On day 2 of the D23 Expo, Bob Iger made the much rumored announcement that Disney Parks and Resorts will be expanding Disneyland in Anaheim, California to create one of two Star Wars Lands with the other being built at The Hollywood Studios Park at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. This announcement came as part of the Disney Studios Presentation early in the day.
“I am thrilled to announce the next chapter in the long and exciting history between Disney Parks and Star Wars,” said Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company. “We are creating a jaw-dropping new world that represents our largest single themed land expansion ever. These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet, including an epic Star Wars adventure that puts you in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.”
Star Wars Land at Disneyland will take over 14-acres which includes the Big Thunder Ranch area and some backstage, employee only, sections.
Star Wars Land will be based on an entirely new planet destination, perhaps one which will be introduced in the upcoming trilogy Disney is currently working on. Guests will be able to visit places such as a cantina and sample drinks such as “blue milk”.
Disney was quiet on a timeline for any of the Star Wars announcements, and if recent Disney Parks construction projects are any indicator guests wont be visiting the world of Star Wars anytime soon. For example, Cars Land at Disney California Adventure was announced in 2007, construction began in 2009, and the immersive land finally opened the summer of 2012. The same is holding true for the current Avatar project. “Pandora: The World of Avatar” was announced in 2011, construction began in 2014 and, if everything stays on track, will open in 2017.
Disney obviously realizes this, and together with the excitement of the new trilogy films coming out starting this year with The Force Awakens, a few updates will be coming to existing attractions at Disneyland in a much more timely manor. Disneyland has plans to bring updates to the Jedi Training Academy and to the newly relaunched Star Tours. Guests will be able to embark on a new Star Tours adventure, which will be added to the current random destinations, soon. Also coming to Walt Disney World and Disneyland, “Seasons of the Force”. As described by Bob Chapek, Chairman of Parks and Resorts, during the Parks and Resorts Presentation, Seasons of the Force will be an expansion on the already popular Star Wars Weekends currently held each year at Walt Disney World. When this seasonal event makes it way to Disneyland beginning in 2016 a new overlay to Space Mountain will await them. Hyperspace Mountain will essentially be a projection and musical overlay to the popular dark, spaceflight inspired roller coster.
Hyperspace Mountain will be part of “Seasons of the Force” beginning in 2016 at Disneyland. Photo: Bryan Pugh Star Tours: The Adventures Continue will also be updated soon to reflect new destinations. Photo: Bryan Pugh
The big question as to what has been happening over at Innoventions was also answered. Star Wars Launch Bay will contain interactive stations, exhibits and will serve as a Star Wars character meet and greet. The second level of Innoventions will continue to host Marvel.
Star Wars Launch Bay will take over Innoventions as a new meet and greet area inside Tomorrowland at Disneyland.
Star Wars Launch Bay Announcement at the 2015 D23 Expo. Photo: Bryan Pugh Star Wars Launch Bay Announcement during the Parks and Resorts Presentation at the 2015 D23 Expo. Photo: Bryan Pugh Star Wars Launch Bay Concept Art. © Disney