director who is overseeing the Star Wars project, said the the escape from the First Order ride would be the most epic adventure ever constructed in a Disney theme park. In addition, on the Millennium Falcon attraction, riders will have the ability to control the iconic smuggling vessel, and riders' choices in doing that could affect the way that they are treated by characters elsewhere in the land.

This raises the concept that Disney's Star Wars land will support ongoing narratives that involve visitors in a way that carries on from location to location within the land. Each attraction will not be a separate experience, but a chapter in an ever-developing narrative.

Disney experimented with this type of in-park immersive storytelling with its Legends of Frontierland experience at Disneyland in 2014. Knott's Berry Farm has been expanding the concept with its Ghost Town Alive! experience, which debuted last summer and will return for this summer, as well. We will see how Disney applies the concept with Star Wars land.

We also learned more about the location of Star Wars land within the Star Wars universe. According to Disney publicity, the land lies on a planet "somewhere on the Outer Rim — lying on the edge of the Unknown Regions."

The remote village was once a busy crossroads along the old sub-lightspeed trade routes, but the prominence of the outpost has been bypassed with the rise of hyperspace travel. Now home to those who prefer less attention, it has become a thriving port for smugglers, rogue traders and adventurers traveling between the frontier and uncharted space. It’s also a convenient safe-haven for others intent on avoiding the expanding reach of the First Order.

Disney's Star Wars land also will include as-yet-not-yet-fully-revealed interactive elements, potentially including much more convincing lightsabers than the light-up toy tubes now sold in the parks.

Panelists promised to reveal more about Star Wars land at the D23 Expo in Anaheim this July. Star Wars land is scheduled to open sometime in 2019.

Update: Forgot to add this: Disney also announced that it will add a scene from Star Wars: The Last Jedi into the Star Tours The Adventures Continue attractions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World later this year. The scene will be set on the planet of Crait, which is seen in the new Last Jedi trailer. It's the one with the funky "blood" dust.

Replies (43)

April 15, 2017 at 3:36 PM · This will be it. Disney aims for nothing less than creating a land that will far exceed what Universal has done with Harry Potter. Carsland didn't quite do it and - I believe - Avatarland won't quite do it either. But Star Wars-land will raise the bar.
April 15, 2017 at 3:41 PM · Not excited. Nothing here for fans of the original trilogy.

Disney needs to give Star Wars nerds their own theme park.

I have zero interest in visiting Disney's dumbed down copycat version of Star Wars.

April 15, 2017 at 5:20 PM · Will a Club 33 go into Star Wars Land? It will be highly anticipated. People will pay top dollar to be a Jedi Academy member.
April 15, 2017 at 10:22 PM · I think they will do an amazing job with Starwars at Disney and Nintendo at Universal
It's going to be an amazing time for theme park lovers and as a theme park worker create thousands of jobs and opportunities for the Orlando locals .
April 15, 2017 at 10:52 PM · I can't wait to hear more details in the coming months.
April 15, 2017 at 11:07 PM · If Star Wars Land delivers as promised, it will be the next huge game changer in the theme park industry. However, it seems that Disney is focusing on the entire land as one huge attraction rather than as a traditional theme park land, and that comes with a major risk: Everything in the land needs to work, or the whole experience will suffer greatly. While I'm confident Disney will do a great job, I am a little worried about everything connecting in a setting completely unfamiliar to fans.
April 16, 2017 at 3:14 AM · It's sounds like a "best off" location heavily retooled to make it "theme-park smart". That is probably great for the casual guest but as a fan I want to step foot in the original location like the cantina at Mos Eisley and not a scaled up, foodcourt size cantina I don't have a connection with.
The interconnection of rides is intriguing but I'm sure not everyone will be able to ride a screen based simulator so when they don't how will the interaction flow further on. What if it's not the first ride you do? What is you are in a team where the pilot is bad, you as a shooter won't be able to make up for that. That would disappoint me.
Aesthetically it looks underwhelming from the first and second artwork we had seen before but it has that Star Wars feeling, kind off.
April 16, 2017 at 4:45 AM · I think choosing a unique space port was the only way to go for Disney, in order to do an immersive land for Star Wars.

If you choose one planet already known, people would complain about wanting to see a different one. There's no Wookies on Hoth, no Ewoks on Tatooine, no Jawas on Couroscant - But on a new planet, anything can be there, and properly in place. Anywhere already established in the Star Wars universe has rules regarding who should be there, and what it should be like. Somewhere new allows the designers to create an environment to meet the entertainment and practicality necessities of the land.

As for the suggestion that Disney make a theme park land just to make Star Wars nerds happy: Star Wars nerds are never happy.

And I'm speaking as one of them.

