Disney Will Break Ground on Star Wars Land Next Year

September 10, 2015, 12:31 PM · Disney will break ground next year for its new Star Wars Lands at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios, Tom Staggs said today.

Disney's Chief Operating Officer and former Disney Parks Chairman was speaking at an investors' conference in Beverly Hills. He did not provide an opening date for the lands, which Disney unveiled at last month's D23 Expo in Anaheim.

Star Wars Land concept art

Each land will be 14 acres and will include two major rides: one where visitors take control of the Millennium Falcon and another where they encounter a battle with the First Order (from the upcoming Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens.)

Theme Park Insider readers have targeted 2020 as their collective estimate for when the new lands will open. Disneyland is building its Star Wars Land on the site currently occupied by Big Thunder Ranch, as well as adjacent backstage areas. Disney has filed permits in Anaheim to begin moving backstage facilities to recently-acquired property across the street from the Disneyland Resort, clearing space for the Star Wars Land expansion. Walt Disney World has not yet revealed where within or around Disney's Hollywood Studios it will build its Star Wars Land.

In the meantime, both parks are opening "Star Wars Launch Bay" meet-and-greet and merchandise locations, in the former Innoventions building in Disneyland and in the former Animation Pavilion at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Those will open later this year.

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Replies (22)

September 10, 2015 at 12:47 PM · If it was Universal making Star Wars land, they would be done already
September 10, 2015 at 12:58 PM · Ha ha ha at the comment above. Iger has proven to be a total negative for the parks in my opinion, I blame the slow movement on him. He's had an attitude of "were number one and people will come anyway", even if all you do is meet a character after waiting an hour and a half on a line. But the lines are that long so it's hard to argue his point. Just a shame for the people who love the rides like us. The more people spend their cash at Universal the more Disney will step up, hopefully
September 10, 2015 at 1:20 PM · I'm glad the ground breaking is sooner than what I originally expected, which was the end of 2017 based on the tax incentive schedule from the city of Anaheim. The next thing to drop is the ground breaking of the new parking structure. With the Frozen musical announcement at DCA, will Hollywood Backlot get a new makeover and the return of The Muppets? Plus, will the Hyperion Theater get an enclosed lobby?

When will it open? I think Star Wars Land will open in 3 years in 2018 based on the early ground breaking.

September 10, 2015 at 1:09 PM · Disney could actually go as slow as they like... no one is putting off vacations for this since it is years away. I think all Disney fans owe Universal a nod for starting the theme wars and setting the bar so high...
September 10, 2015 at 1:18 PM · Great news on the updated schedule.

As for what N B said I am not going back to Florida until this is done.

September 10, 2015 at 1:25 PM · How is Iger a ‘total negative for the parks’? OK, he may not push through new attractions at the pace we might want, but just domestically on his watch there has been a Fantasyland upgrade at WDW and a major DCA upgrade, Pandora is coming, and billions in expansion plans for both parks over the next five years. I’d like it all completed now too, but new stuff is coming and most of it looks pretty good.
September 10, 2015 at 1:40 PM · As theme park fans, we don't care to understand the financial aspects. As stockholders, we care very much.

As theme park fans, we don't care that DIS continues to invest heavily on the parks. Is that a lie? A significant portion of the funds have gone towards infrastructure maintenance and expansion, software upgrades, hotel development/maintenance and retail maintenance, redevelopment and development. As stock holders, we demand investment in all areas.

As theme park fans, we don't care that DIS invests heavily in overseas properties. We want the money spent at the park closest to our residence. As stock holders, we demand each park be invested in to maximize the ROI.

As theme park fans, we don't care what it costs! Just get it built, even if 24 hour shifts are required. We choose to ignore the record attendance the parks are achieving. As stock holders, slow and steady wins the race.

September 10, 2015 at 1:50 PM · Companies including Disney will do things when they are ready to do them and take as long as they think things should take. Unfortunately there are impatient people who think that they should do things when they think that they should be done. Disney doesn't care about people going to Universal. Disney will always be number 1.
September 10, 2015 at 2:00 PM · The reason why the American parks have been so slow with new attractions isn't because of Iger having some sort of ego. He's been making many investments in all of the foreign parks, including the construction of Mystic Manor, one of the company's most highest-rated attractions, and Shanghai Disneyland, which looks like it'll be pretty impressive. The Disney parks do have flaws, even the biggest Disney addicts know that, but you can't solely blame them on one person. Disney's theme park division is a global operation with countless nooks and crannies and billions of employees being hired to try and cover 'em. There's always gonna be some holes and glitches in the system.

