Watching the newest Star Wars movie at the theater will soon be overrated. The next big thing for die-hard Star Wars fans will be experiencing Star Wars in real life at the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California. The popular theme park is about to undergo its first major overhaul in two decades, to make room for a much anticipated Star Wars Land.
According to the L.A. Times, the Disneyland renovations will begin in January and 10 attractions and restaurants will be closed to make room for the Star Wars addition. The renovation is anticipated to last a year, and some of the attractions will remain permanently closed after the addition. Star Wars Land will be the largest expansion in Disneyland history. The expansion and renovation will impact about 14 percent of the existing Disneyland park.
Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger talked about the Star Wars expansion when he said, “We are creating a jaw-dropping new world that represents our largest single themed land expansion ever. These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet, including an epic Star Wars adventure that puts you in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.”
Along with the Star Wars attractions, guests can also expect an increase in Disneyland ticket prices. Season passport holders should anticipate their ticket prices to increase between $60 and $300, depending on the type of season pass they choose to purchase.
Disney has thus far remained tight lipped on whether or not the attraction closures and ticket price hike has impacted ticket sales, but the initial response from Disney loyalists is optimistic. Star Wars loyalists are also eagerly awaiting the opening of Star Wars Land.
“At the end of the day, you won’t see any attendance drop. The tourists will come, hell or high water,” said Dennis Speigel, a theme park consultant.
Disney has already begun to incorporate the Star Wars franchise into many of its existing rides, restaurants and attractions in the Tomorrowland section of the theme park. Star Tours and Space Mountain have both incorporated special effects and segments from Star Wars, including the newest movie, The Force Awakens.
This move to expand Disneyland comes amidst stiff competition with Universal Studios, both in Hollywood and in Orlando with their addition of Harry Potter World. Harry Potter World has been open in the Universal Studios Orlando location for several years and the company announced the expansion of Harry Potter World in Universal Studios Hollywood last summer. Universal has reported a jump in attendance and revenue since adding Harry Potter World in Orlando and Disney hopes to follow suit with Star Wars Land.
If there’s any doubt as to how much money the Star Wars franchise can generate, there shouldn’t be. The most recent installment in the movie series, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, has already crossed the threshold into more than $1 billion in ticket sales.
It makes perfect sense that America’s favorite theme park and America’s favorite movie franchise would pair up to create a completely epic (albeit expensive) theme park experience. If movie ticket sales are any indication, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Star Wars Land turns out to be a monumental success, complete with long theme park lines. Until then, may the force be with you!
[Photo credits: Wikipedia & Getty Images]