April 16, 2017 at 4:56 AM · I'm feeling a little uneasy about this. What makes Harry Potter so great is that it has real sets from the movies that you can feel like your immersed in. This is sort of Star Wars and sort of not. Where's the cantina or Hoth? Those kinda look like Star Wars healing tanks but kind of not. I'm confused. You have this great material that you bought for billions of dollars that everyone knows and you come up with all new setting for your theme park?? Where's the immersion if no one has connections to it? I'm a big Star Wars fan but see this and then look at Harry Potter and wish they did something like Potter. I'm not happy.
April 16, 2017 at 6:29 AM · I'm a huge Star Wars fan. Like some of the other posters, I was hoping to see things pulled directly from the original and new movies. This is really strange, to create all new sets when you have so much material to pull from.

This was going to be a huge win with the great material handed to them. But, as is usual, leave it to Disney to screw this up.

April 16, 2017 at 6:56 AM · I think the interconnected storytelling has the opportunity to bring that familiar Star Wars 'story' to life. Good vs bad, light vs darkness in an alien world.
April 16, 2017 at 8:31 AM · Oh this'll be amazing.

The next 10 years + will be amazing for Universal and Disney fans

April 16, 2017 at 9:07 AM · Before passing judgment, I think we should wait to see what Disney will have done with Pandora next month. If Pandora proves to be a success, then Star Wars land will be even better. Disney will have had two more years (likely more, I'm not convinced of a 2019 opening date) to utilize better technologies and create a world based on exponentially better source material.
April 16, 2017 at 9:50 AM · Disney is creating Star Wars Land not for the relatively small number of hard core SW nerds who will be duly devastated that they can't actually sit in the cantina or walk on Hoth or whatever but rather for the literally millions of ordinary people out in the world who 'kind of like' Star Wars but frankly couldn't tell you what planet they were on or what was supposed to have happened there. To these people, the vast majority, so long as it feels 'Star Wars-y', looks like the kind of places they've seen in the films, and has cool droids and light sabres and stormtroopers and nasty black-robed baddies, then they'll be as happy as pigs in muck and the land will be every bit as successful as Harry Potter. I appreciate the true nerds don't want to hear that as it means they will (inevitably) going to be disappointed, but then I suspect that no matter what Disney did they were going to be disappointed anyway.....
April 16, 2017 at 11:48 AM · This is finally the second chapter on the theme park wars that started in 2010 with WWOHP and I can't wait. I think Star Wars and Avatar lands will be spectacular. Chapter 3 with Volcano Bay and Nintendo land is also coming soon. What a great time to be a theme park fan!
April 16, 2017 at 12:43 PM · I am a huge Star Wars fan. Massive. I think this all sounds great. The new planet allows continuity of story, and setting it within the new movies is fine as well. I love the idea that what happens on the ride affects you in the park, but that introduces a huge problem, and one I have mentioned as a challenge to this new land- their line management. So, let's say a young kid gets to come to Disney and the only thing they want to do is Star Wars. You have Fast Pass Plus. You get to ride the attraction once. The outcome is not what the kid wanted. Now the reaction post ride is a negative one, and the way they have set up the line management, there is no way to experience it again on that vacation. I love what the new land sounds like, but they need to bite the bullet and gut FP+. I like the armbands for the key, ticket, purchasing, and you can use it to reserve fast pass like with the paper system, just not with the app prior to the day and not on attractions that never needed it. I know this new land will be successful, I am afraid it will be too successful.
April 16, 2017 at 1:59 PM · I think the brilliance of WWOHP is that you are essentially doing the same thing as Harry is in movie 1. You are staring in amazement of this whole new world, eating, shopping, and performing small amounts of magic. It's a perfect way to create immersion.

I have often wondered how you could pull this off in Star Wars. Shopping and eating are not parts of Star Wars mythology the way buying a wand, quidditch gear, or eating at Leaky Cauldron is a part of HP. You can't have hundreds, or thousands of people walking around lopping of limbs with lightsabers. So how would immersion be created.

I think what we know is a good start. I love that the interaction is based on your choices and outcomes of rides. If they pull that off it will be incredible. How are Jedi going to be handled? Lightsabers? The Force? Those 3 things must be handled correctly for all of this to work.

April 16, 2017 at 5:19 PM · After visiting Harry Potter and expecting the hyped immersive elements, I couldn't help but notice it was obviously missing. Yes, my expectations were built-up by feedback from hardcore fans. Then again, I didn't enjoy the Harry Potter films so maybe that played a part.

Sadly, hardcore fans are not returning to Universal Orlando, per internal statistics, in the numbers predicted for 2016 and so far in 2017.

Universal Creative is already addressing a question they thought wouldn't have to be addressed so soon after the WWofHP expansion...