And yes, NB, I do thank Universal for pushing Disney. But I would argue that the "theme wars" started the minute Universal announced they'd be building a Florida Park. They just finally proved themselves worthy competitors. ;)

September 10, 2015 at 2:04 PM · My biggest concern is what Star Wars land will do to pricing at Disneyland in terms of annual passes and tickets. As a long time annual pass holder to Disneyland I can tell you that the price of the premium pass shot up $200 the year that they opened Cars Land at California Adventure. I can only imagine how much more expensive it will be to get into Disneyland once this expansion is complete.
September 10, 2015 at 3:21 PM · If construction is beginning next year, I really think 2019 is a feasible opening date. If not that, 2020 is pretty much confirmed. Star Wars Land is a big project, but 4 years from breaking ground until opening should definitely be plenty of time. Could it be done sooner than 2019? Yes, but I'd bet against it. Generally, things that are done quickly either cost a ton of money or are poor quality and I'd gladly wait an extra year or two for an outstanding Star Wars Land that doesn't require a 50% ticket hike to cover construction costs.
September 10, 2015 at 3:44 PM · It takes longer and more expensive to build here people. Between permits, layers of government and union workers. That is why overseas sees more happening there. Cheaper labor and less rules.
September 10, 2015 at 3:57 PM · If Iger's making investments in "all the foreign parks" I really wish he'd do something with Paris.
September 10, 2015 at 5:26 PM · lol good for the company I guess, and maybe he is doing a lot for the Asian parks, I don't know, clearly the post above me sees nothing being done for euro Disney. honestly though what do I care about the foreign parks? I live here, and go to WDW all the time, even though I hope to go to the out of country parks one day, I see WDWs "updates" under his watch as unbelievably underwhelming. What's been added since 2005? Has there been even one ride built that hasn't had reasonable gripes, besides the star tours update? Toy story I guess but I didn't think that was all that great. Definitely not worth an hour and a half wait. But you have to wait that long because half of the park is closed now. If you take a look at the amount Eisner got done in Florida and California in 10 years vs Iger it's not even a competition. The best parts of Disneyland and Disney World, in my opinion, are the parts that were built way before his reign as ceo, that's why I blame him.
September 10, 2015 at 5:28 PM · I'm just patiently waiting for the announcement of where the land will go in DHS.
September 10, 2015 at 8:22 PM · 2019 is feasible but 2020 for DLR & 2021 for WDW is more likely.

I think that they are breaking ground on construction a year earlier than planned so that they can speed up construction if need be to counter what Universal may have in store after 2017

The most recent article on Orlando talks about the rumoured attractions for 2018 @ Universal including Nintendo Land and a ministry of magic expansion @ DA

We all now expect that Universal will have something new for 2018 but what is the big question.

September 10, 2015 at 10:18 PM · They will say anything to investors - the sad truth is Iger has been a disaster for the parks. This new land won't see the light of day till at least 2034
September 11, 2015 at 3:54 AM · Re: Michael Longo

You may not care about the foreign parks, but what about the people who actually live there? Do you think it'd be fair to them to have to fly all the way to the States just to experience Disney's latest and greatest? Being the most highly-attended theme parks in the world, it's clear that WDW had already gotten plenty of love and attention. So it was really time to make sure that the other parks caught up. Now that's been about a decade, WDW parks are the ones that need to catch up, so now that's where all their money's going now.

In the case of DLP, I understand that park's had financial problems since Day 1. And if what I've been hearing is accurate, Europe's about to sail through some pretty rough waters. That'll probably mean trying to build anything new in those parks would be quite the hassle. They should probably consider themselves lucky that they got Ratatouille.


Gee, you're quite quite the optimist aren't you?

September 11, 2015 at 4:02 AM · Avatar Land construction began in January 2014, with an expected opening of early 2017. And let's give 6 extra months for unexpected delays, putting it around mid-2017. Avatar Land is supposed to be a completely immersive experience for visitors, as if visiting a foreign planet, so everything has to be built from the ground up. It also comes with two major rides.

Star Wars is a bit bigger land, but supposed to be similar in most other ways: An alien world, completely immersive foreign planet, and two major rides.

So, I would say, the 2020 prediction date is looking pretty accurate, figuring for a June 2016 ground breaking.

September 11, 2015 at 10:05 AM · Someone compared CEO Eisner's investment in parks to CEO Iger's investment in parks.

He/She raised a valid point.

Eisner invested way more as he constructed parks designed to destroy WDW competitors. Unfortunately, he later admitted he foolishly over spent on Disneyland Paris and then foolishly underspent on the second park. The Disneyland Resort Paris has never recovered. Iger has committed to restoring the parks financial footing and remaking the studio park. And to prove it, he committed the WDCo to buying the resort.

Eisner also admitted that Animal Kingdom while opening to rave reviews was lacking in attractions/rides. Iger has committed to resolving this error.

Eisner also admitted that WDW's studio park, while not built on the cheap was significantly lacking rides. It has an over abundance of attractions. Iger has committed to adding more rides.

Iger also saw that immersive retail, like Main Street U.S.A., could work outside of a theme park. Thus, he approved the redevelopment of Downtown Disney to Disney Springs.

You can bash Iger all day for not adding attractions or rides like Eisner, but you also have to give him credit for fixing all of Eisner's mistakes. Iger refuses to call them mistakes, instead he calls them, brand withdrawals.

September 11, 2015 at 11:06 AM · Iger has done a lot of improve feature films and that has helped the parks tremendously. Eisner starved feature films and ruined animation. Only after Eisner left, Iger was able to buy Pixar to keep the flow of animated films going. Otherwise, Pixar would have been acquired by another studio. Iger approved Carsland. While many theme parks would not have been opened without Eisner, he bungled their creation. So it's a disaster with Eisner nonetheless.
September 13, 2015 at 10:22 AM · My prediction, at least in Florida, they'll break ground late next fall by putting a few spades in the ground...taking advantage of another photo opportunity.

Then there'll be virtually no progress for at least another 18 months.

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