|Artist Tom Hodges created “Star Wars Universe Dream Park” in 2010 as a limited edition print for Star Wars Celebration V fan convention in Orlando. Now that Disney owns the rights to the Star Wars franchise, speculation has been at a fever pitch for a Star Wars theme park to be built at Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Orlando.|
& Rick Kessler
It’s been just over a year since George Lucas sold Lucasfilm — which includes the Star Wars and Indiana Jones’ franchises — to Walt Disney Corp.
When news of the sale first hit the Internet, shock waves rippled through legions of fans of both movie franchises.
First, no one could believe notorious control freak Lucas would be willing to give up the rights to his beloved movies, especially the Star Wars’ saga. Shoot, he’s been tinkering around with Luke Skywalker and company for 35 years.
Second, the announcement included news not only about the sale, but also that there soon would be a third trilogy for the Star Wars’ franchise. Immediately, Star Wars fans in unison said “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” Doomsayers were predicting their precious SciFi fantasy would be “Disney-fied.” Apparently, they feared the next Star Wars’ movie might have a cute cuddly creature break out into song (umm ... the ending of “Return of the Jedi” apparently doesn’t count).
About a light year later, there still is unrest in a galaxy far, far away.
But, why be troubled with the dark side?
Disney owning Star Wars can be a good thing, right?
Imagine the possibility of a new Star Wars theme park in Walt Disney World in Orlando.
It might be tough with the blast shield down, but let’s envision just what such a park might be.
|Snapped at the recent Detroit FanFare |
Comic Convention in Dearborn.
‘Laugh it up, fuzzball’
Tentatively called “Star Wars Land,” the park has all but been announced by the Disney Empire.
George Kalogridis, the man who oversaw the remodel on “Cars Land” at Disney’s California Adventure last year, was reassigned to Walt Disney World, prompting speculation that he is to oversee construction of this new park.
No less an authority than some Jawa with a website — Robert Niles of Themeparkinsider.com — wrote back in June that several insiders had confirmed the park was going to happen.
Actually, Niles is a respected authority on the topic, and he even speculated on where Star Wars Land would be located within Disney’s massive park.
“The logical places for that expansion would be on either side of the existing Star Tours’ ride,” he wrote. “From what I’ve heard, it appears that the expansion would take out the area between Star Tours and the auto stunt show stadium, including the Muppet theater and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids play area.
“But I’ve also heard of consideration of going in the opposite direction, which would place the new land on the site of the Backlot Express restaurant and Indiana Jones’ stunt show theater.
“Given that the Indy theater is used for several other events throughout the year, and that both the Muppets and Honey I Shrunk the Kids attractions long ago passed the height of their popularity, I’m hearing more forceful arguments for the first option.”
More recently, and with slightly more credibility, on Nov. 7 Disney Chairman, CEO & Emperor Robert Iger kinda, sorta told Bloomberg Media that a Star Wars’ theme park was in the works.
“The only thing I can share is there is a fair amount of development going on at Disney right now to expand the Star Wars’ presence in California and Orlando and eventually other parks around the world,” a smirking Darth Iger said.
Well, thanks for that.
The pseudo-confirmation that Star Wars Land is more than just a Tatooine mirage got us to thinking, when they do build it, what will it look like? What will the rides and attractions be like? Will they serve Midi-chlorian Munchies?
In case the Imagineers — Disney’s title for their design engineers — need any help, we took the liberty of jotting down some ideas.
‘That’s no moon’
First of all, Star Wars Land needs its own theme park, not carved out of an existing one.
That said, each of the current Disney theme parks has a large attraction at its center: Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom, the big golf ball called Spaceship Earth in Epcot; the Tree of Life in the Animal Kingdom; and Mickey’s blue hat from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Hollywood Studios.
Naturally, Star Wars Land should have the Death Star at its epicenter. Assuming they’re done with it, they could even roll Spaceship Earth over and retrofit that into the galaxy’s ultimate weapon (with apologies to the Force).
Inside the Death Star could be any number of things. But the centerpiece attraction would be a roller coaster called Death Star Destruction.
Set indoors like the roller coaster in Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain, the ride would simulate the Rebel attack on the Death Star from “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope.”
Once secured into their personal X-Wing, passengers are taken through a roller coaster ride of twists and turns in “outer space” while dueling with TIE Fighters, shrieking as they attack from seemingly everywhere. The TIE Fighters would be multimedia images, and with passengers twisting and turning, we’re certain the effect would be completely convincing.
Eventually, the coaster takes passengers down the trench on the Death Star, has the coast cleared by Han Solo and Chewbacca from the Millennium Falcon, and finally fire at the exhaust port, blowing up the space station.
Naturally, as you exit the ride through the gift shop, you can purchase your very own Medal of Yavin, just like what Princess Leia gave Luke, Han and Chewie.
‘Sorry about the mess’
Every good Disney park needs its signature restaurant — well, actually several of them — and Star Wars Land would have one with the Mos Eisley Cantina. Greedo would be on the prowl, looking for Han Solo. The guy with the bad temper and weird-looking face would be without an arm. And, make no mistake, the bug-eyed cantina band would be playing non-stop.