How do we reignite attendance at the Universal Orlando Resort?

Could this same question arise for Walt Disney World soon after STAR WARS land opens?

April 16, 2017 at 7:06 PM · How to improve attendance? They need to add walk around characters and meet and greets. If JK Rowling put the restriction on characters within the park, its a very limiting Harry Potter experience.
April 17, 2017 at 6:57 AM · The concept art looks like a cross between Harambe at Animal Kingdom and Port of Entry at Islands of Adventure, but with a Star Wars flare. I hear about all the cool interactive ideas but have real doubts on how that scales to the numbers showing up for the land. I think the juries still out, but I'm not convinced that it'll be a knock out of the park.

"Generic Star Warsy location" doesn't really do it for me if that's what it'll wind up being.

April 17, 2017 at 7:36 AM · With Disney poised to pump out a new Star Wars movie every single year for the rest of the decade, it makes sense for them to set the new Star Wars land in a more generic location in the "Star Wars Universe". If the land were to be set in a location tied to an existing movie, it would limit the flexibility of the attractions, restaurants, and overall theming of the area. The generic location (out of time) can be morphed to meet whatever the designers want it to be. While it deliberately leaves out specific beloved characters and sets (many have criticized Disney for not doing an exact replica of Episode IV's Mos Eisley Cantina or even Episode VII's Maz Kanata's place), it affords Imagineers to insert whatever characters they want, and to even rotate them without fear of getting challenged by the Nerd Police.

I do worry about the "interactive elements" being hinted at by Disney. WWoHP wands are elegant, small, and don't usually interfere with the casual visitor's enjoyment of the land. The natural lines that form around the windows do clog certain areas, but it's not too bad. However, if Disney is going to market full size interactive lightsabers to guests that can "battle", they would really need to consider creating exclusive areas for the "battles" to occur, almost like a Laser Tag arena. Having little kids swinging around lightsabers in a crowded area is a recipe for disaster. Even using roped off areas can introduce a level of liability if kids cannot control their lightsabers.

@24.205.29.101 - Perhaps you could provide some data to support your assertions. All reports seem to indicate WWoHP is doing quite well on both coasts. The winter fan event at UO continues to draw crowds during a typically slow time of year, mostly from the hard core fans.

@Anton - How do you pull off walk-around characters when virtually every one (at least most of the important ones) is most recognizable by their facial features? Perhaps you could pull off Dumbledore, especially since he's already been played by 2 different actors, soon to be 3, but unless you're able to find look-alike's, Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Robby Coltrane, and Alan Rickman have more important things to do than pose for pictures at a theme park making minimum wage (sadly Rickman's no longer with us, so that's a non-starter). You could have generic teachers and students to pose for pictures, but those people already exist in the land, and snapping photos with them doesn't seem too popular, especially when the park sells intricate-enough clothing that guests can themselves dress as a person from the Wizarding World. I don't think Rowling placed any restriction on character meet and greets, it's just not practical nor realistic.

April 17, 2017 at 7:50 AM · RM --

It's no secret attendance at UO and UH missed projections. It's been covered on this blog, as well as other blogs and in analysis of Comcast's NBC/Uni quarterly reports. The evidence is readily available, if you want to believe it.

Further factual evidence are the steps Universal has taken to offer reduced admission prices and removing blockout days from Annual Passes. Not to mention, reintroducing passes previously eliminated based on attendance projections. Again, the evidence is readily available, if you want to believe it.

You should also understand, missed attendance projections are also effecting WDW and the Anaheim properties. Again, the evidence is readily available, if you want to believe it.

April 17, 2017 at 9:56 AM · Funny how some folks are ripping Disney for continuity/canonicity in Star Wars Land while praising the way Universal did Harry Potter. How exactly does Dumbledore being dead in Escape from Gringotts while appearing alive in Forbidden Journey fit into the storyline?
April 17, 2017 at 12:10 PM · What I am kind of curious about is how will the interactions between characters and guest be handled. In the article it states that if you are piloting the Falcon during the ride it will affect how you are interacted with later by others. How will Disney deal with the fall out of a child, on the Autism Spectrum of Disorders (ASD) being lucky enough to be the pilot, getting treated differently at another location in the park for something that isn't at the fore front of their attention.

I ask simply because I do have a child with Asperger's Syndrome, part of ASD, when he is finished with something he is finished with it. If he was to ride the same ride consecutive times he still regards it as the first time. How are cast members going to react to someone like this who may react as if they are being attacked by strangers, how will this lead to a positive experience for others in that party or for other guests in the immediate area who witness it. Based upon what we know about SW land to date it appears to be an area that Disney does not wish to have all people enjoy or that some may simply have to avoid because of one person not being allowed.

