Grokking Star Wars Land: How will Disney bring more 'Star Wars' to its theme parks?

August 22, 2014, 12:08 PM · What will Disney's Star Wars Land look like?

The latest blue-sky concept for Disneyland's version of the new land have hit the Internet, but Disney's nowhere near hiring contractors and putting shovels in the ground. The idea, as last we've heard, is for Disney to announce Star Wars Land at the D23 Expo in August 2015, though the actual plans for the Disneyland and Walt Disney World versions of the land might not be completed until after that, based on how quickly Imagineers can incorporate elements from the upcoming Star Wars trilogy. (Episode VII hits theaters in December 2015.)

Project Orange Harvest
Teasing "Project Orange Harvest" at the 2013 D23 Expo.

Let's recap where we are before looking ahead. Disney green-lit Star Wars Land after acquiring Lucasfilm, and the company even teased the land at the last D23 Expo, in 2013. But concept development stalled as Disney management (wisely) decided to include elements from the upcoming films, rather than creating a Star Wars Land based solely upon the original six movies. When director JJ Abrams took over the script for Episode VII and tightened the veil of secrecy around the production (in an effort to avoid what happened on Star Trek: Into Darkness, when the Khan twist leaked during filming), Imagineering was left waiting even longer. Not that Imagineering doesn't have plenty else to do, with Shanghai Disneyland, Avatar, and Disney Springs taking time and money from the budget.

In the meantime, Universal has been raising visitors' expectations for what a theme park land should be, with the wildly popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter, both the Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley versions. Both lands go beyond appropriately-decorated plazas that house a variety of attractions from the same IP. They faithfully recreate specific immersive locations from the Harry Potter universe, allowing visitors to imagine that they've actually entered that universe.

Of course, Disney can play this game, too, and did — with Cars Land at Disney California Adventure. Instead of simply creating a desert-looking plaza for its Cars-themed attractions, Disney created a physical version of the animated town of Radiator Springs to provide a home for that land. As with most things in the themed attraction business, the Wizarding Worlds and Cars Land built upon projects from the past. Disney brought together multiple attractions from the same IP in a specific themed environment at Tokyo DisneySea with the Jules Verne-themed Mysterious Island and The Little Mermaid-themed Triton's Kingdom. Going further back, the first example of stringing multiple attractions from the same IP in a specific immersive environment might be the original Tom Sawyer Island and Rivers of America at Anaheim's Disneyland.

So if we want to grok the future of Star Wars Land, let's start there — with the idea that SWL must recreate specific immersive locations from the Star Wars universe, rather than simply providing a decorated environment for a variety of individual Star Wars-themed rides, shows, restaurants, and shops. You're not just visiting the world of Star Wars in Star Wars Land, you're visiting a specific place within the Star Wars canon.

Outside Star Tours at Disneyland Paris

But where? This is where we hit the first major development challenge facing Imagineers. Star Wars takes place upon multiple planets, strewn throughout a "galaxy far, far away." The ideal of creating a specific immersive environment falls apart if Imagineers place a Tatooine-set pod-racing ride next to a Coruscant-set Jedi Training Academy show. (Or, heaven forbid, an X-wing spinner ride rotating around a miniature Death Star. Please, no "Chester and Hester"-grade stuff here, okay?) If Star Wars Land is to meet (or exceed) the standard set by the Wizarding World, Cars Land, and Tokyo DisneySea, it must separate attractions and locations from each planet into separate lands, or mini-lands.

So perhaps we should stop thinking about Star Wars Land as a single, homogenous thing, and instead envision it as a collection of planet-themed environments: Tatooine Land, Coruscant Land, Naboo Land, etc. And let's not forget that quite a bit of Star Wars takes place off-planet, too — whether it be on one of the two Death Stars, various Imperial Star Destroyers, the Millennium Falcon, and so forth.

Now let's consider another challenge: What about Star Tours? Disney's already got a Star Wars-themed ride in its parks, and it would seem logical that it should be included in any new Star Wars Land. But how would that happen, thematically?

Star Tours takes us to many of the planets in the Star Wars universe. But where is the Star Tours starport set? If anything, in the original version of the ride, the suggestion was that the starport was set here on Earth, either in Tomorrowland at Disneyland or a Star Wars-themed movie set in Walt Disney World. The new version, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, fudges things a bit by delivering us to a different destination from where we first blasted away from Darth Vader or the Stormtroopers.

