Culture

10 Ideas For How I'd Build a Star Wars Land at Walt Disney World

Filmmaker George Lucas meets "Star Wars"-inspired Disney characters at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida

The rumors of a forthcoming Star Wars land at Walt Disney World keep raising their heads from time to time. So I thought it would be fun to put myself in the Imagineers’ shoes and (to use their term) blue-sky some ideas for a Star Wars land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Here’s what I came up with…

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10. A Mos Eisley Cantina Restaurant

One of the prevailing rumors surrounding a potential Star Wars land at Walt Disney World (and other parks) concerns a restaurant based on the Chalmun’s Cantina at Mos Eisley. A.J. Wolfe over at Disney Food Blog has discussed the idea of a Cantina-based quick service space potentially coming to Disneyland Paris as well as to Orlando.

This idea has a ton of potential. I can picture an animatronic version of the band playing music from the films and dishes themed to the Cantina, along with menu items that conjure up life on Tatooine. Of course, a Walt Disney World Cantina would have to be much more family-oriented than in A New Hope, but I imagine how much fun a Cantina could be for fans of all ages.

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9. An Ewok Village Playground

I was ten years old when Return of the Jedi came out in 1983. At that age, the Ewok Village made a big impression on me. I wanted the chance to play up in the trees like they did – almost like an otherworldly version of the Magic Kingdom’s Swiss Family Treehouse.

Imagine how much fun kids could have playing in an elevated tree village playground! I would fill the playground with interactive activities for kids of all ages – the playground could also house a ropes course type challenge for older kids and teens. I’d even include misting fans for the adults to stand under while they wait for their kids to play a while.

8. Staging Areas For Shows, Meet & Greets, And Interactive Events

During the annual Star Wars Weekends in May and June, Disney sets up stages for shows like the Jedi Training Academy. If I were in charge of Star Wars Land, I would set up permanent staging spaces for a variety of shows and interactive events.

Obviously Disney would make plenty of use of these staging areas during Star Wars Weekends, but throughout the rest of the year, different events could make their home there.

Picture a Coruscant Dance Party with lights and high energy music, or imagine a meet and greet with Darth Vader or Chewbacca. Think of a scaled-down version of the Jedi Training Academy (saving the biggest excitement for Star Wars Weekends, of course) – each one of these events and more would fit perfectly in a designated area within Star Wars Land.

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7. Exhibits Of Memorabilia From The Film Productions

Disney’s Hollywood Studios began 25 years ago as a tribute to – and a look inside – the craft of making movies and television shows. Though the park has drifted from its original purpose, guests can see glimpses of the process from time to time.

In that same spirit, Star Wars Land could feature revolving exhibits of props, memorabilia, concept art, and behind-the-scenes photos and videos from the making of the six existing films, as well as teasers from the upcoming productions.

Guests interested in the magic behind the movies could marvel at treasures from the film sets, and even fans of the cartoon series could enjoy glimpses into the animation process. It’s a unique way to pay tribute to both the Star Wars franchise and the original intent of the park itself.

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6. A “Build Your Own Lightsaber” Experience – For Grown-Up Star Wars Geeks

For our last two trips to Walt Disney World, my niece has saved up her money and dropped about $25 on the Build Your Own Lightsaber at the shop outside of Star Tours. On the other side of the spectrum, the owner of the company where I work goes to DragonCon in Atlanta every year, and this year, he has expressed his desire to purchase a lightsaber this year for about $350. I’ve seen them online for $150 or more, and Amazon sells an “Ultimate Build Your Own Lightsaber Kit” for just over $250.

Star Wars Land should take advantage of this big-toys-for-big-fans action. An enhanced, higher priced custom lightsaber experience for adult fans could generate quite a bit of revenue and create one of a kind memories for the biggest Star Wars fans.

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5. A World of Color Show With A Star Wars Theme On Echo Lake

Knowing that the American Idol Experience and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular are set to close, we can assume that Echo Lake would border the entrance to Star Wars Land. Echo Lake would be a terrific place for a World of Color type of show that could take on a Star Wars theme.

I’m assuming that Disneyland’s Paradise Lagoon is larger than Echo Lake, so the Star Wars World of Color could be a smaller scale show that blends the water and lighting elements with a nighttime parade or stage show to create an experience that amazes fans of all ages. The Imagineers could really let loose on this one and finally bring one of Disneyland’s coolest nighttime shows to Florida.

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4. Immersive Character Interactions

Costumed character interactions are a hallmark of Disney’s theme parks. What regular Disneyland or Walt Disney World traveler doesn’t have a heartwarming memory of meeting his or her favorite character face to face? Star Wars Land could carry on this tradition in fun and entertaining ways.

Picture standing walking between attractions and encountering Stormtroopers on patrol. Imagine walking by comical Jawas or Ewoks or having your picture taken with Darth Vader. (Or how about getting to throw something at Jar Jar Binks?) Disney could include the famous Jedi Mickey and Darth Goofy costumed characters as well.

Like many of the other areas of Walt Disney World, Star Wars Land could provide perfect memory making opportunities with characters in costume.

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3. The Coolest Parade In The Park

Seeing a Walt Disney World parade makes a day in the park even more fun. It’s a chance for the kids to sit down for a while and just watch (maybe even to get the littlest ones to take a nap). A parade in Star Wars Land – that maybe even extends into the rest of the park – would make for tons of mid-afternoon fun.

Picture this scenario: as families gather along the parade route, Stormtroopers and agents of the Empire take over Star Wars Land (or the park as a whole), and it’s up to the brave Rebels to save the day! A parade like that would be fun for kids of all ages: the coolest parade in the park!

2. A Fun Holiday Overlay That Pays Tongue-In-Cheek Tribute To The Past

One of the most notorious moments in the Star Wars canon is the 1978 made-for-TV movie The Star Wars Holiday Special. The film aired only once, but George Lucas distanced himself from it and refused a home video release (yes, I know what you’re thinking – but he allowed Jar-Jar Binks and made all those changes to the original trilogy…).

With Disney in charge of Lucasfilm, it’s finally time to bring the Holiday Special back – this time as an overlay to Star Wars Land in November and December. Since the events of Star Wars take place in another galaxy (where Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Day presumably don’t exist), the overlay could center on the Wookiee holiday of Life Day.

Nothing in Star Wars Land has to be as bad as the television special, but it could pay tongue-in-cheek tribute to this infamous moment in the canon and tie in somehow to the rest of the Christmas magic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

1. The Kids Say, “More Rides!”

I asked my nieces what they thought should be part of a Star Wars Land, and Kenzie, the nine-year-old said unequivocally, “They’ll need a lot more rides because Star Tours is the only one right now!” So the girls and I brainstormed some concepts for more attractions, and they had some great ideas.

The girls suggested a blaster training attraction similar to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and Kenzie suggested that if there were a way to simulate lightsabers instead of blasters, the ride would be even cooler. We came up with a landspeeder thrill ride similar to Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure.

I batted around a few other ideas like some sort of Death Star dark ride and an “open house” walk through of the Millennium Falcon. The possibilities are endless!