April 17, 2017 at 12:21 PM · Why does everything that Disney or Universal come up with have to be compared to what the competitor is doing? Can't we just immerse ourselves in these new lands and attractions and just enjoy them without drawing comparisons?

I'm looking forward to Pandora. Disney may have taken their good time in putting the expansion to AK together, but does anybody other than an internet troll really believe that Disney won't knock it out of the park with this new land? The movie may have been outrageously silly, but the theme park land will be stunning.

Toy Story Land/Pixar Place - whatever it ends up being called is going to be good if not great. And if you naysayers don't think so, maybe you should check out how happy it is going to make the pre-teen audience who are going to think of it as the Fantasyland of DHS. Right now, DHS is one big MEH for just about any age group, but add in a Toy Story land and the little guys are going to be happy, and then the table is set for the big dog to howl, because.....

Star Wars Land is going to be phenomenal. Honestly, can any other IP be any more "can't miss" than Star Wars? Some of us have been waiting for nearly 4 decades to immerse ourselves in the Star Wars environment, and while Star Tours is a nice attraction, it's only an appetizer, and now we want the entrée. Sure some people are going to be disappointed that they didn't get the exact Star Wars environment that they fell in love with, but most of us are going to walk away ecstatic and looking forward to our next visit.

Like one of the above posters said, "The next 10 years + will be amazing for Universal and Disney fans." So true. Grab your seat and get set for the ride!

April 17, 2017 at 12:22 PM · Vaughn, I think what we're talking about here is the use of Magic Bands or other similar technology to track guests through the land. It might be through a character interaction during a meet and greet (perhaps Chewbacca, through a translator, says you piloted the Falcon well earlier today) or through other set/ride interactions - perhaps they can aggregate experiences on the ride to ensure everyone gets a unique ending based on the previous experiences relayed through the Magic Bands.

I doubt a CM would run up to a guest and shout, "You were AMAZING flying the Falcon", though I suppose it's not out of the realm of possibility. I'm not sure where you're getting that Disney is trying to alienate anyone. On the contrary, they appear to be attempting to make it more inclusive and personal than any themed land on Earth.

April 17, 2017 at 1:39 PM · Lookalikes? Seriously? You merely need an approximation. Harry Potter is generically described in the books with round glasses. That's basically it. Is it any wonder why it can't be done? The new play has Hermione played by a black actress. I wouldn't go that far for a walkaround character.

Your explanation on why Disney can't do a specific location sounds like an excuse. Flexibility for Disney means not having to stick to any canon. They just add and mix to fill any void.

April 17, 2017 at 1:55 PM · It seems the mistake Disney is making is the same one that Universal made. They're underestimating the power of the franchise and not dedicating an entire theme park to it.

Disney easily could've made Star Wars into a third theme park in Anaheim or one shared with Marvel properties.

The very first poster couldn't be more wrong about Cars Land. Disney nailed that area and the crowds have shown up to enjoy it.

April 17, 2017 at 4:30 PM · This is a new land, but the key to its success will be the quality of the rides. The surrounding land and interactive elements will be the icing on the cake. They won`t make or break this land.
April 18, 2017 at 4:45 AM · @24.205.29.101
Can you actually provide links to those articles you say state attendance is dropping?

And how do you know diehard fans are no longer returning if you ha a disappointing experience? That's quite a lot of people we're talking about here.
And how does reduced Annnual passes prices and reintroducing passes that were once eliminated support the claim that Universal isn't doing too hot right now (specifically, WWOHP)?

April 18, 2017 at 6:18 AM · Anton - Would you stand in a line to get a picture with some CM dressed like Harry Potter? Perhaps some would, but most HP fans are not little kids fooled by a CM wearing a costume. They visit WWoHP to be immersed in the world, and meeting an obvious facsimile of their favorite character would break the illusion. The beauty of most of the Disney meet and greet characters is since most of them are animated, liberties can be taken with the in-park lifelike counterparts. Anna and Elsa are just colors and lines on a computer screen, but in real life, they can have slightly different facial features and be played by different real actors (Disney does do some level of facial casting for their "face" characters to ensure consistency among their walk-around/meet and greet characters). Disney also has a whole fleet of "head" characters they can use as well that can be played by virtually any CM. The HP movies don't have too many characters that would lend themselves to be used as "head" characters, perhaps Dobby, some of the Goblins (which already exist in AA form), and maybe Voldemort. The "face" character problem is exacerbated in WWoHP since the real actors appear in the attractions, so any generic cast member playing the characters as a walk-around or meet and greet would be obvious and rejected by visitors unless they were a really good look-alike. Having real life "face" characters would break the illusion of reality created by the land.