If the goal is to build a specific immersive environment from an individual location in the Star Wars universe, Star Tours presents a huge problem. It simply doesn't fit in that kind of setting. What happens if you set Star Tours within Coruscant Land, but your adventure within the ride delivers you to Naboo? When you exit the ride, you're still going to be in Coruscant Land. That breaks the environment. Universal's Harry Potter lands don't do this sort of thing. Nor does Cars Land. Star Wars Land can't either, if it is to live up to those standards.

Here are the options, then, for Star Tours:

  1. Go back to the original version, which did drop you off where you started. (Bad idea. That ride had its time.)
  2. Keep using the new version, but show only the final option that matches the "land" where the ride is to be themed. (Worse idea — if the point is to deliver a rebel spy, why would we need to go on Star Tours if we're already at the spy's destination?)
  3. Put the exit of Star Tours outside Star Wars Land. (Might work, but still requires the Star Tours terminal entrance to be placed on a planet-land that isn't in the ride, to preserve continuity. That requires cutting options from the attraction.)
  4. Finally, and perhaps the easiest solution: Leave Star Tours outside Star Wars Land entirely. (Seems crazy at first glance, but it really might be the best option for the land, given the lack of better options.)

Keeping Star Tours out of Star Wars Land actually opens fresh development options for Disney, as the company's no longer limited to building Star Wars Land in the area immediately adjacent to those rides. (This gives some credibility to the Toontown option for Disneyland.) If Disney takes the Harry Potter-like approach of developing multiple Star Wars lands, each themed to different locations within the Star Wars universe, having a Star Tours ride off by itself won't stick out so much over time, as more Star Wars "planet lands" are opened at each resort.

Image from Wookieepedia

With which planet should Disney start, though? The answer seems obvious — go with the planet that appears the most often the Star Wars films: Tatooine. Anakin's home planet features in five of the six existing Star Wars films, and, given that Episode VII is filming in the desert outside Abu Dhabi, one might presume that Tatooine will appear in the newest film, too. Fans would be thrilled to see "Star Wars Land — Phase One" be Mos Eisley, with a cantina restaurant and a souvenir marketplace. A walk-through Millennium Falcon could be parked in Docking Bay 94. And another Tatooine-set attraction could be built on the edge of Mos Eisley. A pod racing-themed ride seems obvious, but it that's not distinct enough from the experience now available on Star Tours, perhaps Disney's Imagineers could find some inspiration in Jabba's palace? That's a fantastic environment that could house an amazing dark ride experience.

And you'd better believe that visitors' MagicBands will allow them to "use the Force" and trigger special effects inside Star Wars Land, to one-up Universal's interactive wands in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Could elements from Episode VII be included? Sure, and eventually, the presence of the new trilogy must be accommodated within the various Star Wars lands. However, that raises the question of when Star Wars Land will be set, in addition to where?

Even the best immersive theme park environments fudge the issue of timing. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade clearly is set during the events of the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, with the Tri-Wizard tournament going on in the land. Yet Diagon Alley is set on the day that Harry, Ron and Hermoine break into Gringotts Bank in the seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. There's a Hogwarts Express ride that connects the two lands, but we never do see the timeturner that must be at work when we travel across that time, as well as space. ;^)

Cars Land has its own timing issues, with the drive-around Lightning McQueen character sporting a Cars 2 livery, while Doc Hudson, who's deceased by the time of the events of Cars 2, plays a major role in the Radiator Springs Racers ride.

Here's the huge timing challenge for Star Wars Land: Darth Vader. Star Wars' most iconic character exists in his famous, helmeted form only from the end of the third movie to the end of the sixth. Place Star Wars Land outside that time frame, and you can't include Vader without breaking canon — unless JJ Abrams has something wild in store for us in Episode VII. (This provides yet one more reason for keeping Star Tours outside of any planet-themed Star Wars Land.) Perhaps Disney could use Universal's approach with Harry Potter, and have its different planet lands set at different times, allowing Vader to exist in another version of Star Wars Land than the Tatooine one. (Remember that Vader never visits Tatooine again after Anakin wipes out the Sand People following his mother's death, anyway.) Put the Vader meet-and-greet next to "Star Wars Land — Star Tours," and leave him out of "Star Wars Land — Tatooine."

