Following their acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, Disney has been slowly ramping up their stake in the Star Wars franchise. With the impending release of Star Wars Episode 7 getting ever closer, things are really starting to pick up. At the D23 expo this year, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced the company’s plans for Star Wars Lands, two massive additions to its Anaheim-based Disneyland and Orlando-based Walt Disney World. The attractions will be spread across 14 acres, the largest single-themed area in Disney park history.
The Star Wars Land in Disneyland will be built in the Big Thunder Ranch location, one of the parks’ least developed and visited locations. Details on the specifics of the attractions have been scarce so far. Supposedly, the Land will be set on a new planet on the distant edge of the galaxy, which has never been seen in any previous Star Wars films. Iger announced that there will be a Cantina area, as well as an attraction that gives people a chance to ride the Millenium Falcon.
The other announced attraction, based on a battle between the New Order and the Resistance, draws on material from the upcoming trilogy. No material from the prequel or originally trilogy has been announced thus far, so it seems that the focus will be on the future of the franchise rather than the past.
Unfortunately, we won’t be able to see these parks for ourselves for a while. Construction begins in 2017 and will likely not being finished until 2019. In the meantime, Disney has other Star Wars-related plans to tide over fans. And of course, they are also trying to take away some attention from Universal Studios’ upcoming Harry Potter-themed land, Wizarding World West.
A West-coast version of the immensely popular The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, launched in Orlando in 2010, Wizarding World West will be coming to Universal Studios in 2016. Disney’s early announcement of Star Wars Lands was likely an attempt to steal some of Universal’s thunder, and take the attention off Potter. Disney also has plans in 2016 for the Season of the Force, an event with a Star Wars themed redux of Space Mountain, a Star Wars fireworks show, and a new restaurant called the Galactic Grill.
Disney clearly has big plans for Star Wars, and they are escalating quickly. After the Christmas release of Episode 7, things will probably move even faster, as merchandising gets even more saturated and products continue to roll out. In the meantime, we can only dream about what the Disney Imagineers are cooking up, and look forward to more details on Star Wars Lands to provide a new hope for Star Wars fans everywhere.