Another Celebration is in the books, and that means another attendance record. Celebration Orlando attendance was more than 70,000 people, StarWars.com says. That’s up from Anaheim’s 65K in 2015, and double our last Orlando outing in 2012. No wonder things got a bit… Messy. Attendees, look out for the surveys and be sure to fill them out.
We learned before the con that the next Celebration won’t be until 2019 – probably skipping the overseas outings that we had in 2014 and 2016. The leading speculation seems to be that we’ll be headed back to Anaheim, but since we didn’t get a location on Sunday we’ll be left hanging for a while longer. On the plus side, Pablo made a cannon canon.
In the meantime, here are a few other things we learned that I never got around to writing up, because cons are crazy.
Disney has announced when we can start to expect their Star Wars lands to open, and it’s earlier than speculated: 2019! The two parks – at Disneyland in Anaheim and Disney World’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando – are currently under construction.
Twitter had a nice freak-out this afternoon as a ship resembling the Ghost from the Star Wars Rebels cartoon was spotted in a new TV commercial. (There’s more evidence on the Tumblr.) Easter egg? Cameo? Only time will tell.
And that was only one of several new commercials dropped today. Here’s one, and here’s one and here’s one that’s actually on the official site and in high res! Of course it’s the one with the least new footage.
The filename contains the term ‘Delos,’ which jumped out at me – too much Westworld? – but a quick Google search shows it’s a codename that’s been in use for a while regarding the early part of the project, with ‘Atlantis’ being used for the next phase.
Also part of the announcement is news that they’re working on an Episode VIII addition to Star Tours. (Given how much filming was done in Ireland, Ahch-To might be a good bet, but it’s probably far too early for solid guessing.) There’s no mention of Rogue One – and if they were adding something for 2016, we’d probably have heard by now. Given that Star Tours has a rather loose relation to timeline or canon, I wonder if they’re waiting to see how the film is received? Or perhaps until after the events of Rogue One are less spoilery?
LEGOLAND California announced a major addition to their LEGO Star Wars Miniland to open in March 2017. While the Carlsbad theme park currently has Star Wars miniland dioramas representing key scenes from the first six films, as well as a jumbo-sized Death Star model, they are planning a whole set of scenes to build The Force Awakens into their fantastic Miniland style.
Joined at the press conference by a lifesize LEGO R2-D2, LEGOLAND California Resort’s General Manager Peter Ronchetti detailed the plans for The Force Awakens Miniland Model Display at the theme park:
“Right now, at our secret Model Shop in Carlsbad, Master Model Designer Nik Ehm of our Merlin’s Magic Making team is working on creating six scenes that represent the first 30 minutes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” said Ronchetti. “There are two primary focal points – the more traditional character-driven scenes on the planet of Jakku, and an enormous LEGO model of the Star Destroyer Finalizer. At 16-feet long, it will be the longest LEGO Star Wars Miniland model ever created!”
According to the press release, the scenes, which will be in the center of LEGO Star Wars Miniland and feature lights, sound effects and animation that bring the scenes to life, will include:
Kylo Ren’s capture of Poe on Jakku
Rey’s rescue of BB-8
Poe and Finn’s escape from the Finalizer
The wreck of Finn and Poe’s TIE Fighter
Rey, Finn and BB-8’s escape from Niima Outpost
The escape from the Starship Graveyard
The park announced that this new model display will open to the public for their annual LEGO Star Wars Days on March 4-5, 2017, perfect for spring break.
“At LEGOLAND California Resort, we pride ourselves in innovation, creativity and memorable experiences for our millions of guests we see each year and 2017 continues that tradition,” said Ronchetti. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens set records as the top-grossing film nationally of all time and we’re excited to bring it to life here in our popular LEGO Star Wars Miniland!” said Ronchetti.