With this approach, Disney could announce a Tatooine-themed Star Wars Land for its parks at D23 next summer, then simultaneously consolidate additional, non-Tatooine-set Star Wars-themed stuff around the Star Tours rides to satisfy fans who want to see stuff that doesn't thematically fit on Tatooine. "Star Wars Land — Star Tours" would complement "Star Wars Land — Tatooine" as Disney develops additional, elaborately-themed Star Wars planet-lands over the years to come, eventually giving all the major Star Wars elements their appropriate theme parks homes, including elements from the new trilogy.

In this way, Star Wars Land isn't a single location — it's a franchise within a franchise that Disney can continue to develop in multiple locations within and across its various resorts indefinitely.

Will Disney take this approach, or will it go cheap and just throw a bunch of Star Wars-themed stuff together and use its PR machine to try to convince the world that fans have fallen in love with it? We should be getting our first clues, if not the answer, to that question in the next 12 months.

Replies (23)

August 22, 2014 at 12:53 PM · Interesting ideas. What concerns me is how slowly Disney has moved on construction much less ambitious than Star Wars Land. If they don't announce anything until next summer, I'm thinking at a minimum it would be three years until completion, if not longer. That's a long time to wait after the first movie, and some of the Florida parks need help as soon as possible.
August 22, 2014 at 1:04 PM · Disney HAS to see that it needs to create a completely immersive land in order to compete with the impressive competition that Universal is creating. And Disney is completely capable of doing it...Heck, they invented it. Somebody else has just done it better recently (in Florida, at least).
From what I've seen at from the Avatar Land plans, and heard about Cars Land, it looks like they know what they have to do.
Personally, I would think Disney might want to consider a whole new fictionalized setting within the Star Wars universe. Kind of a "Hyperspace Port X", with several different environments making it up. That eliminates the setting problems, and allows the Imagineers free reign in creating what they want. Sure, real Star Wars nerds (myself included) would love to drink blue milk at the Mos Eisley Cantina - but I think as long as you have anamatronic version of Figrin Dan and the Modal Nodes playing music, and decorated whatever restaurant you create in a Star Wars vein, people would be happy. As long as it meticulously recreates being in the universe of Star Wars, it doesn't necessarily have to be Tatooine, or Endor, or Coruscant, or Hoth, or wherever (My wife would swear that I wasn't writing english right now).
Anyway, just an idea.
August 22, 2014 at 1:14 PM · Well the premise of the ride in The Disney Studio's in WDW is ridicules. Look Star Wars Ewok set in a movie studio and we decided to build a Star Wars travel agency in there.
And exiting a ride in another location as you entered is already done in Belle's cottage. You enter the beasts castle trough a magic mirror but after the kindergarten school play show you step out of the door and see the miniature beast castle on top of the restaurant.
I guess Disney goes with the Disney Springs story but then for DHS. It probably goes like this: There was a half day park with old and boring shows and rides and when they became empty they where repurposed by all Star Wars characters. Throw in a few shops with magic band stuff and an omnimover that rehashes the Dagoba story and you got a real "hit".

If done well Star Wars land would give me a reason to go back to WDW after many years but nothing they are doing give me the feeling they will succeed and get back to the level of when Walt was around or the standard Universal has created.

August 22, 2014 at 1:12 PM · Whichever avenue the company decides to take with STAR WARS Land in Florida, it sounds like we’re in for at least another five or six years of Hollywood Studios continuing to stagnate. The idea that the park will have gone a decade-plus without a single new ride is equal parts astonishing and depressing.

And based on recent history, whatever WDI ends up deciding on for Hollywood Studios, I’m assuming it will be underwhelming, like almost everything new to come to Walt Disney World in the last eight years, or so (admittedly, that’s a very short list). I just have no faith that the current upper management at the company has any desire to do amazing things in Florida again. Eisner, for all his flaws, at least seemed to really love the parks on a personal level, and continually tried to add and freshen the offerings (sometimes to great effect, sometimes in a very misguided way); Iger doesn’t seem to care about WDW at all beyond the revenue it generates for the company. So when STAR WARS Land does eventually open (probably just in time for WDW’s 50th anniversary), I’m expecting a restaurant, new shops, a couple of flat rides, and maybe a new show, all wrapped in extravagantly-detailed theming - all flash, no substance, and certainly no new E tickets. I want to be proven wrong. I desperately want to see WDW fully engage Universal in an attractions arms race and build some first-class, one-of-a-kind rides, but I see no evidence that Iger or the TDO people have any interest in doing cutting-edge stuff again.

