Disney Imagineers resume work on new Star Wars theme park attractions, to be a “blend” of new and old films, says Iger

in Disney, Disneyland Resort, Entertainment, Movies, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

As the trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” grows close to becoming the Internet’s most watched movie preview of all time, there’s no doubt that Disney made a grand choice in purchasing Lucasfilm.

But in addition to anticipating many more “Star Wars” movies to come, fans eagerly await Disney to announce plans for more theme park attractions based on the franchise.

Today, Disney CEO Bob Iger shed a little light as to what’s taking so long behind the guarded walls of Walt Disney Imagineering. In an interview with Variety, Iger admits the massive project was halted as they awaited details to emerge from director J.J. Abrams’ highly secretive Episode VII sets. Even Imagineers were being kept outside Abrams’ famed “mystery box” – until recently.

J.J. Abrams on the Episode VII set

Iger didn’t want to move forward on building new Star Wars-based attractions without being able to include the new trilogy and upcoming stand-alone films, fearing the new entertainment would be out of date before it even opened if it only relied on the films of the past.

Indeed, insiders familiar with the “Star Wars” project – code named “Orange Harvest” – confirm Iger’s actions. A massive plan for more Star Wars in the parks, based almost entirely on the original trilogy, was nearly ready to get the green light when Iger stepped in to put it all on hold as the new films were developed. Likewise, leadership changes on the project also took place earlier this year, bringing new eyes to oversee the “Star Wars” theme park portfolio.

But work has now resumed and the new “Star Wars” attractions will certainly feature plenty from the new films. But Disney isn’t leaving behind the old.

Contrary to many attention-grabbing headlines rapidly circulating the ‘net, including Variety’s own, plans are for future Star Wars theme park attractions to include elements new and old.

In the interview Iger stated, “…what we come forward with will have a blend of the past, present and maybe the future.” The most important word in that statement is “blend” – a mix of the familiar and unfamiliar, the classic and contemporary. And we’re not just talking about Star Tours representing the older films.

Lucasfilm has opened its secret files to Disney, with Iger adding that Imagineers are not only familiar with “The Force Awakens” now, but also its sequel – the eighth “Star Wars” – and even some of the standalone, character-focused films, all of which will be used to design more “Star Wars” attractions for the parks, including pieces of the original trilogy.

Imagineers are not abandoning the original trilogy, no matter how much one wants to read into Iger’s recent comments. It’s not set in stone yet, but work continues on concepts that incorporate all parts of the “Star Wars” cinematic story, including past films.

It’s clear from the trailer for “The Force Awakens” that the new trilogy aims to tie in directly to the original trio of films. And there’s no doubt Disney will do the same, ensuring longtime “Star Wars” fans and newcomers alike will have plenty to get excited about when their plans are finally announced.

So when will Disney announce its new “Star Wars” attraction plans? And what exactly are they developing?

Next year is a likely bet for finally seeing some of what’s coming. With the massive Star Wars Celebration convention headed to Anaheim, Calif. in April and the D23 Expo packing Disney fans into the very same convention center in August, followed by the release of “The Force Awakens” in December, 2015 will have ample opportunities for Disney to capitalize on synergy to make their theme park announcements.

Star Tours 2.0 announced at the 2009 D23 Expo

But it’s not yet clear – even to Imagineers on the project – just how much of the existing “Star Wars” plans will get the green light to break ground. Will fans get to walk through a full size Millennium Falcon? Or interact with intergalactic creatures while enjoying a drink at the Cantina? And will a Star Wars Land end up at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, Disneyland in California, or be built overseas first?

The only sure answer we have now is that 2015 will be an excellent year for “Star Wars” and Disney fans. The Force is strong with this project.


  1. elva quintero

    I love all of this Star Wars talk ! Please let them make it in California!!:)

  2. Msorrentino

    How about a speeder bike ride using VR, based on the scene in Return of the Jedi where Luke chases the Scout Troopers.

  3. Greg

    Apparently they are indeed going to have a Star Wars land in CA, at the price of losing Toon Town. I hate to see Toon Town go, but if I had to pick…. yeah, It’d be Star Wars every day and twice on Sunday.

  4. Toby

    Toontown is NOT closing. There are other places that Star Wars can go in Disneyland.

    1. Greg

      I hope your right. We shall see…

    2. Apocalypse Pooh

      ToonTown, Fantasy Faire Theater, and everything behind Storybook Land stretching back to Big Thunder Ranch…all going bye-bye.

      1. David

        No they are not. You were lied to.

  5. Amber

    I’ve heard it’s not taking over any certain part of the park. They are expanding, possibly taking over surrounding buildings that aren’t being used…and relocating other office spaces… don’t quote me but I’ve heard that floating around too.

  6. Craig Svonkin

    What I don’t understand is why Disney is planning on putting Star Wars in Disneyland to begin with. They have land for a third park, and between Star Wars, Marvel, and Frozen, they have plenty of popular characters and concepts to fill a third park. Disneyland is doing fine in terms of attendance. Put Star Wars in the third Anaheim park!

  7. star-w

    sounds awesome i cant wait 🙂 however it mostly end up part of the “new” hollywood studios witch i am scared about ;1

    1. Gene

      I would agree that DHS in Florida is being primed for Star Wars themed attractions. It has a lot of recently closed real estate in the vicinity of Star Tours already. I hope they also have plans for beefing up the parking there. It has, imho, the most poorly designed parking of any of the WDW parks. Massive new crowds that could rival, or exceed the Harry Potter crowds will totally overwhelm DHS’s existing parking lots and traffic patterns.

  8. Brian

    This all sounds interesting, I only hope the land literally isnt just called “Star Wars Land”

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