With the cost to get into Disneyland at about $100 a ticket (or more?), it is pretty apparent that the Mouse, his house and everybody else at the CEO level clean up when people come to Disneyland and Disney World. So rather than rest on their laurels, the folks at Disney have decided to turn things up a notch and add even more money to their coffers. They did this by recently announcing that Disney is going to add Star Wars Land to both of its theme parks.
For those of us who grew up on Star Wars, this news was met with a great deal of excitement and anticipation. Star Wars Land? Is it possible that such a magical place could exist? Might we actually get to fly X-Wing Fighters or even the Millennium Falcon? Might this one section of these famed themed parks become the new happiest place on earth?
Immediately upon hearing that in 2019 this place, which heretofore had only existed in the hearts and minds of the Star Wars faithful, would be completed, the questions started. What would be in Star Wars Land? What wouldn't be there? What would we get to do? How would we get to do it? What is George Lucas' involvement in this endeavor?
Information about this project isn't totally top secret. At the same time, news is slowly trickling in. Disney seems to be treating this Star Wars production like another Star Wars film. They are giving information but, as is usually the case, it isn't enough for those of us that want to know just what our $100 entrance will get us. Will prices go up to subsidize Star Wars Land's construction?
So with all of these thoughts swirling around, and not wanting to contribute to the speculation and "#fakenews," we have decided to examine what we know. Maybe we will end up with more questions? Perhaps we will learn something in the process? The point is that by aggregating the list, "Star Wars Land What We Know," we hope to shed some light on this place that promises to be as magical and mysterious as the Star Wars films themselves.
Star Wars Land introduces an all-new planet.
According to the Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Bob Chepak, Star Wars Land is going to be set on, "a gateway planet located on the outer rim, full of places and characters familiar and not so familiar." Essentially, this place is supposedly going to be an entirely new land. It isn't going to have characters from the film walking around doing meet and greets. Rather, it will be bring fans of Star Wars into places that they have either seen in the movies or only imagined. It appears that Star Wars Land will be a hodge-podge of old and new. There were will be ships that we can pilot, a cantina that we can visit, and characters that we can interact with. However, it is almost like entering this alien world will literally put us in the films that we have been following all our lives.
Fans will become fully immersed in the world of Star Wars.
Placing Star Wars Land on a new planet is a very smart idea. If it was on Mos Eisley or Mustafar we would come into Star Wars Land with expectations that would be almost impossible to meet. By taking us out of what we already know, we again can have yet another Star Wars experience that manages to bolster our long relationship with this filmic property. Also, all the really shady characters hang out on the Outer Rim so we know that Star Wars Land will be fun, interesting and maybe even a tad dangerous. We obviously can't say for sure, but Star Wars Land's goal seems to be to transport people completely into the world of Star Wars movies. How will visitors be fully immersed in this world? Well, the world of amusement parks has changed over the years. One gets the feeling that Star Wars Land will make Star Tours look archaic (more on that later). Imagine if they employ 4K technology to how we can experience parts of Star Wars Land? What if they there are sections that enable visitors to a have a true VR experience? The possibilities, like the world of Star Wars, are endless.
There will be life-sized AT-AT Walkers.
Disney Parks is building life-sized At-At Walkers at Disneyland. Construction is currently under way at the Disneyland location, with a number of fans capturing video and photos as the process continues. The construction site is visible from Disneyland's Mickey and Friends Parking Structure, where the life-sized AT-AT Walkers were first spotted. So it's not like Disney was trying to keep this a secret. It hasn't been revealed whether or not park attendees will be able to explore the insides of these giant walkers, or sit in the cockpit. But it doesn't appear that the giant Walkers will be mobile. You can check out the machines as they come together in an official video release by Disney.
You'll be caught in a war between the First Order and the Resistance.
