Disney brought out the big guns for its live-action presentation at D23 earlier today, during which they showed off early looks at Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Pirates of the Caribbean 5, and much more. But everyone in attendance had high expectations for what Disney would reveal for one of its other big franchises, Star Wars, and they delivered.
There were several highlights for Disney's Star Wars announcements, including a first look at Rogue One, confirmation of Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow helming Episode IX, and the unveiling of a new poster for The Force Awakens, created especially for D23 by legendary artist Drew Struzan. But Disney did not stop there, as they went on to confirm plans for major Star Wars expansions in two of their theme parks.
Disney chief Bob Iger revealed that Star Wars-themed lands will be coming to both Disneyland and Disney World, in the near future. Each land will be 14 acres, making it the parks' largest themed land expansion ever. The expansions will attempt to fully immerse guests in the world of Star Wars, featuring such familiar sights as the Mos Eisley Cantina, the Millennium Falcon, and various aliens and droids roaming around.
As Iger indicated, Disney will try to create the experience of being in the world of Star Wars with these attractions and lands (via ComingSoon.net):
"I am thrilled to announce the next chapter in the long and exciting history between Disney Parks and Star Wars. Through each new attraction and new land we create, we push the boundaries of what is possible. And as you can imagine, with Star Wars, we are taking that to a whole new level, with a whole galaxy to explore."
The Star Wars lands will include two major attractions: a Millennium Falcon one, in which guests are able to take control of the iconic ship on a confidential assignment, and another in which they are thrown into the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance, the two opposing sides featured in The Force Awakens.
During a later presentation on the future of Disney's parks (via the Disney Parks Blog), several more updates were revealed. Disney Parks Chairman Bob Chapek announced that some of the new Star Wars experiences will be coming later this year, including Star Wars Launch Bay - which will take guests "into the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as well as the first six films in the Star Wars saga," Season of the Force - a major event beginning early next year in both Disneyland and Disney World that will include a Star Wars-themed update to Space Mountain, appropriately entitled Hyperspace Mountain, and another update to Star Tours - this time featuring brand-new sequences with characters and locations from The Force Awakens.
Along with the huge announcements for the Star Wars-themed lands, the first pieces of concept art were also unveiled, revealing a fully authentic and immersive environment.
From the time the partnership was first announced between Disney and Lucasfilm, it was fully expected that new Star Wars-themed lands would be coming to the parks. And after a whole lot of planning, they are finally coming to fruition. The opportunity to step inside the world of Star Wars is exciting for both casual and hardcore fans of the franchise alike, especially when it is created as realistically as possible. By all means, it seems Disney may have done just that. But, as it is with any theme park experience, the only way to truly believe it is to see it in person for yourself.
No official opening dates have been announced for either of the Star Wars-themed lands, although the first of the updates will reportedly be hitting Disneyland and Disney World later this year.