Ever since The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm – and all that goes with it – last fall, the rumor mill has buzzed with gossip that Star Wars would have a greater presence in Disney’s theme parks. Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris already boast the thrilling, recently updated Star Tours attraction, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando hosts the popular Star Wars Weekends every May and June, where fans from across the galaxy gather to take part in special events and meet the films’ stars and cartoons’ voice over artists. Some kind of Star Wars themed land would be a natural fit at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
As a longtime Star Wars fan, the mere possibility of a Star Wars Land in Florida thrills me infinitely more than the Avatar themed land already in the works at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But can it be that such an ambitious project could become a reality in a few short years? The grapevine is working overtime on this one, and the speculation comes with an interesting amount of detail.
Robert Niles over at Theme Park Insider seems pretty confident in proclaiming a Star Wars Land:
Multiple sources have told me the long-awaited dream of theme park geeks everywhere is actually happening. Disney’s moving ahead with both Cars Land and Star Wars Land at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World.
From what I’m hearing, Cars Land will replace the Lights, Motors, Action auto stunt show as well as Catastrophe Canyon on the southern edge of the park, providing a logical extension to the existing Pixar Place.
So what about Star Wars Land? The logical places for that expansion would be on either side of the existing Star Tours ride. From what I’ve heard, it appears that the expansion would take out the area between Star Tours and the auto stunt show stadium, including the Muppet theater and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids play area. But I’ve also heard of consideration of going in the opposite direction, which would place the new land on the site of the Backlot Express restaurant and Indiana Jones stunt show theater. Given that the Indy theater’s used for several other events throughout the year, and that both the Muppets and Honey I Shrunk the Kids attractions long ago passed the height of their popularity, I’m hearing more forceful arguments for the first option.
This appears to be a five-year project, putting completion in 2018, though Disney could choose to throw money at it and accelerate it by a year.
Star Wars fan blog TheForce.net confirms the buzz, adding an anonymous source:
Speaking of Star Tours, it seems like that attraction will be receiving upgrades as part of the Star Wars land. “Expect to see new levels added to Star Tours and some more interactive attractions, possibly an additional ride,” my Disney source said. However, my source added that “most of the expansion will be environments and character meet-and-greet areas.”