Disney To Break Ground On ‘Star Wars’ Lands In 2016

Walt Disney Co. will take the first steps toward making their previously announced Star Wars lands a reality next year, as they have announced a 2016 start date for the construction of their largest-ever (and most-highly anticipated) attractions.

The Star Wars-themed additions to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland were announced earlier this year at the D23 expo, as the Hollywood Reporter notes. Set to be fully immersive experiences populated by costumed droids and aliens who will remain in character at all times, the Star Wars lands represent the largest, single-themed attractions undertaken by Disney. Reportedly spanning 14 acres each, it was initially announced that ground would be broken by sometime in 2017.

Speaking at the Bank of America-Merrill Lynch 2015 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills, Disney Chief Operating Officer Thomas Staggs announced on Thursday that the Star Wars lands would begin construction in 2016. While the West Coast iteration will be built at Disneyland, the Florida version will be constructed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, according to the Los Angeles Times.

News of Star Wars Land construction starting next year is exciting but it’ll be a while before we all get to visit. pic.twitter.com/DOAdhsLEyY — Ryan (@PositivelyNerdy) September 10, 2015

While Staggs didn’t say when the Star Wars lands are expected to open, he did reference another themed attraction, Pandora – The World of Avatar, which is currently under construction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida. Revealing that the attraction (which will open in 2017), contains some elements that will confound fans until they see the upcoming sequels to Avatar, he also referenced the unusual engineering that is being employed to bring the film’s setting to life.

“We’re going to make mountains float. It’s quite an engineering feat.”

The Star Wars lands will reportedly feature a recreation of the Millennium Falcon (quite possibly the most iconic spaceship in the history of Star Wars), as well as the cantina from the original 1977 film. The parks will incorporate elements from the original and prequel trilogies, as well as the new set of films that will kick off when Disney releases Star Wars: The Force Awakens later this year.

The company purchased the Star Wars franchise (along with Lucasfilm) in 2012 for a price of $4.06 billion, and has since set about reshaping the expanded universe into a new continuity. Last week, fans got their first taste of Disney’s new Star Wars with the release of Aftermath and Shattered Empire, two publications that reveal the state of the galaxy following Return of the Jedi.

[Photo by Disney/ Getty Images]