10 Ways ‘Star Wars’ Will Conquer Disney Parks (Slideshow)
There’s a Space Mountain roller coaster at both Disney World and Disneyland, but only the latter got a Star Wars makeover. The rocket ship ride now begins with a briefing by Admiral Ackbar, who informs the new pilots that their mission is to survey a Star Destroyer near Jakku (a planet from the newest film). But lo and behold, it’s a trap, and riders are instead dropped into the middle of an X-wing and TIE fighter dogfight. In addition to new Star Wars sound effects, selections from John Williams’ score of the films also plays during the ride.
Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple
The Jedi Training Academy at Disney World and Disneyland always seemed to be a popular attraction for kids between the ages of 4 and 12, but they closed in October and November of 2015, respectively. Never fear (after all, fear is the path to the dark side), as the experience was only getting updated and turned into Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, with a new storyline related to Episode VII. In order to participate, young padawans need to register at the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost or ‘50s Prime Time Café at the beginning of the day (go immediately after arriving at the park, as availability is on a first-come, first-served basis) and return for the scheduled group session. Training (in which the kids participate in lightsaber “duels” with Darth Vader) takes place approximately every 30 minutes to an hour (and lasts for 20-25 minutes), and the new little Jedi receive commemorative diplomas afterward.
Restaurants and Concessions
There aren’t any new eateries for Episode VII yet, but two old favorites have received Star Wars-themed makeovers. The Galactic Grill (currently closed for refurbishment) still just has burgers and sandwiches, but wouldn’t you rather be asking for a “First Order Specialty Burger,” “Jedi Order Chicken Sandwich,” “Cheese-3PO Burger,” or “Wicket’s Wicked Veggie Salad?” And it’s not just the names that are creative, the First Order comes with an Angus beef patty with chorizo, cherry peppers, and spicy-lime aïoli on a dark bun, while the Jedi comes topped with crispy green beans, pickled red onions, watercress, and wasabi mayo. Red Rockett’s Pizza Port has also received a revamped menu, with Star Wars-themed pies like the Dark Side Chicken Curry Specialty pizza — which is topped with chicken, roasted cauliflower, Gouda, mozzarella, cumin, pickled vegetables, and fried beans.
Star Tours — The Adventure Continues
Guests at Disneyland Park and Disney World’s Hollywood Studios have a new update to the “Star Tours — The Adventure Continues” 3D, motion-simulated space flight, which first opened in 2011 and now features footage from the newest film. Eager passengers can climb aboard a Starspeeder 1000 on Endor and blast off to Naboo or Coruscant with R2-D2 and C-3PO, while also coming face-to-face with villains like Boba Fett and Darth Vader and engaging in heart-stopping starship battles. Because of the multiple story combinations, guests will experience a unique adventure almost every time.
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
This one is a bit confusing, so stay with us. An occasional fireworks show called "Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular" debuted in 2010 at Hollywood Studios, and slowly worked its way into becoming a nightly show after the release of the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This show will end on June 16, 2016, and a new show, "Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular," will begin on June 17. Although the original production is plenty impressive, the new show will be the largest fireworks display in the park’s history, and will feature state-of-the-art projection effects, dynamic lighting, lasers, smoke, and pyrotechnics (including a 150-foot tower of fire). And as an add-on ($69 for adults, $39 for kids under 10), guests can also tack a dessert party onto their experience!
Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away
This new Hollywood Studios attraction (it opened on April 4, 2016) has two components. The first is a stormtrooper procession led by Captain Phasma through the Animation Courtyard, to a stage, and then back toward the Launch Bay (more on that in a bit). The second is a stage show featuring clips from all seven Star Wars films (via a screen that rises from the middle of the stage), and also live appearances by R2-D2, C-3PO, Chewbacca, Darth Maul, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Kylo Ren, and BB-8.
Star Wars Land
The biggest addition to both parks is, without a doubt, the upcoming opening of Star Wars Land. Disney CEO Bob Iger announced on August 15, 2015 that the two parks will each see Disney’s largest single-themed land expansions ever (14 acres each), complete with a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port, and so much more. Details are still scarce, but here’s what we know. Construction began at both locations on April 14, 2016, and each will include a full-scale, functioning cantina and at least two new attractions. The first will allow riders to pilot the Millennium Falcon, and the other will place guests into the middle of a battle between The First Order and the Resistance. In California, the Big Thunder Ranch and other Frontierland and Critter Country attractions were closed down in order to make room. In Florida, the expansion will occur concurrently with the new Toy Story Land.
Star Wars Launch Bay
The Star Wars Launch Bay launched on December 1, 2015, which means 2016 will be its first full year. The attraction (at both Disneyland Park and Disney World’s Hollywood Studios) offers geeks and nerds alike the opportunity to explore Star Wars special exhibits, check out movie props, play games, and take photos of everything along the way. Take the opportunity to meet Chewbacca while you can, because word has it that Kylo Ren lurks around the bay as well, and you might end up needing some backup. The attraction also features the latest version of Disney’s Infinity video game, as well as screening room, which shows a short film celebrating the Star Wars saga that includes behind-the-scenes footage and cast and crew interviews.
Star Wars: Path of the Jedi
This 10-minute film is shown at both Disneyland Park and Hollywood Studios (although the former is currently undergoing brief refurbishment). It retells the story of the Jedi Order from Anakin Skywalker’s rise up until Luke's defeat of the Empire in Return of the Jedi — basically catching up guests on everything that happened in the films prior to The Force Awakens. Shows run about every 15 minutes.
Tatooine Traders/The Star Trader
What addition to Disney Parks would be complete without a gift shop or two? Disneyland Park has The Star Trader and Hollywood Studios has Tatooine Traders, which both hawk action figures, apparel, gadgets, LEGO kits, books, and other gifts — but the latter also provides guests with the opportunity to create their very own lightsaber or droid.