I wasn't arguing that Disney shouldn't do a specific location, merely pointing out the advantage they've gained by choosing to set the Star Wars lands in a generic location. It gives Imagineers flexibility, and it also gives guests the freedom to make the space anything they want with only subtle references to the actual places appearing in the Star Wars movies. Tying the land to a specific place and time in a universe that will continue to expand for at least the next 5-10 years would be foolish. While making a Mos Eisley Cantina would be a no-brainer, youngsters just now being introduced to Star Wars wouldn't understand any of the references. A generic "bar on the Outer Rim" could have winks and nods to the Mos Eisley Cantina (and Maz's Place) while not tying it to those specific places and times in the event future movies change the direction/tone of the Universe. Disney is not creating a Star Wars museum or walk-around movie set, they're creating an immersive world that they want guests to inhabit and develop organically. If guests reject certain aspects of the land, Imagineers can easily make changes to improve the experience.

April 18, 2017 at 7:13 AM · "unless they were a really good look-alike"

I have yet to see anyone reject a Marilyn Monroe walkaround and she was is often shown in her role in "The Seven Year Itch" at USH. Neither are Charlie Chaplain, Groucho Marx, and Lucille Ball. None are perfect lookalikes and everyone wants a picture. USO had the Blues Brothers for years. Don't think they are mere characters. Their portrayal by John Belushi and later replaced by his brother Jim Belushi, and Dan Aykroyd are easily distinguishable. Their portrayal by tribute performances are good enough and they been around in both parks.

As for Star Wars, the Imagineers get only one chance at it. They can't or won't be able to fix it for years if they fail. Thus, your concern about creating the opposite of expectations is just a big risk for Disney. You think they are mitigating the risk.

Oddly, you think the public will reject actual Harry Potter walkarounds while Disney will have plenty for their extreme immersive environment while not even being an accurate portrayal of Star Wars. A bit twisted in reasoning.

April 18, 2017 at 8:35 AM · I'd say the CMs that typically play those classic characters are pretty good look-alikes. Also, all of those characters are from long ago when films were grainy and HD (and 4K) were not even fantasy, so you can get away with a little bit of inaccuracy. Each of those characters also has a recognizable, iconic look distinguishable from other characters they may be juxtaposed against. If you were to dress a CM with a wig, robe, and glasses (with a lightning scar hidden beneath his bangs) in the WWoHP, do you really think the public would stand in line to meet him and accept that as Harry Potter? IMHO, he'd look just like the hundreds of other guests walking into the park with their house robes and HP fan gear, so no, you can't pull off HP face characters.

I think Imagineers do have lots of flexibility, and I never said the Star Wars land would not be "accurate". It just won't be a representation of a real place depicted in any of the Star Wars feature films produced to date, which I think is an advantage. While the overall layout of the land could not be changed without re-engineering it, the set dressing, CM interaction, and other aspects of the land could be easily redone based on guest reaction, feedback, and future films/source material. You seem to think by setting the land in a "generic" location on the Outer Rim, means it's in some alternate dimension or whitewashed Imagineering Star Wars blender. It's not.
Disney is creating this real place IN the world of Star Wars where real Star Wars characters go, and while the location has not appeared in any movie (perhaps it will in the future), it should have the look and feel of a real place in that universe. If it doesn't, then guests will reject it, and Imagineers will need to fix it.

For the same reason Harry, Hermione, and Ron don't walk around Diagon Alley, guests won't see Han, Luke, Leia, Anakin, Lando, Rey, Finn, and Ben (Kenobi or Solo), because those would need to be "face" characters. While each of those iconic characters has a definitive look (like Lucy, Marilyn Monroe, et. al.), a character dressed up in a tan robe with a white beard would not be any more Obi Wan Kenobi than he would be generic old Jedi. You'll likely see generic Rebels, X-Wing Pilots, Jedi, Imperial Officers, and the like as "face" characters (if Disney chooses to dress CMs up in the land), along with "head" characters to meet and greet like Darth Vader, Captain Phasma, Kylo Ren, Boba Fett, Chewbacca, and others in the land to make it even more authentic.

April 18, 2017 at 12:15 PM · RM--
FACT CHECK: Disney just introduced, albeit briefly, a face Rey.
April 18, 2017 at 2:56 PM · Thor and Captain American were featured in Disneyland with little makeup. Jack Sparrow was featured with plenty of eye makeup, but no one said they looked exactly like Johnny Depp who has a very specific Jack Sparrow look. Yes, people will photograph with Harry Potter characters. They are there for the experience.

NOT ACCURATE means exactly that. Not in the movies and not found any where. Its a fake Star Wars Land. That you think this is acceptable while walkaround characters will be rejected for not looking specifically like their film counterparts is weird reasoning.

