During 2015’s bi-annual D23 Expo, Disney finally confirmed what we’ve known for more than a year: Star Wars Land is coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland! Although Disney was vague on specifics (especially when it comes to timetables, saying repeatedly that a new land of this magnitude “takes time”) we did learn quite a lot about what kind of attractions, restaurants and experiences will make this land the most immersive and ambitious Disney has ever created.
1. There will be TWO all-new rides
Though we know that the existing Star Tours will be a part of the forthcoming Star Wars Land, it looks like two more rides will be joining the roster. First up is a flight simulator ride that allows guests to “take the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, on a customized secret mission”.
While we know the basic concept behind this first attraction, little is known about the second new ride coming to Star Wars Land. All that has been confirmed so far is that the events of this second ride are set against the backdrop of the forthcoming Star Wars films (including Episode VII and next year's Rogue One), and guests will be put in the middle of a battle with new Star Wars baddies The First Order.
Though we only know the most basic details at this point about these two new attractions, it seems like a good sign that they are using both the original trilogy as well as the new films as inspiration for attractions in this area. Hopefully we'll learn more about these attractions (especially the second) in the coming months.
2. Guests will be able to grab a drink at the Star Wars Cantina
One development that was rumored for the original Star Wars Land that ended up making the cut for the reimagined version of this band new land is the iconic Star Wars Cantina. As with the attraction announcements, we don’t have much in the way of details about this new dining location, but concept art seems to indicate that there will be several rooms in this dining location, which will all feature different entertainment options. The famous Blue Milk drink can also be seen in the concept art, and should be available at this location. Perhaps Disney is hoping Blue Milk will become the new Butterbeer?
3. All shops, dining establishments and souvenirs will be “in-universe”
Speaking more broadly, it was confirmed at 2015's D23 Expo that Star Wars Land would only feature drinks, souvenirs and shops that make sense inside the Star Wars universe. Much like a certain Wizarding World down the street, things like Diet Coke, Starbucks coffee, or anything else from “our world” will not be available for purchase anywhere inside this all-new area.
This is definitely a smart move by Disney, as the decision to exclude anything from the outside world at any of Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter lands has been a well-received feature that guests have actually enjoyed, as it heightens the immersion, making the land feel that much more "real".
However, this development doesn't come without some unique challenges. One of the reasons why the deep immersion found in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter works so well is because the Harry Potter novels and films have a rich world filled with magical items and specific foods and drinks that are easily pulled right from the page (or screen).
While Star Wars doesn't have much in the way of signature foods or iconic items (other than lightsabers, of course) the minds behind the forthcoming Star Wars Land have a unique opportunity here to really get creative and dream up some imaginative merchandise and food items that would work well in this universe (although we'll have to insist they try harder than Darth Maul-shaped hummus...)