LucasFilm Acquisition– The Impact to the Parks
by Nathan Bradley
Hello Humans! Wow have we hit the jackpot…It’s a match made in heaven: Disney and Star Wars…errr I mean LucasFilm (but mostly Star Wars). Bob Iger, who is responsible for the acquisitions of Pixar, The Muppets, Marvel, and now Lucasfilm, is going to go down as one of the greatest company leaders. Looking back at what WDI has done with Pixar in the parks and The Muppets to an extent, having Star Wars in WDI’s lineup almost becomes too much to imagine…but I’m going to try.
The Star Wars franchise right now is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, fans have a sour taste in their mouth because the prequels simply didn’t meet expectations. On the other hand is money, which is where Disney comes in. They rightly consider Star Wars to be an “evergreen” franchise, a clever play on words meaning that the franchise never looses its luster like an evergreen tree and also that it is always green in terms of money. The toy, video game, television, and movie (Episodes 7,8, and 9!) markets are all very successful for Star Wars; always have been, always will be. This was clearly one of the main selling points to the Disney board of executives. We already know that Disney believes in the franchise though. As we all know Star Wars Weekends, Star Tours (both versions), Tatooine Traders, and The Jedi Training Academy are all favorites of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While we’re in the Studios, I’d like to mention that the Lucasfilm acquisition does not include the rights to Indiana Jones. So although Disney has the theme park rights to Indy, they will likely not be adding as many new theme park experiences as they will with Star Wars because they won’t benefit from the perpetual success of the brand as a whole.
Many Star Wars fanboys have called for Disney to base an entire park around the franchise. As theme park aficionados, we know that basing an entire park around a single franchise, even Star Wars, is ludicrous because the success of the park hangs on the popularity of a single property. Nonetheless, tantalizing fan artwork has surfaced, such as the Magic Kingdom-style rendering pictured. Do I wish this would become a reality? Absolutely. Do I think this will become a reality? Absolutely not. The best we can hope for is a Star Wars land at DHS in my opinion.
If such a land were to come to fruition under the WDI roof, at least we know it wouldn’t be placed out west first. Their Star Tours is located in Tomorrowland; if they want a Star Wars land, they will need to either devote an entire section of Disneyland to one franchise (not happening) or move the attraction between parks (unheard of). Resting on that, let’s consider the realistic best-case scenario in Florida. Will there be another Star Wars E-Ticket? Doubt it. I would wager on some type of interactive experience since that seems to be a growing trend at WDI. As fans of the parks we should rejoice if we get an interactive Star Wars experience. The prospect of a Yoda AA is exciting to say the least. What if during the show he used the force and things flew around the room? Turtle Talk, Laugh Floor, and recently Enchanted Tales have been universally well liked. Also included in this best-case scenario is the conversion of The Backlot Express into the famed Mos Eisley Cantina from Episode IV. What better way to immerse guests in the universe of the films? I have always wondered why WDI doesn’t theme more restaurants around specific franchises. With the general praise of Be Our Guest, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be ready to try their luck again. Another interesting component could be meet-and-greets with the characters from the films. Who doesn’t want a hug from Chewbacca or an Ewok? I think an opportunity for kids to be outfitted like their favorite Star Wars character, along the lines of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, would also be a solid addition. Finally, an improved merchandise location is in order if Star Wars land is built. The carbon-freezing experience from the last Star Wars Weekend would make a fantastic addition.
All sounds pretty reasonable, right? Let’s look at a more adventurous possibility…
Star Wars takes over Tomorrowland. Please, don’t shoot! I know I just said that it wouldn’t be okay in Disneyland, but that’s because they don’t have enough space to be devoting a whole land to a single franchise. In Florida, however, we have plenty. Let’s look at current Tomorrowland. Stitch’s Great Escape: “What a piece of junk!” Laugh Floor is a quality attraction but it isn’t so beloved that Star Wars couldn’t easily take its place. Space Mountain is about as iconic as any ride on the planet, but the façade wouldn’t necessarily clash with a Star Wars land. As for the content of the ride, you really wouldn’t have to change anything except for some queue elements to make it a Star Wars attraction; that is an awful queue anyway. Then there’s The Tomorrowland Indy Speedway. Never has any attraction had such a low ratio of quality to square footage. I don’t think there is a person on this Earth who would object to a Star Wars themed attraction on that plot of land. Two main problems now arise (besides the fact of it never happening of course). #1: The current Star Wars elements at DHS are too well beloved to be simply discarded. They would have to be moved to the Magic Kingdom by some miraculous act. #2: The Carousel of Progress isn’t going anywhere. Nonetheless, I think this option is plausible at best. “I find your lack of faith disturbing…”
Could Star Wars go in Future World? I say no way. No science-fiction franchise should be the basis of an attraction in Epcot. We may have strayed from the original Epcot creed, but not enough to include a film series, albeit a great one, that isn’t rooted in reality. The aesthetics might coincide and the possibility of replacing Mission: Space with Star Wars is pretty appealing, but the message just wouldn’t be right.
Even thinking without limits of practicality, I can’t imagine even one decent way of incorporating Star Wars characters into DAK. So that’s that.
I would say that in general, as self-proclaimed scrutinizers of WDW, we should expect Star Wars additions to DHS in the near future. I don’t think it’s really too much to hope for. A cohesive land would be significantly more exciting than just new experiences because the locations of Star Wars are so rich. A Star Wars land as a unit would lend itself to being filled with all kinds of hidden Star Wars references too. There are almost too many possibilities for us as fans to speculate about. One thing is for sure: Disney acquiring Lucasfilm can only be good for Walt Disney World.
Nathan Bradley is a high school student from the Philadelphia suburbs. He enjoys physics, mechanics, storytelling, and WDW (biannual trips and an avid disney geek). He plans on becoming an Imagineer when he’s older.