BTW, I happen to think the public will eat it up anyways.

April 19, 2017 at 7:00 AM · Star Wars...hmmm...I think I once saw a breakfast cereal on the shelf with that name. ;)
April 19, 2017 at 11:20 AM · Anton: I simply cannot accept your argument that HP face characters would work at WWoHP. You cannot dress CMs up in gear to look like the iconic characters and expect guests to line up for pictures with facsimiles. It might work for 5 and 6 year olds lining up for princesses at WDW, but not for the more mature HP audience - they're simply not going to buy it unless the actors are dead on (not saying Universal couldn't fine some talented impersonators). If you stood in line for 20+ minutes expecting to meet Harry Potter and at the end is just some CM wearing glasses and the same Griffondoor house robe and wand you purchased earlier in the day you'd be pretty disappointed.

If the location of the Star Wars land is featured in a future movie, does that mean it's "fake" until that movie is released? Come on, you're being completely ridiculous. Again, Disney is not building a movie set, they're attempting to build a place in the Star Wars Universe where guests can come and immerse themselves in the atmosphere. Whether that land is on Tatoine, Hoth, Courisant, Jedha, Kashiik, or the dozens of other planets already featured, it's the aesthetic and feel that will sell it to guests as authentic and "accurate". If the Imagineers can capture that, even if it's a place that has yet to appear on a movie screen, it won't really matter.

I think my positions on both topics are perfectly consistent with each other. Walk around representations of actual film-depicted characters (non-animated) are difficult to pull off, and both Disney and Universal are wise to bill these people as generic wizards, rebels, or Jedi instead of specific named characters like Harry Potter, Jin, or Obi Wan, respectively. With a CM's face completely visible, it would be a tough sell because guests have a preconceived notion of what these characters should look like beyond their clothes and accessories. Certainly the HP canon has some more leeway since it's originally sourced from books, but both franchises became world-wide phenomena because of their visual movie portrayals. Similarly, trying to create a land that has not appeared on screen gives Disney the flexibility to make it however they want (within reason of course) while still making it feel like it could exist in the Star Wars Universe. If the land can accurately capture the aesthetic (or an exact replica at some point lands on a movie screen one day), it will be as accurate as a the brick by brick recreation of Diagon Alley.

@24.205.29.101 - FACT CHECK - That Rey was a look-alike brought in especially for Celebration, and not intended to be a permanent walk around/meet and greet character (likely a dedicated cosplayer). To be honest, I would not be surprised to see cosplayers show up daily to WDW to take photos with guests (already happens at WWoHP from time to time and is already a mainstay of Star Wars Weekends at WDW), assuming Disney would allow it beyond special weekends (perhaps they even sanction it by hiring some on a rotating basis). That's what actually made the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas so cool - the cosplayers would show up and interact with guests and CMs as if they were actually living on DS9.

However, taking a photo with a cosplayer is different than a meet and greet with what is being presented as the actual character.

April 19, 2017 at 4:11 PM · What's ridiculous is you Russell thinking meet and greet characters will FAIL to meet expectations. There's no such precedent of any adverse audience reaction. That you think Harry Potter characters are the only exception when Disney did it successfully with Thor and Captain America with little makeup is making a new Russell rule. Obviously can be tested.

Why do Disney prevent cosplayers at all? Even they get requests for photos. I'm more than sure a Princess Leia or Han Solo walkabout character will get much attention. If Disney presents them in a "Thor-like" meet and greet presentation, people will easily want to see them.

Star Wars Land is unprecedented in that people need to get used to the unfamiliarity of the new Star Wars Universe. Asking people to take that leap, which they WILL do while not giving them any anchors to actual characters is like Harry Potter in reverse. No, you're not consistent. The main theme will be Stormtroopers, the Millennium Falcon, the music, and many minor characters to tie it up. The buildings and sets are derivatives.

Harry Potter Land is accurate, but needs a bit more heart.

April 20, 2017 at 6:45 AM · Disney probably would prevent cosplay on a regular basis because they would not have control over it (a couple of weekends a year is probably fine as superfan events). They've introduced new rules during their Halloween Parties to limit the costumes that adults can wear for fear of their own characters being upstaged and creating log jams in the park with guests wanting to pose for pictures with other elaborately costumed guests. Also, it's occasionally customary (depending upon the setting) to tip for a selfie with a cosplayer, which I think Disney would also want avoid. Perhaps Disney could bring on cosplayers as contract employees, but my guess is that Disney will avoid officially wanting to or sanctioning the portrayal of lead "face" characters for the reasons I've already articulated and will further elaborate upon.

