We’ve seen drastic changes in the landscape of the franchise and fandom – the sad but ultimately merciful alternate universing of the old Expanded Universe, the cancellation of The Clone Wars, saying farewell to beloved licensees like Dark Horse – but we’re getting not only more films, but theme parks and fresh starts aplenty from Disney, Marvel and Del Rey. Things have changed a lot, but what of it? Sometimes, change is necessary, and I think the last three years prove that – at least so far.
It’s been a trip, and the franchise has reached some crazy highs in that time, a heightened interest from all quarters, a surge that we haven’t seen since The Phantom Menace. Could we be setting ourselves up for disappointment? Even if The Force Awakens is indeed well received, I doubt anything will go completely smoothly, as we’ve already seen some dark undercurrents regarding the changes. But if someone as cynical and jaded as I am can be hopeful, why not?
“I have a huge number of men who call me,” she says. “And tell me how much of a Star Wars fan they are, how much they want to get involved in anything to do with Star Wars. I don’t have a lot of women who call.”
Fortune magazine is honoring Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy as one of their selections for 2015’s Most Powerful Women. (She’s #42.) They’ve published a lengthy profile, which includes the interesting factoid that “more than half of her 18-person executive team, with whom she meets weekly, is female.”
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.