While winter brings the cold across much of the U.S., southern California stays snow-free near the coast – except at LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad. The theme park puts on its annual winter celebration, Holiday Snow Days and Winter Nights, and Baby Jawa, Grandma Jawa and I got the opportunity to check it out. This was a big treat for baby girl as it was her first time in the snow! Plus we got a chance to see Star Wars miniland and the rest of the park.
Between Wired’s J.J. Abrams interview, Entertainment Weekly and all those TV spots, we seem to have officially entered the “faster, more intense” phrase of The Force Awakens marketing. (No, you haven’t seen too much, calm down.) Here’s some stuff that got sidelined:
→ Settle your bets: The crossguard blades on Kylo Ren’s lightsaber “are raw power vented from the primary central blade,” per the description on display at Disneyland’s Star Wars Launch Bay. (IGN has a tour.) We already knew he built it himself, but the design is “ancient.” (via Reddit)
→ Speaking of Kylo, we haven’t seen much of Adam Driver lately, but he did tell Vulture that he found SDCC to be “intense” and “surprisingly moving.”
→ The Force Awakens is skipping some early award shows, says The Wrap, but the only one here you may have heard of is the Screen Actors Guild Awards. It will be out in time for consideration for the Academy Awards.
→ Variety says there was indeed new music from The Force Awakens in the Shondaland spot.
And in other movies…
→ Could Episode VIII return to Ireland? We know they’ve already shot on Skellig Michael, RTE thinks they’re looking at another location in County Kerry as well.
→ Jedi News claims to have the codename for Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s Han Solo spinoff.
Well, it’s finally official: Star Wars Weekends are no more. The event first appeared in 1997, continued in 2000 and 2001 and has been held annually over several weekends in May and June since 2003 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. But with the park soon to undergo expansion – and a whole Star Wars area – the retirement is completely understandable.
Speaking of new stuff, Star Tours is getting a new addition: Jakku. If you go on the ride during “the opening months,” you’re guaranteed to get it; After that, it goes in the randomizer. There’s also a “reimagined Jedi Training experience” that will feature both Darth Vader and the Seventh Sister from Rebels. All this, plus the Launch Bay with The Force Awakens exhibits, will debut on December 1.
MouseHub got hold of the permits for the upcoming expansions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando. They show that construction is set to begin in January to finish in October 2018 – though people more versed in Disney than I say this might only be for the basic expansion and new entrance.
The Disney Parks blog has announced the starting date for Seasons of the Force at Disneyland: November 16. Star Tours will get a new scene inspired by The Force Awakens (probably Jakku) and the Star Wars Launch Bay will open. This will also see the limited-time reskinning of Space Mountain as Hyperspace Mountain and a new version of Jedi Training that will incorporate Rebels characters.
There will also be “an opportunity to revisit favorite scenes from classic Star Wars films,” which sounds like there’ll be no special The Force Awakens preview at at Tomorrowland Theater.
Details for the version at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando are forthcoming, but I expect most of this (except Hyperspace Mountain) will be doubled there.
WDW News Today reports that Disney World’s Hollywood Studios may be retiring the popular Star Wars Weekends in 2016. The report does seem a tad premature, the additional permanent stuff (aka Star Wars Land) being several years off. And the Seasons of the Force event (which is also happening, in slightly different form, at Disneyland, is expected in “early 2016,” which doesn’t exactly scream Weekends rebranding.
Star Wars Weekends are currently on the schedule for summer 2016. However, we also expect construction to begin next year on the Star Wars expansion, and that I can certainly see throwing a wrench into the tradition.
However, another thing to consider – the sheer popularity of Star Wars right now. We’ve already seen record numbers for Celebration – is Hollywood Studios seeing higher numbers as well? Do they expect not to need Weekends to draw extra attendance after The Force Awakens?
Disney COO Tom Staggs said in a talk today that construction will begin on the new Star Wars-themed areas in Orlando and Anaheim next year, per The Hollywood Reporter. Opening dates for the expansions in Disneyland and at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios have not yet been announced, but fans estimate 2020 at the very earliest.
Both parks, in addition to incorporating the existing Star Tours ride, will have a Millennium Falcon attraction and a cantina, Disney said last month.
During Disney’s biennial D23 Expo, Bob Iger stormed the stage to the tune of John Williams’ titular Imperial March to deliver arguably the biggest news of the Worlds, Galaxies, and Universes: Live Action at The Walt Disney Studios panel: Dual, 14-acre themed Star Wars lands in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida and the Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California.
From the official press release: “I am thrilled to announce the next chapter in the long and exciting history between Disney Parks and Star Wars,” said Iger. “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.”
A true collaboration between Disney Imagineering, ILM, and Lucasfilm, the Star Wars land will be a truly immersive and authentic experience. Both lands will feature two signature attractions, one of which is piloting the Millennium Falcon on a clandestine mission. Iger stressed that every element would feel as if you were a part of the world: restaurants, storefronts, and entertainment would all feature galactic characters for an authentic interactive experience.
And yes, there’s going to be a cantina.
Later Saturday, during D23 Expo’s Parks and Resorts panel, additional details on the recently announced Star Wars Land were revealed along with more immediate changes coming to the domestic parks towards the end of this year.
Season of the Force
Season of the Force will be a limited-time, seasonal event in 2016 at both Disney World and the Disneyland, bringing new Star Wars experiences to both parks. At Tomorrowland in Disneyland, guests will have an opportunity to partake of Star Wars-themed entertainment, food and beverages, and new merchandise. The popular Space Mountain coaster will be turned into Hyperspace Mountain with a temporary Star Wars layover in which you’ll get to experience a high-octane X-Wing battle. On the other side of the country, guests of Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be treated to a new fireworks spectacular set to John Williams’ memorable Star Wars scores.
Star Wars Launch Bay
Also at both parks will be the newly created Star Wars Launch Bay that will be located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. The Launch Bay will be a hub for interactive experiences for guests that want to learn more about The Force Awakens, as well as an opportunity to purchase special merchandise and food. It’s expected to open late this year.
The ever-popular Star Tours: The Adventure Continues will see a new update later this year in both U.S. parks. (Information on the update availability coming to the international parks is currently unknown.) The anticipated updates will be include locations and characters from The Force Awakens.
At this point, the Star Wars invasion is real and it’s happening. I’ll see you all in the pit.
We heard the other day that Disneyland wants $1 billion for upgrades that will presumably include something Star Wars, but on the other side of the country it’s $3 billion worth of changes for Hollywood Studios in Orlando. According to Billy Donnelly (via) it’s for a pretty dramatic makeover that includes Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Pixar.
One addition? A Dagobah makeover for Echo Lake. How very Florida!
Details – and an official announcement – are expected at D23 in August.