As anyone who has been to any of the Disney parks recently can tell you, the company has Star Wars everywhere. Even at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, there is a store of Star Wars merchandise and Star Tours isn’t even at that park. In 2019, the Star Wars presence will explode with the opening of Star Wars Land.
Just over a year ago, at Disney’s D23 convention in August 2015, the company officially announced plans for a Star Wars-themed expansion in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Unofficially dubbed “Star Wars Land,” construction started in April on the single biggest expansion ever for both resorts. While the Anaheim Star Wars Land will be located at Disneyland, Orlando’s will be at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where Star Tours is located.
On February 7, 2017, Disney announced that Star Wars Land will open at both Walt Disney World’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland in 2019. Disney CEO Bob Iger didn’t confirm a specific date during the first quarter earnings call.
Here’s a look at what we know so far about the 14-acre expansions.
1. One Attraction Will Give Let You Control the Millennium Falcon & Another Puts You in a Fight with the First Order
Only two rides have been announced for the area so far. Obviously, one will have to be a ride in the most iconic starship in the galaxy, Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon. Iger said that the ride will give visitors a chance to control the ship (which will not make Han happy) for a “customized secret mission.”
The other ride will put visitors in the middle of a battle between the Resistance and the First Order. That means that Disney is doing its best to please fans of the old films as well as those who loved The Force Awakens. Unfortunately, it looks like fans of the prequels will be left out.
“We are creating a jaw-dropping new world that represents our largest single-themed land expansion ever,” Iger said at D23. “These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet.”
On November 19, Disney Parks Chairman Bob Chapek said that they plan on adding a new adventure to Star Tours, which will still exist after Star Wars Land opens at Disney’s Hollwywood Studios in Orlando and at Disneyland in Anaheim.
2. You’ll Finally Get to Taste Blue Milk on an All-New ‘Star Wars’ Planet
In A New Hope, Luke Skywalker was so naive that he ordered blue milk at the cantina. Since then, we have been dying to know what blue milk tastes like. Well, now we finally will.
During ABC’s Wonderful World of Disney special to mark Disnelyand’s 60th anniversary, Harrison Ford introduced new concept art for the Star Wars attractions. (You can watch the segment above.) As Disney Food Blog pointed out, this included a look at possible dining options. Since the Mos Eisley Cantina is one of the most famous locations in the films, it will be recreated, even though the Star Wars Lands are supposed to take place on a new Outer Rim world.
The attractions “will introduce you to a Star Wars planet you’ve never seen before — a gateway planet located on the outer rim, full of places and characters familiar and not so familiar,” Walt Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Bob Chapek said, The Orlando Sentinel reported in August 2015.
“We really want people to feel like they’re in that movie,” Imagineering executive Kathy Mangum added.
3. The Disney’s Hollywood Studios Version Will be Right Next to Toy Story Land
On the same day that Disney began construction on Star Wars Land in Orlando, the company also started construction on Toy Story Land. The hope is to recreate the success of Cars Land in the Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim. Visitors will feel like they’ve been shrunk down to the size of a toy in the area.
In a statement on Toy Story Land, Magnum said:
As all of you know, here in Anaheim, we’ve been quite successful with taking immersive experiences to a whole new level as we did with Cars Land. In fact, one of our favorite stories from opening day is that we overheard a little boy asking his mom, ‘Is this where they filmed the Cars movie?’ That’s exactly how we want people to feel – like they’ve stepped onto the set of their favorite film … like the quaint town of Radiator Springs or, in the case of ‘Toy Story,’ the wild and adventurous outdoors of Andy’s backyard.
In addition to Midway Mania, there will also be a family-friendly roller coaster and a ride where you fly around the park with the Little Green Aliens. Toy Story Land, like Star Wars Land, still doesn’t have an announced opening day set.
4. ‘Star Wars’ Land Has Forced Disneyland to Close Some of Its Most Iconic Attractions
Thanks to Star Wars Land, overcrowding at Disneyland is only going to get worse, as The Los Angeles Times reported in December 2015 that 14 percent of the attractions will be closed for good or temporarily during construction. That includes the famous Disneyland Railroad, which has been an attraction at the park since day one.
The Big Thunder Jamboree and petting zoo have been closed permanently, while Tom Sawyer Island and the popular Fantasmic! show have been closed temporarily. As the Orange County Register reported, the closures began on January 11.
Disney Parks announced in July that Fantasmic! and the other temporarily closed rides will reopen in summer 2017.
5. The Stormtrooper Battle Escape Ride Will Feature 150 Animatronic Stormtroopers & Will Have Guests Walk Part of the Way
In October 2016, the blog Mice Chat revealed new information about the ride set during the Original Trilogy. It’s called “Stormtrooper Battle Escape” and is code-named “Alcatraz.” The site claims that it will feature 150 animatronic Stormtroopers (compared to the 75 animatronic characters in “Pirates of the Caribbean”), plus many more animatronic Star Wars characters.
The ride will be multiple levels, according to the site. At one point, guests will step off the ride, walk through an area and then jump back onto the vehicle for the finale. Unfortunately, the site reports that the two rides are only expected to carry just over 1,5000 rides per hour, which will likely cause long wait times.
The following photo also shows how large the construction site is for Star Wars Land.
While Disney Imagineers never have to worry about space at the expansive Walt Disney World resort, it’s always an issue in Anaheim. Each time Disney plans an expansion for Disneyland, the company has to buy more land in the area. Of course, each time it does so, it sparks speculation about its plans. However, this land wasn’t meant for the Star Wars project.
On August 5, 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported that Disney bought 14.7 acres. That came a few months after Disney CEO Bob Iger told shareholders that there were plans for a Disneyland expansion.
Just a few days after that report, Disney officially announced the Star Wars lands at D23.
Update: The new land was not bought for the Star Wars project. Instead, it is for a new parking garage. According to Theme Park Insider, Disney is planning to build a seven-story, 6,800-space parking garage.