That said, your idea for a Jabba’s Palace dark ride would be a ton of fun, and an opportunity for Disney to create a new AA showcase the likes of which they haven’t attempted since the heyday of Epcot. Just imagine the dozens of cool alien creatures that could populate that ride!

August 22, 2014 at 1:35 PM · This makes my head hurt. Too many what ifs and analysis of those scenarios. I think the point is that Disney has had ownership of Lucasfilm for almost 2 years now. They've already green-lighted 4 (or is it 5) movies, a TV series, and have leveraged ownership to expand their overly popular Star Wars weekends. They owned the rights to Avatar for less than 2 years before they started putting shovels in the ground with a property they never worked with before, and have absolutely no control over.

I'm all for taking the time to do things right, but the fact that Disney won't even be ready to make an announcement for another year is just further proof that they just don't seem to get it.

I will say that Robert seems to completely ignore the one potential reason why Disney is taking so long to make an announcement about Star Wars in the theme parks, and what would solve all of the "land" problems he points out....Star Wars will occupy its own theme park in both Florida and California. Everyone seems to think the WWoHP is its own theme park, and perhaps Universal will eventually make that happen some day, but Disney could eliminate all of the confusion by creating a full theme park experience around the worlds of Star Wars. With 6 movies to pull from and another 4+ in development, there's plenty of material to make that happen, and could potentially explain the delay in Disney applying the IP more widely in the existing parks.

August 22, 2014 at 1:20 PM · "The idea that the park will have gone a decade-plus without a single new ride is equal parts astonishing and depressing."

Toy Story Mania opened in summer 2008, just 6 years ago. I get the point though, and the park is clearly suffering from stagnation. The fact the USF is not really a working studio park allows Disney to reinvent DHS much in the way the DCA has been reinvented. It's just a matter of how much money they're willing to pump into it.

August 22, 2014 at 1:29 PM · I meant it will be at least ten years (probably) from Toy Story Mania opening until whatever ends up happening with STAR WARS. But you’re very right about Disney having an opportunity to reinvent the park; it’s just a question of how many years (read: budgets) they’re going to spread the reinvention out over, and what kind of quality additions it will include.
August 22, 2014 at 1:34 PM · The DCA renovation was announced in 2007, which means the serious planning started in at least 2005, and the culmination (Cars Land) didn't open until 2012. That's 7 years to get from someones idea to paper to ribbon cutting (far too long in my opinion, especially when there's a known problem). New Fantasyland has been a similar head scratcher in the amount of time to get from drawing board to reality.

Disney seems to run on geologic time these days.

August 22, 2014 at 1:51 PM · I like Robert's idea of building a variety of Star Wars "lands" rather than just taking over DHS. All the parks in Florida could benefit from some Star Wars magic.

However, I think Russell has the best idea as a new Star Wars theme park would really set the world on fire. Disney has the room, and the Star Wars Universe has the stories, so why not go all out? A Star Wars park could potentially become the most popular vacation destination on the planet.

August 22, 2014 at 2:00 PM · Although it would be a great experience to walk through the Millienium Falcon, The cockpit of the Falcon provides and awesome ride mechanism and could be fabricated for a loading area walking into the Falcon. I would much rather see a ride that took advantage of coaster with advanced ride motion feature like the ride vehicles in Indiana Jones. The same ILM movie making tricks could be used to have various scenes using motion pictures and live sets from scenes like flying inside the Death Star in Return of the Jedi. Use of these combinations of technology would allow you to change operating speeds on the rider, without them noticing. Go big or go home. The Imagineers didn't except the idea of static exhibit for Pirates of the Caribbean. The ride experiences are what will immerse the fan in the World...
August 22, 2014 at 2:11 PM · What they need to do is scrap the "land" component and go "all in" in WDW. Build an entire theme park with just Star Wars. Hang onto Star Tours or turn it into the Indiana Jones ride at Hollywood Studios. I also do not think they can just slap three rides and a restaurant. Disney really is at the point where they are being shown up and need a fifth gate. The new park can have transitions that take you to the different planets. Each planet has an e-ticket, a lesser ride or two, and a restaurant. That makes it easier to key the attractions to a specific time period. Have a Forbidden Journey type dark ride where you are rebels held prisoner on a Death Star and have to escape before it is blown up. The Mission to Mars type ride could be perfect for a space battle ride. Have an escape from Jabba's palace like the Journey to the Center of the Earth ride. Certainly, you must have a Tatooine cantina restaurant with the musical performer. Finally, a hotel adjacent to the park like with California Adventure. Trust me, this would be a license to print money. I love the Harry Potter section, but Star Wars transcends this to a much different level. This plan also allows them to expand to add elements from the newer movies.
August 22, 2014 at 6:58 PM · Honestly, I really think they should keep Star Wars within Tomorrowland. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing Big Thunder Ranch or Toontown demolished, but I think if they were to demolish Toontown, some tie-in to Fantasyland, like Nightmare Before Christmas, Game of Thrones, or Frozen would make more sense than having more of Star Wars outside of Tomorrowland. Tomorrowland's 1998 makeover under bad management was a disaster, and it would really be nice to see at least part of that revamped. I have some interesting suggestions:

