A First Look at Disney’s Star Wars Land is Just as Epic as We Imagined
This piece originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.
Ever since Star Wars Land was first announced in August, we’ve been dying for more details. Will we ride a Tauntaun there instead of a monorail? Can we befriend Stormtroopers? What in this galaxy could we possibly order at the cantina?!
Six months later, we’re finally in the loop on what Walt Disney Imagineering and the forward-thinkers at Lucasfilm are up to. As part of The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60 celebration on ABC last night, Harrison Ford himself took to the stage to share some never-before-heard details about the future Disney Parks additions.
Ford didn’t give everything away—word on the street is that the box office success of the movie means there will be three rides, not two. Only the pair of previously acknowledged rides was shown during the special, but it was more than enough to satiate the appetite of any honorary Jedi.
Still impatient about Star Wars’ not-yet-announced opening date? On top of everything that’s already in place at the parks, it was announced last week that a new Star Wars stage show would be coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios this April. A few months later, the park will also debut a stunningnew fireworks show with high-tech projections onto surrounding buildings, pyrotechnics, and special effects—massive lightsabers in the sky!
Exciting, absolutely, but we’ve got our eyes on sleuthing more details about both of the 14-acre expansions. Here are the best tidbits we could find:
The Millennium Falcon ride will be unlike anything Disney has ever created.
The newest rendering of this E-ticket attraction shows that wannabe Han Solos will actually be at the famed ship’s helm, firing laser cannons and banking left and right to avoid enemy fire. Not to read too into the voice-over, but there was a lot of emphasis on the fact that guests will actually pilot the ride, completely controlling the vehicle themselves. This mix between a motion simulator and a first-person shooter is something Disney has never had in its parks, especially one that’s fully operated by a patron. Add the fact that the Millennium Falcon is the fastest ship in the galaxy and, well, this one is sure to be a game-changer.
We will be getting up close and personal with some crazy-looking creatures.
Disney released a handful of never-before-seen renderings last night, and in all of them, there’s one thing missing: people. Humans are few and far between in these early images, which means Disney must be preparing to deck their cast members out in wild costumes and extensive hair piecesevery day, are building some wild audio-animatronics to fill the crowd with authentic Star Wars characters or, hopefully, both. Either way, we’re in for something truly one-of-a-kind—and not just because the promise of meeting droids and aliens could finally be what curbs those Anna and Elsa meet-and-greet wait times.
Whatever you do, be sure to come hungry.
Another new development is that there will in fact be a fully immersive table-service restaurant inside of Star Wars Land. With jewel-toned hues, gilded lamps, and tiled ceilings, there is some definite Moroccan inspiration going on here, but that’s not what we’re most curious about. If you squint reallyhard at the rendering of the “planet’s best dinner club,” you’ll see a droid holding court in the middle who bears an eerie resemblance to C3PO...wonder what he could be doing there?!
Forget Star Tours—the battle ride will truly feel like you’re inside the movie.
Ever since the Star Wars expansion was announced, guests have been wondering what a ride “putting guests in the middle of a climactic battle” would feel like. After last night, we now know this attraction will basically plop guests inside a Star Destroyer-like ship as they glide past Stormtroopers in battle and witness a blaster fight up-close. For a movie franchise that has been doing this virtually with motion simulators since Star Tours debuted at Disneyland nearly 30 years ago, actually being inside this locale should be light-years beyond what parkgoers currently experience. And, we don’t want to get too excited, but judging from the way the ride vehicle moved in that clip, Disney may finally be utilizing the trackless technology championed in their other parks around the world which somehow has not yet made it stateside.
This Star Wars street market will give Diagon Alley a run for its money.
As the only other fully immersive theme park land, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has excelled at bringing the seven-book series of a child wizard to life. The difference between that and Star Wars’ forthcoming “other-worldly marketplace” is that this source material is ever-changing, meaning anything is possible. Since the planet these experiences exist on will be entirely new for Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we could be eating “local delicacies,” buying, smelling, and witnessing anything that’s ever been mentioned across Star Wars properties. With so many movies on the way, new and interesting things could be added at any time.
We still have no idea what this thing will actually be called.
We’ve all called it “Star Wars Land,” Ford dubbed it “the Star Warsexperience,” and the preview clip interestingly didn’t address it by name at all. While there’s still no official title for this massive new expansion, there is one thing we can all agree on: as the man who plays Han Solo said last night,Star Wars is irrefutably “awesome.”