Other upcoming additions to the LEGO-themed resort in 2017 include an expansion for the LEGOLAND Water Park, called Surfer’s Bay, and the addition of NINJAGO themed rooms and suites to the main hotel, replacing the castle themed rooms, with the plan to open a new separate LEGO Castle themed hotel in 2018, in front of Sea Life Aquarium.
The new The Force Awakens model will be replacing the model currently in the center of LEGO Star Wars Miniland: a large diorama depicting the Battle of Christophsis from 2008’s The Clone Wars animated film. This diorama, which features Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-wan Kenobi and Captain Rex leading clone forces against an army of battle droids and larger weaponry amid the crystalline buildings of Christophsis, is one of the original seven dioramas from when LEGO Star Wars Miniland opened in 2011. I hate to see older exhibits taken down, but a sixteen-foot Star Destroyer towering over the guests will certainly bring a wow factor as a centerpiece to the whole Miniland experience that just isn’t there presently. I’d love to see a built-out Niima Outpost, complete with Unkar Plutt’s shop, and the spaceport, and will be interesting to see how they incorporate a different scale for the spaceship chase dioramas.
While I am certainly looking forward to seeing The Force Awakens brought to LEGO Star Wars miniland, I still feel that there is so much more they could do – after all, there’s Rebels and the LEGO The Freemaker Adventures also to build on, and by the time this opens in 2017, Rogue One will have been released. But I also know that there’s not a lot of real estate in the LEGO Star Wars Miniland area without doing some major surface regrading as the area is terraced on the side of a hill. Hopefully they are planning ahead to where will they put the eventual Episode VIII & IX displays!
Check out the official announcement video for a sneak peek at some of the early renderings of how the new models will appear in Miniland (For just the Star Wars portion of the announcement, watch from 0:19 to 0:49):
The hunt for a new name for my video series is over! Since we mostly focus on the latest in new Star Wars storytelling in TV, films, books, comics, and events, Unboxing Star Wars is now Star Wars Story Talk! Yowie the skunk, Baby Jawa, and I review the latest book for the kid set: Star Wars: ABC-3PO, by Calliope Glass and Caitlin Kennedy, with illustrations by Katie Cook. We also flash back to LEGO Star Wars Days held earlier this month at LEGOLAND California and discuss the new LEGO Star Wars TV series, The Freemaker Adventures. For more details on the LEGOLAND event, check out my article on starwars.com: LEGO Star Wars Days. Plus random fun with a Jawa buddy, and then some Baby Jawa fun time!
→ Star Wars: ABC-3PO – Two thumbs up! Love the Katie Cook illustrations and fun rhymes by Calliope Glass and Caitlin Kennedy. Great for fans whether kids or parents! (For ages 3-5)
→ LEGOLAND California: LEGO Star Wars Days 2016 – A lot of fun! In a year without any new permanent Star Wars additions to Miniland, the park still knows how to make a great Star Wars event with plenty of unique activities including photo ops with costumers from the 501st Legion, Rebel Legion, and Mandalorian Mercs; the really awesome Fan Gallery, showcasing amazing Star Wars-themed builds from LEGO fans; family build, trivia and costume contests; and a bunch of scavenger hunts. Plus sneak preview screenings of the first episode of LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures.
→ LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures. Thumbs up! If you’re a fan of the previous LEGO Star Wars series, this new show on Disney XD will delight! Maybe a little more kid-focused than some of the previous series, it still contains the great mix of Star Wars stories with LEGO humor, and introduces a new set of heroes!
Well, file this under ‘delightful:’ Disney is testing interactive droid characters to roam their parks. Youtuber DAPs Magic (via io9) spotted ‘Jake’ at Disneyland’s Launch Bay, even interacting with exhibits.
Threepio, Artoo and BB-8 are givens for the parks, but the idea of new-to-us droids randomly roaming Star Wars Land? Bring it.
Ground has been broken at both Florida’s Disney World and California’s Disneyland for the so-called Star Wars Lands, Disney has annouced in a blog post. They’re offering a 360-degree look at the Disneyland site.