After years of planning and consultation it looks like Star Wars Land is starting to create it’s foot print. With the recent announcements that Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular will be closing at the end of 2014 and American Idol Experience rounding up at the end of August 2014, there will be a very empty feel to the park. These 2 attraction closing separately wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow, but together it suggested there was a much bigger plan about to be revealed. Bob Iger recently mentioned that there would be a bigger presence of Star wars in the parks, but with out saying Star Wars Land his interview declared nothing.
Closing to make way for Star Wars Land
The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular has been on site since Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened in 1989. The attraction was only intended to be open around 3 – 5 years and has been rumoured to be closing for a long period now. Older suggestions have been for a Indiana Jones ride similar to Anaheim.
The American Idol Experience closing down is not great surprise either as the concept for the show, although popular was coming to the end of it’s trend. Reality TV making celebrity careers have been done to death now and some of the idol winners never seem to see the light 6 weeks later. Just like “Who wants to be a millionaire”, they were popular across the nation at first, but the excitement dies off. Oh and combine that with Disney having to pay licensing fees to the owners probably had an impact.
The area available for Star Wars Land.
So, we’re looking at the Echo Lake area of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This Eastern corner of the park already houses the popular Star Tours (yellow) attraction that received a major overhaul recently. The American Idol Experience and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular are in the red zones to make they are closing. One attraction that hasn’t been mentioned that much is Sounds Dangerous, which only operates seasonally, so we’ll assume it is closing too (without much fanfare). The only remaining buildings with in the blue zone are Backlot express, Min and Bills Dock Side Diner and Dinosaur Gertie’s Ice Cream of Extinction. I would say that Min and Bill’s would remain in place as part of the buffer zone between lands. Their Merchant vessel wouldn’t look out of place with other transportation craft in the background and it helps block the view beyond it for aesthetics.
In terms of any visibility that could occur from Hollywood Boulevard, well that would be perfect. As the architecture style of California Crazy is employed in several areas, so seeing a space rocket would fit with that story.
To make this area comparable to other parts. The Star Wars Land zone is about the same size as Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom.
Would the Plans include taking out the very popular 50’s Prime Time Diner?? Hopefully not!
Star Wars Market Research
In March 2013 Ken Layne tweeted some screen grabs of a survey he was partaking in. Although the Question was focused upon Disneyland Resort, the data was useful for other parks. In fact other data sampling showed that DIsneyland Paris was another hot spot for a Star Wars Land expansion. One piece of advice I will add that if you ever spot market research going on in the parks it is always fun and sometime eye opening to find out what they are asking.
Star Wars at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Many concept images have been around for a long time. Disney are always playing around with ideas at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as part of their Star Wars Weekends. Above you can see an X-Wing crashed into Echo Lake, With the pilot clearly shouting “One day all this will be mine!”
At Disneyland Paris, Tomorrowland was going to originally be more George Lucas inspired instead of Jules Verne. Here are 2 concept artworks by imagineer Tim Delaney.
Something different this way comes!
So we have a new land coming what sort of attractions are you looking for. A ride system that is different. We’re assuming a ride, as Disney’s Hollywood Studios is lacking in rides. We could have a speeder bike chase on a Test Track ride system, but that has been used on Test Track. We could have a simulator ride, but that is in Star Tours already. What about just movie props and scenery to pose in front of for photos… boring.
Jonathan Gordon has created a fun concept for an attraction that would fit in really well with Star Wars. Unfortunately he has patented it and Disney like to create their own ride concepts. The concept that Gordon Rides has created is a Waring coaster. We’re talking multiple coasters with laser gun toting riders. Imagine soaring through a flying battle scene shooting at the enemy’s coaster and totting up points for the Rebel Alliance.
Ride vehicles would probably need amending as there would be more carriage than seating capacity.
Below you can see a ride layout across the top labeled main trench would be a scene similar to the Death Star Trench as you swoop low and near physical objects as well as the enemy.
Is this Disney’s Answer to Harry Potter?
Yes. To put it briefly. Harry potter has taken the theme park world by storm and Universal have done an amazing job at delivering above the guests expectations. New ride systems, merchandise, food offerings and a massive immersive experience. Harry potter has also had a huge following outside of the theme park world. Disney has purchased several comparable franchises and struck deals to try and offer a better creation, but general feedback seems to suggest it hasn’t inspired as mush as it could have. Star Wars on the other hand is already a hugely popular franchise that packs out the park every year. Star Wars has a following of collectors from decades back, who have passed on their love of the films to their children. The following of Star Wars is possibly much bigger that the Harry Potter following will ever be. Which, if pulled off correctly the Star Wars Land expansion will be a major home run.