According to a report by Hugo Martin at the readingeagle.com, Disney may eventually allow a host of Storm Troopers to invade Disneyland, California – literally. Talks are on the way in launching the largest expansion ever that the theme park has embarked on since the late 90s.
Some 10 attractions will either be closed either temporarily or permanently to give way to Star Wars themed changes. At the other end of the fence, Universal Studios is also gearing up the competition with their widely anticipated Harry Potter attraction. Dennis Speigel, a theme park consultant and president of International Theme Park Services in Cincinnati, is confident that this is the best time to embark in this change. “At the end of the day, you won’t see any attendance drop. The tourists will come, hell or high water. The construction project to build a new “Star Wars” area is likely to demonstrate the devotion of hard-core Disney fans.”
Park executives aren’t worried of the changes since Disneyland has added new features to the park that appeals to fans of the movie series immediately after Disney acquired Lucasfilm, along with the “Star Wars” franchise, in 2012 for $4 billion. Some of these enhancements can be seen in Tomorrowland, where the Space Mountain and Star Tours rides have been overhauled to include special effects borrowed from the recently released movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The Innovations Building has been converted into Star Wars Launch Bay, where parkgoers can play “Star Wars” video games, buy merchandise and meet costumed characters from the movie franchise. The Galactic Grill now sells Star Wars inspired treats such as a dessert dubbed Darth by Chocolate and the Cheese 3PO Burger. The transition as it seems will be a welcomed one since park goers are already accustomed to, and has actually wanted, to see more of their Star Wars characters, according to park officials.
In order to accommodate the ‘invading’ Star Wars force, the park will permanently close Big Thunder Ranch in Frontierland, Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue, Big Thunder Ranch petting zoo and Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree. Disneyland officials were quick to reassure the park’s patrons that the animals in the petting zoo will be completely taken care of, and will be adopted by a Southern California family that has worked with Disney animals in the past. Some will closed temporarily such as The Rivers of America – mainly Fantasmic, the Mark Twain Riverboat, the Sailing Ship Columbia, the Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, the Disneyland Railroad and the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes. It is expected that as much as 14% of the park’s attractions will be closed permanently or temporarily in an area that represents nearly a quarter of Disneyland’s 85 acres.
Even Disney employees have also felt the grunt of such plans. To clear more space for the new “Star Wars” land, Disney employees who work in offices outside the park have begun to move into two office buildings that Disney purchased last year a few blocks away on South Manchester Avenue.
Disney has not revealed any details on what it will be like in the new “Star Wars” land. However, Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown is positive that these will be a much welcomed addition and improvement. “We are excited to begin the work that will lay the foundation for the future ‘Star Wars’-themed land at Disneyland. With our continuing Diamond Celebration entertainment and the new Season of the Force offerings, there is so much for guests to do during this time.”