The Force is Strong: New Star Wars Attractions Open At Disney

Posted by Sasha Bailyn on Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

The seventh installment of the Star Wars universe is set to open later this month with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” While fans wait on the edge of their seats for opening day, Disney is celebrating with the launch of some new attractions at their Florida properties. Later this month, a host of new Star Wars themed attractions, fireworks and more will join the roster for fans to enjoy. Here’s a closer look at the Star Wars lineup, as well as some speculation on what’s driving the developments and where it could be headed.

Since Disney acquired the Star Wars property, there has been intense speculation about how it would roll out new attractions. Many speculated a full themed area and that was finally announced earlier this year. But the opening of the latest film – which has been in the works for years – created a natural catalyst for Disney to start launching new themed experiences throughout the parks.

An exciting new change is coming to the park’s fireworks program. The Florida theme park is renowned for lighting up the Orlando sky with unparalleled displays. Disney is adding to its nightly lineup of fireworks with a Star Wars themed show, entitled Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular. The fireworks will include original music by Jon Williams and debut on December 18th, the same day that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” hits theaters.

One of the biggest attractions is the opening of the Star Wars Launch Bay. Launch Bay is a walk through attraction that’s intended to evolve as the Star Wars universe, characters and storyline continues to grow. Right now, it’s designed to introduce guests to the Star Wars universe and provide a preview of the upcoming film. Fans can expect the contents to change. In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, a Disney executive noted that “What we intend to do with this is to continue to keep it updated every time there’s a new ‘Star Wars’ element or movie coming out. It is permanent, but it will always be changing.”

Right now, Launch Bay features movie memorabilia, a short film looking at the franchise history, and items straight from George Lucas’ private collection. Character meet and greets are a seminal part of the Disney experience and this is no exception. Star Wars fans currently have the chance to meet Darth Vader and Chewbacca. The character options will grow over time, but early media reports suggest that initial meet and greet lines for the characters were very popular and stretched for at least a couple of hours.

Other changes are afoot. Star Tours has new scenes to reflect the upcoming movie. There’s also themed retail, featuring everything from Millennium Falcon models to full Darth Vader costume sets to R2D2 cups. In addition, themed food options such as Chewbacca cupcakes are giving guests the chance to engage with the brand at every level.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple is bound to be a favorite with younger visitors. This reimagined Jedi Training Camp experience takes kids “ to the secret site of an ancient Jedi temple where they will face Darth Vader along with the Seventh Sister – a new villain from the Disney XD series “Star Wars Rebels.” Selected participants don the iconic brown robes and partner with actors to defeat the villains.

As Disney’s new experiences open throughout the month of December, the galaxy far, far away gets just a little bit closer. It’s important to bear in mind that it’s all just a preview leading up to the full-scale Star Wars area that the company announced in August. It will cover a 14-acre space within Disney’s Hollywood Studios and be the ultimate theme park destination for Star Wars lovers. In the meantime, these new Star Wars attractions and activities will give fans plenty to enjoy.

Entertainment Designers are taking note at the thorough way in which Disney manages to integrate its IP throughout the parks. While a larger initiative is in the works with the themed area, fans are drawn to the parks anew to experience fireworks, meet and greets and more. In a very real way, these attractions help build anticipation for the major release to come and help build clearer associations between the Star Wars and Disney brands.

Images sourced courtesy of Disney, All Ears, Touring

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