1) I like the idea of using Tatooine as a theme. Definitely retheme the current Star Traders to Florida's better-themed "Tatooine Traders" at the Studios to really have a sense of Tatooine as a theme. Theme the Star Tours facade to far more of a Star Wars/ futuristic theme and although there are supposed to be different destinations/ experiences on the ride, theme the exit to Tatooine as it's the most iconic/ most used and still is one of the destinations. Maybe make it so you hop on the ride at the station and exit the ride in Tatooine.

2) The Captain EO Theater is definitely awaited to be razed at this point. Starcade, which is not my favorite thing could also be razed as well. Those are both next to/ behind the Star Traders store. Why not reskin those into the iconic Tatooine Pod Racers'? The Redd Rocket's Pizza port next door to Space Mountain is also not well-themed and has horrible food and I would be more than glad to see that re-themed to the Moss Eisley Cantina. Maybe even include an animatronic of Jabba the Hutt, similar to Sonny Eclipse at WDW's Tomorrowland (Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe).

3) Obviously keep Space Mountain and re-theme the queue/ entrance to make it look like you are transferring from Tatooine to Space Port 77.

4) If the areas around Innoventions (except Space Mountain) shall go, there's no reason Innoventions shouldn't either. Replace Innoventions with an attraction themed to Queen/ Padme Amidala's palace or some sort of meet-and-greet.

5) Keep the jedi training academy, but maybe put a roof over it and have a Yoda animatronic on the ride's queue giving you instructions. Retheme the Tomorrowland terrace around that.

August 22, 2014 at 7:18 PM · There was a vaguely similar thread in June last week with a vote as to the setting of a Star Wars land. I posted;

[quote]This is the way I'd do it. Star Wars is too big for just one land of a park. A whole Star Wars park could work, but this doesn't seem like the avenue they've chosen. Therefore multiple themed areas must be the go. They could all be in the one park, but it makes much better commercial sense to spread them across the parks, like Harry Potter has.
A post on another thread detailed this and I think that poster had some good ideas. For DHS I would go with Tatooine. I would personally extend out over or under the road with the bridge being decorated as the transition into Mos Eisley, and converting the swampland into tattoine (knocking down things would probably make more financial sense I admit). Star Tours could have a rethemed exit so the ride is the thematic access route to tatooine from earth.

As for content, the cantina is a given for the primary meals area. Jabba's palace, I believe would be the best secondary food outlet,and would double up as the opening to a ride which features the escape from the palace and the sarlac. You could throw in the obligatory broken yeti - I mean rancor. This would be best done as a semi dark ride with the first half being inside and the rest outside. I'm thinking something vaguely similar to the mummy rides, or perhaps Indiana Jones (only on a smaller scale)

The next ride would be on Luke's t-16, definitely a kiddie coaster (I don't believe DHS has one at all) with a simple threading of the stone needle and taking potshots at womp rats.

The final ride, and the e-ticket,would be a pod-race. This could be done in many different ways, and I'm sure disney's imagineers could come up with better ideas than I could on how it works. This is one of the best action set-pieces from Tatooine, and could make for an incredible ride if done correctly. [/quote]

August 22, 2014 at 8:04 PM · Star Wars has tremendous theme park potential, and I don't mind if Disney takes it slow, as long as they do it right (and hopefully within my lifetime). I suspect they will do it in phases, the way Universal is building the various parts of Wizarding World.

