D23 Expo has come and gone, and with it, there is a LOT to process. I realize that a lot of bloggers have already come through and stated their opinions, but I tend to let mine take a bit of a slow drip approach. So, since nearly all of the parks and resort news coming out of D23 was about Walt Disney World, I am going to tackle it in small bits at a time, starting (to no one's surprise) with the recently officially named Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge (SO much better than Star Wars Land).
I know what you're thinking: "D23 was almost two weeks ago!" Well, I do wish I had more time to write for the blog, but things have been a bit hectic lately, but I am determined to work on talking about what I think of the changes coming to the parks in the next few years!
Let's start with the huge news that we don't know very much about yet. At some point in the relatively near future, Walt Disney World will be opening up a brand new resort. This resort will be completely unlike any that you've ever experienced, however - it is a living slice of the world of Star Wars. According to the announcement of the as of yet unnamed Star Wars resort, you take part in a multi-day story set on starship. The details were very vague, but it seems that they'll outfit you with appropriate clothes, if you desire, for more complete immersion, and that each and every person would have a unique experience (which I can only assume means that we are looking at something with far more cast interaction than a simple screen-based interactive experience like Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, though I am sure that will be an aspect of your adventure.
One of the particularly neat features that as advertised is that every single window in the hotel features a view of space, giving you complete immersion during your stay. I'm sure there will be a bit of broken immersion if you pop out to go to the parks (though if they themed the bus stop to look like a hangar, that would be a pretty dang cool transition), but that's on you!
As a Star Wars fan, this thrills me to no end. As a Disney fan, it makes me wonder just what else the Imagineers might have boiling in their "blue sky" kettle. Might they make more resorts like this? A pirate adventure? A Marvel superhero academy experience? The best (and most family friendly) Renaissance Faire of all time? The possibilities are endless, though I shouldn't get ahead of myself. We'll wait and see how this turns out, but I really doubt Disney would be going forward with this idea unless they figured they could provide a top notch experience. Most days, I feel like the days of attractions like Stitch's Great Escape are behind us, and I really hope Disney proves me right on that. Even Frozen Ever After, which a lot of people feel was a quick cash grab, is a pretty well put together dark boat ride (with the exception of the ten billion screens of reflections of Elsa singing "Let It Go" as you hurtle backwards... but I digress.)
So where to go after taking a look at the crazy Star Wars future that Disney is planning? Well, let's take a look at the crazier-than-we-thought Star Wars future Disney is planning in the parks.
First, I would like to just point out the scale of the model of Galaxy's Edge. It is huge. Disney has stated numerous times that this was going to be the largest ever land expansion of a park to date, but I don't think I really appreciated just how much of an expansion that meant until I saw the model. It makes me wonder what kinds of experiences are going to be scattered throughout, as they really have only mentioned two e-ticket attractions and a cantina. My biggest hope is that Disney goes the route of Pandora here and doesn't feature the Disney logo or characters anywhere. Sure, there are already Jedi Mickey figures, but since I don't see how they are going to incorporate Star Tours directly into this land (though they might), I'm going to say let's just keep those kinds of things in Tatooine Traders until further notice.
I already enjoy the concept of the area - a starport on the fringes of the Galaxy that has become a point of conflict between the Resistance and the First Order. I know some fans of the original trilogy may be a little disappointed with the fact that this isn't set in the time frame of those adventures, but the sequel trilogy era is ripe for tons of new storytelling.
Going back to our discussion of immersion from earlier - at the panel, it was revealed that Galaxy's Edge will have a fully immersive experience, partly based on your actions. We discovered in the panel that the Millennium Falcon attraction is going to be very interactive, to the point that your actions on the Falcon will affect the way you are looked at through the rest of the area. How they plan to achieve this, I am not entirely certain - it could be something to do with the chip in your MagicBand, or it could be something completely different - only time will tell! All that I know is, I am very excited for this, both as a Star Wars fan and as a Disney fan.
I had always been a bit jealous of the immersion Universal park goers got in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where every employee was a denizen of that fantasy world. I was pleased with the level of immersion Pandora provided with all of the cast members being expats now living on the jungle moon. This, however, takes it above and beyond, where you're not just surrounded by people living the story - this time, it really seems like you a a major part of the story (should you want to be). Also, fans of The Clone Wars and Rebels should note: yes, that is Chewbacca making a deal with Hondo, so we know the old pirate made it to the sequel era.
I wonder just how detailed the interaction is going to be, and how it will be implemented. Also, what about guests that don't want to have much of an interactive experience? Certainly there will be those that just want to go in, take a flight on the Falcon and then head on over to get a carrot cake cookie. Is there just a little button that people can press on the My Disney Experience app that marks their MagicBand for level of participation? Or is the participation going to be subtle enough that guests of all levels of interest will be happy? I suppose, like with all of the big questions this new addition to the park seem to be bringing, only time will tell.
Until next time, everyone, stay magical!