What You Need to Know About Disney's New 'Star Wars'-Themed Lands

A primer on "Star Wars"-inspired park expansions in the works for 2019.

By Dave Parfitt, ContributorApril 26, 2017
By Dave Parfitt, ContributorApril 26, 2017, at 10:01 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

What You Need to Know About Disney's New 'Star Wars'-Themed Lands

Disney character Mickey poses in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland park as part of the 20th birthday celebrations of the park, in Chessy, near Marne-la-Vallee, outside Paris.

The upcoming theme park attractions will include immersive experiences in a "Star Wars" galaxy far, far away that's unknown to avid fans.(Getty Images)

Walt Disney Imagineering is working hard to bring the "Star Wars" galaxy story to life in their Disney theme parks. The "Star Wars"- inspired lands are scheduled to open in 2019 at both Anaheim, California's Disneyland and Orlando, Florida's Disney's Hollywood Studios. At 14-plus acres, the additions are promised to be the largest expansions ever for a Disney Park. Recently, "Star Wars" fans received a few additional details about the themed lands during the Star Wars Celebration convention held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando in April. Here are the latest emerging details on the elaborate experiences and attractions in development.

Lucasfilm Will Be Heavily Involved

"Star Wars" fans were repeatedly assured that the “hands that created the 'Star Wars' films” are collaborating with Walt Disney Imagineering on this new concept. During the panel discussion, Lucasfilm Ltd.'s Doug Chiang (the production designer of "Rogue One" and concept artist for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens") and creative executive Pablo Hildalgo appeared alongside Walt Disney Imagineers to discuss the "Star Wars" Land development. For the project, Imagineering and Lucasfilm went back to Ralph McQuarrie's original concept artwork for "Star Wars," calling the artwork "the DNA of 'Star Wars.'" According to Scott Trowbridge, portfolio creative executive and studio leader at Walt Disney Imagineering, "We are the fans, we’re doing this for the fans, and… we are looking through the lens of fandom."

Star Wars Land Will Be Set in a Never-Before-Seen " Star Wars" Location

The park's "Star Wars"-themed lands will not be set in a familiar setting, but rather an out- of- the-way trading outpost that was vibrant in the sub-lightspeed days, but is largely passed over now. The outpost will be based on a new planet that has been around for thousands of years, and a variety or recognizable figures from the "Star Wars" universe have passed through (think: traders, smugglers, Jedi, Imperials and Droids). It may be off the beaten path, but it's on the "Star Wars" path. The creators wanted to take visitors to a new location where they didn’t know the outcome, so guests can not only watch their favorite characters and entertainment series, but also feel immersed in the universe to be a part of the action.

Expect Both Familiar and New Characters

The Disney Imagineers promise fans that they'll find both recognizable "Star Wars" characters inhabiting the trading outpost, along with new characters. The location has its own population as well as an underworld subculture not wanting to be found. Guests can expect to find members of the resistance, the First Order, droids and more.

A New Attraction Will Be The Millennium Falcon

A signature attraction within the "Star Wars"-inspired lands will be the Millennium falcon. Participating friends and family members will become pilot and crew for this iconic "Star Wars" ship. Every member of the party receives an assignment, learns how to fly and is thrust into the middle of the First Order and resistance. At some point on the adventure, lightsabers will also come into play. Throughout the visit, guests choose their own path, and those choices have consequences within the "Star Wars" world. Consider the experience like stepping into a life-size, immersive "Star Wars" role-playing game.

Anticipate a New Scene for the Star Tours - The Adventures Continue Attraction

Tom Fitzgerald, creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, confirmed a new scene for Star Tours – The Adventures Continue at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland inspired by "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." Guests will travel to the mineral planet of Crait, where they will be thrown into the middle of a battle between the resistance and First Order. While technically not a part of the new "Star Wars" land opening in 2019, Star Tours – The Adventures Continue will be a part of the "Star Wars"-inspired attractions at Disney, and the new scene from Episode VIII will debut, along with the new film.

You Can Embrace 'Star Wars' Experiences Now

For those who can't wait until the "Star Wars"-themed lands and Star Tours – The Adventures Continue opens, more and more "Star Wars" experiences continue to be added to the Disney parks. In Star Wars Launch Bay, guests can meet Chewbacca, Kylo Ren and an interactive BB-8. And at Disney's Hollywood Studios, you can check out the "Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away" stage show with character appearances from the saga including Rey. In addition, you can catch Captain Phasma leading a march of First Order Stormtroopers throughout the day, or the Jedi Training Academy, which continues to teach younglings the ways of the force.

Dave Parfitt, Contributor

Dave Parfitt is a reformed academic with a PhD in neuroscience, and began writing about his ...  Read more

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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