Thor and Captain America are very different than the Harry Potter characters (and many of the Star Wars "face" characters as well). Firstly, Captian America has a partial mask, which makes him playable by a wide range of actors since a majority of the actor's face is obscured. Also, there have been multiple visualizations of these characters over the decades, and while a majority of people will associate Chris Evans and Chris Hemmsworth with those characters, there are animated versions and comic visualizations that many people have seen as well. For Harry Potter characters (and Star Wars), there are some book visualizations, but most guests are going to connect the looks of the characters to the films. However, the biggest reason characters like Thor and Captain American can appear in parks while the HP and SW "face" characters cannot is that the Marvel characters look very different from the characters they're typically juxtaposed against. Harry, Hermione, and Ron dress exactly like their Griffindor classmates. There are only subtle differences that would set those characters apart from other lesser characters in the HP universe. That means that if you set up a meet and greet with "Harry Potter", any male, brown haired CM with glasses would have to clear out of the land to ensure the person guests were standing in line for was THE Harry Potter. Same with the others. By inhabiting the WWoHP with just "generic" wizards, teachers, and muggles, Universal can avoid the complexity of having to identify who is the real deal and who just happens to look like the real characters because of their natural features and what they're wearing that day. I've seen it happen with guests in Zonko's that swore the CM behind the counter was Harry Potter because he had similar features. Add to the fact that the visual representations of the characters that everyone connects with the Harry Potter universe actually appear in the attractions so designers have already established what those characters look like in the WWoHP. The illusion of the real actors appearing in the attractions and then some other CM portraying them in a meet and greet would break the illusion of guests actually inhabiting the WWoHP. Just because you can't touch/talk to the namesake characters doesn't mean WWoHP lacks heart. If you really think meeting some CM dressed up as Harry Potter would give the land "more heart", then you're truly missing something.

A similar situation would happen with Star Wars. If there's a meet and greet for Luke Skywalker, how are guests supposed to confirm that he's really Luke versus a generic X-Wing Pilot, Jedi, or Rebel they saw a few minutes earlier in the "bar" or on the streets of the land (or perhaps even on one of the attractions)? I'll give you Leia because her wardrobe is decidedly iconic and differentiated from other characters, particularly if she were in her white dress or bikini. However, put her in the camouflage rebel gear, and the character would just look like a generic rebel with long hair. Most of the other Star Wars "face" characters would simply fade into the background of a world inhabited by dozens of others that would look too similar to say the character guests are waiting in like to meet was unique and worth waiting to see.

What's unfamiliar about the "new" Star Wars Universe? JJ Abrams was roundly criticized for The Force Awakens being a shot for shot clone of A New Hope, so I don't think there's really anything truly new. Everything about the new movies has been very familiar with crossover from many of the original characters. The new characters and locations fit squarely in with the existing mythology, meaning it should be easy for Disney to create new off-script characters and settings that would only exist in the new lands (not on film). Disney had been introducing characters and locations to Star Wars even before they bought LucasFilm through Star Tours. Weren't you ever curious that the imaginary port where the ride originates has new droid characters that don't appear in any of the Lucas-directed films (all with their own action figures BTW)? Also, while some of the original destinations Star Tours went to may have been planets in the existing Star Wars universe, very few put guests in or near specific locations on those planets shown in the films (especially before "The Adventure Continues" upgrade). With Star Tours, Disney has already demonstrated success in using generic locations within the universe to portray the aesthetic. A lot of hard core fans were really annoyed when Star Tours first premiered and it was discovered that guests boarded a generic ship (not the Millennium Falcon or an X-Wing), yet that doesn't seem to have affected the attraction's popularity. By using the generic ship, Disney can create and change the narrative whenever they want and still stay in the Star Wars Universe but not tied to specifics. The same thing will occur in the new land.

If Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, Chewbacca, R2-D2, C3PO, BB-8, and Darth Maul are "minor" characters, then perhaps you should go back and watch the movies again. All of those characters are currently appearing in the Launch Bay beyond the Stormtroopers, and would presumably continue to appear in the new land. Also, you seem to forget that the Millennium Falcon is a pretty major "character" in the films (George Lucas is on record saying the Falcon is a character), and appears to be a focal point of one of the new land's attractions. Again, your distortions of reality and hyperbole you're using to make your argument only furthers to invalidate it.

April 20, 2017 at 11:06 PM · A minor character is opposed to a major character and you're the one distorting roles. As if people can't tell if Harry Potter isn't a major character and people won't tell the difference between another Hogwarts student. Your anecdote about people thinking any male character dressing as Harry Potter tells you more about people wanting to see the actual character in the park. Universal can make their own Harry Potter character meet and greet more distinguished between the mere crowd. It isn't that hard. They just chose to not do it.

