Since The Walt Disney Company purchased the rights to the “Star Wars” franchise, it has been finding its way into the theme parks, by way of rides, experiences and entertainment. While “Star Wars” has been a part of Tomorrowland for more than two decades, new updates and interactive experiences have been added, and packaged together as “Season of the Force.” With a built-in fan base and the enormous success of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” park attractions seem a natural fit from a business perspective.
“Star Tours” has been rebooted with guests boarding a Starspeeder 1000 and embarking on an intergalactic voyage to a brand new location. The always-popular indoor rollercoaster has been given a thematic overlay. While riding “HyperSpace Mountain,” “dodge blaster fire as you dash through a raging dogfight between Rebel X-wing starfighters and Imperial TIE fighters.”
“Star Wars: Launch Bay” is filled with replica props, models, costumes and artifacts. Photo opportunities are everywhere! Long gone is Michael Jackson’s 3-D 1980s extravaganza and in its place is a 10-minute film, featuring some of the most exciting scenes from throughout the “Star Wars” saga.
Live performances, character appearances, a variety of culinary treats and a shopper’s paradise add to the “Star Wars” experience.
The popularity of the franchise means that Disney is not stopping at these temporary attractions. In 2015, it was announced that an all-new “Star Wars” Land would be added to Disneyland.
“We are creating a jaw-dropping new world that represents our largest single themed land expansion ever,” says Bob Iger, The Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO. “These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new ‘Star Wars’ planet, including an epic adventure that puts you in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.”
Because Disneyland in Anaheim is pretty much landlocked, removing existing attractions is necessary to create this brand new experience. Permanently closed, as of January 10, is the Big Thunder Ranch area in the rear of the park. This includes the petting zoo,
Jamboree and barbecue. Not to worry; Big Thunder Mountain Railroad will remain open.
Construction will take quite some time, and in the process, several attractions have been temporarily closed. These include the Dave Crockett Explorer Canoes, Sailing Ship Columbia, Mark Twain Riverboat and the Disneyland Railroad. “Fantasmic!” is on hiatus as well. Once construction is finished, the Rivers of America will be permanently altered, the course of the railroad tracks will be changed and the “Pirates Lair” (Tom Sawyer’s Island) is rumored to no longer be open to guests.
Because no opening date has been announced, guests can enjoy “Season of the Force” in the meantime