First announced back in 2015, just before the release of The Force Awakens, Disney has finally confirmed the opening date of their highly-anticipated Star Wars themed lands at Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Orlando.
The new areas in the park will open in 2019, ahead of the release of Star Wars Episode IX, the final chapter of the planned Skywalker Arc and trilogy. Filming for Episode IX, which has yet to be named but is expected out in December 2019, won’t begin until later this year.
News of this development started in 2015, when the company announced that 14 acres at both Disneyland California and Walt Disney World Florida would be cleared for the theme parks. This would make the expansions the largest single-themed park expansions in Disney’s history.
There aren’t a lot more details available yet, but word has gone out that the area will offer an “interactive experience”, where guests can get involved in the new film, as well as the six previous ones. There is currently a Star Wars Launch Bay in the park’s Tomorrowland area, where visitors are able to interact with Star Wars characters, and view film props, screen videos etc.
Disney CEO Bob Iger said, “These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet, including an epic Star Wars adventure”.
Nobody knows yet exactly what rides or experiences they’ll be creating, but Disney has confirmed a battle ride between the Resistance and the First Order, with the setting somewhere on Starkiller Base, from the final moments of The Force Awakens. There’s also talks of a Millennium Falcon experience, and some sort of “boat ride”. The setting for this could be anywhere from Dagobah (Yoda’s swamp-covered home), Endor (home of the Ewoks) or somewhere completely new.
In addition to the Star Wars Launch Bay, Disney opened its first Star Tours attraction in 1987, which was then launched at other Disney parks around the world and was redesigned in 2011 (as “Star Tours: The Adventure Continues”), with more recent additions to fit it into the world of the new trilogy. Star Wars land will differ hugely from this, as Disney builds an entire world around the franchise, home to costumed cast members, restaurants and other attractions that will make the experience fully immersive.
Whilst fans eagerly await the premiere of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi later this year, the new Star Wars Land will open to coincide with the cinematic release of Episode IX. No name for the film title has been released as yet, but we do know that, unless these characters meet an untimely death in The Last Jedi, leading stars Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Adam Driver (Kylo Ren) are expected to return. The film’s producers have addressed the death of Carrie Fisher, and confirmed that they will not use CGI to recreate Princess/General Leia Organa in the new film, although they have said, “We are still hurting from her loss. We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honour everything she gave to Star Wars“.