Disneyland Closes Attractions To Make Room For ‘Star Wars’ Land

Disneyland is pulling the plug on some of its older eateries and attractions to make room for a brand new Star Wars land, based on the new movie, The Force Awakens.

The shutdown begins on January 10, 2016 and includes roughly 14 percent of all attractions. It will include both permanent and temporary closures. The area to be updated takes up almost a quarter of the 85 acres that constitutes Disneyland.

Permanent closures include Frontierland’s Big Thunder Ranch, Big Thunder Jamboree, Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue, and the Big Thunder Ranch petting zoo, reports the LA Times. The animals from the petting zoo have already been found a good home. A family from Southern California that has worked previously with Disney animals has adopted them all.

The Rivers of America section will have some exhibits closed on a temporary basis, including Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes, the Sailing Ship Columbia, The Disneyland Railroad, the Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, Fantastic and the Mark Twain Riverboat, reported TIME.

Another attraction is scheduled to be closed in January for routine maintenance as well. Autopia, which originally opened in 1955, will reopen with Honda as the mini car exhibit’s new sponsor.

The new Star Wars section of the park is the largest expansion in Disneyland’s history and will encompass a full 14 acres. Disney employees that work in the offices located north of Big Thunder Ranch have already begun to move into a couple of office buildings on South Manchester Avenue that the company purchased last year.

Disney hiked its ticket prices up just a few months ago. Annual passes increased by 35 percent, bypassing the $1,000-a-year threshold, reports Fortune. Although many fans are not happy at the increase, the company has been doing quite well. The last three fiscal years have seen record attendance levels at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Disneyland Resort just had it’s highest level of profit in history in the last quarter.

To raise prices immediately before shutting down such a large percentage of the park is interesting timing for a business, notes the LA Times. Especially as the new Harry Potter exhibit will be opening this spring at Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland’s greatest competition.

But Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services in Cincinnati and a theme park consultant isn’t worried.

“At the end of the day, you won’t see any attendance drop. The tourists will come, hell or high water.”

To help bolster attendance, Disneyland has already added some new features to help draw in die-hard Star Wars fans. The Season of The Force launched November 15 in Tomorrowland. The series of experiences and special events highlights the Star Wars saga taking place within the park.

A Star Wars Launch Bay has been installed into an underutilized section of the Innovations building. Fans can play video games, meet costumed characters and buy specialty merchandise.

Space Mountain has been renamed Hyperspace Mountain and retrofitted to include special effects from the new Star Wars movie.

Even the Galactic Grill has gotten in on the action, offering a breakfast, lunch, or dinner food item for almost every Star Wars character. Hungry park goers can munch on a Darth Tamale, Bantha Blue Milk Bread, or try AT-ST Chicken Walker Nuggets, reports the LA Times. The most daring may try a Darth by Chocolate parfait or a BB-8 rice treat.

As to what new features will be included in Star Wars land, Disney has yet to say. However, Disney’s Chief Executive Robert Iger did mention it would include a re-creation of the Millennium Falcon. Guests would be able to take controls for a “customized secret mission.”

Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown spoke about the new expansion.

“We are excited to begin the work that will lay the foundation for the future ‘Star Wars’-themed land at Disneyland. With our continuing Diamond Celebration entertainment and the new Season of the Force offerings, there is so much for guests to do during this time.”

While Disneyland is closing attractions to make room for Star Wars land, it sounds as if guests still have plenty to see and do at the theme park.

[Photo By Handout/GettyImages]