The plans to add Star Wars to Disneyland have changed course and grown in scale rapidly since we first told you several years ago about the Tomorrowland proposal that would have wiped out Autopia. The plan for Star Wars Land has grown immensely in scale, and it’s now aimed squarely at the land north of Disneyland itself. Taking over the Festival Arena, the Circle D Ranch, Mickey’s Toontown and several rehearsal halls and office buildings just north of Toontown. The Circle D property, where all of the park’s horses, goats and other animals are kept will be moving off property to a new facility nearby, and the horses will then be trailered in for their 4 hour shifts pulling the Horse Drawn Streetcars on Main Street.
The rehearsal halls and offices north of Toontown would be moved over to the larger 160,000 square foot office building Disney bought last year at 1515 S. Manchester Avenue, which now houses a dental supply company. That building on Manchester is slated to be phase two of the Pumbaa parking structure, expanding its capacity beyond 8,000+ spaces after the first phase of 5,000 spaces opens in 2018, but in the short term it will become the temporary home of Disneyland’s displaced backstage buildings. The smaller building at 1585 S. Manchester will be demolished for the parking structure construction.
The majority of Star Wars Land in the northernmost park acreage will be inside a massive series of show buildings, meaning the land won’t have to close for fireworks fallout. The rides and shows in the land itself are being developed in a top secret Imagineering lab in Glendale with Imagineers signing extra confidentiality agreements because the plotlines and characters are pulled from the next three episodes in the Star Wars saga and the Lucasfilm folks understandably guard that information with their lives. But what we can tell you is that Star Wars Land will include multiple attractions, anchored by a mega E Ticket using a trackless vehicle that will break the mold when it comes to how theme park visitors interact with a ride environment.
In the shorter term, more Star Wars will be included in Tomorrowland by the end of this year. Another wild Star Wars Land chapter this year had plans change within a few short months and a plan to install a temporary nostalgia exhibit for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary into Innoventions was shelved. The nostalgia exhibit (much of which will be on display at D23 Expo this weekend) was pushed aside when Bob Iger decreed that the parks needed to hype Star Wars – The Force Awakens that opens December 18th. The gutted Innoventions building will now house a version of the Star Wars Launch Bay interactive museum already announced for Shanghai Disneyland, plus a specially produced movie preview shown nearby at the old Captain EO theater.
Creating a temporary Star Wars miniland in the back of Tomorrowland, the additions are planned to open by Veteran’s Day weekend in November. The preview film will run through January, and Star Wars Launch Bay and a reinvigorated Marvel experience upstairs will operate there for at least several years. Star Wars Launch Bay will also morph into the official Star Wars Land preview center for the park once construction begins. It’s a safe bet that the Star Wars Launch Bay addition coming to Disneyland late this fall will be announced at D23 Expo, due to the tight timeline and imminent opening schedule.