star wars launch bayAs reported last month during the D23 Expo in Anaheim, Disney will be creating new theme park attractions based on the Star Wars franchise.

Both Disneyland in California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida will feature 14-acre immersive experiences. In California, land along the north side of the park will be repurposed, and some nearby attractions will be “off line” for about a year:

Work to make room for this new land at Disneyland park in California will require the Rivers of America and the Disneyland Railroad to close temporarily. The following will suspend operations at the end of the operating day on January 10:

  • The Disneyland Railroad, including all stations
  • Attractions along the Rivers of America, including:
    • “Fantasmic!”
    • Mark Twain Riverboat and Sailing Ship Columbia
    • Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island
    • Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes

We look forward to all of these attractions reopening in the future.

Elsewhere in Frontierland, Big Thunder Ranch – including Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue, Big Thunder Ranch Petting Farm and Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree – will close permanently at the end of the operating day on January 10.

Meanwhile… [insert Lucas wipe here] Disney will open “Season of the Force”, a group of various experiences in Tomorrowland. The former Innoventions building will be converted into the Tomorrowland Expo Center, AKA “Geek Central”, as it will host the Star Wars Launch Bay as well as “Superhero HQ”, where guests can their favorite Avengers.

Here are the details for Disneyland:

Disney Star wars concept

  • Star Wars Launch Bay – This new area will offer opportunities to visit with favorite Star Wars characters, special exhibits, peeks at the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens and much more.
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue – This popular attraction will feature a new scene inspired by the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
  • Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple – Coming in December, a twist on the Jedi Training experience will introduce new characters and a new villain from the popular Disney XD series, Star Wars Rebels.
  • Hyperspace Mountain – For a limited time, guests will join an X-wing starfighter battle in this reimagining of the classic Space Mountain attraction.
  • Other limited-time experiences include:
    • An opportunity to revisit favorite scenes from classic Star Wars films at Tomorrowland Theater.
    • Special themed food and beverage, merchandise and entertainment.

The Tomorrowland Theater recently housed Captain EO. Basically, Tomorrowland is being rebranded as “Star Wars Central”, given that the Theater, Space Mountain, and half of Innoventions will carry the theme, along with the recently updated Star Tours ride. That leaves a few Buzz Lightyear attractions remaining nearby, and Autopia and Nemo further north.

No word yet on what will be in the Superhero HQ level of the Expo Center.  Disney is developing an Iron Man simulator for Hong Kong Disneyland. It is similar to Star Tours… guests board the “Iron Wing” shuttle, for a tour of Hong Kong and Stark’s new skyscraper, but end up in the middle of an attack by Hydra.

I would not be surprised if Disney announces a Marvel “Land” at Disneyland in the next few years. Autopia, which isn’t really futuristic, takes up a lot of real estate, about the same size as the space planned for Star Wars. The monorail track could be simplified, Star Tours could be refitted to Iron Man,  and Buzz could join his friends over in California Adventure.

Even more likely: Disney uses the backlot south of the Twilight Zone attraction for more Pixar attractions. Cars Land is already successful, and there is a smaller Bug’s Life zone nearby.


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