On the menu: Bantha Burgers, Greedo Burritos, Jawa Juices, Princess Leia Cinnamon Rolls and Uncle Owen’s Oven-Roasted Tots. (Note: Some of these and other menu ideas later on are from “Wookie Cookies: A Star Wars Cookbook,” by Robin Davis; rights would have to be secured.)
Once again, your exit through the gift shop would be a fully rendered Millennium Falcon, where you can go home with your very own Dejarik chess set (disclaimer: Pieces don’t move on their own).
A quick note: As any Disney veteran will confirm, lines for popular rides, attractions or restaurants can be several hours long. We would expect our Mos Eisley Cantina would be no different. So before you can enter — remember, droids are not allowed — you’ll first have to tell the roving Stormtroopers these are not the droids they’re looking for.
You might also have to take off in the Millennium Falcon before the Stormtroopers can set up their big blaster. We’ll leave it up to the Imagineers to figure out how to pull this one off. (Granted, this is out of sequence with the movie, but it’d still be cool.)
Some other restaurant ideas would be:
n Gungans’ Galley, an eatery submerged in an immense aquarium teeming with unusual species, as befitting the Gungans’ underwater cities on Naboo. On the menu: Jar-Jar Drinks, Naboo Nuggets, Padme Pancakes and Gooberfish Sticks.
n Imperial Cruiser Cafeteria, a fully rendered Imperial Cruiser in which patrons dine on the bridge and are waited on by Imperial officers who occasionally feel the pinch of Darth Vader. On the menu: Stormtrooper Rations (various kid’s meals), Grand Mof Tarkin’s Succulent Ribs, Boba Fettuccine and Darth Vader Steak-kabobs (speared on a red lightsaber, of course).
n Dagobah Diner, an eatery that mixes Rainforest Cafe with BD’s Mongolian Barbecue. Amid a jungle teeming with vines, swamps and animal sounds, tables surround Yoda’s mound-shaped home in which chefs cook your meal on a large, circular grill. On the menu: Yogurt, Barf Bits and Pizza the Hut, (yes, these items are a nod to Spaceballs; would have to secure rights to this as well).
‘You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy’
Other lodging, rides and attractions:
n Stuff-an-Ewok — Similar to the Build-A-Bear model of stores, these kiosks would allow people to stuff and dress their own life-sized Ewok dolls. Disney should be all over this retail opportunity because each realm of Star Wars Land could have a Stuff-an-Ewok kiosk of like-themed outfits and accessories (Cloud City pajamas! Alderaan board shorts! Hoth parkas!).
n Lightsaber Duals — A carnival-type game that would allow two combatants to engage in a battle with two lightsabers. Points would be awarded and a winner declared based on “hits” registered by sensor-laden overalls. Kind of like fencing, except cool.
n Coruscant Hotel and Resort — What Disney theme park would be complete without a tailor-made hotel and resort? Though the name refers to the galaxy’s central planet where the entire planet is a giant city, the suites in this hotel are each made up to represent a different locale from across the Star Wars’ universe. Stay in a suite customized like Jabba’s Palace, the Imperial Throne Room or even the Rebel Base on Hoth; the possibilities are limitless (“Daddy, it’s my turn to sleep in the gutted Tauntaun!”).
n Kessel Run — A thrill ride taking passengers through all 12 parsecs of the infamous smuggling route through space, dodging nebulas, asteroid fields, Imperial starships — “Not the local bulk cruisers mind you, I'm talking about the big Corellian ships now.” — and other denizens from the Star Wars universe.
n Boonta Eve Classic Podrace — Another thrill ride which takes passengers in personal podracers through a G-inducing course resembling The Boonta Eve Classic on Tatooine. Bonus points if you make it past the Tusken Raiders without a scratch.
n Rebel Flight — This one’s for the kiddos. Think of the Magic Kingdom’s iconic Dumbo ride, but instead of the baby elephant with the big ears they’ll be in X-Wing fighters. Kodak moment if ever there was one.
n Escape from Hoth — Similar to the Expedition Everest roller coaster in the Animal Kingdom, Escape from Hoth is a roller coaster set on the icy planet of Hoth. You start out in the Rebel base, twisting and turning through claustrophobic snow passages until you’re suddenly “stuck” in a snowbank. After several what’s-going-on seconds, you hear a blood-thirsty howl and then a giant Wampa comes rampaging toward you! He’s nearly on you when you’re suddenly moving again, this time picking up speed until you’re thrust into the attack of Imperial AT-AT walkers. Darting in and out between a giant AT-AT walker’s legs, you’re barely able to escape. Aided by a blast from an ion cannon, you finish your Escape from Hoth as you glide to a stop.
The gift shop here would offer 1/10-scale AT-AT walkers made out of a billion pieces of LEGOs, and a snack stand would serve flavored shaved-ice cones.
Well, there you have it.
Our ideas for Star Wars Land.
Now we want to know yours! Weigh in on the comments section of TheNewsHerald.com or down below on this blog with your ideas for what Star Wars Land should have.
Dave Herndon is the author of this blog and the video coordinator for Heritage Media. Rick Kessler is the author of the "Gr8LakesCamper" Blog and the managing editor for Heritage Media. This post was written in conjunction with Heritage Media, and is published by both Heritage Media and this blog with permission.