Park of the Week: SeaWorld San Diego

Darth Vader To Return to an Old Home at Walt Disney World

June 22, 2022, 6:27 PM · The Star Wars Launch Bay is coming back to Disney's Hollywood Studios, giving the Walt Disney World theme park Star Wars-themed attractions in three of its nine lands.

When it reopens July 17, the focus will be on character meet and greets in the reopened Launch Bay, where Disney World guests will be able to meet Chewbacca, BB-8, and - here's the big one - Darth Vader. Vader does not fit within the timeline in Disney's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land, so Disney needs a place for fans to meet this popular and iconic character. Apparently, setting up shop next to Star Wars: The Adventures Continue ride in Echo Lake wasn't an optimal choice, so Vader will hold court in the Launch Bay's Animation Courtyard space.

Darth Vader
Photo courtesy Walt Disney World

Star Wars Launch Bay opened in 2015 as a place for Disney to promote its Star Wars franchise while the sequel movies were hitting theaters and the resort was building Galaxy's Edge. The first version opened in the old Carousel of Progress theater at Disneyland as part of the Seasons of the Force takeover of that park's Tomorrowland. That version remains closed, but Disneyland takes a much less informal approach to character meets than Walt Disney World, where characters tend to meet fans in designated indoor spaces rather than out and about in the park, as they often do on the west coast.

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Replies (9)

June 22, 2022 at 6:37 PM

Outstanding news. HS desperately needs more attraction capacity, even if it is in the form of a simple meet and greet.

June 24, 2022 at 2:32 PM

More Star Wars characters? Yes! (Even though they should be in Galaxy's Edge.)

June 23, 2022 at 1:38 AM

One thing about Disney: Between "Fallen Order," "Rogue One" and now "Obi-Wan" show, they've restored Vader to the terrifying figure us kids back in 1977 saw and why he's the ultimate movie villain.

June 23, 2022 at 7:57 AM

Technically the Mandolorian and Grogu don't fit in the Galaxy's Edge timeline either, but Disney decided to wedge the former into Batuu, and are doing everything they can to figure out how to get the latter in Black Spire Outpost too.

Disney could easily get Vader on Batuu by having Kylo Ren play holograms of his grandfather.

June 23, 2022 at 8:08 AM

Or just forget about timelines, and give the GP what it wants. You’re Disney. “Shut up, and take my money.”

June 23, 2022 at 8:37 AM

"Technically the Mandolorian and Grogu didn't fit in the Galaxy's Edge timeline either." Yeah I find this quite interesting. I wonder if theme park IP is a different standard for folks than the IP being immersive elsewhere.

You'll see cosplay meetups at cons and folks just assemble. Maul, Vader, and Kylo all brandishing lightsabers together and showing off their gear. But I can also understand a jarring experience of having Kylo walk off set and Vader show up 5 minutes later. Not to mention Guests going to a meet and greet with Kylo and pointing out how they just left Rey. (as if they Cast Member is going to suddenly leap and go hunt her with the Guest?)

And how does this fit into other IPs? If Universal Opens a new WWoHP area based on the new prequel movies will folks find it awkward too? Fun thoughts!

June 23, 2022 at 9:09 AM

@RumbleMike - My understanding is that Universal's plan was to create a Ministry of Magic land at USF, which would be grounded in the Harry Potter timeline, while Epic Universe's land would be grounded in the Fantastic Beasts timeline. Now, the waning success of the Fantastic Beasts franchise has reportedly caused UC to change their plans a bit, but I think Harry, Ron, and Hermione won't be present in Epic Universe (though characters in all the lands are only seen on the rides anyway and not roaming around like in Galaxy's Edge).

I think that's what Disney is finding with Galaxy's Edge, and people gravitate to characters much more so than settings and specific stories. So by setting Galaxy's Edge in an awkward point in the series where the most popular characters really don't exist (Vader, Han, Boba Fett, Yoda, Luke, and Leia), it backs WDI into a corner. I think a lot of us mentioned this when Galaxy's Edge debuted in 2019. Instead of allowing the Galaxy's Edge timeframe to be flexible, WDI has instead tried to create and increase the appeal of characters that can appear in the land. The problem is that as the folks at LucasFilm have generated more content, it has galvanized the appeal of the OT characters and the timeframe of that trilogy (Boba Fett, Obi Wan, etc...) instead of increasing interest in the Abrams trilogy that forms the foundation of Galaxy's Edge.

Ultimately, by trying to make Galaxy's Edge generic, WDI has boxed the land into a time and place Star Wars fans care little about. Those calls for Galaxy's Edge to be set on a REAL place from the OT like Tattoine, Bespin, Hoth, Endor, or Degobah could not have been more valid than they are now.

June 23, 2022 at 9:52 AM

@Russell Yeah that's a good point about Galaxy's Edge.

Your point about HP (good points thank you) also reminds me that it is an immersive IP that doesn't let you "meet and greet" with those main characters. Watching these park experiences and comparing them will continue to be interesting to me.

June 23, 2022 at 11:12 AM

The biggest GE issue isn’t meet and greets. (Although Disney has trained it’s fans to love them). It’s lack of in universe characters in general. For HP, most characters are human, so every one in a robe—worker or guest—helps sell the idea of place. At GE, there are far too few aliens and Droids or even storm troopers just walking around, or performing on small stages ala HP frog choir, to make it feel really part of the Star Wars universe. Don’t need to line up for Chewie. But would be cool if there were Wookies about. Or Ewoks (like Star tours used to have under the trees). Had family recently visit and just hung out for 2-½ hours on the land and didn’t see a character.

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