When most folks think of Star Wars at Disneyland Resort in California, they think of the Star Tours ride, and maybe also the Star Trader shop and the Jedi Training show for children. But now, Star Wars has fully invaded Tomorrowland during the Season of the Force event. I got a chance to bring the whole Jawa family to Disneyland to experience Season of the Force as well as some of the other holiday festivities at the Park.
Season of the Force brings Star Wars to nearly all parts of Tomorrowland, with Space Mountain transformed into Hyperspace Mountain, Launch Bay bringing a variety of Star Wars experiences, a new Star Tours adventure inspired by The Force Awakens, and a film experience tying the saga together as a lead-in for the new movie. Plus there’s changes to the Jedi Training Show and of course, Star Wars-themed food and drink options, and even more merchandise. Season of the Force started in mid-November, but why not check it out for the holiday season.
Hyperspace Mountain takes the classic Space Mountain dark roller coaster and kicks it up with dogfights between X-wings and TIE Fighters as you join the fight against a Star Destroyer over Jakku. The old launch tunnel is now a trip through hyperspace as you climb up to the top to start the ride, with plenty of Star Wars music and Rebel radio chatter and sound effects. It was pretty awesome, and a great addition to one of the most thrilling rides at Disneyland Park. Get a Fast Pass for this as soon as you can!
Star Tours: The Adventures Continue gets a small update with the addition of Jakku to the list of planets being visited. During Season of the Force, all trips aboard the motion simulator will have Jakku as their first of two destinations. There’s even an appearance by John Boyega as Finn and a message from BB-8 about the Rebel spy. Jakku has scenes that feel right out of the trailer, with the Millennium Falcon diving around wrecked hulls of Star Destroyers, avoiding TIE Fighters, as well as a close encounter with some of the denizens of the planet.
Plus it seems that the Naboo visit has a new ending! Both Naboo visits are in the random rotation – Mrs. Jawa got the original ending when she rode Star Tours, while I got the new ending later in the day. It seems that Coruscant also has a changed ending as well.
Path of the Jedi is a film experience in the old Captain EO theater. It retells the Star Wars saga as the journey of Luke Skywalker on his way to become a Jedi, with plenty of flashbacks to the prequel trilogy and finishing with some clips of The Force Awakens. With a rumbling floor, wind and light effects, it is more than just a ten-minute film leading into the newest film, and it brings new arrangements to some classic scenes, with some neat composition of various Star Wars music with the clips. It does pretty much sum up (spoil!) the entire saga so far, so be warned if bringing along someone who hasn’t seen the films. It was Baby Jawa’s first movie experience, and now she’s been spoiled on the whole thing.
Star Wars Launch Bay is the ground floor of the old Innovations/Carousel of Progress/America Sings space – the Marvel Superhero HQ is the upper floor, and you can connect once inside. Launch Bay has a variety of different things to do. There’s a short film highlighting what Star Wars is and what is current and to come from Disney and Lucasfilm in the next few years: TFA, Rogue One, Rebels, Star Wars Land. The film has lots of interview bits with the creators of Star Wars: Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, Gareth Edwards, and several members of the Story Group. There’s also an exhibit of ship models and pilot costumes, a cantina set where you can pose for pictures at the bar, and a place to try out Disney Infinity with Star Wars characters. There are photo ops with Chewbacca and Darth Vader, and in those queue areas, they have helmet and lightsaber prop displays. Finally, there’s a store with the high end Star Wars merchandise and the ability to make custom phone cases.
On the food side, we joined up with Bryan and Dartanian for lunch at Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port. They have a handful of Star Wars-themed food items, including a Dark Side Chicken Curry Pizza, Forest of Endor pasta, and Fields of Naboo salad. They also stock the BB-8 sipper souvenir cups, and a few Star Wars desserts like BB-8 rice crispy treat. Also in Tomorrowland, the Galactic Grill serves up Dark Side and Light Side burgers and such. Carts offer the usual treats with souvenir collectible containers, like the Wookiee stein and TIE Fighter popcorn bucket. And of course the stores have all sorts of Star Wars apparel, toys, and more.
Elsewhere in the Park, the usual holiday makeovers have hit the different lands. Decorations are up across the park, and several rides are transformed for the season. This was the first time I had gotten a chance to check out The Nightmare Before Christmas version of the Haunted Mansion. I was expecting just simple elements added to the classic ride, but I was surprised by how much they had added and changed to the ride. It turned an attraction that I always felt kinda meh about into something much cooler, and I’m not even that big of a fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Plus the outside of the Haunted Mansion is also decorated up as well!
Other attractions that get the holiday treatment include It’s a Small World and the Jungle Cruise. The Jungle Cruise is one of my favorite things to do at Disneyland, and I had really hoped to check out its holiday version, the Jingle Cruise, but alas, time was not on our side. The Park was really, really crowded that day as it was a Saturday in December and they were having their annual Christmas choir that evening and it was Walt Disney’s birthday. By mid-afternoon, they were routing pedestrians from the center of the park one-way into Frontierland and one-way out of Adventureland. I’ve never seen it that crowded!
Season of the Force is temporary, but no end date has been announced yet. The 2015 holiday season at Disneyland Resort runs through January 6, 2016.
NOTE: Disneyland Resort provided complimentary admission passes, parking, and selected Fast Passes. Special arrangements were made to visit key Season of the Force attractions.