Live Performance, Miscellaneous, Movies

Space Mountain Gets Star Warsy, and Other Disney Theme Park News

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So, it’s cool and all that we’re getting a Star Wars land in the Disney parks, but if they’re just starting that now, it won’t be ready for maybe two years. So what happens in the meantime? Well…

Firstly, Star Wars weekends at the park will turn into a full-on “Season of the Force,” with “seasonal” firework displays and a Space Mountain overlay called Hyperspace Mountain. Characters will do meet-and-greets (special events with the likes of Darth Vader will be available to people who order a new Chase banks Star Wars credit card), and a new world (probably Jakku) will be added to Star Tours.

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A Launch Bay area, coming later this year to the Innoventions pavilion, will feature themed characters and a look at the future park plans in the works. One of the features of the future Star Wars land will be that every employee will be in character…oh, and blue milk will most likely be available.

Meanwhile, Avatar: The World of Pandora in Disney’s Animal Kingdom confirmed the rides we’ve already seen artwork for – a river ride through a bioluminescent forest, and a flight simulator atop a Banshee. The premise of the themed area will be that it takes place after the first movie, with humans now being welcomed back as guests.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios won’t just be getting Star Wars land, but also a new Toy Story land that “shrinks” you to the size of a toy in Andy’s backyard. new rides include a Slinky Dog coaster and a Green Alien Saucer ride featuring the Claw.

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No announcements on Marvel areas in US parks yet (one is rumored for California Adventure, though Universal still holds the Marvel theme-park license on the east coast), but Hong Kong will get a 3D simulator ride where you fly in an Iron Wing and battle Hydra. There was also confirmation of the Tron Light Cycle roller coaster for Shanghai, which is billed as one of Disney’s fastest rides ever.

sources: Inside the Magic, Disney Parks Blog, and the full press release I’ve reprinted below…

ANAHEIM, Calif. (Aug. 15, 2015) – Today, Disney announced a line-up of new attractions and entertainment coming to its theme parks around the world during the D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek gave 7,500 lucky fans a behind-the-scenes look at what’s to come. He was joined by Imagineers working on these projects as well as legendary filmmakers James Cameron and Jon Landau who shared new details about Pandora – The World of AVATAR including the names of the land and E-ticket attraction – AVATAR Flight of Passage. Fans also got a chance to see Marvel legend Stan Lee in a cameo appearance where he posed as an unsuspecting fan during Iron Man’s dramatic entrance.

Among the many announcements Chapek shared were new and enhanced Star Wars experiences coming later this year to the Florida and California theme parks, plans for a new Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and more details on Pandora–The World of AVATAR, which is already under construction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Chapek also shared that Soarin’ Around the World will make its U.S. film debut at Epcot and Disney California Adventure taking guests to new places around the world. Additionally, fans got a preview of exclusive video of the first Marvel attraction planned for Disney parks, coming to Hong Kong Disneyland in 2016.

“From Disneyland’s 60th anniversary celebration to the anticipation of Shanghai Disney Resort, we’re in the midst of unprecedented growth and expansion around the globe,” said Chapek. “With these new announcements, we continue our legacy in creating innovative attractions, worldwide entertainment, and magical lands that take our guests into the worlds of stories they love.”

In addition to these announcements, Chapek talked about the exciting news announced earlier in the day by Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger for plans to bring Star Wars-themed lands to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando and Disneyland park in Anaheim. Each 14-acre land will transport guests to a never-before-seen planet with two signature attractions, including a customized secret mission on the Millennium Falcon and an epic Star Wars adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle.

Details on each of the projects include:

Star Wars Enhancements & New Experiences
From a new Star Tours adventure to Star Wars Launch Bay, from a new Jedi Training Academy to “Season of the Force,” soon guests will be part of both new and enhanced experiences at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.

? Star Tours – The Adventures Continue – Later this year, Star Tours will include a new adventure featuring locations and characters from the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, giving guests a new adventure in the Star Wars galaxy.

