Disney raised even more questions than it answered with the recent release of concept art for the new "Star Wars" lands at Disneyland in Anaheim and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Fla.
Here’s what we know so far: The new lands will feature two attractions set in a remote frontier town on the outer rim of the “Star Wars” galaxy. While no opening dates have been set, construction has begun at both parks. A new “Star Wars” Season of the Force annual event is currently running in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland while Disney’s Hollywood Studios has added a “Star Wars” fireworks spectacular.
Theme park concept art is notoriously misleading and is often more inspirational than factual. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at what Disney has revealed so far about Star Wars Land and the questions that remain.
1. Will I be able to fly the Millennium Falcon?
The Millennium Falcon attraction will let riders take the controls of Han Solo’s iconic spaceship as they embark on a secret mission with multiple story lines. The simulator ride is expected to be a next-generation version of Star Tours.
Concept art shows a full-sized Corellian YT-1300 light freighter docked in a Mos Eisley-like spaceport with exhaust spewing from the fastest ship in the galaxy.
A brief point-of-view video shows riders peering through a gun turret at a raging battle underway in a flaming city. The ride banks left and right as the ship’s cannons fire laser blasts.
But the concept art raises as many questions as it answers. Can visitors walk through the Millennium Falcon before boarding the ride? Will Han Solo and Chewbacca pose for photos and sign autographs?
2. Will there be a ride based on the latest movie trilogy?
The First Order dark ride puts riders in the middle of a battle in a “race against time” to aid the Resistance.
Concept art shows First Order Stormtroopers on the upper deck of a spaceship hangar shooting at passengers in a dark-ride vehicle that looks reminiscent of Universal’s Transformers: The Ride.
But there's a lot we still don't know. Can riders shoot back at the Stormtroopers? Will the attraction feature domed projection screens like many of Universal’s newest dark rides?
3. What kind of food do they eat in outer space?
There isn’t much to eat in the “Star Wars” movies beyond the blue drink Luke downs in the first film. The expanded universe in the “Star Wars” novels offers additional delicacies, but they don’t sound too appetizing.
The new themed land will include an upscale “dinner club” where the galaxy’s fashionable and powerful gather.
Concept art shows a multilevel restaurant dressed in greens and gold built around a central focal point. Onion-shaped lava lamps dot the dimly lighted dining room. An audio-animatronic C-3PO surveys the restaurant.
Disneyland has been offering “Star Wars”-inspired food in Tomorrowland during the ongoing Season of the Force event that includes burgers, drinks and desserts in themed collectible containers. But the new themed restaurant looks more like Carthay Circle at Disney California Adventure than a burger stand in Tomorrowland.
What will the high-end restaurant serve? How hard will it be to get a seat?
4. Will Disney serve booze in the cantina?
The new land will feature a local tavern for the “truly adventurous” that has a similar atmosphere to the Mos Eisley cantina where Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi met Han Solo and Chewbacca on Tatooine. There’s no word yet if the alien band has been booked for a standing gig.
Concept art shows a mermaid-like alien swimming in a fish tank behind a circular bar. A blue bartender serves unfriendly patrons who include a cyclops with laser-like goggles and a hammerhead shark-like scoundrel. A selection of colorful concoctions are arrayed on the bar.
A second sketch shows a quieter area where droids serve cocktails in tall glasses to customers relaxing in low-slung seats.
Disneyland famously does not serve alcohol (outside of the private Club 33). Expect the cantina in Star Wars Land to serve non-alcoholic drinks.
Will the cantina serve droids? Can you get a Tatooine Sunburn or a Reactor Core?
5. What can you find in the marketplace?
The retail shops and food stands in the street market will sell story-specific merchandise and otherworldly delicacies.
The stores and kiosks will be operated by “local inhabitants” to ensure nothing in the land strays from the “Star Wars” mythology. Expect Disney to strive for a level of immersion found in rival Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Red and orange canopies strung between sandstone buildings will help shield the Middle East-inspired outdoor market on the outer rim of galaxy from the rest of Disneyland.
Concept art shows women carrying baskets on their heads and merchants selling futuristic pots, rugs, fruits and grilled foods from their small shops.
The interior of one shop looks more like a high-ceilinged temple than a retail outlet. Female mannequins in glamorous attire stand next to display cases filled with jewelry as black-hooded salespeople in black-hooded robes wait behind the counter.
Will the crowds swamp the tight confines of the marketplace? Does Watto’s salvage shop have a spare hyperdrive generator?
6. Can I take a picture with C-3PO and R2-D2?
Expect to find lots of character meet-and-greet photograph and autograph opportunities throughout Star Wars Land as well as "atmosphere talent" like strolling musicians.
Concept art clearly shows C-3PO, R2-D2, Princess Leia, Boba Fett and Han Solo mingling throughout the land along with rebel pilots, droids and aliens. There’s even a hint of the alien band members from the Mos Eisley cantina.
In one scene, First Order Stormtroopers run through the marketplace with guns drawn as droids and shopkeepers duck out of the way. In another, the ever-watchful Stormtroopers keep an eye on the townspeople from a rooftop perch.
The most curious piece of concept art shows a 20-foot-tall tusked woolly mammoth-like creature giving rides to visitors.
Will I really get to ride on an alien creature? Should I be concerned about all the armed Stormtroopers?
7. What will the new land look like?
Star Wars Land will be set in a remote frontier town on the outer rim of the “Star Wars” galaxy rather than on a familiar planet like Coruscant, Tatooine or Hoth.
Concept art shows rock formations with buildings built into the cliffs. Cylindrical buildings with mushroom rooftops and space-age antennae dot the valley floor.
At a First Order compound, Stormtroopers guard a folding-wing spaceship that looks eerily similar to Kylo Ren’s command shuttle. In another scene, rebel pilots prepare an X-wing fighter amid stacks of supplies at a Resistance compound.
8. When will “Star Wars” land open?
Construction has only recently begun at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the twin “Star Wars” lands. Don’t expect to see either open anytime soon.
Most industry watchers expect the new lands to open in 2018 or 2019. Projects of this size typically take 18 to 24 months to complete.
So why announce the new land so early? One reason: To blunt enthusiasm for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood.
> Sign-up for our weekly In the Loop theme park newsletter