Building the future of the Magic Kingdom requires tearing down or closing relics of the past. To accommodate its Star Wars plans and promotional value, Disneyland has announced some imminent changes coming, both short term and long term, in Tomorrowland and Frontierland.
The Force will soon be with visitors to Tomorrowland with a special holiday revamp. In addition, many rides or attractions will be closing after New Year’s for accommodate the construction plans.
As the D23 expo in August at the Anaheim Convention Center, Walt Disney Company’s chief executive officer Bob Iger announced that there will be a growing “Star Wars presence” at the firm’s Disneyland theme parks. He talked about their plans to build a Star Wars area or land within the park, but the plans to capitalize on the Force, the new Star Wars film and its Lucasfilm purchase are taking shape and more details have emerged.
The first change in Disneyland will appear on Nov. 16, when a temporary “overlay” will be added to Tomorrowland, much like the Haunted Mansion takes on a Nightmare Before Christmas look from October to early January each year. Space Mountain will become Hyperspace Mountain with riders going through a battle involving X-wing starfighters. Star Tours will add something from the forthcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens film. The theater in the area will show excerpts from the franchises’ movies. The characters will be around to greet guests, with ones from the new movie and a Jedi Training Academy reportedly to be added in December. There will be exhibits and props from the films and, undoubtedly, a star fleet’s cargo load of merchandise to sell.
Building the permanent 14-acre Disneyland Star Wars area off of Tomorrowland would make sense. But that is not the plan. Instead it will be in the northern part of what is now Frontierland (because walking from the old West into a galaxy far, far away makes so much sense. Maybe there is a never-before-seen planet that is stuck in that period.).
Accordingly, on Jan. 10, considerable changes in Frontierland will take place. The Disneyland Railroad, the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes, the Mary Twain Riverboat, the Sailing Ship Columbia and the Tom Sawyer Island Pirates Lair will close for an unspecified period of time. Closing permanently will be the Big Thunder Ranch, with its restaurant that is typically used for special events or private parties, petting zoo and Jamboree stage.
To be politically correct in California’s drought, the “river” around Tom Sawyer’s Island will be partially drained with the water diverted to and “stored” in the Orange County Water District’s Groundwater Replenishment system. When the river is eventually refilled, Disney will replenish the water from that system.
When the changes in Frontierland and Tomorrowland are over and the construction plans are completed, the new Disneyland Star Wars area will have a Millennium Falcon spaceship ride and another tied to one of the battles. As one would expect, there will also be a cantina redolent of the Mos Eisley one on Tatooine where Luke first met Han Solo and Chewbacca.
Written and edited by Dyanne Weiss
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