Also, I disagree about placing it in Tomorrowland. DHS has a tremendous amount of space, once they raze the Indy show and the Backstage Tour. And SW fits the "movie" theme much better than the "tomorrow" theme.

August 22, 2014 at 9:31 PM · I strongly agree that Star Wars needs to stay out of tomorrowland. I wish they would go back to only having attractions there that promote the optimistic wonder of the future. Give Star Wars its own park.
August 22, 2014 at 11:10 PM · I think one compromise would be to sort out the rides into things that happen on desert planets, or forest moons/planets, city areas, etc. I think the new filming is not supposed to be on Tatooine. This way they could put anything from desert planets close together without too much intrusion from one planet area to the other. I think probably time will not be consistent between the attractions on a planet. People that aren't super fans probably won't really notice that because they don't remember the whole timeline.
It's funny, I was thinking about the best place to put Star Wars land and after I read a theory about Marvel taking over Tomorrowland, and I thought Toontoon and the ranch was the best spot. The ranch area does not get a lot of traffic and Toontown isn't open as long as the rest of the park, so it must not get many visitors as the rest otherwise it would be open as long as all the other parts. Also, they can just close it off at the bridge area before the 60th anniversary so they can work on building Star Wars because that wasn't there at the start so they don't have to worry about the nostalgia aspect. Big Thunder Ranch is set apart from Toontown so Star Tours and the Jedi Training academy could go over there, set aside from Tatooine in Toontown's spot(I think that does kind of seem like Tatooine has to be a strong candidate-Mos Eisley, Jabba's Palace, the Sarlacc pit, Millennium Falcon, pod racing) I think they should make Endor/Kashyyyk/Dagobah in Florida first. They already have an AT-AT there and the water feature could be Yoda's swamp. That would fit the climate and if DL and DHS had different Star Wars stuff it would draw people to go to both parks. I think all of DHS should be converted to a Star Wars park over time. They should just move all the Pixar stuff into MK to replace Tomorrowland. I mean why is there a Tomorrowland in MK and a future World in Epcot? Actually, in general having a land set 35 years in the future is problematic because it needs to get updated so often to seem cool and futuristic, when it is much more profitable to spend money on things in movies. Iger said they were going to only introduce things in the parks based on successful franchises, so I feel like all the Tomorrowlands are on their way out. I think Star Wars will draw huge crowds and they will need a really large space to accommodate all the people. The only other space in DL that is really under visited is critter country. But that isn't very big so I think Toontown will go. I didn't realize until recently that there was a whole dust up over Roger Rabbit in the past. The decision to remove him from the spotlight so people forget about him seems to have worked because little kids have no idea who he is. I showed my kids that movie and they never asked to see it again- unlike Pinky and the Brain and Rainbow Brite which they fell in love with right away. I'm not making a value judgment here, just a comment on what appeals to little kids without any marketing or reinforcement from their friends talking about it. So even though Car Toon Spin is a popular ride, I think they will take it out.
Unrelated side note - They should replace Critter Country with a Halloweentown and/or a villain land and merge splash mountain into New Orleans Square by retheming it to The Princess and the Frog which would also solve the problem of having a major ride themed to a movie that Disney doesn't like to mention....
August 23, 2014 at 1:12 AM · I want a speeder bike chase roller coaster. It can be done as blackpool pleasure beach had a ride where you rode on a horse round a coaster style track and no it was not a kiddie ride!. Good idea about a seperate park, but I would still keep star tours but re theme it to a pilot training school
August 23, 2014 at 3:58 AM · People seem to be under the impression that Disney can do a land as immersive as Universal did with with Diagon Alley the problem is this is an impossibility for the Mouse House. DA is themed from the merchandise up everything is designed to make you feel you really are in DA the food the drink the merchandise Disney cannot do this with Star Wars its not in their DNA. The first time you see Micky Mouse dressed as a Jedi or R2D2 with mouse ears you are out of any environment that Disney created the immersion is gone no matter how well themed the rest of the area is..
August 23, 2014 at 7:54 AM · I think the real question is how can you make great Star Wars rides when Star Tours does a great job of covering all of the universe so well? Obviously, people are going to show more love towards the narrative driven rides, evidenced by the long waits for Radiator Springs Racers and Escape From Gringotts. The only ideas I can think of left are some slightly themed coasters and maybe some walkthrough experiences.
August 23, 2014 at 3:29 PM · Here are my two cents.