Darth Vader continues to be a minor character since he was played as a lead as Anakin Skywalker. He has a minor role in the original trilogy. That's why I refer to them as minor characters. Yes, Luke has an iconic look in the 4th original episode as if you forgot. It's the white robe outfit. Your wild interpretation of what the public is willing to accept is far out. Every single character has a distinct look and dress. Padme can dress without makeup in her disguise as a servant in Episode 1.

April 21, 2017 at 12:00 AM · The generic Star Wars continues. You already demonstrate it by describing Star Wars 7. Weird that you refer to something new and different as nothing new. It is all new. You just have to trust it is Star Wars. I would be more than happy to visit the new desert planet that looks like Tattooine. Thats Jakku actually. So lots of unnecessary duplication and cloning. People can only accept so much more of the same which is why I say it's a risk. The new land actually looks quite like planet Takodana in Episode 7 complete with new cantina. Well, maybe if they had the actual Tattooine and cantina, I will feel more comfortable sinking my hundreds of dollars for a trip to visit it.
April 21, 2017 at 7:04 AM · "Padme can dress without makeup in her disguise as a servant in Episode 1."

That's true, yet if Disney chose to have a meet and greet with Padme, how would guests know it's Padme, and not her decoy Sabe (played incidentally by another famous actress, Keira Knightly)?

I wouldn't say Luke's ANH/white robe outfit is that iconic. There are people in Mos Eisley that are wearing practically the same thing. Dressing a 5'6" male cast member with scruffy blonde hair wielding a blue lightsaber does not Luke Skywalker make. Disney is far better off paying homage to the lead "face" characters with other rebels and Jedi that may look similar, but don't have to live up to the critical scrutiny of being Luke or Han. If the public is so willing to accept it, than why hasn't Disney (or Universal) done it? Do you think they'd be stupid to miss out on the opportunity, or is it perhaps because they realize that it's really hard to pull off these "face" characters?

Darth Vader is a "minor character", LOL!!! That's the funniest thing I've read in quite a while. You crack me up Anton. You seem to equate total screen time to the importance of a character. It's like saying Valdemort is just a "minor" HP character because you barely see him through the first 3-4 films/books.

I'll concur that Darth Vader has significantly less screen time than the three protagonists of the original trilogy, but he is the most essential character of the original Star Wars universe. Without Vader, there is no SW, no conflict, no Obi Wan, no need for Luke to train. Every yin needs it's yang, and while Vader does not appear in as many scenes as Luke, he's just as important and an obvious "major" character. I would be hard pressed to find any character imagery (posters, ads, trailers, or merchandise) from the original trilogy that doesn't include Vader in it.

"People can only accept so much more of the same which is why I say it's a risk."

So instead of trying to offer guests a SW experience in a unique land, one that could change and evolve over time, you think Disney should simply build a static brick for brick copy of an existing scene from the existing movies (movie set recreation)? Yes, Disney is taking a risk, but is it really that much of a risk when you're talking about the most profitable IP on the planet? I think by creating a unique world in the SW universe, Disney is opening up possibilities in theme park experiences that haven't been attempted before on this scale. The ability to tell new stories outside the theatrical presentations as the land evolves. The ability to present new characters or further develop truly minor characters that haven't been fully fleshed-out on screen. The ability for guests to write and explore their own SW story instead of being stuck in a recurring mythology.

Certainly you'd get tons of oohs and ahhs from guests walking through a perfect recreation of the Mos Eisley Cantina, but there would be certain expectations from that space. Guests would want to see Gredo, Han, Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes, Ponda Baba, and others, while the characters would be forced into an endless loop of a three and a half minute scene. Instead, with a new space with stories yet unwritten, Imagineers can weave their own tales and lore surrounding the space and allow guests to create their own, encouraging longer stays in the space (meaning more money spent), and return visits. You can still use some of the same characters and queues from the original Cantina, but are not bound to the requirements of the space, lending to variable story lines and an ever-changing guest experience.

April 21, 2017 at 1:02 PM · "Dressing a 5'6" male cast member with scruffy blonde hair wielding a blue lightsaber does not Luke Skywalker make."

You defeat your own argument. No other person wearing the white robe in Mos Eisley would have a light saber and the chances of another having blond hair and blue eyes are rare. Luke befriends many different species. His childhood friends could be Biggs Darklighter or Wedge Antilles, but they don't have blond hair and definitely not Jedi Knights in training. Plus, Luke is unique as he is hidden from the Empire (being a descendant of Darth Vader.)

As for not knowing what a minor character is, you still don't get it. Villains are often supporting characters. Just because they bring drama doesn't mean they are the main story.

Nice that you acknowledge Gredo. We won't confuse Gredo with his brother or a stranger or will we? We only have one Wookie named Chewbacca. One Jabba the Hut, no Miss Jabba ever, right?

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