Let us begin with what is known for certain. There will be a Star Wars park coming to Disney World, It will be in Hollywood Studios, and they are set to break ground in 2016. That is all we know for certain. The rest of this post is pure speculation based largely on what I want to see, and on educated guesses.
How will Disney begin the epic task of recreating and translating the vast expanse of the Star Wars universe into a theme park? That is the question. How will Disney magic be used to make us feel as if we are visiting the many worlds and space ships seen in the movie?
If there is one lesson learned from Hollywood Studios, it is that merely feeling as if you are walking through a set is not enough to keep people interested in a park. The Streets of New York section of Hollywood Studios has long considered to be a waste of space, it is one area I feel fairly confident will be replaced in the near future. Naturally the new Star Wars expansion needs to have a lot more to offer then simply walking through recreations of the set. We need to examine not only what Star Wars planets could be recreated in terms of style, but also in terms of what entertainment they will offer.
The pre-existing Star Wars area in Hollywood Studios seems like a natural place to begin thinking about what will happen to the park, as it will no doubt be integrated into the new Star wars area. Disney has a long history of reusing, and reintegrating old rides into new attractions.
We will begin with examening the Star Tours ride
If you look at the outside of the ride it seems to be themed as if it were part of the forest moon of Endor..
The moon of Endor seems like a natural area of the park to expand on. Because it is the home of the Ewoks. Love them or hate them Ewoks were largely created to appeal to children, and Disney is nothing if not kid friendly. The tree-house villages of the Ewoks would make a natural play area for children. With the popularity Honey I Shrunk the Kids waning, I would not be surprised if they set up a Star Wars play area and an Ewok village would be perfect. I also have no problem imagining some sort of character meet and greet for these little guys.
However, an Ewok meet and greet comes with some inherent problems. First there is the task of finding enough little people willing to wear a fur suit in the Florida heat. And, then sadly there is another problem, the park guests themselves. I know someone who works with characters at Disney and they have told me some horror stories about how people treat the costumed characters. I can only imagine problems of roughhousing will be amplified if you have people of small stature that could easily be picked up. All the same The Forest Moon of Endor seems like a natural spot for Disney to expand on, and I have a hard time believing they won’t at least try to have some adorable Ewoks running around.
The other existing Star Wars Structure is Tatooine Traders the Star Wars gift shop at the exit to the Star Tours Ride
That is clearly modeled after Luke Skywalkers home planet for Tatooine. It is a planet that gets a lot of screen time in the movies, and it’s an area that I can’t imagine Disney passing on. The planet has unique architecture, and I have no doubt that imagineers could recreate. Though many of us like to pretend that Episode I never happened, pod racing is something that would naturally lend itself to a thrill ride. One of the most beloved scenes on Star Wars takes place on the pirate city of Mos Eisley. Many nerds like myself have always dreamed about being able to go and sit in that strange alien cantina. Disney would be foolish not to recreate it in the Star Wars expansion, especially as they already have a little bit of Tatooine.
Han Shot First, never forget it.
This brings us to the question of what else will be brought to the new Star Wars land. Disney has announced that they are getting rid of the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, replacing that show with a Star Wars themed stunt show seems like a natural choice. What fan wouldn’t want to see a well choreographed light saber battle live? They could even have some wire work rigged up so that stuntmen (and women) could look like they have been thrown backwards by the force? A theme park that celebrates movies and how they are made needs a good stunt show, and based on the layout of the park the stunt show seems like a natural place to expand into.
See Star Wars and Indiana Jones are already neighbors.
What else is needed, and wanted in the new Star Wars Expansion? There is no question that the Star Wars Expansion is being built in part to compete with the Harry Potter park at Universal. I think it would be very smart if Disney created some elements to rival the Olivander’s Shop experience, and the interactive wands. Interactive experiences really seem to be the newest and one of the most exciting things happening in theme parks. Look at the success of Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom and Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure. If all of my wildest dreams come true Disney will sell interactive light sabers which allow you to enter into training exercises and battles on video screens strategically placed around the park. Hollywood Studios is currently lacking an interactive element, and the Star Wars universe seems like a natural place to have this interactive element. But of course this is just me being an armchair engineer.
What I do feel fairly confident on however is that there will have to be some sort of expansion of the Jedi Academy, and that it will have more interactive elements and special effects then the current stage show. I also would be surprised if the Jedi Academy did not expand to include a Jedi/Alien makeover similar to The Pirate League. If universal allows it’s guests to experience the magic of finding out they are a wizard, Disney would be foolish not give guests an experience where they find out that they are connected to the Force.
Another element I would like to see is a traditional Disney dark ride. A dark ride would probably be the best way to simulate being in space. If they design the various cars of the ride to look like space craft from the film it would make for an amazing photo opportunity. But where to house such a ride? Naturally they could make the entrance some sort of rebel military base where one enters into a large hanger and gets on a ride housed in the back, however I want to offer up a different and more interesting possibility Death Star. That’s right people, I want Disney to build the freaking Death Star. Now that they taken away the Sorcerers Hat Hollywood Studios needs a new symbol, and while I would agree that it’s a little too close to the Epcot ball it would be a great symbol for the park.
But Unofficial Princess you say, that is supposed to be floating out in space it would look silly sitting in the middle of a park. No Dear Reader, if you remember the Death Star got shot down. It could be rebel base built from the smoldering remains of the crashed Death Star, that way you can walk though the cold industrial hallways of the Death Star, go down an elevator/trash compactor and still have a plausible story line for how you went there and ended up being launched into space. Spaceship Earth has proven the be a very effective ride, creating another ride inside a sphere would be pretty amazing.
There are so many words seen in the Star Wars universe that it would be impossible to fit all of them. Especially as Disney will no doubt want to incorporate aspects from the new movies which have yet to come out. It will be very interesting to see how this new expansion develops, and I for one am very excited.
Again I want to stress, everything in this post has been a combination of heartfelt wishes and educated guesses. I do not work for Disney, but on the off chance anyone from Disney is reading this I would love to work for you.
Before I go, I offer one last prediction. I am betting my pirate Mickey Ears that the ground breaking for the new Star Wars Expansion will take place on May the Fourth. And this Dear Reader is where I leave you. Let me know what you would like to see in the new Star Wars expansion, and may the Force be with you.