As previously stated, a new park altogether would be the perfect option, and it would be done in the Magic Kingdom hub & spoke-style.

The "castle" could even be the Death Star, which would be the park's icon, much like Spaceship Earth's giant golf ball is its icon. Obviously the Death Star would double as a dark ride. Or even copy Spaceship Earth and have a slow-moving ride through the history of Star Wars to initiate all the peoplel who have really no idea what it's about. Explain the species, the force, the characters' relationships, etc.

The spokes would all open up to individual lands or "planets".

That would be the best way to do it. Obviously I don't see that happening because of cost concerns, but depending on land, they could easily build another two or three hotels, specifically themed to Star Wars.

Then get rid of Star Tours altogether. Simply disassemble it and move it to Hong Kong Disneyland, or put it into DisneyQuest.

Option two would be to put different planets in different parks. Coruscant in Hollywood Studios. Hoth in Paris. Tatooine in Shanghai, etc.

And like they did with the Downtown Disney Starbucks where Anaheim can see Orlando and vice versa through a "portal", there could be a similar feature that allows people to see what's going on in the other parks/planets.

Either way, I'm guessing I'll be underwhelmed in 3-5 years when the plans are officially announced, but I'll hold my breath nonetheless.

August 23, 2014 at 5:07 PM · Hollywood Studios in WDW seems most likely to receive a dedicated Star Wars land. However Hollywood studios does not necessarily have an abundance of land to work with. There is some undeveloped land next to the park that can be used. Another option would be to demolish a portion of the western part of the park, however I view that as highly unlikely.

I think that they will make a 5th theme park completely dedicated to Star Wars. Star Wars has very diverse environments, so much so that you would need a rather large area dedicated to Star Wars to remotely do justice to the franchise. WDW has more than enough room to accommodate a new park. WDW is due for a new park anyways, and would certainly give The Wizarding World of Harry Potter a run for their money.

I also think this would be a good opportunity for WDW to make Star Wars themed Hotels. Imagine a Corascent or a Mos Eisly Themed Hotel. I think Disney has an opportunity to do something big here.

August 24, 2014 at 9:25 AM · Disney should just have the courage to build a separate theme park built around Star Wars and Marvel. There are too many ideas to shoehorn them into Disneyland or Hollywood Studios. Disneyland's Tomorrowland should continue to be an assortment of experiences, but now you can add Guardians of the Galaxy, which is the best fit yet.

Universal has built the next level of immersive experiences in Diagon Alley, you are actually there in the movie, and everything from the food and merchandise supports it.

Disney has 'themed' areas. For example, Disneyland's Fantasyland, while great, is a still an assortment of experiences, you are not totally immersed in any movie.

A worse offender is the Little Mermaid ride in DCA. You know you are on a ride, not an immersive experience, because the building is just decorated to the theme of the Little Mermaid.

I'm not sure that Disney can totally go the immersive route with Star Wars, I'm sure they will still sell Coke in the land. But one thing is sure, it cannot be totally immersive in the space of Toontown and Big Thunder Ranch or even Tomorrowland. Star Wars needs its own park in order to be totally immersive.

I was looking at Google Maps, actually Toontown is a very small area, you would have to tear down backstage buildings to put Star Wars there. And also Toontown is actually far from Big Thunder Ranch, actually the Fantasyland Theater is in between them. Also even now with the fireworks, they close It's A Small World to make sure that embers don't fall onto the building, how are they going to keep Star Wars land (in Toontown) open?

Adding Star Wars to Disneyland is not going to increase revenue as much as a third park, you need a separate park to increase ticket sales, and spread out the crowds.

As far as Toontown is concerned, I think it should remain, Mickey and friends need their own land, maybe spruce it up with a new attraction.

August 24, 2014 at 6:07 PM · I see no benefit from trying to fix the timeline especially since the original movie starts at episode 4. So why should they do a Tatooine based on episode 1 if most expect episode 4. There is no reason to fix Star Tours. It is fine in its latest incarnation after episode 3, but before episode 4. Best to have the iconic locations based on Episodes 4 to 6, with expansion plans based on the prequels and the sequels. Since the IP is just so vast, they must decide what makes sense. I'm just doubtful the new trilogy will make us forget the original trilogy or the prequel trilogy. Nonetheless, people will still respond well to whatever they build.

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