Visitors will be put in a battle between the First Order and the Resistance. Back in the day, remember going to amusement parks and watching cowboys get in a fight and have a shoot out or something? Well, what Disney has planned for Star Wars Land is a lot bigger and broader than that. It seems like people visiting Star Wars Land will get to witness, firsthand, a battle between the First Order (aka the Empire) and the Resistance (aka the Rebellion). Now, it isn't entirely clear how this is going to work. In 2017, it would be hard to imagine people sitting around watching a battle taking place and then clapping at the end. At the same time, there's going to be people of all ages in Star Wars Land. And Disney being the most family friendly studio out there, they're going to want to limit the violence and death to a minimum, right? All of this seems like a tall order, especially within the context of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance. However, if anybody can pull it off, Disney can. And as far as Star Wars Land is concerned, they're going to do everything they can to make this place a unique experience that visitors have never had before.
You'll be able to fly the Millennium Falcon.
We can fly the Millennium Falcon? The MILLENNIUM FALCON?!?! Okay, you're not gonna actually be able to fly the ship but a simulation of flying the Millennium Falcon is good enough for us. One can only imagine what this will look like? How it will be achieved? What devices (3D? VR? 4K? Augmented Reality?) will be used to bring visitors in to the world of this great ship. There has been some speculation online as to which Millennium Falcon visitors will be treated to. Will it be the one from the Force Awakens or will it be the "newer version" seen in Return of the Jedi. One also has to wonder about wait times. Considering that visiting Star Wars Land will be mandatory for anybody with a pulse, just how will someone get to fly this bucket of bolts? Will they be treated to astronomical wait times? Will there be multiple simulations at once? Could it be that we share a ride with other visitors and then take turns piloting this ship? Again, there are a lot of questions, a lot of ways they can be answered, and here's hoping Disney makes the right decisions in the interest of the fans.
Fans will be able to taste Blue Milk for the first time.
Some people have made grumblings that Disney has served the blue milk at other events before. This may be the case but it is the first time that the famed blue milk that Luke drank on Tatooine will be constantly available. The how is the big question? No, I don't mean how are they going make it. I am wondering where in Star Wars Land will we be able to buy this stuff? The cantina? Walking in one of the many bazaars? Also, might Disney play this up a little bit? Will they somehow incorporate the Bantha's into this? It is where the milk come from after all. Might we have to get passed some selfish Sand People to get it? However this plays out, something tells me that, like anything you consume at a Disney theme park, it's going to cost you a pretty penny. And speaking of the cantina...
There will be a real-life Star Wars Cantina.
Yes, you have read that correctly. The cantina from Mos Eisley in Episode IV is going to be a real thing. The hope is that it is filled with the same cast of characters from that landmark film. In fact, one also wonders if Disney is going to bring back Greedo just to make things nice, happy and alive. (It might even ease any guilt we have about flying the Millennium Falcon, even though Greedo "fired first."). If Disney gets this cantina right, it could be a really awesome place because people young and old love this cantina. In fact, I can literally hear the music playing as I write this Star Wars Land list. The question I have is will there be different music? One also can't help wondering if Disney is going to serve alcohol there? My gut instinct is that they will not. Aside from being very kid friendly, Star Wars, through all the films, has never really been about alcohol. To my recollection, it hasn't ever been mentioned in a Star Wars film but I could be wrong. Either way, the thought a real life cantina, with the circular bar, the various drink machines hanging from the ceiling, the band playing, and that "outer rim" cast of characters loitering around, might just be the coolest part of this whole Star Wars Land project.
Star Tours will get a Last Jedi update.
It was announced in late 2016 that Star Tours is getting a Last Jedi update. But what that update entails is anyone's guess. It also isn't yet clear if Disney will keep Star Tours in its currently location or have it moved. It seems sort of redundant for Disney to keep Star Tours around when they'll have a whole wing of their park devoted to Star Wars Land. At the same time, with Star Tours residing in Tomorrowland (both in Disneyland, Disney World and the theme parks overseas), getting rid of Star Tours altogether might be more trouble than it's worth. However, considering where Star Wars Land is being set, it doesn't really jive with the realm of Star Tours. Perhaps, rather than getting rid of Star Tours altogether, they will merge parts of that attraction with parts of Star Wars Land? You never know, if Star Wars Land proves to be the juggernaut that we think it's going to be, then maybe, just maybe they will keep BOTH attractions. If that's the case, it might not be too crazy to think that one day Star Wars Land could overtake Disneyland altogether. It has also been that speculated that Star Tours might get turned into something else in 2019, such as a Marvel ride. As of now, even with Star Tours getting a Star Wars 8 update, the ride's ultimate future seems in flux.
