We have some good news and some bad news for Disneyland fanatics that happen to be ‘Star Wars’ fans. Earlier this summer, we learned that a galaxy far, far away would be coming to Disney Parks in big way when a 14-acre ‘Star Wars’ expansion lands at Disneyland in California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. It was also revealed that the iconic theme parks would welcome a limited time event in 2016 called ‘Season of the Force’, which would see the addition of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ to Star Tours, a new overlay for Space Mountain, and an interactive exhibit called Star Wars Launch Bay. And though we heard that construction isn’t meant to begin until later next year, it turns out that things may work out differently at the Anaheim park as the Tomorrowland additions are coming in November and some closures in other parts of Disneyland will happen sooner rather than later.
First, we’ll get into the bad news. While Halloween, Christmas, and the 60th Anniversary are enough reasons to get out to Disneyland this year, you may want to make sure your trip falls before January 10, 2016. On that day, a number of attractions will be closed to accommodate the construction of Star Wars Land, some of them permanently. Among the temporarily closed attractions will be The Disneyland Railroad and all four of its stations, ‘Fantasmic!’, the Rivers of America watercraft like the Mark Twain Riverboat, Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, and the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes. MousePlanet says that there’s no timetable for when everything will reopen, but the closures are expected to last for more than a year. On the flip side, Big Thunder Ranch in Frontierland (which includes Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue, Big Thunder Ranch Petting Farm, and Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree) will close permanently at the end of that day. And not only will guests be affected by the closures, but it is expected that more than 300 Disneyland cast members will be impacted as well.
But on the bright side, ‘Season of the Force’ will begin much sooner than originally anticipated at both Disneyland and Hollywood Studios. According to the Disney Parks Blog, the event will begin in Southern California on November 16th. No opening dates have been given for Florida yet, but we do have some new details regarding the Star Wars Launch Bay. Here’s a description of what the new area will offer:
- Dark Side Character Experience: Encounter one of the most iconic villains from ‘Star Wars’, Darth Vader.
- Light Side Character Experience: Fly casual at this makeshift Rebel base, and meet the most famous co-pilot in the galaxy, Chewbacca.
- Explore the Dark and the Light in Themed Galleries
- Dark Side Gallery: Get a look at authentic pieces of stormtrooper armor as well as famous Sith lightsabers once wielded by masters of the dark side.
- Light Side Gallery: Explore a gallery filled with Rebel flight helmets and lightsabers once wielded by Jedi Knights.
- Preview Gallery: See props from the upcoming film, ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’.
- Starship Gallery: Discover models of famous starships and their pilots from throughout the ‘Star Wars’ saga.
- Join the Battle in the Star Wars Game Center – Play the latest games from the ‘Star Wars’ galaxy, including ‘Disney Infinity 3.0’ – featuring park-exclusive Toy Box levels.
Finally, in addition to Hyperspace Mountain and new themed foods making their way to Tomorrowland, the Jedi Training Academy stage show will be upgraded in December to Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, which will add new characters from ‘Star Wars Rebels’ to the interactive experience.
Though some of the changes are very inconvenient (especially if you’re a Fantasmic fan planning a trip to Disneyland in February), but at least it will all be worth it when the ‘Star Wars’ expansions are completed. This is literally what people have been clamoring for since the Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, so it’s pretty great that they’re getting started ahead of schedule. And with any luck, everything will be done around the time ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ comes out in 2019.
What do you think about all these ‘Star Wars’ updates for Disneyland? Which attractions are you sad to see shut down either temporarily or permanently? Are you excited for the various activities planned for the Star Wars Launch Bay? Sound off in the comments.