Star Wars lands coming to Disneyland and Disney World; Star Tours update, Launch Bay coming late 2015

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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.”

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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.

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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.

Hyperspace Mountain (only at Disneyland)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.

Star Wars Launch Bay

Star Tours
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.

The Force Awakens news slim on the ground at D23 panel, but there Is a poster!

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The big Star Wars movie news out of D23 may be Colin Trevorrow and Rogue One, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything about The Force Awakens There was an exclusive poster given out featuring Drew Struzan artwork – it’s not the final theatrical poster, but it’s certainly something.

I doubt they’d hire Struzan just for a con exclusive, though, so I expect this is only a portion – or a remix – of the real thing.

We also have the return of Daisy Ridley to social media – Instagram, this time.

Present on the D23 stage were Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Lupita Nyong’o and Harrison Ford. And J.J. Abrams may have said that The Force Awakens is currently 124 minutes long… D23 being D23, and Star Wars being only a small part of the panel, so we heard a bit more out of the press room.

Head under the cut to see the full poster, direct from Struzan himself!

Continue reading “The Force Awakens news slim on the ground at D23 panel, but there Is a poster!”

D23 Expo begins: George Lucas becomes a Disney Legend


Disney’s own convention, D23 Expo, began today in Anaheim, and George Lucas was inducted as an official Disney Legend. (Bonus: Be sure to check your Star Wars app for a George emoji.)

Of course, The Force Awakens has a sizable presence on the con floor, where the highlight may very well be Captain Phasma’s armor.

At least she is today: We can certainly expect something from the live-action panel tomorrow. Our own Mandy will be there! legend

Lucasfilm launches fan art contest; Don’t expect any new The Force Awakens footage at D23

artawakensIn official official news, Lucasfilm has teamed with HP for a fan art competition, Art Awakens. Tumblr has been training for this!

→ With Entertainment Weekly, J.J. Abrams reiterated that we won’t get a new The Force Awakens trailer at D23, or at all until fall. There’ll be no TFA footage at all, “behind the scenes or otherwise,” he said. Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t get something, like another character reveal or a new poster. (Not to mention things regarding the Parks…) And I’d bet actual money is still that we’ll get something for Rogue One.

The Force Awakens scoring sessions are “beyond anything I have experienced musically in my life,” a source tells the John Williams Fan Network.

→ More juice for the theory/hope that Episode VIII will return to film on Skellig Michael at The Star.

→ I won’t be tracking every TFA merchandise leak this month, but here are a few interesting ones: A Micro Machines Millennium Falcon playset, Black Series Finn, Chewbacca and < href="https://twitter.com/Sompeetalay/status/630494610574458880">Kylo Ren and Funko Pop Vinyl figures. My favorite, though, is a lunch bag with some new-to-us Captain Phasma art, which I love because even though she is 100% in armor, the way she’s standing is badass yet makes it absolutely clear that the character is a woman. Men don’t stand like that!

The Force Awakens roundup: Boyega’s topical jogging gear, Weekends merch features new trooper

john_boyega: Leaving the ultra nerd house for a nerd run. #Troophoodie
john_boyega: Leaving the ultra nerd house for a nerd run. #Troophoodie
John Boyega jogs in a stormtrooper hoodie. Stars: They’re just like us. Also, you can get a glimpse of the stormtrooper figure he got Harrison Ford (and it looks like a few others) to sign.

Star Wars Weekends are revving up at Disney World in Orlando, and there’s an Episode VII tee on sale there that actually features the new stormtrooper. It comes in men’s, women’s and kid’s sizes.

→ Rumor corner: What is the green planet? (I have some doubts, due mainly to a certain actor’s flippancy with something else that recently came up, but spoilers. Sigh.) On that note, it appears that TFA’s water scenes may have been filmed in England’s Lake District National Park.

→ Lucasfilm movies will be featured at D23 Expo this year. This obviously isn’t a surprise, and clearly The Force Awakens will be the priority, but it may be the first chance for something to go wide on Rogue One – though D23 is only two weeks after Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation drops on July 31, which could still be cutting it a bit close.

Marvel is not Star Wars – and vice versa

Vader vs. Captain AmericaSo the spate of summer cons where Lucasfilm might announce news related to Episode VII has come and gone, and we’ve gotten some announcements, but nothing mind-blowing. As Dunc said earlier this week, let’s not lose our heads over it. Is it frustrating that Celebration Europe’s big reveal was John Williams, and nothing much came from D23 Expo? Perhaps. Especially when compared to the glut of Marvel movie news that came out at Comic-Con and appearances made at D23. But as film franchises go, Marvel is not Star Wars. And Star Wars is not Marvel.

Continue reading “Marvel is not Star Wars – and vice versa”

When we can expect an Episode VII title announcement and other con season fallout

Steve Sansweet reveals Revenge of the Sith at SDCC '04
Steve Sansweet reveals the Revenge of the Sith title via t-shirt at SDCC ’04.

For those of us who remember the prequel era, perhaps the most puzzling part of fan speculation about Episode VII reveals has been the assumption that a title would be offered this early in the process. Mike Ryan at The Huffington Post has a nice look at Star Wars title announcements – and wonder no more why none of us veterans* are expecting to see a full title before mid-2014.

* I use the term loosely. Look how shitty this post is. I didn’t even use the title. Bad baby blogger.

A few more pieces emerged yesterday about fan expectations in the wake of D23. Germain Lussier at Slashfilm points out in his (occasionally eye-roll worthy) piece on the backlash, part of the issue is that the landscape of movie announcements has changed drastically over the years. Most pointedly, Marvel is giving fans their titles, characters and other tidbits long before they begin filming. On the other hand, Scott Mendelson thinks that Marvel and others actually reveal far too much about their films before they’re out. And even Harrison Ford has spoken out on the trend, saying that if Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark came out today they “would be no fun at all.”

We’re in a holding period for Episode VII right now. We have some varied answers from folks at the top, but with the notoriously secretive J.J. Abrams at the helm we can probably safely predict they won’t be nearly as forthcoming as the Marvel folks. And maybe that’s a good thing. (Or are they just driving us on?) It’s a whole new landscape, and even Lucasfilm is still figuring it out. So again: patience.