Star Wars Land is coming to Disneyland and Disney World.
Disney must think that Star Wars Land is a license to print money. Otherwise why would they be developing one at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California and Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Bay Lake, Florida? (We will get into the cost of all this below). There are some questions. Will the parks be identical? Will they take place in different parts of the Star Wars universe? We have a fairly good idea of what is going to be in Star Wars Land at Disneyland. Disney World is the X factor. If the parks are identical that doesn't seem to be very good business. Sure, the rabid fans will make the pilgrimage to both parks. However, for others it probably won't be the highest priority, especially if they've already seen everything at one park or the other. Having the parks set in different parts of the Star Wars universe seems like a fantastic idea. In fact, it would be really cool if Disney could develop a storyline between the two parks that some how coincides with the films. Either way, people's trips to the happiest place on earth are going to be filled with more and more anticipation as these parks are constructed. In fact, if Star Wars Land came to the theme parks over seas, there could be a whole story line developed between both parks. What a boon for travel this might be as fans and newbies feel they need to visit all the parks to fully have the Star Wars Land experience.
How much will all this cost?
There are some varying reports on how much Disney is spending on this project. Some people are saying that the Mouse House is in to the tune of $1 Billion. Others have said that that sum is what was a pledged by Disney as a tax incentive to put that money into the Anaheim resort area. There are some who have written that Disney spent $200 million on parts of Cars Land. Considering that some of the rides at Cars Land cost $200 million, spending one billion on Star Wars Land in Anaheim isn't that far fetched. When you factor in that they are going to essentially be doing the same thing at Disney World, does the total price tag become $2 billion? (Think of the cost if Star Wars Land comes to ALL Disney's theme parks?) Whatever amounts are spent, they will surely be a boon to the hosting cities for many years to come.
Construction began in 2016.
It seems that there are signs at both Disneyland and Disney World saying that the construction of this project is underway. In fact, parts of both parks (like the Disneyland Railroad at the Anaheim, Ca location) were closed for just this purpose. I am sure that there are some Disney purists that think Uncle Walt has to be rolling in his grave, but Disney, despite whatever face it puts on things, is a business. As such, it needs to always be evolving. Star Wars Land drastically reshapes the park. Sure, Mickey Mouse will always be the face of this behemoth, but Star Wars is a behemoth in its own right. It can't be denied that as much as Star Wars Land closing some historical aspects of the Disneyland/Disney World experience might seem unsettling, this project needs to happen if Disneyland is going to survive and not become a relic in the digital age.
When does Star Wars Land open?
According to Disney CEO Bob Iger, both Star Wars Land's are scheduled to open in 2019. So we have a bit of time before we can take off in the Millennium Falcon, hang out in the Cantina, see a reputed battle between the First Order and the Resistance, etc. I bring up this final point because, as was stated earlier, Star Wars Land is a very big project. A lot can happen in 2 years. Disney is a cash cow. With both the Star Wars and Marvel properties in their hands, they have no shortage of cash. At the same there are boards, shareholders and other people to be accountable to. It wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that this project goes wildly over budget. Earlier, I mentioned Cars Land. The people working on that just don't have the tie to that property that the world has to Star Wars Land. I am sure that many of the designers of Cars Land loved that movie. For the designers of Star Wars Land it is something different entirely. It is a passion. Almost a religion. And that desire to get it right, to serve the fans and the Star Wars canon, could potentially push the opening of Star Wars Land from its current 2019 mark.