May the Fourth be with you for Star Wars in the parks

May 4, 2016, 12:04 AM · It's Star Wars Day, so let's celebrate with a look at current and future ways to travel back a long time ago to a galaxy far, far away.

Disney was the original place to experience Star Wars in a theme park, and it remains Star Wars' primary theme park home, thanks to Disney's 2012 deal to buy Lucasfilm. The original Star Wars attractions, Star Tours, is now Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, with what was initially 54 combinations of characters and destinations during your flight across the galaxy. There's a rebel spy aboard your flight, and Darth Vader or his Imperial forces are trying to stop your flight from getting away, no matter what your planned destination.

Last fall, before the debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney replaced all the options for the first destination on Star Tours: The Adventures Continue with a new scene from the desert planet of Jakku, to help promote the film. That reduced the number of potential combinations for visitors — but that's still more than most fans will get to experience, no matter how many times you try to ride in one visit.

At Disneyland, Space Mountain has become a Star Wars-themed Hyperspace Mountain for its "Season of the Force" event, which is expected to continue through the summer. Featuring an animated battle between the Resistance and the First Order, accompanied by the famous Star Wars theme music, this roller coaster ride through space is more exciting than ever.

Hyperspace Mountain

Disneyland's event also features Star Wars Launch Bay, a prop and costume exhibit where fans can meet Chewbacca and Kylo Ren. Younglings can train to fight the dark side in the Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple show, across the way. If you're hungry, the nearby Galactic Grill restaurant (formerly Tomorrowland Terrace) is now serving a variety of Star Wars-themed meals, including a First Order Specialty Burger and a Cheese-3PO Burger.

At 6pm tonight, Disneyland will throw a special Star Wars Day party at the Galactic Grill stage, featuring "Star Wars trivia and other special surprises."

At the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disney's Hollywood Studios hosts Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, and the Star Wars Launch Bay. You'll find Star Wars-themed meals at the Backlot Express, including a Royal Guard Burger and Dark Side Chicken and Waffles.

Unique to Hollywood Studios is Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away, a stage show in front of the Chinese Theater that features live characters and films clips from the Star Wars series. Several times a day, Captain Phasma leads a march of her Stormtroopers from the Launch Bay to the Chinese Theater stage, too.

And next month, Disney's Hollywood Studios will launch its new Star Wars-themed nighttime show, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, which will feature projection mapping, music, and fireworks celebrating the iconic battles between the Light and the Dark.

But Disney's biggest Star Wars attraction won't arrive for at least another couple of years. Star Wars Land is under construction at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios. These 14-acre lands will be Disney's largest themed lands to date and will feature two rides, two restaurants, and an immersive environment themed to a new planet in the Star Wars galaxy.

A Millennium Falcon ride will put you at the controls of the Han Solo's famous ship, flying into space and battling Imperial forces.

A second ride will feature a battle with the First Order, placing riders into the middle of a firefight with Stormtroopers.

First Order battle ride
Concept art courtesy Disney

Weary space travelers can unwind in the Cantina, inspired by those from A New Hope and The Force Awakens. And diners seeking a full meal and can visit a new in the land.

Star Wars Land Cantina

Star Wars Land is expected to open sometime around 2019, though Disney has yet to announce an official date.

You might know this, but Disney isn't the only place to experience Star Wars in a theme park. You can also find iconic scenes and characters from the Star Wars series — in miniature form — at Legoland in California and Florida. Star Wars Miniland features scenes from the first six live-action Star Wars films, as well as models of Darth Vader and R2-D2. In California, you'll also find a Lego version of the Death Star.

Lego Death Star

What's your favorite way to celebrate Star Wars Day?

Replies (14)

May 4, 2016 at 4:57 AM · 2019 ? Good grief .... they still haven't started any construction at Hollywood Studios. And it's been nearly 9 months since Iger announced the land. The sooner he goes the better Disney will be.
May 4, 2016 at 7:05 AM · I like Star Wars.... And I'm sure the new rides will be fun provided they're not soarin clones....but boy do I miss when Disney let the imagineers use their imaginations. Pretty much all of the iconic rides at their parks that keep people coming back are great examples of the property not making the ride, but the ride making the property. I know Walt is long gone but theme park originality was always a Disney cornerstone. The way the trend has been going they may never make an original ride idea again.
May 4, 2016 at 8:20 AM · the Captain Phasma march goes on about a minute too long. I guess it's a function of where they have to come from to appear on stage.
May 4, 2016 at 9:18 AM · Only two rides is what gets me. Even Carsland opened with three...only two good ones, IMHO, but...and one of them is already gone.
May 4, 2016 at 9:50 AM · Seriously!! Who's actually seen this "Star Wars" movie?? I still say these lands will close in less than a year due to being unpopular. ;)
May 4, 2016 at 9:53 AM · Actually, it was announced Star Wars Land (Experience?) broke ground in mid-April.

May 4, 2016 at 2:15 PM · A land does not always need more than two rides to be amazing. There will be a number of other things that will make it immersive. The lands are already under construction with rumours of them opening in late 2018 or sometime in 2019. It usually takes at least two years to build a huge (14 acres) ,immersive land like Star Wars Land. Only having two is not really a big deal as long as it is really well themed. The rumours are the Millennium Falcvon ride will be a cross between Star Tours and The Escape From Gringotts ride at Universal with each rider able totake control of their own Falcon and the other ride isd rumoured to be a cross between the Rat ride in France and a normal Disney dark ride with some AAs.
May 4, 2016 at 3:19 PM · The way the parks are configured, SWL at DL looks like it is starting to be really under way now. However, saying SWL at DHS is starting is a big exaggeration. There seems to be 2 years of road and parking rebuilding needed before actual SWL can be started. The new Toy Story Land at DHS can start being built now.
May 4, 2016 at 6:21 PM · I 110% Agree with Michael Longo
May 4, 2016 at 7:48 PM ·

HKDL also announced plans for Star Wars invasion which includes Hyperspace Mountain, Star Wars Command Post and Jedi Training Academy.

May 4, 2016 at 8:59 PM · Sorry but I still can't get over Star Wars destroying the Osborne Lights tradition. Christmas will never be the same at WDW. Robert has there been any chatter about bringing them back anywhere?
May 5, 2016 at 12:41 AM · Um New Orleans square and Mysterious Island have "only" 2 rides. I wouldn't dare call them lacking.
May 5, 2016 at 12:27 PM · Happy (late) Star Wars Day!!! I hope this won't be celebrated with Chewy's family! (Please tell me someone got that reference)

Just wanted to let you guys know that there's no need to worry about SWL only having 2 rides. Well, first off, it's not only gonna be 2 rides, there's gonna be 3 counting Star Tours. Also, Diagon Alley only has 1 ride (2 if you count Hogwarts Express) and it's still pretty awesome!

May 6, 2016 at 9:45 AM · New Orleans Square opened in 1967 with just Pirates, but it was an awesome, industry-changing attraction. Please, just make the Star Wars rides the best ever done with never before seen effects and technology, I'm tired of Universal having the three best rides in the galaxy, it may be four with Kong.

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