? Star Wars Launch Bay – This interactive experience will take guests into the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with special exhibits and peeks behind-the-scenes, including opportunities to visit with new and favorite Star Wars characters, special merchandise and food offerings. Star Wars Launch Bay will be located in the Animation Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and in Tomorrowland at Disneyland park. Also atDisneyland park, Star Wars Launch Bay will share the space with the reimagined Super Hero HQ, featuring opportunities to meet and take photos with super heroes like Captain America and Thor, as well as experience the returning Iron Man Tech Presented by Stark Industries. Both experiences will be available for guests later this year.

? Jedi Training Academy — A favorite of younger fans is reimagined with a new experience that includes new characters and a new villain to battle from the popular Disney XD series “Star Wars Rebels.”

? Season of the Force – This new seasonal event, beginning early 2016, brings new experiences to both coasts. In Tomorrowland at Disneyland park, guests will explore the Star Wars galaxy with special entertainment throughout the land, themed food locations and more. Guests also will be thrilled to climb aboard Hyperspace Mountain, a reimagining of the classic Space Mountain attraction, in which guests will join an X-wing Starfighter battle. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests will close out weekend nights with a new fireworks spectacular set to the iconic score of the Star Wars movies.

Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida
The reimagining of Disney’s Hollywood Studios will take guests to infinity and beyond, allowing them to step into the worlds of their favorite films, starting with Toy Story Land. This new 11-acre land will transport guests into the adventurous outdoors of Andy’s backyard. Guests will think they’ve been shrunk to the size of Woody and Buzz as they are surrounded by oversized toys that Andy has assembled using his vivid imagination. Using toys like building blocks, plastic buckets and shovels, and game board pieces, Andy has designed the perfect setting for this land, which will include two new attractions for any Disney park and one expanded favorite.

? Family-friendly roller coaster – All on the back of Slinky Dog, this coaster will zip and zoom, plunge and coast as it takes guests on a fun, toy-filled adventure throughout the new land.

? Alien saucers attraction – The famous little green aliens from the movie will take guests around for a spin in their very own flying saucers. The music, lighting and sound effects add to the flurry of action, while “The Claw” looms over.

? Toy Story Mania! – Guests glide into the Toy Story Midway Games Play Set and take aim at 3D objects in a variety of fast-paced games, with an expansion that adds a third track to this popular attraction.

After Dark at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Pandora – The World of AVATAR
As part of the largest expansion in the park’s history, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will immerse guests into the world of Pandora, and the entire park will transform after dark with new nighttime entertainment experiences, offering guests longer days than ever before to experience this one-of-a-kind theme park.

? “Rivers of Light” – Expected to open next spring, “Rivers of Light” will be an innovative experience unlike anything ever seen in a Disney park, combining live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery. “Rivers of Light” will magically come to life on the natural stage of Discovery River, delighting guests and truly capping off a full day of adventures at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

? Kilimanjaro Safaris – This popular attraction will be extended for a new nighttime adventure next spring, where guests will travel through the African savanna amid the magically extended orange glow of the setting sun and discover two species new to the attraction: African wild dogs and hyenas.

? Pandora – The World of AVATAR – Disney’s Animal Kingdom guests will journey into the magnificent world of Pandora at this new AVATAR-themed land – a world that includes floating mountains, a bioluminescent forest and the winged creatures known as Banshees, giving guests a transformational experience they will never forget.

o AVATAR Flight of Passage – This E-ticket attraction, the centerpiece of Pandora, allows guests to soar on a Banshee over a vast alien world. The spectacular flying experience will give guests a birds-eye view of the beauty and grandeur of the world of Pandora on an aerial rite of passage.

About Author

Luke Y. Thompson has been writing professionally about movies and pop-culture since 1999, and has also been an actor in some extremely cheap culty and horror movies you will probably never hear much about (he is nonetheless mostly proud of them, as he met his wife on one). As editor of The Robot's Voice since 2012, he can take the blame for the majority of the site's content, all of which he creates because he loves you very, very much. (Although he loves nachos more. Sorry.) Prior to TRV, Luke wrote for publications that include the New Times LA, Los Angeles CityBeat, E! Online, OC Weekly, Geekweek, GeekChicDaily, The L.A. Times, The Village Voice, LA Weekly, and Nerdist